Are Rangefinders Legal in Golf?

Golf rangefinders have become popular tools among golfers, providing precise distance measurements to various targets on the course. However, questions often arise regarding their legality, usage restrictions, and the advantages and disadvantages they offer.

What are Golf Rangefinders?

Golf rangefinders are electronic devices designed to measure distances on the golf course accurately. They use advanced technology, such as lasers or GPS, to determine the distance from the device to a specific target, such as a flagstick, hazard, or landmark. Rangefinders provide golfers with precise yardages, aiding in club selection and course management and optimizing results.

Purpose of Golf Rangefinders

The primary purpose of golf rangefinders is to assist golfers in obtaining accurate distance information during their rounds. By knowing the exact yardage to targets, players can make informed decisions about club selection, shot placement, and strategy. Rangefinders help golfers assess the length of their shots more effectively, allowing them to improve accuracy and optimize their performance on the course.

Legality of Golf Rangefinders

The legality of golf rangefinders is a subject of debate and may vary depending on the tournament, golf course, or governing body. For non competitive golf they are ideal for usage but in competitions this may change. This is discussed further below:

  • Recreational Play: For casual play, most golf courses allow the use of rangefinders. They are widely accepted as tools to help players obtain accurate distance measurements, speed up play, and enhance the overall golfing experience.
  • Local Rules: Some golf courses may have specific local rules in place regarding rangefinder usage. It’s important to check with the course management or consult their rules and regulations to ensure compliance.
  • Tournament Play: In organized tournaments, the rules regarding the use of rangefinders can vary. Professional tours often have specific policies regarding rangefinder use, which may restrict their use during competition rounds. However, many amateur tournaments and club-level events allow the use of rangefinders, provided they adhere to certain criteria and comply with the rules of the event.

When should I use a Rangefinder during play?

  • Approach Shots to the Green: Rangefinders are particularly useful during approach shots to accurately determine the distance to the pin. Knowing the precise yardage allows you to select the appropriate club and execute a more accurate shot. Rangefinders provide confidence and can help you make better decisions when facing varying distances and green complexes.
  • Tee Shots or Unfamiliar Holes: When playing a new course or encountering challenging holes with hazards, rangefinders can help assess the distances and identify potential trouble areas. By using a rangefinder to measure distances to fairway bunkers, water hazards, or doglegs, you can plan your tee shots more effectively and choose a strategy that minimizes risk.
  • Shots from tougher spots: Rangefinders can be valuable when you find yourself in trouble areas such as bunkers, thick rough, or uneven lies. By measuring the distance to a specific target or a safe landing area, you can better plan your escape shots and improve your chances of recovering from difficult situations.
  • Par-3 Holes: Par-3 holes require precise distance control as they typically demand accurate shots onto smaller greens. Rangefinders can assist in determining the exact yardage to the pin, providing you with the information needed to select the right club and execute a well-calibrated shot. This can lead to more opportunities for birdies or par saves on these shorter but challenging holes.
  • Course Stratgey: Rangefinders are valuable tools for overall course management and strategic decision-making. By measuring distances to various landmarks, hazards, or layup areas, you can better plan your shots and select targets that optimize your chances of success. Rangefinders enable you to make informed decisions about club selection, shot placement, and the overall strategy to navigate the course effectively.

Pros of Using Golf Rangefinders

  • Distance Accuracy: Rangefinders provide precise distance measurements, allowing golfers to make more informed club selections and execute more accurate shots.
  • Course Management: Knowing the exact distances to hazards, greens, and other landmarks aids in effective course management, helping golfers strategize and make smarter decisions.
  • Speed of Play: Rangefinders can contribute to faster rounds by eliminating the need for manual yardage estimation or pacing off distances.
  • Confidence and Consistency: Rangefinders instill confidence in golfers, promoting consistency and reducing guesswork when it comes to shot distances.

Cons of Using Golf Rangefinders

  • Dependency: Relying heavily on rangefinders can create a dependency that hampers the development of “feel” and distance judgment skills.
  • Distraction: Constantly referring to a rangefinder can disrupt the rhythm and flow of the game, potentially affecting focus and concentration.
  • Cost: Quality rangefinders can be expensive, and there may be additional costs associated with subscription fees for GPS-based devices.

Rangefinders We Recommend

We have summed up some of our favourite rangefinders to use in golf. These will be good from beginners to advanced players depending on what qualities you require- for more information see the 2 articles below:

Rangefinders under $100

Rangefinders under $200


Golf rangefinders have revolutionized distance measurement on the golf course, providing golfers with accurate yardages to enhance their decision-making and shot execution. While their legality may vary, rangefinders are widely accepted in recreational play and many amateur tournaments- make sure you get the rules before play but yes rangefinders are legal in golf!

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