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Range Finders vs. GPS Compared

Pa Jayhawk

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This seems to be an ongoing topic that we see alot. Now that I have both and have been able to use the GPS a bit, I thought I would open this up with some of the things I see alot on my home course that is common with other course. I will also post a few picture examples to better see some differences. Compare some of the pros and cons and update it as time goes by. Get others opinions on the pros and cons and their experience.

Firstly, having both now, I see no clear winner. Although there may be circumstances that may make one a much better option for certain people. I will say the GPS is alot more fun less time consuming on the course, although it may require a great deal of work and planningto make it so. First a few obvious things for me, if you live in an area that does not have a lot of points mapped for the GPS you choose, or do not buy a GPS that allows such, or have the time to map the points if your GPS allows. The Range finder would be a clear winner IMO. If you have a GPS with only front back and center of the green, you are going to lose a ton of functionality that the Range finder will provide.

If on the other hand you have a GPS that either has alot of points for each course, or are willing to spend a good amount of time to create a good map if the GPS allows, it will be far better, less time consuming and easier to use than a Range Finder.

Personally I got the GPS as I now play a select few courses a great number of times, and usually do not use the range finder except on real questionable distance. After having used it to map my home course and on the first round, it will be well worth the money. On the other hand, I will likely still use the Range finder for rounds outside of the select few I am willing to map, or can obtain a map for. If it is only for Front Back and Center of the green, I will likely opt for the Range Finder, although my opinion may change it time. We'll see.

The devices I own are the iGolf GPS $229, and Bushnell Yardage Pro Tour for roughly $249 I believe.

I will move on to posting some picture examples from on the course and things to consider.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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This is our 4th hole. This is one example of where if you were comparing A GPS with Front, Back and Center of the green to a Range Finder, the range finder would win hands down. On the other hand, you are going to have a difficult time getting a fix on the distance to clear the Hazard. Actually only because I know all to well, there is a point on the other side that extends about 15 yards in the left center which you can't see.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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5th hole. Our course has a few blind shots and shots where you cannot judge a good distance.

This hole is a dogleg right with a tree to get past to have a shot at the green and 2 bunkers on the back of the fairway between around 190 to 220 depending on the tees and where you aim. As you can't even see the bunkers, without extra points on a GPS, you can kind of tell anything else is useless.

Edit 1 - with a Range finder, I would take a fix on the tree on the right and add about 10-20 yards, which is in fact on of the points I logged, but because I never knew a real distance on the bunkers, initially I would try and hug the tree on the right and if I came up short I was dead.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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Hole 7 on our course with a second shot that may be the main reason I not only bought a range finder but a gps as well. Par 5, dogleg left. Holes will make you happy you have one Front back and center of the green is useless on most of the holes like this. You have a blind tee shot that no range finder will pick up, you can't see the landing area. The fist picture is about 30yards up and to the left of the white tees. The second picture, you have a second shot where you are hitting into a fairway that is only 20 yards wide. 20-30 yard wide fairways is probably the norm on this course. We went so far as to mark the sprinkler heads to the 150 last year. Even the green is about 40 yard by about 18 yards, protected by a bunker and angled. This is actually a common trait on this course with the dimensions, and even if I only use it on my home course, it is worth the value as that accounts for probably 75-80 percent of my rounds since joining. Depending on where you stand and where the pin lies, you could have 3 clubs difference. on the approach. BTW, all these red marks are points I marked on the GPS
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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Here is #9. You have a dogleg right par 4. Bunkers on both sides from the tee, and you likely need driver off the tee to reach in two. I think either would suffice, but front back and center may do little unless you are familiar with the green. You are again into a uphill shot, which is a main reason I got a GPS as well, as in mountain terrain courses it is likely you are either going to have an uphill or downhill shot every hole. Kinda like the wind as to whether it is in your face or at your back. since 1/3 of my shots may be uphill, and I find the Range Finder hard to use to pick up flags without reflectors, you have the front of the bank and the tree line to aim at. The green is 2 tiered, the pin is almost always in the back 20 yards, so you like have 40 yards to contend with. You will also see how I marked most of the greens with the GPS, and the red dots on the green picture. Usually they are long and narrow so I do 3 centers and fronts. And then as many back or sides as I have room for.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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Here is the last I have of some of the examples you see alot of to maybe make a better decision. This is 16, you have a great view of the hole and the green, although when you get down below, you are faced with another semi uphill long narrow green. Another where a GPS may come in handy.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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From looking at these, I think you see my mindset on the two. A Range finder will do just about anything a GPS will if you are on level or downhill shots. You can actually likely get the exact pin position instead of green quadrants. Although I usually do not even bother with them on uphill shots. While I would say I prefer the ease of use and characteristics of the GPS considerably, they may prove inferior to the Range Finder unless you have all the other points, or can map your own. Again, I got the iGolf because Skycaddie had only 1 mapped course in this area or that I have played, outside of Front, Back and Center. To me, I would be better off with the Range Finder. The iGolf allows me to customize precisely what I want, but likely takes as long to map as to play a round. I doubt I would do it during a round.
 

