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Distance Measuring Devices
March 2012

Today’s golfing DMDs embrace a wealth of technology from laser-based rangefinders to GPS devices sporting a variety of graphics, interactive features and game analysis gizmos to play with both during and after your round. We invited Roehampton assistant club pro, Richard Weeks, to take some of the latest models for a test drive and offer up practical tips on how to make the most of both types of device. Following that, equipment editor Dominic Pedler guides you through a glossary of the essential technical terms

1. How Distance measuring devices can help your game
2. Distance measuring devices terminology
3. Reviews

Thanks to a welcome loophole in the Rules of Golf, Distance Measuring Devices (DMDs) have become the fastest growing category of golf equipment in recent years.

Whether its laser-based rangefinders that you ‘point and shoot’ or geo-positional based units displaying instant yardages via satellite technology, DMDs have caught on with all levels of club golfers. On tour, they’re used by players and caddies (at least in practice rounds) and by on-course analysts and TV commentators.

Admittedly, Rule 14-3(b) only allows their competitive use by virtue of a special clause giving jurisdiction to the golf club, or relevant authority, to allow them under a local rule. But its adoption is increasingly widespread right up to EGU events and on the EuroPro Tour while, in the recent PowerPlay event at Celtic Manor, use of the official Nikon laser was actively encouraged throughout.

And while DMDs are not allowed in top tour events, pros and their caddies can often be seen with their Bushnells and Nikons during practice rounds, while expert course mapper Dion Stevens’ legendary yardage books used in tournaments by many tour stars are painstakingly prepared with his Nikon Laser 1000AS. In this way the great DMD debate has moved on from whether they should be allowed at all to what system is best and what features are genuinely ‘game improvement’ for golfers.

As the following glossary and instruction guide from our guest pro show, there are no easy answers. It ultimately comes down to your individual priorities regarding the type of data, features, convenience and ease of use.

But understanding the technology involved and practical ways to incorporate it into your game is the first step to making the choice between Laser and GPS (while, for those that want the best of both worlds, the new Bushnell Hybrid even combines the two technologies in one unit).

HOW DISTANCE MEASURING DEVICES CAN REALLY IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Roehampton assistant club pro, Richard Weeks, brings you practical tips on how to make the most of both GPS and laserbased technologies.

1. How far do you really hit each club?

As a golf teacher I’m often amazed at how most pupils have no real idea how far they hit each of their clubs. This is such an important part of your game – if you can’t match up the distance you have remaining to the green with the right club in your bag then what hope do you have?! Knowing your own distances in practice really is a pre-requisite for getting the most from your DMD, some of which help directly with this task. For example, for my driver through to my 9-iron, the ‘mark’ feature on the Skycaddie SGX is superb for working out distances while I’m actually out on the course. I simply hit the shot, press the ‘mark’ button and then walk to the ball. The unit then gives me an instant yardage as if I’ve paced it out.

As an R&A survey has confirmed, most golfers imagine they hit the ball much further than they actually do, and once you get a true picture of your average distances with each club it will hugely improve you confidence in choosing the correct club when faced with the approach shot yardages from your DMD unit.

Be sure to check how far your irons carry rather than merely total distance; while, over time, you should refine your ‘master sheet’ to note variations according to different weather conditions and types of terrain – all of which can have a significant effect.

When it comes to those vital wedge numbers, I suggest a different approach using a laser-based rangefinder. Hit 10 shots and then walk out and place a flagstick roughly in the middle of the bunch of balls. Walk back to your original position and aim the rangefinder at the stick for the exact yardage. In my test I used the Nikon Laser 350 which, for shots inside 100 yards, gave me a reading to one decimal place.

Try this exercise with all your wedges and you’ll soon see whether you have any inconsistent ‘gaps’ between them. For example, if you hit your pitching wedge 115 yards, your sand wedge 70 yards and your lob wedge 50 yards, any shots of around 100 yards could become a real issue for you. This type of DMD feedback tells you it’s time either to learn to hit a reduced distance shot with your pitching wedge or to look at getting the lofts adjusted to produce more evenly spaced distance gaps.

2. ON THE COURSE

Assessing ‘Risk Reward’ situations

The main function of any DMD is obviously to tell you how far you have to the green – or ideally the flag itself – for your approach shot, allowing you to match the club according to your own distances you have now compiled. But the wealth of information offered by a good GPS system can dramatically improve your assessment of risk/reward situations.

The short par-four 4th hole at Roehampton (right) provides a great example of how different standards of golfer would use such a unit in different ways.

