If you’ve been in the market for a rangefinder – one of the most innovative tools on the golf market today - you’ve likely come across a variety of different models.
But look a little closer, and you may have seen two different versions of rangefinders, one advertised as a standard edition and the other as a slope edition.
So what’s the difference?
In short, standard edition rangefinders measure distance, while slope editions measure both distance and elevation.
Let’s say you’re tackling a particularly hilly course and want to get a reading on the pin. Using a standard rangefinder might calculate the hole at 175 yards out, giving the golfer a reasonable idea of the appropriate club to choose. Slope rangefinders, however, can tell the golfer the hole is 175 yards out but situated on a slight incline, meaning the shot will need to travel a bit further to compensate for the hill. Who needs caddies, right?
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that slope rangefinders are not legal for tournament play (or technically any round that counts toward a USGA handicap). Currently the USGA requires that a laser rangefinder only measure distance. Bummer.
Still, whether using the slope edition or not, rangefinders are an extremely important tool on the course and have been increasing in popularity as the avenues of golf and technology mesh. No longer will you have to ask your golfing buddies “how far away do you think we are from the hole?” or “can I get away with a seven-iron here?” With a rangefinder at your fingertips, you’ll know exactly how far you are from the hole.
For those wondering how slope editions are able to calculate the distance along with elevation, slope rangefinders contain what’s called an inclinometer, which takes into account at what angle the device is being used. Standard rangefinders, meanwhile, simply measure the distance the laser travels from the device to the pin.
Now that you know the difference between standard and slope rangefinders, let’s take a look at some of the best options out there. Fortunately for shoppers, most companies producing rangefinders offer both standard and slope models, so you won’t be locked into a specific brand. Leupold offers its GX-3 and GX-4 models, with the GX-3 acting as a standard rangefinder while the GX-4 features a removable slope attachment, along with a club selector option and inputs for both temperature and altitude.
If Bushnell is your cup of choice, the Tour v4 comes in both standard and slope editions. The Tour v4 slope edition differs slightly from others on the market, as this model features an on/off option for the slope, rather than an actual removable attachment. Similar to the Leupold GX-4, Bushnell’s Tour X model allows the golfer to select between two interchangeable faceplates, one equipped with slope technology and one for standard use, allowing the device to be used in tournaments.