I’ve always thought I’m “not good enough” to be lasering exact yardages when my iphone GPS app will do. I use GolfShot Classic, a brilliant piece of software that is simple, fast and to the point. From what I can tell, my reads are generally within a yard or two from my buddies lasering to the pin. It also provides a simple way to mark the distance between two points such as the tee box and where your ball landed to calculate distance so you get to learn your yardages. On the other hand, there have been quite a few occasions where I’m in the mountains, or playing in a cloudy overcast day, or even once when a course changed their layout that made it very ineffective- you don’t realize how reliant you are on a number until you are trying to visually judge if you are 85 or 70 yards out and trying to pick between two wedges. Also, one of the best practice facilities in the city move their grass tee box around so it’s very difficult to judge what the yardages are unless you have a super consistent 100Y and 150Y shot.
This weekend, I took the plunge and picked up a new Bushnell Tour v3 Slope Edition Rangefinder. Golf town had it on sale at the same price as the non-slope edition.
I’ve played 3 rounds so far and here are my initial thoughts:
Looks and Ergonomics
It fits ergonomically great into my small hands- easy to grip and comfortable to hold. It’s actually small enough to fit into my pocket but usually I’ll leave it on the ground as I take my shot before return it to my bag. (Don’t want to scratch the lens!)
The bright orange is great. I’ve lost putters and wedges on different golf courses before and now make it a habit to leave all my stuff on a path towards the push cart or golf cart as well as looking back behind me after finishing a hole. Having this in a bright orange sure help it pop out from the green of the dance floor.
I wasn’t sure if the “Jolt” is just hype but by the third round, I can say it works and works really well!
Besides a visual confirmation that you’ve hit the pin, there is a quick buzz that you feel from the device. It’s soft like a padded cell phone text message buzz that isn’t strong enough to move or unsteady your hands.
If I aim the viewfinder properly before looking, I can usually spot the pin within a second and lock in and get a buzz within another second, or sometimes almost immediately.
I can usually jump out of the cart, and make a read for my wife while she makes her way to the bag, and announce a number while she’s picking up her club without missing a beat. It’s really that quick!
Steady hands definitely helps- I usually need to use both hands braced against my face but I’ve been able to get quick readings even with one hand while holding a club with my other.
My biggest concern was that it’d slow down my routine. I think honestly, I’m a little slower right now because I don’t trust my own first reading and would try to get the buzz a couple times with the same number before I go. I think over time, I would be sure enough of the first read to just play it without needing a second confirmation.
This is actually eye opening. There have been a few times where the in-cart GPS or the GPS app would be too slow to catch up and give us random readings. I start to realize whenever you start questioning the GPS distance- you’re probably right! On one occasion, my rangefinder says 85yards but the GPS was delayed and was still reading 115. Um, this is especially bad when we play courses bordered with houses behind the green!
From the manual, it looks like there is some formula used to calculate the “play as” distance based on the straight-line distance as well and the slope in degrees above or below horizontal to the flag. To be honest, I’d say this is just a nice to have and not really a key feature. It takes about 1 more second to wait for the slope reading to come and usually, it’s +/- 5Y or so for most smaller elevation changes. I’d imagine this might be more useful if you’re playing in the mountains that have much more severe elevation changes but generally, your adjustments would be a full club up or down so those small distances changes don’t really help other then to confirm that the green is really slightly up or downhill.
I don’t think I would pay an extra $100 for this feature but at the same price as the non-slope version, this is just a nice to have.
Do note that the slope feature makes this particular model illegal for tournament play. Keep that in mind if you’re a tournament player!
Bushnell also included a great carry case in the bag. Again, brightly colored so it’s easier to see. It has a carabiner clip in the back to clip to your golf bag and a quick elastic release + pull tab to quickly get at the rangefinder if you leave the case unzipped.
I’ve read stories about people having their range finder stolen so I personally leave mine in a zippered soft pocket in my golf bag during play and then return it back into this case after every round.
So am I suddenly good enough to require exact distances to the flag? Haha, sadly, no, I still don’t hit to exact yardages but I started my Sunday round this past weekend with a record start of 5 greens hit on the first 5 holes! (Um, I drove the ball OB on No. 6 and the wheels fell off a little after that… but of course, that has nothing to do with my approach distance.)
I find myself using it more often than I thought I would- usually I look at my GPS which I still use for scoring, grab a couple of clubs and quickly take a reading before settling on the correct club. It’s especially useful on par 3 tee boxes- usually we’d be waiting for the group to clear out ahead and I can make a read and return with the correct club before anyone has teed off.
In conclusion, I’m very happy with my purchase- this is an amazing little device and I love getting that little “buzz”- it’s almost pavlov addicting in a way. With my phone, I switched over from visually judging markers to using the GPS app and couldn’t really go back. Similarly, I already know after 3 rounds that I’m going to be switching from relying on GPS distance to exact lasered measurements from my range finder from now on.