An average golfer who typically hits his drive 210 yards should immediately note the yawning bunker specified on the GPS at 208 yards and realize that, while he could get past with his best shot, he has very little to gain from doing so given the hole is only 269 yards in total.

A safe 3-wood off the tee to an unguarded part of the fairway will leave him with only a wedge – or 9 iron at most – with the on-screen image of the whole hole confirming that the potential reward from finding a safe spot beyond the trap does not justify the risk.

Meanwhile, as a better player, I’m considering driving the green and I note the GPS figure of 258 yards to the front edge, along with distances to each bunker. On the Sky- Caddie SGX, for example, I also have the option to move the graphic of the flag around on the screen to give me a more accurate distance from the edge of each bunker to the flag.

While I’m tempted, the GPS clearly helps me appreciate how the green is plagued with bunkers making the shot particularly risky if I went offline. Yet the same technology helps me easily see my alternative strategy of a lay-up in front of the first bunker with a 195 yard 4-iron, leaving me 68 yards – a smooth lob wedge for me – to the middle of the green.

Having this type of knowledge to hand on every hole allows you to assess the various options and will greatly improve your course management skills.

Compensating for elevation changes

Laser rangefinders have a defining advantage of offering yardages to the flag position prevailing that day, which many golfers will prefer over the more general ‘middle of the green’ figures offered by GPS (even if these can be tweaked manually by choosing ‘virtual’ flag placements).

One rather special laser feature is in respect of the Slope Edition models that offer more accurate calculations for approach shots involving elevation changes – which, as any student of Pythogoras will know, can affect the distance significantly.

For example, the 16th at Roehampton is a sharply uphill par four that often catches me out with my second shot as I’m never sure how much the elevation will affect my distance. The answer lies with the Bushnell Tour V2 Slope Edition laser whose built-in accelerometer-based inclinometer registers the exact slope angle from -20 to +20 degrees of elevation.

After registering the standard yardage, the unit will then calculate the ‘play-as’ distance by taking the slope angle into account, as clearly displayed in the digital viewfinder.

While other laser units (and indeed GPS) will measure the distance as if I was on the same level as the flag (in this case 142 yards), the Bushnell Slope Edition is recommending I use a club that is going to travel 152 yards to compensate for the extra distance implied by the elevation.

As a result, I’m grateful to be taking a smooth 7-iron instead of an 8.

As explained in Dominic’s following glossary, Slope Editions are not formally allowed under the Rules of Golf but, clearly, they are fantastic for casual play and will gradually teach you to compensate for elevation changes when using a conforming version in competition. Ideally you’d have both!

Dealing with doglegs

Laser rangefinders lose out to GPS devices in certain situations – most notably blind holes and doglegs where the best GPS devices offer a complete overview of the hole – and, in the case of the Callaway uPro and Sonocaddie V500+, short ‘flyover’ footage of the entire hole.

The tee shot on the 18th hole at Roehampton is a sharp dogleg to the right where, from the tee, I can either play safe to the corner with a long iron, or go for broke and attempt the carry over the corner. In both cases I need to know specific distances.

I could ‘laser’ the tops of trees – but not many golfers know how high (and at what distance) their ball reaches the peak of its trajectory – or I could try and pick out one of the trees on the far side of the fairway to give me a ‘run-out’ distance.

But GPS offers a far simpler assessment and in my test I used the GolfBuddy World for its touch screen facility giving me a distance to any point on the hole, thereby helping me with both of my strategic options: Tapping the screen on the corner of the dogleg tells me I have 210 yards – for me a 3- iron or hybrid for the lay up – while tapping the screen in the ideal landing area tells me the carry distance over the corner if I ‘go for broke’ and exactly how far before I run out of room and reach the trees on the far side.

In these typical situations it’s vital you know a variety of distances, especially if it’s a course you’ve never played before. And, here, GPS is your saviour giving you a clear picture of an otherwise blind challenge.

Advanced green reading: calculating distances to ridges and tiers

Greens sporting extreme ridges and multitiered sections present their own special challenge but certain sophisticated DMDs can help greatly.

The 11th green at Roehampton sports a pronounced double tier with at least a 5 feet change in height between the levels. I know from experience that if I land on the wrong level it’s an almost certain three putt, while a first time visitor could certainly use some guidance (see page 136, top photo). Standing in the fairway it is possible to make out the different tiers, but the crucial distance to top of the slope is hard to gauge – either with a laser or a GPS whose figures are confined to ‘front, middle and back’.

