Should I buy a GPS watch or Laser?

Should I buy a GPS watch or Laser?

29 March 2024

We take a closer look at the benefits of both GPS watches and laser rangefinders to help you make an informed decision on whether to go for a GPS watch or laser – or even both!

When it comes to purchasing a distance measuring device (DMD), golfers are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between a GPS watch or a laser rangefinder.

Both products have their advantages and disadvantages, including the distances they offer and the method of obtaining those distances. 

The primary difference between a laser and GPS watch is that a laser provides the exact distance to the location of the pin, whereas a GPS watch provides three distances to the front, middle, and back of the green, and in some cases, even to the pin itself. However, neither is inherently better than the other, as it depends on what you are looking for in a distance measuring device.

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive distance measuring solution on the golf course, combining a laser and GPS watch is the ultimate choice, like the PRO LX+.

By using both devices, you can get every distance you could possibly need, including the exact distance to the pin with a laser, and the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green with a GPS watch.

Ultimately, the decision to use either one or both devices depends on your personal preference and specific requirements for a distance measuring device.

The combination of using both a laser and a GPS watch ensures you have every distance you could need on the golf course.

Shot Scope X5, PRO LX+, PRO L2, and G5
Shot Scope GPS watch or laser

Lasers / Rangefinders

Laser rangefinders offer golfers the exact yardage to the pin instead of the front, middle, and back distances that a GPS watch or handheld would provide. 

A laser can be used to measure how far it is to a bunker, treeline, or hazard providing you can hit it with the laser. Effectively, a laser can provide you with an exact distance to anything that you can see. 

Shot Scope lasers come with a compact carry case allowing for them to be attached to your bag, or, use the built-in cart magnet to securely attach it to a cart frame.

However, the caveat to being able to measure the distance to anything you can see is what happens when you cannot see anything? Blind holes are the downfall of all lasers as there is nothing to measure to. You can still measure to anything you can see, but this involves adding in some guesswork. 

Laser Features

Lasers like the PRO ZR, PRO LX and PRO LX+ offer Red/Black dual optics which makes it easier to see distances regardless of light conditions. 

PRO ZR revolutionises the Shot Scope laser rangefinder lineup with its DuraShield Hardshell design, premium materials, and ultra clear LCD display – golfers will enjoy a superior look, feel, and performance with PRO ZR.

Other features that are now common amongst almost all laser rangefinders are; pin lock/vibrations, slope technology (turn off to comply with tournament regulations), accuracy to within a yard, clear display with high magnification, and yards or metres options. 

Using a laser can take a bit of getting used to. Most top of the range lasers come with pin lock features but still require a steady hand to hit the target.

Lasers come with a replaceable battery which can be found in most large retail stores. Battery life is very good and lasts approximately 5,800 uses.

Depending upon weather conditions, a drawback of a laser rangefinder is that it can encounter difficulties in adverse weather conditions. Thick fog and extremely heavy rain can impact performance.

GPS Watches

A GPS watch provides front, middle, and back distances to the pin as well as to all hazards, layups, and doglegs on every hole, which are only one button press away.

Distances to hazards will be more insightful than that of a laser as they will be to the front and carry of the hazard as opposed to the point you have lasered.

Being on your wrist, a GPS watch is extremely quick and easy to get distances, simply glance at your wrist and plan your shot. 

Distances are displayed in various ways including the large unit display of the G5 GPS watch, and are easy to read with daylight readable screens. 

Watches are designed to be unobtrusive and are lightweight in design to minimise interference with golfer performance. 

GPS Watch Features

When considering whether or not to purchase a GPS watch, the main features to look for are; a clear and readable display, preloaded courses, hazard information, subscription free.

Some GPS watches manufacturers require a subscription fee to play more courses, for example, if travelling abroad your watch may not work. Shot Scope provides courses worldwide at no additional cost to the user.

Another very attractive feature of some GPS watches is performance tracking. Some require manual input and can keep your score but hide premium statistics like Strokes Gained behind subscription fees. Other watches like the Shot Scope X5 offer all of this and more with no additional fees.

Peter Finch with Shot Scope G5
Peter Finch wearing Shot Scope G5

Course mapping can present an issue with some GPS watches, in particular, if a course changes the layout of a hole or adds a bunker. Shot Scope, however, conducts in-house course mapping and so can be very responsive to any course design changes.

Simply contact the customer support team detailing the course and changes that have been made and they can update the course within 48hrs, unlike competitors that acquire their maps from third parties.

Whilst GPS watches are simple to use, the main drawback is that you cannot get an exact distance to the pin. It is however possible to use Green view and pin placement, available on the X5 and V5 golf watches, to adjust your target on the green.

However, this will never be as accurate as that of a laser rangefinder. Additionally, a watch will need to be charged and some may prefer to have nothing on their wrists when playing. 

GPS watch or laser

What should you buy? A GPS Watch or Laser

With a laser it will always be difficult to identify the front, middle, and back of the green and will involve an element of guesswork. Likewise, distances to hazards may not always be obvious with blind holes or undulations. 

With a GPS watch, you will not receive an exact distance to the pin, unless you have the X5 or V5, and will have a watch on your wrist.

Every golfer will have their own preference for one or the other and if you can’t decide, then go for a PRO LX+! It has the best of both worlds with laser accuracy and GPS distances as well as performance tracking.

It’s important to note that neither device is superior to the other, as it simply depends on your specific needs and preferences when it comes to selecting a distance measuring device.

Check out our full range of golf laser rangefinders, and our golf GPS watches.

The future of golf is powered by Shot Scope.


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