I was in a similar spot and didn't know what one to buy.
I ended up getting the range finder as you will always know exactly how many yards to the pin or any object as long as you can see it. You can shoot trees to know how far the woods are, shoot a sand trap edge to know where that is and many other objects.
GPS will give you front, back and middle but never exact yardage to the pin as the flag is always in a different spot.
So you have to decide what is more important to you. General yardage or exact yardage.
Advantage Range Finder - How far away the beer girl is. GPS will never give you that yardage!!!
While a handheld gives you yardages as soon as you get to your golf ball, a rangefinder requires you to take it out and then aim it at the spot to see a range. I believe most people, including me, have complained that they are not able to hold it steady enough when trying to align the sight with the flag. Even if playing with a rangefinder is a quicker deal than working without one, I do prefer the ease which comes with GPS devices.
A rangefinder can only offer you yardages to objects you can see and directly connect to with the laser. The laser is best for providing the distance to the pin, but it cannot reliably show you the distance to the back, middle or front of the green. It is also don’t get us started on hills and trees. I’d say you won’t be finding the target if something is obstructing the scenery in front of you.
I prefer my Garmin Instinct watch Best 10 Compass Watches [Buyer's Guide] (Mar. 2021) 2nd in the list
Anyway the decision between a GPS unit and a laser rangefinder comes down to personal preferences.
I had a Leupold GX-1 for about 8 years. It was really good and the battery lasts years. Literally.
I replaced it with a Bushnell which is much faster and the "jolt" function is really great.
Haven't replaced a battery yet and it's used twice a week (18 months).
I managed to sell the Leupold for a decent price and I thought the upgrade was worth it.
I think that these are the sorts of things where you think it's OK to save a hundred or so dollars and buy a no-name one on ebay and then a week later wish you'd bought a good one.
IT's not something you need to replace - I am sure you'll get well in excess of 10 or 15 years out of one. But there are actually rangefinders of average price, that can work good.
I've got two: Nikon Coolshot rangefinder and the Garmin G6 (handheld). I use the rangefinder primarily on the driving range as the flags are usually inaccurate by 20 yards or so in my experience.
Regarding the G6, I waffled between the G6 and the S6 (wrist). My personal feeling for rejecting the S6 was the effect of regular club/ball impact might affect the internals having it on my wrist.
May not be true but that was my thought so I got the G6 instead. A downside to this is the time it takes to add your score to it. If you wait till you're off the green and waiting at the next tee box to add it, the unit has already moved on to that hole and you have to backtrack to add your score. Can't really do it while you're near that finished hole either as in all likelihood, there are players waiting to hit onto the green.
Advantages and disadvantages to any unit you decide on.
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