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GPS or Laser Rangefinder?

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73 replies to this topic

#31 i*windows

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 08:41 AM

I like my GPS, I play on mainly hilly courses where you cant always see where the flag is or the hazard, and the GPS will draw a nice little hole layout and I move a little pointer to pick out obstacles and see how far they are. I'm always amazed that something I think is 70 yards away is in reality 110 yards,

Just hit the damn ball.
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#32 hahanice

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 03:29 PM

Has anyone used a laser and gone back to a GPS? I was using a bushnell tour z6 and for some reason it stopped giving me distances. i can still shoot items, but nothing happens. only lasted about a year. i have a smartwatch that i had been using hole 19 on and feel like its been pretty decent. not sure if i want to spend the money on another rangefinder when i have free option in front of me.

anyone gone back to GPS like this?

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#33 retep

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Posted 01 November 2016 - 07:05 PM

I just sold my garmin watch for $100.  Back to my 6+ year old leupold, which i keep a spare battery in the case with it all the time.  I think the watch isn't ready for prime time because you have to charge it and it just seems too difficult to remember that chore, as well as the proprietary charger cable made me have a meltdown one day. Rangefinder is the way to go until the gps watch gets more mature.  2 years or so, i guess it is a battery thing for now.

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#34 HoosierMizuno

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 07:49 AM

a good gps watch can give you front and carry distances to fairway bunkers, ponds, creeks, etc and what i find more important than one number to the flag....the front middle and back of a green. too often i was locked in on a number when using a laser that i wouldn't consider how many yards i had in front of or behind the flag. also, wearing a gps watch eliminates the chance i'll leave it on a tee bed, something i did more than once with a rangefinder.

i do miss having the rangefinder on the range, but on the course i'll take gps every time.
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#35 avrag

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:03 PM

I always wonder, why people always talk about the watches, when it comes to GPS-units. There are others, which are much more user friendly.
If you don't know that you hit your 8-iron exactly 153 yards 2 feet and 3 inches on the fly, a laser won't be much more useful than a GPS like a Garmin Approach.
And the latter has the added advantage of showing you the complete hole including bunkers, water hazards, doglegs and lets you measure the distance to them within a yard or two, and it also shows you pretty exact yardages on blind shots and doglegs.

I see a gap. There definitely is a gap.

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#36 North Butte

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:18 PM

I've been looking for one of those rangefinders that round off to the nearest 10 yards. Where do you find those?

Please quit repeating the stupid canard that anyone using a rangefinder must be trying to measure the distance to an insanely precise degree. That's just how the units report yardage. It doesn't mean the guy who looks down and sees "162" gives a darn about the difference between 160, 162 or 165.
Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#37 Hateto3Putt

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:35 PM

I was one of the early adopters of GPS. Although I liked the unit (Skycaddy), it never really did all that it promised, or even I had hoped for.

I switched to laser years ago, and have never looked back. I do have a mini Golfbuddy (with a backup battery) that lives in the bag and will get used at new tracks, but for the most part stays in it's pocket.

I'll not rehash all the "I think mine's better because" arguments, but I will say this...If the GPS owners biggest gripe about Lasers is that "They're too accurate!", you may want to rethink your position.

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#38 Argonne69

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:44 PM

View PostHateto3Putt, on 02 November 2016 - 02:35 PM, said:

I was one of the early adopters of GPS. Although I liked the unit (Skycaddy), it never really did all that it promised, or even I had hoped for.

I switched to laser years ago, and have never looked back. I do have a mini Golfbuddy (with a backup battery) that lives in the bag and will get used at new tracks, but for the most part stays in it's pocket.

I'll not rehash all the "I think mine's better because" arguments, but I will say this...If the GPS owners biggest gripe about Lasers is that "They're too accurate!", you may want to rethink your position.

A Skycaddie that is used for basic hole layout, and distances can't be beat. I agree that they never really delivered on the other bells and whistles, but I don't use the extraneous features, as they rarely work, and/or they drain the battery.

