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Range Finder Silly Question


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#1 stpaulslouch

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 08:54 AM

Ok, so I finally bucked up and bought a range finder after many years of walking off distances and guessing how far away I was.  First, it was a bit humbling to see how far I actually hit the ball...and second I am looking for clarification on how they calculate distance.

Let’s say I lock onto a flag and it says I am 150 our, does that calculation take into effect the height of the flag stick?  I assume it does because otherwise we’d all be overshooting distances.  

For reference I have the Bushnell V4 Tour


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#2 Stuart G.

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 09:18 AM

Unless the unit has the "slope" feature and it is enabled (pretty sure the basic "Tour v4" doesn't, although the "Tour v4 Shift" does), it's just a straight line distance from the unit to the flag.  The height of the flag doesn't mean or effect anything - unless you mean elevation changes between you and the green.  If that's the case, it's up to you to adjust for any elevation changes (just like it was when you paced off distances).

Edited by Stuart G., 20 September 2018 - 09:21 AM.


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#3 cgasucks

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 09:24 AM

I looked your rangefinder up, it doesn't have the slope feature so it will read the flag as a straight line not taking into account if the flag is uphill or downhill.  Although it is a very useful feature at least the rangerfinder is legal in USGA tournaments.
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#4 leopoldstotch

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:08 AM

I think what i'm understanding your question is that the flag stick is 6-7 feet tall

so if you were to shoot the flag, you're actually aiming 2-3 yards higher than you actually are.

if that's the case then no, a basic range finder will not calculate that difference, it is purely to measure how far the device is from the particular point you are pointing at.

Unless you're talking about a raised green haha

That's an interesting question, i never thought about that, but i'm also not nearly accurate enough for that to affect my thinking hahah
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#5 brew4eagle

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:12 AM

View Poststpaulslouch, on 20 September 2018 - 08:54 AM, said:

Ok, so I finally bucked up and bought a range finder after many years of walking off distances and guessing how far away I was.  First, it was a bit humbling to see how far I actually hit the ball...and second I am looking for clarification on how they calculate distance.

Let’s say I lock onto a flag and it says I am 150 our, does that calculation take into effect the height of the flag stick?  I assume it does because otherwise we’d all be overshooting distances.  

For reference I have the Bushnell V4 Tour
A spin-off of what you're asking, but I'll just add that the most valuable benefit I've gotten from my rangefinder purchase several years ago was getting a much better feel for how far I hit my irons (I was also quite humbled).  However, I now make better club selections than I used to, I'm sure of that.

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#6 stpaulslouch

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:23 AM

View Postleopoldstotch, on 20 September 2018 - 11:08 AM, said:

I think what i'm understanding your question is that the flag stick is 6-7 feet tall

so if you were to shoot the flag, you're actually aiming 2-3 yards higher than you actually are.

if that's the case then no, a basic range finder will not calculate that difference, it is purely to measure how far the device is from the particular point you are pointing at.

Unless you're talking about a raised green haha

That's an interesting question, i never thought about that, but i'm also not nearly accurate enough for that to affect my thinking hahah

This is exactly what I'm trying to figure out, do I need to subtract that 2-3 yards off the distance reading to get an accurate number?  I also am not accurate enough for it to make a huge difference but it would be nice to have the number dialed in.

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#7 cgasucks

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:27 AM

View Poststpaulslouch, on 20 September 2018 - 11:23 AM, said:

View Postleopoldstotch, on 20 September 2018 - 11:08 AM, said:

I think what i'm understanding your question is that the flag stick is 6-7 feet tall

so if you were to shoot the flag, you're actually aiming 2-3 yards higher than you actually are.

if that's the case then no, a basic range finder will not calculate that difference, it is purely to measure how far the device is from the particular point you are pointing at.

Unless you're talking about a raised green haha

That's an interesting question, i never thought about that, but i'm also not nearly accurate enough for that to affect my thinking hahah

This is exactly what I'm trying to figure out, do I need to subtract that 2-3 yards off the distance reading to get an accurate number?  I also am not accurate enough for it to make a huge difference but it would be nice to have the number dialed in.

The length of the flagstick from where you are has no implication on yardage.  The rangefinder shoots out a laser and once it hits an object (flag, tree, car, house, ship, person, whatever) the laser will bounce back to the range finder and it calculates the straight yardage from there.  If the rangefinder has a slope feature, it will make a further calculation and give out its perceived or "plays like" yardage.

Edited by cgasucks, 20 September 2018 - 11:29 AM.

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#8 9400

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:36 AM

If you shoot a point on the flagstick 6 feet above the cup from the same elevation (assuming an eyeline of 6 feet), the actual distance at 150 yards out from the ball (on the ground) to that exact point on the flagstick is 150.013 yards (under 0.5 inches longer). The distance from the ball to the cup in this scenario is still 150 yards. From 33 yards, the difference is about 2 inches. These are well within the accuracy tolerance of the rangefinder (likely about +/- 0.5 yards).

Rangefinders with slope function perform calculations to adjust for the elevation change between the rangefinder and the target point.

Edited by 9400, 20 September 2018 - 11:49 AM.


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#9 stpaulslouch

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:48 AM

Thanks everyone for the response, this is super helpful!   Its been bugging me for a while that I didn't know the answer so its nice to have clarity on it.  Now I need to look for others excuses as to why my game isn't as good as I want it!

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#10 Lagavulin62

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:52 AM

I saw a man with one at the range last week for the first time. Lol.


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#11 cristphoto

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 06:43 AM

For clarity -  assume youíre shooting at a brick wall and assume youíre 6 feet tall. Also assume youíre aiming parallel to the ground towards the wall and you are 150 yards away. The reading 6 feet up the wall would be 150 yards and if you took a tape measure your feet would also be 150 yards. Just like reading the flag itself versus reading the cup,

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#12 brew4eagle

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 11:04 AM

Lay on the ground like Camilo Villegas and shoot the hole
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#13 larrybud

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 10:30 AM

9400 already did the math for you.   The elevation is pretty much meaningless when calculating straight line distances (not when calculating effective length) even when at large elevation changes.

For example, if you have a 100 yard hole on a flat surface, and then drop that green 10 yards, on a straight line that calculates out to just 100.5 yards.

A little Pythagorean Theorem does the trick:

sqr(100^2 + 10^2) ~ 100.5

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