Tournament Legal Golf Rangefinders
Not all tournaments allow the use of rangefinders, and when rangefinders are allowed, not all types of rangefinders can be used. Tournament legal golf rangefinders generally report a line of sight distance and not much else. Rangefinders capable of compensating for the angle of a shot, or that feature a club selector are not legal for tournament play. While tournament legal golf range finders basically have one job, which is to give the user a line of sight distance, they can incorporate various design styles and technologies to aid the user in attaining this reading.
Below are two comparison charts of tournament legal rangefinders that have been categorized by price. These charts allow you to quickly compare key specifications of golf rangefinders and evaluate the estimated cost of each device. Below each chart is a set of notes on each rangefinder featured in the chart; here the highlights of each rangefinder are covered.
Tournament Legal Golf Rangefinders
Bushnell Hyrbrid - The Hybrid is a golf rangefinder and a golf GPS rolled into one unit. The laser rangefinder part is based on the popular Bushnell Tour V2 rangefinder and the GPS is based on Bushnell’s Neo+ GPS line. This combination gives you the simplicity and accuracy of a rangefinder; while the GPS gives you the ability to range the green even without being able to see it. The Hybrid offers the best of both worlds and is unit that would work well for most golfers.
Bushnell Pro 1M – The new Pro 1M is a 7x magnification rangefinder and is of a horizontal design, both of which make this unit suitable for long distance ranging. The extra magnification helps in viewing and targeting the flagstick at long distances, while the stable platform of the flat design allows for a solid two handed grip that is necessary for long distance ranging. Also, like all Bushnell rangefinders the Pro 1M is equipped with a tripod mount for use with a mono pod for extra stability if needed. The down side of this unit is it is larger than the vertical design rangefinders and can not easily be worn on a belt or slipped into a pocket. However, if ranging the flag quickly and easily at any distance is your main concern the Pro 1M would be the best choice.
Leica Pinmaster II – The Pinmaster II is in many ways in the same category as the Leupold GX-3i DNA in that it is a higher end device than some of the other models in this category. It is built on an aluminum core that is wrapped in a carbon fiber housing, and also uses a LED screen. However, the Leica has a 7x magnification which is probably pushing the magnification limits that the average golfer can use in a vertical style golf rangefinder. The hold on a vertical style rangefinder doesn’t allow for as steady of a grip as a horizontal design rangefinder, combine that with the lightweight and comparatively high 7x magnification of the Pinmaster II and you will need a pretty steady hand to range a small narrow object like the pin. Furthermore, the Pinmaster II cost about $200 more than the GX-3i DNA; so if you want a more refined golf rangefinder, the Leupold GX-3i DNA would probably be a better choice for most golfers.
Bushnell Tour Z6 – The Tour Z6, like the Pro 1M series, is new to the Bushnell golf rangefinder line and as of this writing currently not on the market; Bushnell’s website lists an April 2012 release date for the Tour Z6. Unlike the Pro 1M, the Tour Z6 isn’t really a replacement or upgrade of any current Bushnell rangefinder. The Tour Z6 will feature the Bushnell Vivid Display technology which has a red display readout. The Tour Z6 will also feature a new technology from Bushnell called ESP, which can provide more accurate ranging out to 125 yards. The Tour Z6 also features a metal housing with a rubberized surface and is probably designed to compete directly with the Leupold GX-3i DNA, and Leica Pinmaster II in the higher end golf rangefinder category. At a price identical to the GX-3i DNA it will be interesting to see how the new Tour Z6 will do when released this spring.
Leupold GX3 – The GX3i DNA uses a red OLED display screen as opposed to the more common LCD display screen. The OLED (organic light emitting diode) is a type of LED screen and is generally thought to provide a better view than the more commonly used LCD screens. The GX-3i DNA housing is made of an aluminum body that has been rubberized with golf ball style dimples for better grip in wet conditions; this is in contrast to many other rangefinders which have a plastic housing. In many aspects the GX-3i DNA is just a more advanced range finder than many of the other golf rangefinders. While the GX-3i DNA might not range any better than other golf rangefinders in this category there is a strong argument to be made that is just a higher grade golf rangefinder than most of its competition, with the Leica Pinmaster II, and soon to be released Bushnell Tour Z6 falling also falling into this higher end class.
Tournament Legal Golf Rangefinders
Bushnell Tour V2 – Long the favorite of golfers who want an affordable golf rangefinder, the Tour V2 has a compact design that allows you to carry it on a belt, its 5x magnification enables you to hold the unit steady despite its vertical design and small size, and the Bushnell Pinseeker technology helps you read the flag even with other objects in the background. The Bushnell Tour V2 is a perfect fit for many golfers, because it is compact size, ability to range the flag at most all practical golfing distances, and it is affordability.
Leupold GX-1 – Unlike its higher end GX-3i DNA brother, the GX-1 is an entry level model whose housing is made from plastic and features an LCD screen, as do all the other rangefinders in this lower priced golf rangefinder category. This unit does have a unique feature in that the user can select from one of seven different reticles (crosshairs) for aiming. Like the GX-3i the GX-1 series has seen and update or two over years, and the most recent model as of this writing is the GX-1 not to be confused with its predecessor the GX-I. The GX-1 would also make a good rangefinder for those looking for an entry level golf rangefinder.
Nikon Diablo & LR 550 – The Diablo and the LR 550 appear to be nearly identical in every aspect, except that instead of an awful yellow color of the LR 550 the Diablo managed to get a pretty sweet paint job. These Nikon golf rangefinders are set in Nikon’s First Target Priority mode to aid in ranging the flagstick when there are objects behind it. However, the real advantage of the Nikon Diablo or LR 550 is the comparatively large diopter adjustment they offer. If you have poor vision or generally have need a lot of adjustment to focus your optics then the Nikon Diablo or LR 550 would probably be the best choice as they allow for the greatest amount of adjustment for focusing the unit.
Bushnell Medalist – The Medalist has been around for awhile and for good reason. Holding a golf rangefinder steady off hand while trying to range something as narrow as a flag stick at nearly any distance can be more of a task than some people realize, especially if the wind is blowing. The Bushnell Medalist has two major features that the other rangefinders in this category don’t. First, the Medalist is of the flat (horizontal) design which enables the user to use a steadier two handed binocular style grip. Second, this unit only has a 4x magnification, generally speaking the higher the magnification the more the image appears to jump around with any sort of movement which makes ranging very difficult. So the combination of a horizontal design and low magnification make the Medalist one of the easiest rangefinders to hold steady. Of course there is a down side too, one is its larger size makes carrying this unit on a belt problematic and also the 4x magnification makes longer range distancing difficult. However, if there years are catching up to you or you simply don’t have a real steady hand then the Medalist is a good way to go.
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