Complete 2023 Guide: How to Use a Golf Rangefinder?

This post may have affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
how to use a golf rangefinder main image

A golf rangefinder can be an essential tool for any golfer, regardless of their experience level. By using a rangefinder, you can start measuring distance between yourself and your target, helping to improve your accuracy on medium-range shots. In addition, rangefinders can also help you determine elevation changes on the course, making it easier to adjust your shots accordingly.

However, using golf rangefinders effectively takes practice. In order to get the most accurate readings when measuring distances, it is important to ensure that you take the time to calibrate the device properly and learn how to use a golf rangefinder.

In this guide we will cover all aspects of how to use a golf rangefinder as well as when the best times to utilize a rangefinder are. We will also talk about the different types of rangefinders so that you can decide how to best get started.

How to Use a Golf Rangefinder: The Basics

Using a golf rangefinder is pretty easy once you know how to use one. In most cases, you will simply need to point the rangefinder towards your target, press a button, and read the distance on your device’s screen.

Different models will have different operating systems, so following the user’s manual that came with your specific model is important. This is because calibration is normally required to ensure that you get the most precise readings when using the rangefinder. If you did not calibrate the device correctly, you could be measuring the distance of targets that are much too far or much too near. Before you start using your rangefinder, ensure that the device is completely setup. If the screen is calibrated correctly, the reading will be a number correct when using it.

Reading a golf rangefinder can come in handy when you are trying to determine yardage at a new golf course where you are unfamiliar with the layout. It can also help you make smart decisions when playing on a familiar course where yardage markers are not available.

No matter whether you are on the tee or on the fairway, the rangefinder measurement will be the exact distance between you and the target and can be useful in helping you decide how far away from the target you should aim your ball in the different situations.

There is no doubting that knowing how a golf rangefinder works can be beneficial for amateur golfers.

What Are The Different Types Of Golf Rangefinders?

types of golf rangefinders

Not all golf rangefinders are the same as there are three main types of rangefinder that most golfers will use: optical rangefinders, laser rangefinders and GPS rangefinders. We will explore them in more depth below.

Optical Rangefinders

An optical rangefinder is a basic type of rangefinder that uses a local image to determine distance. In most cases, this is a simple lens system where you point the device at your target and it will measure the distance.

It is a simple and cost effective model that is outdated compared to some of the newer types of rangefinders. While some optical models can be accurate under certain conditions, you may want to consider other options if finding the right distance quickly is of interest to you.

Laser Rangefinders

Using a laser golf rangefinder is a popular method of finding distance on the course because they offer such high levels of accuracy. They do this by emitting a laser beam to measure how far the laser beam has traveled. This is not a new concept, as laser rangefinders have been in use for many years. The accuracy of the laser rangefinders on the market today make this a very viable option.

These models such as the Callaway Laser Pro Rangefinder or the GoGoGo rangefinder can be small and simple to use, making them great for beginners and casual golfers alike. They rely on laser technology to determine distance, making them more accurate than optical rangefinders.

A laser rangefinder is the type that many modern golfers will want to use. However, it is important to note that due to the nature of the device, you may have trouble using these devices in certain conditions such as in foggy conditions.

In general laser golf rangefinders are incredibly accurate however if the beam struggles to reflect back then you will not get an accurate reading and it is something that you should be aware of.

GPS Rangefinders

A GPS golf rangefinder is an advanced form of golf technology that combines two tools into one. The GPS rangefinder can use GPS technology and a GPS signal to determine the course you are playing on, while it will also utilize laser technology to measure the distance to your target.

GPS rangefinders are more advanced than laser models, however as a result they are often the most expensive type of rangefinder to buy. Since they are GPS-enabled, however, you can utilize the course map function for added benefits, especially on new golf courses.

We cover GPS technology in more detail in our golf rangefinder vs golf GPS guide.

When Should I Use A Rangefinder?

golf course approach shot

The rangefinder lets you easily get the distance on mid-range shots where it is difficult to visually judge the distance.

Approach Shots

For approach shots this is especially important, as you do not want to misjudge the distance between you and the green and the flag and end up costing yourself an additional shot by overhitting, underhitting or ending up in a greenside bunker.

Tee Shots

Additionally, they can help on the tee by determining distances to potential hazards such as trees, bunkers, oceanside cliffs and rocks. This can help you to choose the safer path to the target with a club or shot that avoids these coming into play.

Where Should I Aim The Rangefinder?

To get the most accurate rangefinder readings, make sure that you’re viewing your golf hole from a distance with no obstructions. If there are obstacles such as trees or other things in the way of your view, it can be more difficult to get an accurate rangefinder reading.

Start by pointing the device at the target and activating it for about five to ten seconds. This should give the rangefinder time to calibrate itself to the distance of your target.

They can be used on golf courses or any other areas where you need to know the elevation changes. These units have a variety of settings, such as slope, which will help determine if there is any change in elevation over time.


Do I really need slope on my rangefinder?

Slope helps determine if you’re on uphill or downhill terrain. For example, if you’re on a hillside, it may be easier to hit a straight shot than if you were on a flat land. In addition to slope, you can also find the elevation that it tells you. This can be benefitial for determining how high or low the slope is where club selection comes into play.

Do you really need a rangefinder in golf?

Yes, a rangefinder is an important golf accessory that allows players to determine their distance from the pin or other targets. By having an accurate reading, players will be more apt to make better ball striking decisions while playing. This can help with bettering scores overall.

How Do I Hold A Rangefinder Steady?

There are several ways to hold a steady rangefinder, with some being more effective than others. By taking deep breaths you can steady the arm and avoid the most common mistake made by golfers with rangefinders.

In general, the more you play, the more comfortable you will get with using a rangefinder to improve your ability to read precise yardages when reading a rangefinder.

Will a rangefinder help my golf game?

Many golfers benefit from using a rangefinder. These players might have trouble judging how far a ball will go, so using a rangefinder can help them get a more accurate estimate of how far the ball will go.

They can act as an on course tool for measuring the distance between hazards such as trees and water hazards or how far to line up the next shot in relation to a marker. This is compared to professionals who have access to a caddy during a round of golf.

In Summary: Is Using A Rangefinder Right For You?

For amateur golfers there is no doubting how useful a rangefinder can be. If you are not the strongest golfer but want to hit your golf shots more accurately, then a rangefinder is a great choice as it can be a foundation of good golf strategy.

The real question for golfers comes down to whether or not they want to spend the money on this accessory and is it worth it. Costs will vary (Critical Golf). However, we say that a good golf rangefinder is worth investing in as any advantage that you can get in golf is worth having. It is also possible to get cheap golf rangefinders that are still high quality.

A rangefinder in itself will not make you a better golfer, but they do make the game easier as their pin seeking technology can help you with measuring accurate distances and enjoy playing golf with more accurate tee shots and approaches.

When it comes using a golf rangefinder and your rangefinder selection, often the choice comes between the three types- optical rangefinders, laser rangefinders, and GPS rangefinders. The ultimate choice will come down to you and your preferences as well as your budget.