My beef with lasers is that they are one trick ponies. They provide distance to a visible target. 'Completely useless if you don't have line of sight to the target, which happens frequently on rolling terrain, or if you're over in the the next fairway. With a quick glance at the HoleVue on my SkyCaddie, I can easily see the preferred landing area, and distances to, and over, fairway hazards. I can also select a landing point, and instantly know the distance to the green from that point, allowing me to select the right club to reach that point. How does one calculate the distance to the point in the middle of a fairway with a laser? What if that point is on the other side of a ridge? How does one calculate the distance to the end of a fairway on a dogleg with a laser? Can you focus on the edge between the fairway and the first cut?

How does one measure the distance to the front of the green on a line to the flag on an elevated green? What about the distance to the back of the green?

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#39 North Butte

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:51 PM

Agreed. Yardage book, knowledge of the course, caddie and/or GPS if you want to know where you are to arbitrary spots. Or maybe someone with supernaturally steady hand with a laser.

I keep a little Bushnell Ghost around just for the 3, 4, 5 rounds a year I play on unfamiliar courses. The other 100+ rounds I already know where I am relative to fixed points, my laser is used to fill in information on the flag location the half-dozen times it matters in a typical round.

The one thing every GPS I've ever owned does (and it drives me crazy even if it doesn't really matter) is to temporarily settle on what looks like a steady number a couple seconds after I quit walking. Then in the time it takes me to hit my shot it changes by anywhere from a couple to maybe eight or so yards. Every single one of them will do that at least a couple times a round.

Nothing fills you with confidence like being given a number like 146, hitting the shot and then being told "Nah, I was just messin' with you. It's really 139". The only way to avoid it with the Ghost is to stand still for 20-30 seconds and make sure it's not going to change its mind...which I'm not going to do. Ever. Heck when I want a number to the flag from the laser I usually do it while I'm still walking.
Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#40 Argonne69

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:56 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 02 November 2016 - 02:51 PM, said:

Agreed. Yardage book, knowledge of the course, caddie and/or GPS if you want to know where you are to arbitrary spots. Or maybe someone with supernaturally steady hand with a laser.

I keep a little Bushnell Ghost around just for the 3, 4, 5 rounds a year I play on unfamiliar courses. The other 100+ rounds I already know where I am relative to fixed points, my laser is used to fill in information on the flag location the half-dozen times it matters in a typical round.

The one thing every GPS I've ever owned does (and it drives me crazy even if it doesn't really matter) is to temporarily settle on what looks like a steady number a couple seconds after I quit walking. Then in the time it takes me to hit my shot it changes by anywhere from a couple to maybe eight or so yards. Every single one of them will do that at least a couple times a round.

Nothing fills you with confidence like being given a number like 146, hitting the shot and then being told "Nah, I was just messin' with you. It's really 139". The only way to avoid it with the Ghost is to stand still for 20-30 seconds and make sure it's not going to change its mind...which I'm not going to do. Ever. Heck when I want a number to the flag from the laser I usually do it while I'm still walking.

I'm the opposite. I play ~80% of my rounds on new or unfamiliar courses (once every 4 to 6 years). Yardage books are a pain, and not to mention expensive for a single round on a course that I'll likely never play again. 'Not sure what models of GPS you've used, but my SkyCaddies have always settled in fairly quickly.


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#41 North Butte

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 03:03 PM

I had a first generation SkyCaddie. Don't get me started on that piece of junk. Or on the company itself. Great maps, doesn't matter.

Over the years I've tried Garmin G-something (was there a G2 maybe?), the Callaway MX, Garmin S1 watch, original Bushnell Neo, now the Neo Ghost.

Of those the Ghost wanders around the least often. Garmin S1 and origina Neo were the worst, both of those took at least 15-20 seconds to settle down every time. The others all might do it not at all one round then half a dozen times the next.

Through all of that my Bushnell Medalist took a licking and kept on ticking for nearly a decade before being dropped and tumbling down a hill the gunch one too many times. So I got a Tour V3 that'll do me for the next ten years I hope.