This is where the IntelliGreen Pro function on the SkyCaddie SGX comes into action. By tilting the device to the right it brings up a close-up graphic of the green showing slopes, contours and yardages to different points, while depicting the slope in a special shade that helps you see it in relation to the rest of the green. It also gives me the option of moving the flag around on the screen to match the top or bottom pin position in operation that day, while automatically adjusting the yardages to any given point.

While much of the time this feature will be a superfluous luxury, on this type of hole where mis-clubbing is fatal, it is a highly useful – yet only available on the SkyCaddie who map courses on foot (as such topography currently cannot be mapped from aerial photography).

The only downside is the tilting action required on the SGX as I found the screen can quickly jump back to another function if you don’t get it completely horizontal. But I’m sure I’ll get the knack with practice!

Glossary of Technical Terms

PART 1: GPS

Golf Course Library and Downloads

While many models now come preloaded with anything up to 40,000 courses worldwide, it’s important to think of the nature of the data and what you actually need. The Golf Plus Caddie Lite only takes 10 courses at a time – but that might enough for you, while Sonocaddie’s 2,400 UK courses will be plenty for most of us. Of course, most operators allow you to log into their site to download additional courses and, where applicable, updated versions of existing courses that reflect any recent changes.

In Richard Weeks’ test he notes that some, like the Sonocaddie and SkyCaddie SGX need to be connected to a computer before you can use them to their full potential, while others like the GolfBuddy are ready to go ‘straight out the box’. Look out, too, for Auto Course Recognition (as, say, on the Bushnell Hybrid) which displays your exact location without having to click through the library.

Meanwhile, how that data has been compiled, its accuracy and presentation are important issues that we now look at under various categories.

Course Mapping: satellite or “ground verified”?

While most golf GPS operators map their courses with reference to aerial imagery (usually satellite photography or in some cases helicopter flyovers), some – most notably SkyCaddie and GolfBuddy – map on foot with a team that walks each course, pinpointing greens, tees, hazards and other selected landmarks as they go. These ‘ground verifiers’ argue that the alternative mapping from the air relies on images that may be several years out of date, and whose data is delivered through a complex jigsaw of individual digital pixels that can lead to significant distance distortions in terms of the final picture as a whole. They also point out that any aerial photography is often compromised by tree-lined fairways than can hide bordering hazards and the vital extremities of greens. Walking the course undoubtedly also allows for higher standards of green mapping with, for example, SkyCaddie’s SGX’s IntelliGreen Pro feature including figures to false fronts, ridges and tiers within greens – details that are unattainable from ‘above’.

Accuracy of Distance Data

Some GPS companies claim that there can be wide distance discrepancies between different brands, due not merely to the different methods of mapping just mentioned, but the actual satellite tracking technology adopted and the sophistication of the hand-held unit. SkyCaddie, for example, publishes the formal ‘error factor’ for its SGX that specifies that 95% of the time the yardage displayed is correct to within 1-3 yards thanks to a special omni-directional GPS ‘engine’ that locks quickly onto the appropriate satellite. [Incidentally, this accuracy is far higher than SatNav where locations do not need to be pinpointed to the same level of detail.]

However, while there are reports that different units can display differences of up to 10-15 yards for any given shot to the green, this was not borne out by our own impromptu tests.

Satellite Imagery and Video Flyover

While most GPS units display graphical representations for both their full-hole view and green close-ups, some offer high-quality aerial imagery that makes for a strikingly realistic contrast. The Callaway uPro is a case in point while this system and the Sonocaddie (the latter as a subscription add-on) also offer an aerial ‘flyover’ feature using actual helicopter footage similar to those used on TV during tournaments. This is visually impressive stuff and can be especially useful for unfamiliar courses and, obviously, doglegs and blind holes – though many would regard it as a luxury.

Full Hole View

For many of us, the overriding feature of a GPS will be the three numbers that state the distance to the front middle and back of a green as we ponder our approach. If this is all you require (along, perhaps, with distances to a handful of hazards) then the more basic units like the Caddie Lite should be considered. Others will demand the ability to see a full-hole view with more comprehensive images and data. This takes up more space, so most units limit you in some way.

For example, the Sky- Caddie SGX allows this for 50 of your favourite courses at any one time, with its HoleVue function allowing you to zoom-in to any point on the hole, for example to check your distance to the 100-yard lay-up point on a par-5.

