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GPS Systems or Laser Rangefinders?

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(April 2009) Like every other golfer out there, I have always wondered which would be better suited for my game; a handheld GPS device or a laser rangefinder. I recently had the opportunity to try out a few different GPS systems and laser rangefinders and here’s what I cam up with.

GolfBuddy Tour
gps1  Here’s how easy it is to use the GolfBuddy Tour GPS system. Drive to the course and, while you’re on the range, turn the unit on (be sure not to leave it in the cart; these things have a way of disappearing). By the time you are ready to tee off, the GolfBuddy Tour will have found the course in its memory (that’s right, the courses are already loaded; no membership fees or download costs) and downloaded all of the information. It’s that easy!
Pretty much everything on this little beauty is automatic; all you have to do is look at it. From the moment you turn on the GolfBuddy, it begins measuring distances to the green and to all relevant targets. You will never need to refresh the screen or press a bunch of buttons, ever again!
One of the keys to shooting a low score (other than a good swing) is avoiding the hazards. Now that you are equipped with the GolfBuddy Tour, this will no longer be an issue. You see, the GolfBuddy displays distances for each of the “normal” hazards, (sand, water, layup points, etc) as well as aspects of the course that affect shot selection and course management. GolfBuddy lists all of the things which can affect your play, even if you cannot see them from where you are.
Let’s face it, the biggest reason you bought a GPS system was that you were tired of looking for sprinkler heads with the yardage to the middle of the green. Or, you were looking at the color of the flag trying to figure out if it is in the front, back, or middle, and then using the SWAG (Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess) method to get your yardage. Or maybe you got tired of paying that extra fee to use the course’s on-board GPS System. Whatever the case, a handheld GPS system is most useful for determining yardages. The GolfBuddy Tour is very accurate when it comes to yardages; whether it is to the pin or the front edge of a fairway bunker.
Want to know how long that career drive you just unleashed was? The GolfBuddy Tour can do that. The Mark Feature on the GolfBuddy allows you to measure the distance of your shot at the touch of a button. All you need to do is hit your shot, push the Mark Button on the side of the GolfBuddy and head to where your behemoth drive has landed. This will give you an accurate measurement of how far you hit your shot and, after all, knowing the actual distance that you hit with each club is critical to playing your best golf.
Here are some other uses for you GolfBuddy Tour. Let’s say that monster drive you just unleashed lead to an eagle but when you get back to the cart, you find that a squirrel has gotten in your cart and eaten your pencil (it could happen). No problem, the GolfBuddy Tour is also an electronic scorecard. The score tracking feature allows you to keep a record of up to 1,000 rounds of golf. In addition to keeping your score, it also stores information for the course you played and the date you played it on. This feature comes in handy for keeping your handicap, as well as going back to track your scores on previous rounds that you played at a certain course on a specific day.

Additional features of the GolfBuddy Tour include:
*High resolution color screen
*Lithium-polymer rechargeable battery
*Durable and water-resistant design
*Multi-lingual
*Score tracking module
*Large, easy to read screen
*Dynamic green view which changes the shape of the green, depending on your angle of approach.
*Custom plotting – lets you add 11 targets/course in addition to what the GolfBuddy already provides.

The GolfBuddy is the easiest GPS system I have ever seen… Just turn it on and play!

Sonocaddie V300
gps2Sonostar, the makers of the Sonocaddie V300, was founded with the vision of creating affordable GPS solutions to help players achieve a higher level of performance. Customer service is their top priority.
The V300 series uses the latest GPS technology to provide golfers with precise distance information from any point on the course. It comes armed with many of the same features as the Golf Buddy Tour.

Yardage Guide with Course Layout shot
With the V300, you get precise distance information from any point on the course. Their revolutionary user interface shows YOUR position on the golf course in real time! As you step up to take your next shot, the distance to each target is updated.
Green View – The Sonocaddie V300 displays the distance to the green from any point on the course, even without a clear line of sight, helping you to minimize poor shot selections.