People tell me their GPS doesn't do the wandering thing. But I've heard guys stop walking call out "143" then a minute later "Actually 146" or whatever. It sure seems to me the fundamental nature of the units to take up to half a minute to catch up to the actual position. Even the ones I've seen attached to carts at golf resorts take a few seconds to settle. If my car GPS acted like that I'd be making U-turns every couple miles...

P.S. I'm probably just expected too quick response. If I'm walking and look at my watch and it says 160...162...159 and then I stop a couple paces later I expect to be pretty much 155, 156, 157 yards from the green. But they all seem to be lagging 8-10 yards behind while I'm walking, at least on the times they don't overshoot and then back up.

Edited by North Butte, 02 November 2016 - 03:06 PM.

Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#42 avrag

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 03:17 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 02 November 2016 - 02:18 PM, said:

Please quit repeating the stupid canard that anyone using a rangefinder must be trying to measure the distance to an insanely precise degree.

I will quit repeating that the minute mid handicappers quit repeating the stupid notion that they "need" a laser, because GPS systems aren't accurate enough for them.

Edited by avrag, 02 November 2016 - 03:17 PM.

I see a gap. There definitely is a gap.

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#43 avrag

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 03:19 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 02 November 2016 - 02:51 PM, said:

Agreed. Yardage book, knowledge of the course, caddie and/or GPS if you want to know where you are to arbitrary spots. Or maybe someone with supernaturally steady hand with a laser.

I keep a little Bushnell Ghost around just for the 3, 4, 5 rounds a year I play on unfamiliar courses. The other 100+ rounds I already know where I am relative to fixed points, my laser is used to fill in information on the flag location the half-dozen times it matters in a typical round.

The one thing every GPS I've ever owned does (and it drives me crazy even if it doesn't really matter) is to temporarily settle on what looks like a steady number a couple seconds after I quit walking. Then in the time it takes me to hit my shot it changes by anywhere from a couple to maybe eight or so yards. Every single one of them will do that at least a couple times a round.

Nothing fills you with confidence like being given a number like 146, hitting the shot and then being told "Nah, I was just messin' with you. It's really 139". The only way to avoid it with the Ghost is to stand still for 20-30 seconds and make sure it's not going to change its mind...which I'm not going to do. Ever. Heck when I want a number to the flag from the laser I usually do it while I'm still walking.

My Garmin Approach G6 has never done that in 2 1/2 years of use in four different countries.

Edited by avrag, 02 November 2016 - 03:20 PM.

I see a gap. There definitely is a gap.

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#44 North Butte

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 03:24 PM

It's not that I don't believe you or the other people who have said that. But after half a dozen different units in a 10+ year span I'm not going to try any different ones to find out. On the occasions when I do that the Ghost to an unfamiliar course I just go off the first number I see and be done with it. There aren't many occasions when being off by half a dozen yards matters anyway it's just annoying.

I probably walk too fast or something.
Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#45 Argonne69

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 03:38 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 02 November 2016 - 03:24 PM, said:

It's not that I don't believe you or the other people who have said that. But after half a dozen different units in a 10+ year span I'm not going to try any different ones to find out. On the occasions when I do that the Ghost to an unfamiliar course I just go off the first number I see and be done with it. There aren't many occasions when being off by half a dozen yards matters anyway it's just annoying.

I probably walk too fast or something.

I guess it's because I rarely need an exact yardage. If I'm hitting an approach shot, I need a general idea of the distance to the front and back of the green along a line to the pin. If it's a sucker pin, and I don't have a lot of green to work with, I'm firing to the middle of the green anyway, and +/- 3 yards is plenty of room for error.

If I decide to go for the line to the pin, a rough yardage to carry the front of the green is sufficient. I have to give myself room for error, so I'm usually adding 5 yards anyway, and subtracting 5 yards from the back of the green.

Newer GPS chips are much quicker to lock in than the older models. My newest SkyCaddie Touch stabilizes faster than the older models.


