Best Rangefinder with Slope

It used to be that when you bought a golf laser rangefinder, you were buying a device that you wouldn’t be allowed to use in any competition. Although the USGA had made a provision for a local rule to allow distance measuring devices, they would not allow one that measured slope. For golfers who wanted to use the slope features for practice or when they weren’t competing, that meant having to own two different rangefinders.

The next evolution of the rule allowed rangefinders where the slope could be turned on with a brightly colored faceplate. That way, it would be easy for anyone to see if you were using slope when you shouldn’t be. The Bushnell Tour X and the Leupold GX-4i2 were the two models that with Slope that were legal during that period.

The latest adjustment to the rangefinder rule is that you can use any rangefinder with slope as long as you don’t use the slope feature. I guess it’s the USGA’s way of saying that they trust us to be honest. Going forward, I doubt we will see any slope rangefinders that don’t have an easy on/off switch for slope. In fact, it’s possible, we eventually won’t see any rangefinders that don’t have a slope option. Make sure you check the USGA compliance status in our Best Rangefinder with Slope summaries below.

Best Rangefinder with Slope
Precision Pro NX7 Pro - Read Full Review

We like the looks, features, and the price of this newcomer to the golf rangefinder market. This is a Slope rangefinder that meets the new USGA requirements with a switch to turn off the Slope mode, thus making it legal for competition. It looks to have all the same features as the much more expensive Bushnell Tour V4 Shift at a significantly lower price. Plus it offers free lifetime battery replacement. The NX7 Pro will also be in direct competition with the Leupold GX-2i2, which sells for a similar price. In our hands-on testing, we have been very pleased with the performance of the NX7 Pro.

Rating: 4.54 (3043 ratings)  Magnification: 6x  Slope: both
Weight: 5.45 oz.   Legal: Yes, with Slope Mode turned OFF.
Precision Pro NX7 Pro
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Gogogo Sport Vpro GS03 - Read Full Review

The Gogogo Sport VPro GS03 offers several extremely affordable options and the reviews are excellent. Of course, the price is even better! If you're a hunter and a golfer, this model should work just fine for both sports. Make sure to put it into Golf mode when hit the links. If you tend to be rough on your equipment or you play in the rain, you may want to check out Bushnell. The Gogogo VPro GS03 isn't water-resistant and the hardware doesn't seem quite as durable. Still, at this price point and a 30-day return policy, we're giving the Gogogo GS03 a thumbs up!

Rating: 4.55 (3782 ratings)  Magnification: 6x  Slope: Yes
Weight: 6.49 oz.   Legal: Yes
Gogogo Sport Vpro GS03
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Laser Golf Rangefinder vs GPS

The laser golf rangefinder vs GPS question can only be resolved by looking at the needs and abilities of the person who will be using it. There are advantages to each and we’ll try to break those down for you here. If you want the best of both worlds, check our Best Hybrid Golf Rangefinder page.

Advantages of Laser:
Laser Golf Rangefinder Review booklet graphic

  • Accuracy – A laser rangefinder will give you near exact yardage to any target you can see (within several hundred yards). It’s going to be more consistent and more accurate than GPS. It also will give the yardage to the actual flag, wherever it is on the green.
  • Learning Curve – There isn’t much to learn about a laser golf rangefinder. The directions won’t take long to read and a few minutes of playing with it and you should have it down.
  • Battery Life – The battery on a laser rangefinder will last many, many rounds. For most users, a year or more.
  • # of Courses – laser rangefinders will work on every golf course and never need to be updated.
  • Magnification – We find it surprising that laser rangefinders are allowed to have magnification. Sometimes just having binoculars on the golf course can be handy for seeing what lies ahead and with a laser, it’s built right into the device. When making a purchase, pay attention to the level of magnification. Not only do you get a better view with a higher level, it’s also easier to hit your target.

