Golf Watch vs Rangefinder

Golf Watch vs Rangefinder: A Hole-in-One Comparison!

What I found when deciding on whether to go for a Golf Watch vs Rangefinder really comes down to what you prefer, what you need, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Both gadgets serve the same purpose in golf, giving you distance measurements all across the course, but they do have their own unique features and benefits.

Whats The Difference Between a Golf Watch & Rangefinder

Golf Watch:

  1. Wearable Convenience: A golf watch is worn on your wrist like a regular watch, making it easily accessible without needing to carry an extra device.
  2. GPS Technology: Golf watches use GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to calculate distances to various points on the course, including the front, middle, and back of the greens, hazards, and bunkers.
  3. Course Mapping: Many golf watches come preloaded with course maps for thousands of courses, and they can automatically detect which course you’re on.
  4. Score Tracking: Some golf watches offer score tracking features, allowing you to input your scores and track your performance over time.
  5. No Additional Costs: Once you purchase a golf watch, there are typically no additional costs for course data or subscription fees.


  1. Pinpoint Accuracy: Rangefinders offer extremely precise distance measurements to specific targets, such as the flagstick. They are often favored by more serious golfers for their accuracy.
  2. No Course Mapping Required: Rangefinders do not require preloaded course maps or GPS signals. You can use them on any golf course without the need for updates.
  3. Quick Measurements: Rangefinders provide quick, real-time distance readings with the push of a button, allowing you to get precise yardages on-demand.
  4. No Need for Charging: Rangefinders usually operate on batteries, so there’s no need to worry about recharging.

Key Considerations:

  1. Cost: Golf watches tend to be more affordable upfront, while rangefinders can be more expensive, especially if you opt for a high-end model.
  2. Ease of Use: Golf watches are generally easier to use and require minimal setup, whereas rangefinders may take a bit of practice to aim accurately.
  3. Personal Preference: Some golfers prefer the simplicity and convenience of a golf watch, while others appreciate the pinpoint accuracy of a rangefinder.
  4. Local Rules: Check with the golf courses you play at regularly. Some courses may have specific rules or restrictions on the use of rangefinders or GPS devices.

Ultimately, it all boils down to your individual needs and preferences when deciding between a golf watch and a rangefinder device. If you’re all about ease of use, course mapping, and nifty features like score tracking, a golf watch might be right up your alley. Related- Can you use a hunting rangefinder for golf?

On the other hand, if you’re all about precise distance measurements and don’t mind a bit of extra setup, then a rangefinder could be your jam. Some golfers even use both devices, depending on the situation and what floats their boat. It’s all about finding what works best for you!

Our Top Pick Rangefinders & Golf Watches

Best Overall – Garmin Approach S62:

Garmin Approach S62
Display1.3-inch touchscreen color display
GPSHigh-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS
Preloaded CoursesOver 41,000 worldwide courses
DistancesFront, middle, back of greens, hazards, more
Battery LifeUp to 20 hours in GPS mode, 14 days as a watch
FeaturesScorecard, virtual caddy, smart notifications
ReviewsExcellent user reviews for accuracy and features

Best Budget – Garmin Approach S10:

Display1.3-inch monochrome display
GPSHigh-sensitivity GPS
Preloaded CoursesOver 41,000 worldwide courses
DistancesFront, middle, back of greens, hazards
Battery LifeUp to 12 hours in GPS mode
FeaturesScorecard, auto hole transition, simple design
ReviewsPositive feedback for affordability and accuracy

Best Reviews – Apple Watch Series 7 (with Golf Apps):

DisplayRetina LTPO OLED display
GPSBuilt-in GPS
Golf AppsThird-party apps like Golfshot, Hole19, etc.
DistancesCustomizable with golf GPS apps
Battery LifeUp to 18 hours with golf GPS use
FeaturesFitness tracking, notifications, app ecosystem
ReviewsHighly-rated for versatility and app options

Best Rangefinders

Best Overall – Bushnell Pro X3:

Range5-1,300 yards
DisplayVivid Display Technology
Slope ModeYes (can be disabled for tournament play)
Water ResistanceIPX7-rated (rainproof)
ReviewsTop-rated for accuracy and build quality

Best Budget – TecTecTec VPRO500:

Range540 yards
DisplayClear, multilayered optics
Slope ModeNo (tournament legal)
Water ResistanceNot specified
ReviewsHighly affordable with positive user feedback

Best Reviews – Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized:

Range8-1,200 yards
DisplayOLED display
Slope ModeYes (can be disabled for tournament play)
Water ResistanceNot specified
ReviewsPraised for image stabilization and accuracy

These are just a few options for golf watches and rangefinders, but there are loads of other models out there on the market. The best choice for me will depend on what I actually need, how much I want to spend, and what I really like.

Pros & Cons

Pros of Golf Watches:

Wearable ConvenienceWorn like a regular watch, easy to access
GPS TechnologyCalculates distances to various points on the course
Course MappingPreloaded with course maps for thousands of courses
Score TrackingSome models offer score tracking features
No Additional CostsTypically, no additional fees after purchase

Cons of Golf Watches:

Accuracy LimitationMay not provide the same pinpoint accuracy as rangefinders
Battery LifeRequire recharging or frequent battery changes
CostSome high-end models can be pricey

Pros of Rangefinders:

Pinpoint AccuracyOffers extremely precise distance measurements
No Course MappingNo need for preloaded course maps or GPS signals
Quick MeasurementsProvides real-time distance readings with a button press
No Charging NeededOperates on batteries, eliminating the need for recharging

Cons of Rangefinders:

Additional DeviceRequires carrying an extra device
Setup Learning CurveMay take practice to aim accurately
Potential Local RulesSome courses may have restrictions

What The Professionals Think

“I was in the right rough on 10 yesterday, so you know, it’s a funky angle to that back left pin and my rangefinder got about 6 yards different than what we had come up with,” Simpson said. “I was one of those old school guys thinking we’re going to need both numbers still, it’s going to slow down play, but I actually do think it’s been a good thing. The more we did it each round, the more I like it.”

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth agreed with Simpson’s assessment. Source NBC Sports

GPS vs. Rangefinder Final Distinction

Technology is truly incredible. It offers a plethora of options to assist you in determining your goals. It’s simply a matter of finding the one that aligns with your specific needs.

Depending on your circumstances, it’s not limited to just one option. Numerous golfers utilize either a laser or a basic GPS watch on their home course, and opt for an app or a handheld device when they’re on the go.

Some even combine both approaches simultaneously: leveraging the handheld to assess the layout and layup, and relying on the laser for their approach shot. With the affordability of new technology, doubling up becomes a practical choice.


About Author

Hi, I’m David. a professional hunter. I’m hunting since my childhood I used to go with my dad in the States of Montana. We used to hunt mule deer and white-tailed deer. I made this blog to share my experience and help beginners with this experience. More about me here.

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