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#46 Schex

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Posted 17 November 2016 - 10:15 AM

I have been using SwingXSwing on my phone for the last few years. (iphone 6) I do like it except for the lag times & changing yardage. It also helps with adjusting for slope and tries to include the wind although I don't put a lot of faith in the wind readings. I love the scoring and stats function as well as the stats it produces. I am pondering a laser to both speed things up and provide better accuracy. But, if I end up using both not sure it's worth it. I don't wear a watch normally but maybe a GPS watch that did score and stats and is fast is the answer.
Any one else using swingXswing?
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#47 Argonne69

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 10:30 AM

How does a laser provide information about a dogleg, especially if it's on a links/prairie style course with no trees through the fairway? Even if you can shoot the trees through the dogleg, how does that help in determining the distance to the first cut? The trees could be 20 yards through the thick rough.

Does every scorecard provide a view of the hole, and give you a distance to reach/carry fairway bunkers? A few, but the vast majority do not.

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#48 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 03:45 PM

View Postrainycitygolf, on 18 November 2016 - 12:46 AM, said:

Reading the other posts one can conclude that neither laser or gps are perfect but both are better than pacing out your shots, looking for yardage markers or guessing.

Here is my list of pros and cons of both:
Laser:
Pros:
1. "Exact" yard from your location. More accurate-- so long as you hit the right target
2. Better battery life/ does not need to be recharged
3. Slope information
4. Can be used on range or for other sports
5. No set up/ programming/ easy to use
6. Laser the group in front of you to see if they are out of range
7. Check out the cart girl
8. measure random features like hedge rows, boulders, fairway targets

Cons:
1. Expensive- way less than the used to be
2. Time consuming
3. Players with shaky hands can not use
4. Targets hard to hit. Might be hitting the ground or tees behind. Flag poles without relflectors hard to hit
5. Can not be used for blind shots or when players have the flag pulled
6. Can be lost since it is not attached to body/ constantly pulled out and put away
7. No information about fairway shape unless you can see i
8. Hard to impossible to get accurate front/middle/back of green distance
9. No info about green shape

Gps:
Pros:
1. Faster
2. More features/ more information
3. Shows layout of unfamiliar course/ greens
4. Used for blind shots
5. Slope + other information
6. Shaky hands not a problem
7. Help with planing out all shots

Cons:
1. Can be complicated- not really
2. Recharge battery
3. Subscription / update charges- only 1 brand has this
4. Less accurate
5. Update periodically- not really an issue, as updating is not mandatory
6. Course might not be programmed to unit- haven't found one in US or Canada yet that isn't... but it could be an issue in some countries.
7. Watches can get in the way of swing- I thought that initially as I don't wear a watch, but was never noticed on the course unless I forgot it, then I'd miss it.  But a watch is only 1 option, there are also handhelds and fobs.
8. Some units hard to read- I wear 1.5 readers and can still see everything on my Neo-X and now X40
9. Auto advance feature can screw up function
10. Can't use on range


Please feel free to let me know if I missed anything.

For myself I have yet to use a gps but I'm not ready to dive in. The only yardage I need at this point is on the approach. I'm not as interested in the added features and yardage from the tee boxes. The score card provides enough information about hole layout generally and laser gives me information about dog legs. I can't quite justify getting a high end gps unit yet. A less expensive one might do like the bushnell neo ghost.

Side note, I don't understand people who use GPS apps on their phones.
1. The battery life on my phone would never last long enough.
2. All the constant text messages and phone calls I get are too distracting. The reason I golf is to get swags from those things.

See comments above.

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#49 North Butte

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 03:50 PM

BDP5 adds some good points.

For me the most important factor is how often you play courses with which you are not familiar. If you already know the layout of each hole before you tee off and there are no surprise hazards or whatnot, a lot of the benefit of the GPS goes away.

OTOH if you play different courses constantly and they are the typical modern layouts with numerous hazards and various twists and turns to obscure your view, just having a laser still leaves you needing a yardage book, a practice round, a caddie, as Sherpa guide, something.
Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.

