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GPS and Range Finders are picking up steam in the golf industry, with many people investing in them in order to improve their game.

Perhaps one of the more difficult to grasp aspects of golf, GPS and Range Finders are useful devices to help players navigate the golf course via satellites and built-in laser mechanics. But choosing the right one without knowledge of their workings can be risky as none of them come cheap. So we’ve created a simple buying guide to GPS and Range Finders which will shed some light on this rapidly growing franchise.

GPS Navigation Systems

Pre-Loaded GPS

If you’re an older golfer or technophobe then perhaps there’s a feeling of being out the loop when it comes to this kind of on-course technology. If you struggle to understand the basics of downloading golf courses onto your computer or find that having to pay for those courses is tantamount to daylight robbery then maybe pre-loaded GPS’s are the ideal solution. Golfers who simply want to ‘pick up and play’ often seek pre-loaded GPS systems as they have ready-stored golf courses built in.

Pre-loaded golf GPS devices can store from 6000 golf courses nationwide up to a mouth-watering 50,000 golf course worldwide, and are readily available for use without costing a penny over the retail price. Pre-loaded models offer all the same functions as subscription GPS devices, including pinpoint scoring for yourself and a fellow golfer, shot distance measurements to front, middle and back of the greens and they even uncover hazards lurking about the course.

Subscription GPS Systems

There is only currently one GPS device which asks for a subscription for which to use all available golf courses, and this is the SkyCaddie model. Those who do use this GPS model have said it to be well worth the money spent, and you can still use the GPS without signing up to a subscription service as there are a few golf courses readily available at your fingertips. However, in order to utilise this GPS to its full potential you will need a subscription. Basic information of front, middle and back of the green yardages and score measurements are functional, but with the subscription you will be allowed to wirelessly download golf courses and additional information not available otherwise.

Golf Range Finders

Range Finders are common alternatives to GPS devices and offer varying advantages. They do not require the need to download golf courses and there is no need for reliance on a strong satellite signal like the GPS needs. Simply point the Range Finder at the area you want to hit the golf ball and it uses lasers to bounce a signal off the target and back to the handset to work out the distance. This is good for bunkers, flags and other places or areas on the golf course. Other benefits include the function to measure the change in elevation or even changes in temperature. Unfortunately these abilities are banned from competitive play as they lend an unfair advantage so you’ll need to switch these off before playing or risk disqualification.

Downsides to Range Finders are of course present and include poor performances in fog, rain or bright sunlight as this blocks off the laser pulses which measure distances. In good weather conditions that do not affect the Range Finder it can offer better accuracy than a GPS system and is ideal for use on the driving ranges.