Subscription/membership Schemes

Here is another Great Divide within the industry. While GolfBuddy, for example, offers information for thousands of courses without any further financial commitment, others like SkyCaddie require you to take out one of four subscription packages to an online membership, starting at £29.95 per year.

In our detailed review for Issue 94, last year, SkyCaddie chairman, Richard Stamper, explained “Membership is our customers’ insurance policy that their GPS unit is operating on the most reliable and updated data possible,” referring to how some rival systems using often outdated satellite imagery also risk ignoring new hazards – and even new routings – that are part of the evolution of many golf courses. Membership also gives you access to various scoring and online community activities – see below.

Some other units work with payment packages in different ways. For example the Callaway uPro has a full ProMode option requiring a subscription package starting at 66p per course though their BasicMode limiting you to essential distances to hazards and greens is free.

Self-editing Facilities

This is a potentially important feature – both to insure yourself against out-of-date mappings (see above) and to incorporate your favourite on-course reference points that may not be included in your download. In this way, you can customize yardages to and from particular trees, bunkers, ridges, etc, irrespective of the mapped data.

While this type of personalised course info is most visual on the full-hole colour screen units, such as the Sonocaddie V500, it can also be done on some simpler units like the GPS portion of the Bushnell Hybrid. Indeed, if your golf course hasn’t been mapped at all you can do it all yourself with a bit of patience next time you play.

Touch / button Positioning

In theory this is a fantastic feature, allowing you to touch any point on the image of the hole and see the distance to that point and from there to the green. Ideal for picking a lay-up spot on a par-five, or short of a transverse hazard. While this worked on the all the units that offered it, in practice it was sometimes fiddly and required a certain knack to move the virtual flag around with the tip of your finger or a tee peg. Accordingly some golfers may prefer the button navigation units that work to the same end.

Scoring/stats Features

Top-of-the-range units allow you to input your scores as you play and calculate stats with varying degrees of sophistication. These vary from the basic digital scorecards on the Sonocaddie, to systems that automatically determine the Stableford points for everyone in your fourball if you input your handicap and the relevant stroke indices (as on GolfBuddy’s ProPlay function). Similarly, the best units let you record your percentage of fairways struck, greens in regulation, sand saves and putts to identify where your game is solid and weak.

Online Community

Offering an exciting glimpse of the future are those GPS devices personalised to act as a portal to a host of online opportunities connecting golfers to golf courses, instructors, new equipment and to each other. The standout example is SkyCaddie’s Club SG Beta, where new SGX owners can ‘sync and store’ their game data in a personal performance locker, track their key stats, learn about other courses and connect with other golfers.

Smart Club Technology

This isn’t available yet but SkyCaddie’s ingenious vision in this area is worth reporting to show where GPS technology might be headed. Smart Club technology will allow each club in your bag to interact with your GPS unit via a tiny ‘intelligent’ chipequipped disc inserted in the top of the grip. The unit can then gather data on when, where, and how far you hit each club in the bag, thereby compiling a complete statistical profile of your individual game. This information could conceivably even help you be custom fit online, or inform your coach as to your progress. Actual ‘on course’ club recommendations calculated and displayed on your screen is a logical evolution (though this would face a rules ramification) while the same technology would let you know when you’ve left your sand iron by the last green…

Construction

Our units varied considerably in terms of their structural design, from the smart shiny casing of the Sonocaddie and SkyCaddie to the tough rubberised exterior of the Golf- Buddy World and Callaway uPro. Screen size and resolution is also a factor: those on the Sonnocaddie and SGX were particularly sharp and clear even in bright conditions, while the GolfBuddies allowed for brightness adjustment, with a lower clarity implying an energy saving benefit.

PART 2 – Lasers

Although several GPS systems allow you the option of moving the virtual flag around on the green to give you a more precise yardage, there is nothing more accurate than picking the flag out directly with a laser DMD.

In contrast to GPS, these work by means of a special beam that is fired at the chosen target with distance determined according to the time taken for the signal to be reflected back to the unit. Within a second or two the resulting yardage is calculated and displayed. Laser fans argue, with some justification, that their method blissfully avoids any of the GPS mapping issues, finding the course as it plays on the day while being ready to go with no annual fees or additional downloads. The typical lithium battery adopted also avoids the recharging ritual that GPS involves. But while the concept is far simpler than GPS, a few other factors and features are worth considering.

Range

The precise maximum range will vary, in practice, according to the type of target being ‘shot’. While large, reflective surfaces and trees can be measured at greater distances, flagsticks typically have a shorter range. Nevertheless, all these units offer at least 300 yards which will be enough for most of us, while the top units can measure 1,000 yards or more.