Disadvantages of Laser:

  • Hills and trees – If you can’t see a target, your laser binoculars won’t help a bit. Experience tells us that this is an infrequent problem, but when it is a problem, it’s a big one. (That’s when a hybrid rangefinder would come in really handy.)
  • Hitting the wrong target – Today’s laser rangefinders are very good about picking up the flagstick instead of targets behind the green, but it’s still a possibility that you could accidentally get the yardage to the wrong target. The closer you get to your target, the less likely this will happen. Most users will be able to manage this without much difficulty after a little experience.
  • Steadiness issues – Using a laser golf rangefinder does require moderate steadiness when shooting the target. For most people, this isn’t an issue, but for some users, it’s a deal breaker. See our 7 Tips for Using a Laser Rangefinder.
  • No front, middle and back of green distance – Although you’re getting exact distance to the pin, unless you can see it, you have no way of knowing where on the green the pin is located. Again, a hybrid would come in handy for this, but most golf courses provide some indication of where on the green the pins are located.

Advantages of GPS:
Golf GPS Comparison graphic

  • Distance to the front, middle and back of every green – Every golf GPS provides this basic information and it can be extremely valuable. Most golfers however, will do just fine aiming for the middle of every green.
  • No steadiness required – A GPS device will give you yardages without you having to aim it or even touch it.
  • Distances to targets you cannot see – All GPS devices can give you yardage to targets that you cannot see. Most of them include hazards as well as green yardages, but pay attention because some basic models only include distances to the front, middle and back of the green.
  • Hole layouts – We refer to GPS devices that offer hole layout views as “full-featured”. If you’re on a course that is unfamiliar, it’s often nice to be able to take a look at the hole layout before you play it. It’s important to note however, that these types of units have more of a learning curve and can slow you down during your round. There are some “basic” models that don’t include the layouts and in truth, that’s not always a disadvantage. On the golf course, we think it’s important to get information quickly, rather than trying to figure out your device.
  • Bonus Features – Many golf GPS devices have shot-measuring features, scorecards, statistics and more. These features can be fun and useful, but it’s important to make sure they don’t consume too much of your time and attention.

Disadvantages of GPS:

  • Accuracy – Although all GPS devices do a pretty good job with accuracy, they’re not likely to ever be as good as laser. Clouds, trees and whatever else can happen to interfere with satellites will be a factor. It’s not always ‘right on’ vs laser which will be right every time.
  • Distance to the pin – Although some of the full-featured models allow you to tap or move the pin position, it’s still only your best guess unless you have a printed pin location sheet provided by the course or tournament committee.
  • Computers – Although most GPS devices now come “preloaded” with courses, many require hookup to a computer for updates and/or newly added golf courses. Some even require hookup and online registration before they will work. This is the area where we usually find the most complaints from users.
  • Learning Curve – the more features available, the more learning required.
  • Battery Life – With any golf GPS, you’ll need to make sure it’s charged up every few rounds.

Hybrid – the best of both worlds

Although we love the idea of a hybrid rangefinder that does both laser and GPS, they haven’t become very popular. Check out the current models. If you can’t find a hybrid that’s in your budget, consider getting a budget-friendly GPS and a budget-friendly laser rangefinder

You may also want to take a look at our top golf rangefinders sorted by category.

Is Your Golf Rangefinder ‘Legal’?

Photo of Man using golf rangefinderOf course what I mean by asking “Is your golf rangefinder ‘legal’?”, is does it conform to the rules of golf?

For those of you looking for the quick answer…
The USGA and R&A provide a “local rule” that with the exception of most major professional tours (PGA, LPGA etc), is adopted for almost all competitions. So unless you’re a high level professional golfer, this most likely applies to the events you play.

The local rule allows the use of distance measuring devices. If your device (laser rangefinder, smartphone, or GPS rangefinder) measures other conditions such as Slope or wind speed, those features must be turned off or disabled. If you can’t turn off those features, then it’s not legal, but if you can and do turn them off, it is legal.
See our Best Legal Golf Rangefinders if you are looking for recommendations for laser golf rangefinders. All of the GPS devices on this site would be “legal”, so check out our Best Golf GPS page to find the one that is right for you.

For those of you who are interested in getting a full understanding of how the rule has evolved, let’s explore the joint USGA / R&A rule and decision that allows or disallows GPS and laser rangefinders to be used.

Rule 14/3b prohibits a player from using any artificial device or unusual equipment for the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play. That alone would make all golf GPS and laser rangefinders against the rules and the penalty for the breach is disqualification. However…

In 2006, the USGA and R&A decided to allow tournament committees to have the option of adding a local rule that allows “distance-measuring devices”.

If this local rule is in effect, artificial devices that measure distance ONLY, are permitted. Prior to 2016, devices that measured slope or provided other prohibited information were not allowed even if the features were turned off.