chollyred

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I think all this comparison was a bunch of hooey and was just an excuse to post pictures of the gorgeous course you get to play. :laugh:
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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I think all this comparison was a bunch of hooey and was just an excuse to post pictures of the gorgeous course you get to play. :laugh:
Your probably right, they opened yesterday, so I got to play my first round there since New Years Eve. Kind of strange, as they did a little work over the winter. My least favorite hole is 13, another up hill green with hill on 3 sides. If you didn't like the number 13 before, you would hate it after this hole Unless you smash your drive, you have a tree to contend with, where no matter GPS or Range Finder, it wont take the overbearing view of the tree out of your mind.

When I played yesterday, they finally cut the tree down. I was ecstatic. Although I later started thinking that was a challenge I would never see again. Although I will likely get over that any time I play in the future. Actually this is a Par 4, and there is talk of turning it into a par 5 and put the green below, for which there may be a house where the current green lies.

Over the course of 8 months the year before last, it was the home of a wayword putter that someone must have been miffed at for 4 putting or so. Or more likely putted off the green and down the hill which I have done a couple times. Leaving me with a 50 yard shot. Kinda makes you want to leave it short if the pin is to the outside edge.
 

My Name is Nate

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Thanks for showing these examples. I was looking at get one or the other this year or next. My home course has alot of blind shots, so it would seem that GPS would be a better option.

How does the iGolf compare to the Sky Caddie?

Edit: Just saw your review on the iGolf. :)
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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Thanks for showing these examples. I was looking at get one or the other this year or next. My home course has alot of blind shots, so it would seem that GPS would be a better option.

How does the iGolf compare to the Sky Caddie?

Edit: Just saw your review on the iGolf. :)
When I checked the Skycaddie only had one course fully mapped out of all that I have played up here, and it is now private. I think alot of the courses up here have similar circumstances to what you see in the pictures for a great number of holes. With just front back and center, it would be worthless in comparison to my range finder with exception to uphill. The iGolf does Front, Back and Center + 8 additional custom points. Again, becomes a matter of the time you want to spend. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the review, all the downloadable files from iGolf are simply front Back and center. The other notables I see are this holds 40 courses and saves off to your PC and not the website.
 
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Pa Jayhawk

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After a good part of a year, just thought it may be worth updating with this quote from another thread, which kinda tells my current thoughts on using both.

Personally I like owning both especially when taking into consideration the two cheaper models I own are likely the same price as the better models of either.
I see the benefit to both, and the reason I still carry both. Right now I would likely say the GPS is better for a home course if you have one you can program and have the time and patience to map, or in the case of the Skycaddie, if they have a full map. Otherwise I would take the range finder. If you are unfamiliar with the course the range finder wins hands down in my book. If you have enough familiarity with the course, I would likely take the GPS even with only front~back~center of the green. It is just much easier to use. But if you frequently play the course, why limit it to just front back and center.

Anytime I play a new or seldom played course I reach for the range finder. Anytime I play the 2-3 courses I regularly play, it is most definitely the GPS. If I had to pick one for practice I would side with the range finder. To me it is a matter of deciding how you normally play or practice, then make a decision based on that, as opposed to deciding on what has the more functionality. If I had it to do over again I would have no problem with still buying both, although I may be apt to pay the extra for the pinseeker after hearing about how it hones in on the flag. The one I have I more rely on people, ground, or fixed objects and estimate. The key if a person decides on the GPS is to research and get one that suits their needs. I would personally find the Skycaddie useless and a waste of money for up here, were if it is set up I prefer the ease of use on the iGolf.

edit 1 - If I had to choose between one, I would likely go with the GPS because I play my home course about 95% of the time now. Last year when I played alot of different courses I would have maybe prefered the Range finder or even been happy flipping a coin to decide. Although I would maybe have to side with a more expensive Pinseeker over the GPS if I had to choose, but if that were the choice you are looking at less than $100 more for both that I own.
 

RockDawg

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Jul 3, 2007
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While I've never owned a range finder, I do own a SkyCaddie SG4 and it's really nice. I am pretty bad at visually estimating distance so I decided to try it. I haven't been able to accurately test it since none of the courses I've been to yet have the yardage on the sprinklers, but it does seem accurate. I once went to tee off and the sign and card both said 145 yds (and the tees could've only gone 10 yards (max) further back) while the SkyCaddie said 113. For me, that's a good PW. I chose the PW and hit it smack dab in the center of the green. It's also nice to see the yardags to layups and hazards. Most of the 18-hole courses near me are professionally mapped and I don't live anywhere important (golf or otherwise.). Haven't found a negative yet other than wishing it held more than 10 courses.

Edit: Nice course.
 

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