Magnification

The ability to use the device as a monocular is particularly useful for getting visual close-ups of green and bunker complexes and nuances that you might miss with the naked eye. Magnification rates are usually either x5 (eg. Bushnell Tour V2), x6 (Nikon 350G) or x7 (the Leica and top-of-therange Bushnells).

Look out, too, for lens coating systems that help disperse water in rainy conditions, such as the Bushnell RainGuard or Leica AquaDura, while the Nikon is waterproof if you were to drop it briefly in a 1-metre deep stream.

Construction and Size

These vary from the heavy duty plastic of the smaller Bushnells and Nikon to the rubber protected Bushnell Pro 1600, and the luscious, carbon reinforced die-cast aluminum casing of the Leica. While the smallest, lightest units are very compact, some golfers will prefer the same technology in a larger body as this is easier to hold steady when operating. The Leica was very ‘spectacle friendly’ thanks to a rubberised eyepiece that rolls flat.

Pin Seeking Features

This is a useful feature that improves your margin and error when aiming the laser at the flag and trying to avoid a tree or other object on a similar line beyond. All the top devices have this, called variously PinSeeker (Bushnell), First Target Priority Mode (Nikon) or First Target Logic (Leica). The technology usually works by measuring two distances on a similar line and defaulting to the closer. Do note, however, that while this has improved the performance of laser rangefinders considerably, they can still be difficult to use in extreme wind conditions.

Scan Mode

Another popular feature. This allows for continuous measurements as you rotate the viewfinder and home-in on different targets. Keep the button depressed and the readings flash up in sequence (over a duration of eight seconds in the case of the Nikon 350G).

Slope Feature

A useful feature that automatically adjusts the yardage to take account of elevation changes. See Richard’s tip on how this works in practice, though note that Slopefriendly rangefinders are non-conforming as regards the Rules of Golf – even if the feature is not used!

Different Distances?

With all these DMDs at my disposal I was fascinated to see what the distance variations between them might be but was soon surprised at how consistent they all were. For example, I stood by the new junior tee plaque on Roehampton’s 4th hole, which the club had recently installed at a carefully measured 158 yards to the centre of the green. All of the GPS devices in the test displayed a reading between 157-159 yards, with the SkyCaddie SGX showing 158 yards exactly.

Of course, for the better player wanting the exact distance to the pin, a laser DMD would now be much more useful – yet all our units gave a figure to within one yard of each other for the particular flag prevailing that day. I also ran a few spot checks on some the 150-yard marker posts on the Roehampton fairways. The inaccuracy of some of them surprised me and I’ll know in future always to carry a DMD with me and not rely on the markers! Again, this is something to think about at your club – have you often felt a particular approach shot plays shorter? Or has your drive on a certain hole never gone as far you thought it would? Maybe it’s worth picking up a DMD and testing the accuracy of each hole’s details.

Going The Extra Yard

Rather than list every feature for every unit on the market, here are my immediate thoughts on the leading devices I have been trying out over the last few weeks. Full details can be obtained from each of the individual websites.

GolfBuddy World Platinum

This is the larger, pure touch-screen model of the two GolfBuddys and is ideal for the golfer who wants their historical playing statistics at their fingertips so they can quickly compare and contrast. The unit is also great for keeping tabs on the rest of your fourball as multiple player scores can be entered into the unit. It’s worth noting there are no annual subscription or course download fees with GolfBuddy.

Guide: £329 www.golfbuddyglobal.com

GolfBuddy World

This is the smaller, sleeker design of the two and gives access to the menu system via a choice of buttons and touchscreen. The unit saves scoring and shot details purely for the round being played, although the data can be stored online through the Golf- Buddy Manager software. This unit is slightly cheaper and better for the player more interested in the course layout as opposed to on-the-spot statistical analysis.

Guide: £279

www.golfbuddyglobal.com

SkyCaddie SGX

SkyCaddie have pulled out all the stops with this device which comes with 30,000 pre-loaded courses with the option of storing up to 50 advanced feature course maps at any one time. As I discuss in my instruction, the special tilt function which allows you to access different functions such as a scorecard or a close-up of the green is very clever but you need to get the hang of it in practice I realise the company’s annual subscription may not suit everybody but there are various interesting benefits to membership for avid golfers from an online community to golf plan insurance, fitness programmes and far beyond.

