GPS watch or laser golfers on course

20 November 2019    Golf      by 0 0 Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

What should you buy? Laser or GPS watch – what are the differences?

GPS watches and lasers are both great products for any golfer. They are 2 very different products to use, but both provide the golfer with distances to certain features of a golf course/hole.

A laser provides one distance to the exact location of the pin. Whereas a GPS watch provides 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.

Bushnell Laser v Shot Scope gps watch
Bushnell Pro X2 Laser and Shot Scope V2 GPS Watch


Lasers 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 banking of a bunker, trees or other points on the course. 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 run to the top of the hill, ‘zap’ the pin, turn around and ‘zap’ your golf bag, then do the math. This is not ideal, as it is time consuming, requires more effort and energy from you as well as adding in some mental maths which could be done incorrectly, leaving you with an incorrect distance.

While you don’t need to charge a laser, the battery required is tricky to find, even in some main retail stores. Additionally, lasers struggle to function in some poor weather conditions such as rain or fog and some brands even struggle to differentiate between the pin and trees behind the green.

Brands of lasers: 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. A GPS watch on the other hand, is pretty impossible to lose as it is physically attached to you, around your wrist. Being on your wrist makes it extremely quick and easy to get the distances you require, simply glance down at your wrist and they are there.

The display is large and easy to read. The watches are often light and not intrusive to the swing.

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.

Brands of GPS watches: Garmin, Shot Scope, Golf Buddy


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

GPS watches still don’t tell you the exact location of the flag, so now the real difference depends on what you want to know. 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.


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