How To Use A Golf Rangefinder (Lower Your Scores Today!)

Golf is an amazing game and an incredible journey!

We are all trying to shoot lower scores and be more consistent with our swings and our overall performance.

The great news is there are many different options to help a golfer get better at golf in today’s golf world!

One category and approach to getting better is through the use of different products in the golf technology world.

The golf rangefinder is a great addition or gift for golfers of all ability levels.  Whether a golfer is a scratch golfer or barely breaks 100, the golf rangefinder can benefit the golfer because you need to know the distance you have left on your approach shots!

How To Use A Golf Rangefinder?

  • Step one: look through the rangefinder and locate an object to measure 
  • Step two: aim your rangefinder at a specific object, such as the flagstick.
  • Step three: press the correct button on your model to activate.
  • Step four: read the distance that is actual distance and the adjusted slope distance, if provided.
  • Step five: repeat to ensure proper distance was identified.

Note: Be careful to repeat one or two times to ensure you aren’t picking up an object beyond the object that you are trying to read a distance to.  Oftentimes, when trying to laser a flag, the golfer might pick up a tree in the background.  Hitting a shot 170 instead of 150 could ruin a round! Be precise in selecting your object to measure.

Most rangefinders come with a perfect holder that attaches to the bag. Create your system to keep track of your rangefinder!

5 Quick Tips For Using A Rangefinder

Understand The Features

Golfer will want to check their users manual to ensure they are taking advantage of the various features provided with that specific rangefinder.  For example, the rangefinder that I own will operate in meters or yards and also provide slope if set in the right mode.

Stay Steady

The rangefinder will require you to be able to hold your arms and hands somewhat steady to get an accurate read.  Over time, most golfers become better at this through practice.  If you are struggling at first, consider putting your elbows up against your sides or chest to steady your arms.  If you are simply holding up the rangefinder with one arm and can’t seem to keep it steady, add the second arm and even lock against your body in some manner.

Check The Slope

If you are playing in a tournament that allows the use of rangefinders, ensure that you are able to use the slope feature.  The last thing you want to do is utilize a feature that is not legally allowed during a tournament.  Golf is a game of honor and we should all follow the results in place.

Create A System

Store and keep your rangefinder in the same location after every use.  This helps maintain the pace of play and keeps you from losing your rangefinder.  I have seen playing partners toss the rangefinder on the ground only to realize they failed to pick it up when they are in the next fairway! 

Create your own system and place it in the same spot in your bag, push cart and power cart after every shot.  If you take it with you to a tee box on a par 3, take a towel to place it down if you aren’t going to walk it bag to your cart or bag.

Have A Battery Backup

If you play at a pretty serious level of golf, ensure that you have a backup battery in your bag.  The last thing you want to happen is to use access to your rangefinder because your battery dies mid round.  Be prepared and think of the little things prior to your round of golf.

The exact yardage on a hole like this is essential!

When To Use A Rangefinder in Golf

Situation 1: Approach Shots

The most common place a gofer will use their rangefinder is to get a distance read on their approach shots.  Whether a golfer is 125 yards of 135 yards plays a significant difference for the majority of golfers.  Even if you barely break 100, start to measure your shots and have an idea how far you hit each iron in your bag.  This will help you score better over time as you work to create a map of how far each of the clubs in your bag travels.

Situation 2: Par 3s

Some par 3s can be rather difficult.  Having the exact yardage to a pin will give you a competitive advantage.  Stop relying on the yardage on the scorecard as the tee placement will vary from day to day.  The difference between 150 and 157 yards is important. 

Make sure you check out where the pin is relative to the back and front of the green and make a club selection.  If the pin is towards the back at 157, you might want to hit something slightly less than 157.  If the pin is 157, but on the frost of the green, you might want to hit something that flies a little further than 157.  Be smart in club selection!

Situation 3: Tee Shot with Hazards

If you are playing a course for the first time, make sure you are aware of where different hazards start and stop.  You can utilize your rangefinder to measure to the beginning of the hazard.  This will help you select a club and understand if there is enough room to hit a driver or 3 wood off the tee. 

The rangefinder is very handy for these situations.  Make sure you are managing your game one shot a time.  Create a process and stick with it before every shot!

With a back pin placement like this one with bunkers in the back it is recommended to play a shot short of your yardage.

Taking Your Game To the Next Level: Using A Rangefinder

Understanding your distance left into a green and the exact yardage to the pin can be very helpful. 

However, a lot of the benefit depends on if you can accurately hit your shot that distance and if you know how far you hit each club.  I would highly recommend that all golfers create a chart of how far they hit each club in their bag, especially with their irons or hybrids.  

Here is a sample chart I have created for my own game:

ClubCarry Distance (100%)90%80%
2 Utility Iron210
4 iron190
5 iron181
6 iron171
7 iron163
8 iron153
9 iron143
P Club130123115
Pitching Wedge118110102
SW Club1059791
LW Club908274

I would recommend creating one of these charts by using a golf launch monitor, which another great technology tool in the game of golf.

These portable devices can be used at the driving range, golf course or set up in your home net or golf simulator.  These devices are game changers not only on being able to map your bag and know your distances, but they also provide quality feedback after on every shot and provide the following information:

  • Carry Distance
  • Spin Rate
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Axis
  • Total Distance
  • Ball Speed

This information will help you map your bag and know the exact distances of your irons at different length swings.  In addition, the launch monitors can be used to decide on which clubs are best for your game, develop a stock shot and much more.  I love using my SkyTrak 365 days a year in my golf simulator setup.

5 Trackman Alternatives

The process for mapping your golf clubs can looking something like this:
  • Hit 10 shots with each golf club in your bag.
  • Log the carry distance and total distance for each shot.
  • Eliminate any outlier numbers (poor hits or low spin rates).
  • Take the average of 10 shots, eliminating any outliers.
  • With your wedges, hit shots at 90%, 80% and 70%.
A complete game changer with the SkyTrak and golf simulator setup! See below for more details!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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