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#50 sheldonjhacker

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 03:54 PM

See post #4  :derisive:


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#51 Argonne69

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 04:09 PM

View PostNorth Butte, on 18 November 2016 - 03:50 PM, said:

BDP5 adds some good points.

For me the most important factor is how often you play courses with which you are not familiar. If you already know the layout of each hole before you tee off and there are no surprise hazards or whatnot, a lot of the benefit of the GPS goes away.

OTOH if you play different courses constantly and they are the typical modern layouts with numerous hazards and various twists and turns to obscure your view, just having a laser still leaves you needing a yardage book, a practice round, a caddie, as Sherpa guide, something.

Didn't most of the courses abandon their Sherpa programs in the 80's?

I agree. I have played on 75 different courses this year. 52 courses were first time visits. 'Simply no way to intelligently manage a round on the courses without the detailed information provided by my (SC Touch) GPS.

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#52 Yanki01

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 04:14 PM

View Postsheldonjhacker, on 18 November 2016 - 03:54 PM, said:

See post #4  :derisive:

eh, a buddy has a bushnell and i use my golfshot gps app. it's off by roughly 5yrs. I'm fine with using my gps app, it also keeps track of my score, I can track distances, gives club recommendations and handicap but i know many swear by the rangefinders.
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#53 brew4eagle

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Posted 21 November 2016 - 07:06 PM

I've had and tried both, now I only have a laser.  Point, shoot, done.  Accuracy never in question. Friend uses gps app, he very often has a different distance than my laser.
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#54 Schex

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Posted 21 November 2016 - 08:24 PM

Yeah, maybe I stick with my phone for maps, scoring and the GPS but add the laser rather than get a different GPS than what I have on my phone (SwingXSwing) which works pretty good, but not as fast as a laser
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#55 madeinguam81

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 08:00 PM

Used to only use GPS but now I 100% depend on rangefinder.

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#56 kenstl

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 06:13 PM

I have a laser, my iPhone that I run GolgLogix on, and a Ghost that i can use.  I really like the ease of using GPS and use it most of the time, but it cost me a stroke on my last round.  I was using Golf Logix playing a par 5, I drive the ball in the fairway.  The second shot had a narrowing path toward the green as there was a lake on the right that then wrapped in front of the green.  I was looking for safe distance to lay up while taking the water out of play in case i pushed it right so I used the distance given to me on the golf logix overhead and it stated it the water was 211 when i moved the cursor to the edge of the water.  I hit t a 180 club and it found the water.  I know if I had shot the laser I would of found something visually that was well out of the way of the water.  Lesson learned.  

I still like the ease of the GPS and quite frankly, it was right on most of the round when looking at distances to the green on gps and comparing them to my laser, but I always feel more confident with the laser.
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#57 jmar87

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 01:44 PM

RF all the way
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#58 Need2golfalot

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:53 AM

Laser is better for accuracy to the pin.  I like the GPS off the tee for layup distance on short par 4 with hazard for example.  Also like the GPS for measuring drives.

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#59 ThinkingPlus

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:34 AM

I am all about precision.  Standard GPS is 10 m SEP (Spherical Error Probability).  They do better in the horizontal plane (my estimate is 3 - 4 m).  If you have acess to differential you can do better, but when do you know?  Some courses may have it, others may not.  Plus you have to rely on the attention to detail of a low wage employee mapping the pin positions correctly at each course you.  I would hate to think the accuracy that I know distance to the pin hinges on whether someone had a hangover or not when they setup the course!

The worst laser rangefinder is good to a meter or better.  Additionally I have designed and built laser rangefinding systems.  Wrote the software as well.  In this case familiarity instills trust!
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#60 Need2golfalot

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:43 AM

Why is one GPS device (watch or phone app) always (usually) different from another when compared side by side.  Is it the course mapping or sattelite positioning?

My watch would consistently underestimate the distance on certain holes.


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