Should I buy a GPS watch or Laser?

Should I buy a GPS watch or Laser?

20 November 2020

A ‘GPS watch or laser‘ is often the predicament golfers find themselves in when it comes to purchasing a distance measuring device (DMD). Both are great products for any golfer and each have different pros and cons, from the distances they offer and the method of obtaining those distances. This article aims to outline the benefits of both, to help you decide between a GPS watch or laser – or both!

The initial main differences between the two are that a laser provides one distance to the exact location of the pin, whereas a GPS watch provides three distances to the front, middle and back of the green – not the pin itself. Neither is better than the other, it simply depends on what you are looking for from a distance device.

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

Shot Scope PRO L1 laser and V3
Shot Scope GPS watch or laser

Lasers / Rangefinders

Laser rangefinders offer you the exact yardage to the pin, opposed to front, middle and back distances like a GPS watch. A laser can be used to ‘zap’ the top of a bunker, trees or other points on the course, helping you decide on a lay up yardage on a dogleg or when getting out of trouble. Effectively, a rangefinder can provide you with a distance to anything you can see. Lasers are compact and come in a case which can be attached to your bag or placed in a pocket in your bag.

However all lasers are impractical on blind holes. The only solution to this is to go to the top of the hill, ‘zap’ the pin, turn around and ‘zap’ your golf bag, then do the math. Whilst this is not ideal, it is still possible to use a one on a blind hole by doing this. Just make sure your mental maths is correct or you could be left with an incorrect distance.

Laser Features

Some of the high end lasers offer coloured optic displays, for example in Red or Black like the PRO L1. This type of feature makes it easier to see the yardages in poor light or weather conditions. Other features you should look for in a laser include; pin vibrations, slope technology (which can be turned on/off), accuracy to 0.1 yard, clear display and a yards or metres option.

Using a laser can take a bit of getting used to. While most top range lasers come with magnification and pin vibration features, they still require a steady hand to hit the target.

While you don’t need to charge a laser, the battery required can be tricky to find, even in some main retail stores. Additionally, some will struggle to function in poor weather conditions such as rain or fog.

Brands of lasers: Shot Scope, Bushnell, Nikon, Precision Pro

GPS Watches

A GPS watch provides front, middle and back distances to the pin. It also includes the distances to all hazards on every hole and their location on the hole. The distances shown are going to be more exact than if you were to try ‘zap’ a bunker with a laser. You get distances to the front and back of every hazard on most devices and they are usually only one button press away.

A laser can be easy to misplace on the golf course, they can be left in all sorts of places. Being on your wrist, a GPS watch is extremely quick and easy to get the distances you require, simply glance down at your wrist and they are there. The displays are generally large and easy to read. The watches are often light and not intrusive to the swing.

GPS Watch Features

When looking to purchase a GPS watch, the main features you should look for are; a clear and readable display, preloaded courses, hazards information, subscription free.

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

Another unique feature of some GPS watches is the added bonus or game tracking or shot tracking. Some will require manual input, and are able to keep your score, measure the distance of your last shot (or longest drive for bragging rights) and some will offer this at an additional cost. Others, like the Shot Scope V3 offer all of this at no additional cost.

GPS watches; Golfbuddy, Shot Scope, Skycaddie, Garmin
GPS watches: Golfbuddy, Shot Scope, Skycaddie, Garmin

Sometimes the mapping of a course might not be up to date on a watch, particularly if, for example a new bunker has been added recently. Shot Scope are industry leading in this area and map all golf courses in-house (rather than using 3rd parties like competitors). This means that if a new bunker is added they can turn it around and have the course updated for the golfer within 48 hours.

While a GPS watch is easy to use, if you are looking for a distance to the pin, then this is not the device for you. A laser does this but not a GPS watch. Additionally, GPS watches need to charged, compared to a battery replacement in a laser. Another downside for some people is that they may not like having to wear a watch whilst playing golf.

Lasers and GPS watches
GPS watch or laser

Conclusion – GPS watch or Laser

With a laser it is difficult to identify the front, middle and back of greens. It is also not as easy to understand the hazard positions, whereas GPS watches provide these distances automatically.

However, GPS watches don’t tell you the exact location of the flag, and some have no lay up point option. So it really depends what you are looking for. Do you want to know the distance to the flag or the course hazard information and green info?

Regardless of what you choose, a GPS watch or laser is the best thing a golfer can buy to help improve their game immediately. Combined they are a formidable duo.

About Shot Scope

The Shot Scope V3 is a stylish and lightweight GPS watch that comes preloaded with the Shot Scope’s in-house course database of 36,000 worldwide courses. The V3 automatically tracks each shot hit on the course, without interfering with your game allowing for over 100 statistics to be viewed post round.

The Shot Scope PRO L1 is a quick firing golf laser rangefinder packed with features making it quick and easy to get your distance. Simple to use the PRO L1 rangefinder is the perfect combination of size, accuracy, and advanced technology.

Check out this review Shot Scope V3 versus Shot Scope PRO L1.

Shot Scope V3 and Shot Scope PRO L1 are available to buy at


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