Tech-heads, rejoice! A proposed change to the Rules of Golf—if adopted, the rule will go into effect in 2019—allows players to use distance-measuring devices (DMD) including GPS units, rangefinders, and smartphone or tablet apps during play, unless a Local Rule prohibits it. (Currently, DMDs are permitted under a local rule so, in essence, the rule would be flipped.) When it comes to high-tech DMDs, the future is now. Here’s a roundup of the best stroke-saving models.
Available at amazon.com, $136
The Pulse features 6x magnification, a range up to 400 yards (250 yards to flags), a user-friendly flag-lock display, is accurate by plus or minus one yard, and can display distances in meters. It also weighs less than five ounces and fits comfortably in your hand with dimensions of 4 x 3 x 1.5. The $136 price tag proves that good things can come in small, not-too pricey packages.
Available at amazon.com, $96
Weighing just an ounce, this Bluetooth-enabled device pairs with the TLink app on your smartphone for instant yardages. It's also a pedometer, tracking steps, calories burned, and distance walked on or off the course. Enter scores, putts, and greens and fairways hit for post-round review. (Stat tracking is $1/round, $5/month, or $30/year.) The TLink comes with a white or black wristband and a belt clip. Red, blue, and pink wristbands are sold separately ($15 apiece or $30 for all three).
PRECISION PRO GPS GOLF BAND
Available at amazon.com, $113
When you swing, you'll barely feel this flexible, one-ounce waterproof silicone band. Features include an odometer, shot-distance calculator and automatic course-recognition and hole-advancement functions. Available in midnight blue or white, you get eight hours of battery life in GPS mode.
TOMTOM GOLFER 2
Available at amazon.com, $200
Meet the slimmed down successor to the Golfer. It supplies graphics and yardages to greens and hazards and tracks your shots, the distance you've traveled and the length of your round. Sync the watch to your smartphone and analyze your play on the company's MySports app. A rechargeable battery provides up to 11 hours of use in GPS mode. The wristband (gray or black) comes in two sizes.
Available at amazon.com, $299
Pre-loaded with 35,000 courses worldwide, the GPS device features built-in Bluetooth technology so that you can quickly download from your smartphone the most up-to-date and accurate information. The hi-resolution 3” color display provides aerial views of the hole you’re playing, while delivering distances to water hazards, bunkers and layup areas. The device also shows the shape of the green and gives exact yardages from your angle of approach.
NIKON COOLSHOT 80 VR AND 80i VR
Available at amazon.com, from $400
The company's VR (vibration reduction) system compensates for hand movement, which makes it easier to direct the laser to your target. The powerful units provide distances to the nearest 0.1-yard in less than half a second, with a range up to 1,000 yards, while a scan mode is also available. Locked On Technology helps deliver accurate distances to the flag, even when objects like trees, bushes, or buildings appear in the rangefinder.
Available at amazon.com, $230
A high-definition LCD display and the company's updated pin-finding technology delivers faster, more precise distances by better filtering out background objects. The 6.8-ounce unit can also capture distances through fog, has 6x magnification and seven aiming reticles (crosshair styles), and works with pins outfitted with reflective prisms up to 800 yards away. Plus, the rangefinder has a "True Golf Range" mode that provides measurements that factor in slope, temperature and altitude to within one-half yard, and even recommends what club to hit. (The mode can be turned off for use in tournaments).
GOLFBUDDY VOICE 2
Available at amazon.com, $130
The water-resistant, second-generation Voice 2 has more battery life (14 hours) than before. Tap the main button to hear the distance to the middle of the green, or hold it down for the yardage to the front and back. The screen displays all three yardages and shows the shape of the green. Clip it to your hat, pocket, belt, or wristband (sold separately, $25). Comes in blue/white or rose/white.
Available at amazon.com, $180
This sleek, lightweight unit features an odometer, shot distance calculator, and the ability to enter your score, number of greens in regulation and number of putts per round. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 12 hours of use in GPS mode at more than 30,000 courses worldwide. Color choices include black/gray and white/green.
BUSHNELL TOUR V4 AND TOUR V4 SLOPE
Available at amazon.com, from $300
The ergonomic Tour V4 is twice as fast as the company's Tour V3 and 30% smaller. It weighs 6.6 ounces, has a range from 5 to 1,000 yards (400 yards to flags), and 5x magnification. The Slope Edition has patented technology to compensate for elevation changes, and is legal for tournament play as long as the Slope mode is turned off. But here’s the coolest feature— the unit provides short vibrating pulses when it locks onto flags, so even when your game is off, you can claim a great "feel" for distance.
GARMIN APPROACH X40
Available at amazon.com, $250
This watch doubles as an activity tracker, recording distance walked, calories burned, and heart rate. The "Green View" function, meanwhile, lets you see where pins are located for more precise yardages. Plus, a tracking component records shots; the data can be sent via Bluetooth to your phone to analyze on Garmin's Connect app. The watch can also sync to your phone—you'll receive alerts for incoming texts, e-mails and calls. Available in black/ gray (left), white/ black, frost blue/ midnight blue.