Distance Calculator – The “Mark” feature can be used for every club in the bag. It provides an excellent tool to know your distance for every club you use.

Digital Scorecard and Game Analysis – With the simple touch of a button, the Sonocaddie will automatically calculate your total score, so you will quickly know how you did on the front 9 and the back 9 holes. Scores are easily erased as well!

Personalized Course Information – With the Sonocaddie V300 you can make changes or corrections to the reference points right on the spot. Be careful though, you don’t want to hold up the group behind you.

Track Your Game – Sonocaddie can record locations for each shot right on the screen, and can automatically trace waypoints during the round. The information can be stored to the V300 so you may review the round and each shot at a later date. Something to do when there’s nothing to do.

Other Features
Power: Rechargeable battery that lasts up to 15 hours
Languages: English, Chinese, German, French, Spanish.
Operating Systems Supported: Windows 2000, XP and Vista. NO APPLE
Adjustable backlit display
Storage – There are three options available. When you purchase the unit, you get to download 5 courses of your choice; after that they are five bucks a pop. The second choice is the “Birdie” membership. There is a onetime membership fee of $29.95; for that you get unlimited course downloads in the USA. If you’ve got your travelin’ Jones on and play golf around the globe, you will want the “Eagle” membership which gives you unlimited course downloads around the world. The Eagle membership also expands your storage space in the Sonocaddie website storage folder to 60 courses. Both the Eagle and Birdie membership extends the warranty on the product to one year versus the 3-month original warranty.

Bushnell Tour V2 Slope Edition:
gps3After numerous requests from consumers for a vertically configure rangefinder, Bushnell has introduced the Tour V2 with Pinseeker technology. It is even available in a “Slope Edition” which determines the degree of elevation change, then adjusts the distance to provide you with a compensated range. You will be amazed at the accuracy it provides! Be forewarned, the Slope Edition is not legal in tournament play, even though you have the ability to deactivate it. I guess some courses have trust issues!

What makes the Bushnell family of rangefinders so successful is the ease of use, the ability to be used right out-of-the-box and allowing it to be played at 100% of the courses around the world without the use of GPS downloads, prisms or reflectors. Yardage can be set to yards or meters.
This rangefinder is compact in size and has all the power you’ve ever need. The new Bushnell Tour V2 rests in your hand with ergonomic precision. Pinseeker technology allows the rangefinder to lock on to a target, eliminating the background. This Pinseeker technology has made Bushnell products the #1 rangefinder on the PGA tour. The unit features 5x magnification and is accurate to +/- one yard, 275 yards from the pin, 1000 yards to trees and 1000 yards to reflective pins.
Other product features include:
*SCAN mode
*In-view LCD display
*Adjustable eyepiece with stops
*Multi-coated optics
*Built-in tripod mount
*3-volt battery included

Perhaps the nicest feature of the Bushnell Tour V2 is how easy it is to use. There are two buttons, that’s it. The button on the side allows you to change modes; the button on the top is used to get your range. Simply aim, and press the top button. In order to use the slope mode, simply zero in on the target and hold the button on top in for a few extra seconds. This is where you’ll need a steady hand; it just takes some getting used to.

Conclusion:
Whether to go with a GPS device or a laser rangefinder is a personal preference. With a GPS system, all you need to do (for the most part) is look at it and it will give you a distance. If you choose to go the GPS route then I would highly recommend the GolfBuddy Tour. Everything is already loaded on it; simply turn it on and you’re off. My preference is the Bushnell Laser Rangefinder V2 Slope Edition. I can pick out any target I choose and get a yardage quickly. Plus, when you’re playing one of those hilly courses, it will give you a “gonna play” yardage (as in “this uphill shot is GONNA PLAY 176 yards). It came in very handy in Mesquite, NV playing in the Mesquite Amateur.