In 2016, the USGA and the R&A revised the rule (see Appendix IV-5) to allow devices with the capability of measuring conditions other than distance, as long as those features were turned off.

The exceptions to the earlier rule were the now retired Bushnell Tour X and the the Leupold GX-4i2. Both of these laser rangefinders had gotten special approval from the USGA by using a brightly colored faceplate to turn on the Slope feature, thus indicating to anyone paying attention that the device was not legal. When the bright faceplate was removed, the devices were (and still are) legal.

With the new rule, it’s more of an honor system. Faceplates are not required, and manufacturers have implemented a simple ON/OFF switch rather than the faceplate system. The player will simply switch the device out of Slope mode to make it legal.

As far as golf GPS devices go, most have been legal in competition since 2006. However, this new rule change did affect a few devices that were previously not allowed in competition. The Garmin Approach G7 and the Approach G8 both have a “Plays Like” feature and a “Club Advice” feature that are not allowed in competition, but those features can be turned off, which means that as of 2016, these devices can be used in competition.

Smartphone golf GPS apps also benefitted from the rule change. They may now be used in competition as long as no prohibited features are being used within the app OR on otherwise on the device.

Most organized golf tournaments utilize the local rule, but it’s always a good idea to read the rules sheet or check with the tournament organizer before using your golf rangefinder or GPS. Elite professional events and some high-level amateur events do not adopt the local rule. You won’t find these devices being used during a PGA or LPGA tournaments, but if you’re out there during the practice rounds, caddies and players will be using laser rangefinders and taking notes diligently.

So if you know that your golf tournament or golf group has adopted the local rule, then there is only one question remaining. Did you buy a GPS or laser that measures ONLY distance or has an on/off mode for prohibited features? If your laser binoculars measure “slope” or provide other prohibited information and those features cannot be turned off, your rangefinder won’t be allowed.

If you’re playing a friendly game, just make sure your group is in agreement about what rules are in effect. With regards to posting scores for your handicap, the local rule is in effect. You should post all scores when using your distance-only measuring device. See the USGA Rules FAQ.

Below are our top picks for legal laser golf rangefinders. If you have any questions, please leave us a message in the comments at the bottom of the page.

Best Legal Laser Golf Rangefinders
Bushnell Pro X2 - Read Full Review

We're very excited about the Bushnell Pro X2! Bushnell was quick to adapt to the 2016 rule modification that made rangefinders with Slope legal as long as the slope mode could be turned off for competitive rounds. The sophisticated faceplate hardware change is no longer required, so Bushnell put a simple toggle switch on the side of the unit. The Pro X2 utilizes Dual Display technology that allows the user to choose standard black or red VDT for displaying distance information. Just press the logo on the side of the rangefinder while ranging to switch modes. This unit also features 6x magnification, is fully waterproof, has Jolt technology that vibrates when it locks the pin, and it ranges accurately to within a half yard.

Rating: 4.77 (112 ratings)  Magnification: 6x  Slope: both
Weight: 8 oz.   Legal: Yes* When Slope Switch is turned off.
Bushnell Pro X2
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Bushnell Tour V5 - Read Full Review

Size, speed, and accuracy evolved with a new generation of tech — featuring PinSeeker with Visual JOLT, BITE Magnetic Mount, and next-level clarity and brightness.

Rating: 4.74 (510 ratings)  Magnification: 6x  Slope: No
Weight: 8 oz.   Legal: Yes
Bushnell Tour V5
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Bushnell Hybrid - Read Full Review

We are so excited to see Bushnell bring back a Laser/GPS Hybrid Rangefinder to its lineup. They've added all the features we could have hoped for on this 2018 hybrid rangefinder. This time you have Pinseeker with Jolt, making it fast and easy to know when you're locked on to the flag, but better than that, you'll also see the GPS distance to the front and the back of the green right in the laser display! Besides that, the GPS displays on the side of the unit and has distances to hazards available there. We love that there is one battery for GPS and one battery for laser and we love that you can update the courses wirelessly via Bluetooth and an app. The app also has full holeview and distances, as well as flyover views. We think Bushnell has knocked this one out of the park!