Guide: £329.95; www.skycaddie.com

Callaway uPro

This claims to be the only GPS with actual aerial imagery onscreen, and one of the very few with a flyover sequence of each hole complete with 200-, 150- and 100-yard marker lines super-imposed for good measure.

Although an interesting USP, the flyover happens quite quickly so you may need to re-watch it a couple of times to get a real sense of the hole.

The unit has all of the normal GPS features, including excellent yardage feedback on each green with distances to the front and back of any surrounding bunkers.

I hear a spectacular new version [the uProMX – Ed.] is in the pipeline but I haven’t seen it yet.

Guide: £299

www.uprogps.com

www.callawaygolf.com

Golf Plus Caddie Lite

Entry level unit that gives yardages to fairway bunkers and other hazards from the tee and then distances to the green from the fairway.

It only holds up to 10 courses and without the mapping and scoring features of more sophisticated rivals.

But it was very effective for basic yardages and can also record the distance achieved by any club in your bag.

Guide: £79.99 (for the standard model) and £99.99 for the deluxe edition which includes map credits for course downloads.

www.golf-plus.co.uk

Sonocaddie V500+

The Sonocaddie comes with over 2,400 preloaded UK courses – however you do have to connect the unit up with a computer first before being able to use it.

The screen view is fantastic – probably the best on test – with instant yardages to numerous points on the hole for the tee shot.

Good touch screen performance giving you an instant yardage to any point and also from that point to the green centre.

A topend contender.

Guide: £325

www.sonocaddie.com

www.golfsmitheurope.co.uk

Bushnell Tour V2

A very simple and user-friendly device which gives effective yardages to within +/- 1 yard. Fitted with PinSeeker technology designed to pick out the flag rather than something just behind the green which could easily give you a duff yardage. Available in a cool range of colours, too. As a practical unit at a reasonable cost, this would be my first choice laser along with the Nikon 350G. Guide: £270; www.bushnellgolf.com

Bushnell Tour V2 Slope Edition

All of the above features but with the added benefit of a slope calculator which makes a prediction on the potential variation in yardage for the shot in hand. Very useful if your home course is particularly hilly! See my instruction section on this useful but, it must be remembered – non-conforming – feature. £300; www.bushnellgolf.com

Bushnell Pro 1600 Tournament Edition

The ultimate Bushnell for the avid golfer, this one has a range up to 1,600 yards and is 100% waterproof. Again this one is fitted with PinSeeker technology and even comes complete with a tripod mount which is ideal for the practice sessions with those wedges which I discuss in my instruction. £350; www.bushnellgolf.com

Bushnell Hybrid

Clearly both laser and GPS have their advantages so the idea of combining both into one surprisingly small compact hand-held unit is a winner. After all, there is nothing more comprehensive than planning your shot into the green with GPS distance measurements to the front & back followed by a laser reading directly to the flag.

The Hybrid is a fantastic piece of equipment giving the golfer all the essential information for each shot, including a 5x magnification laser and GPS that includes Shot Distance Mode and self-editing functions. OK, it doesn’t have all the full-hole view, maps and other bells & whistles of the top-of-the-range GPS units, but it was an obvious choice as my Best Overall DMD. Guide: £435; www.bushnell.com

Nikon 350G

Nikon have a flag detection system very similar to the Bushnell and it seems to work just as well, ensuring the flag is picked out and not something else behind the green. One press of the button allows for eight seconds of continuous scanning which allows for easy measurement of multiple targets. Inside 100 yards, the Nikon works in 0.5 yard increments allowing for highly accurate yardage readings. In our tests, performed very similarly to the Bushnell Tour V2.

Guide £249.99 www.nikonrangefinders. co.uk

Nikon 1000AS

The top-end Nikon measures distances up to 1,000 yards and is aimed at serious golfers in practice rounds, hence the Slope feature. I also like the active brightness control allowing you to use the unit even late in the day as the light starts to fade, which can be an issue with laser technology.

Guide £399.99; www.nikonrangefinders.co.uk

In summary

Whatever type of DMD you decide to go with there is no doubt it will help you score better on the course. Planning your shots will become easier as you won't have to rely on guesswork when standing in the middle of the fairway. Practice sessions also become more rewarding with many of the devices giving you precise yardages on how far each shot went. There is however one key point to note and that is cost.

The devices reviewed start from £150 upwards with the average price around the £250-£300 mark. The dedicated golf companies are already facing competition from the ‘app’ community with even Apple recently releasing a GPS App for the iPhone and iPad for £17.99! Remember, however, that a compass elsewhere on your device would render it non-conforming – but could this be the future?

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine






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