Rating: 4.51 (519 ratings)  Magnification: 5x  Slope: No
Weight: 6.1 oz.   Legal: Yes
Bushnell Hybrid
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Bushnell Tour V4 Shift - Read Full Review

The Bushnell Tour V4 Shift replaces the Tour V4 Slope model. Both are legal in USGA competitions that allow rangefinder as long as the Slope feature is disabled. The difference is that the V4 Shift has a slider switch on the side that is simple to use and displays on the outside of the unit when it is in Slope mode. We like this improvement from the Bushnell V4 Slope that gave no indication of the mode until you looked into it. This model will likely become the best-selling laser golf rangefinder with Slope on the market. It has Pinseeker, Jolt, and 5x magnification.

Rating: 4.48 (90 ratings)  Magnification: 5x  Slope: both
Weight: 5.6 oz.   Legal: Yes, if Slope Switch is Down (Off).
Bushnell Tour V4 Shift
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Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt - Read Full Review

The Bushnell Tour V4 replaced the extremely popular Bushnell Tour V3. This model is a little bit smaller and had an easy to use focus ring. Although we think the Tour V4 is a terrific rangefinder with Jolt and Pinseeker, we think its popularity will be shared with the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift. The Shift version has Slope, but also allows you to turn it off to make it legal for most competitive events as of the 2016 rule change. If you have not interested in Slope, the Bushnell Tour V4 is an excellent choice.

Rating: 4.64 (176 ratings)  Magnification: 5x  Slope: No
Weight: 6.6 oz.   Legal: Yes
Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt
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Where are the Best Deals on Golf Rangefinders?

One of the questions we get asked the most is “Where are the best deals on golf rangefinders?”. That’s a hard one to answer since the prices are jumping around all the time. Here are a few places to check.

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Golf Rangefinder Buyer’s Guide

Golf Rangefinder Buyer's GuideOur Golf Rangefinder Buyer’s Guide tries to address the general factors you’ll want to consider when buying a laser rangefinder. For actual product recommendations, see our interactive Buyer’s Guide or see our Best Laser Rangefinder list. If you’re looking for GPS, take a look at our top golf GPS recommendations.

The first thing you need to know is that ALL laser golf rangefinders are accurate to within a couple of yards. If you get one that is not accurate, it’s defective and you should return it!

So what should you consider when buying a golf rangefinder?

The first thing to decide is whether or not you want a rangefinder with Slope. Slope measures change in elevation between you and your target and estimates the distance that a shot will play, as well as the actual distance to the target. It can be a really useful feature but is not allowed under the Rules of Golf. If you don’t ever plan to use it in competition, then it’s definitely worth considering.

Ease of Use
If you’re an experienced golf rangefinder user, then you will probably be able to use just about any of the current models. However, if you have any trouble hitting the right target with your laser or if you’ve never used one, the most important factor is ease of acquiring the distance to the right target. Your rangefinder won’t be any good to you if you can’t quickly get the right distance every time you use it. The factors below often affect ease of use.

PinSeeker, PinHunter, First Target Priority
Most models today come with the technology that allows the device to separate a foreground object from background objects. That means if you’re aiming at a flag with trees behind the green, your rangefinder will show you the closest object, which should be the flag. This feature is found on most current models. Bushnell calls it Pinseeker, Leupold calls it PinHunter and Callaway calls it First Target Priority Mode. Some models also give a sound, vibration or visual cue when the closest target is locked on the display.

Laser rangefinders vary from no magnification to 7x magnification. We believe higher magnification can make it easier to hit the right target.

A rangefinder that’s too small can be a problem for those who need to use two hands to keep it steady. Two hands definitely makes ranging easier. Several wider models fit two hands quite comfortably.

Scan Mode
Most models have a Scan mode. That means that either while you’re holding a button down or for a number of seconds after you press a button, the rangefinder will scan the targets you’re ranging, attempting to get the right one. In most cases, it’s easier to use a rangefinder with Scan mode turned on, so make sure you try it.

There is a difference in readability. We’ve found that units with Red numbers are much easier to see. Unfortunately, there is usually a price to be paid for that feature.

Additional Features

Some models have additional features, particularly slope models. These aren’t critical, but can be fun.

Maximum and Minimum range
For most users, this is not a factor. Most of these lasers can measure distances well beyond a point where we need information. If you’re within 15 yards of the flag, you can probably walk up and get your distance without the use of a rangefinder, so minimum distance is pretty irrelevant.

Find the right golf rangefinder for YOU!