Myths about golf GPS…

GPS companies routinely claim 1-3 yard accuracy

It's a common theme in their advertising. Unfortunately for them, it is simply NOT TRUE! The experts will tell you that the Handheld GPS accuracy of a distance to a given point can be expected to be +/- 7 yards 95% of the time. The GPS technology "estimates" yardages based on a number of different factors. This means that a 75-yard shot to the middle of the green could range from 68 yards to 82 yards. A 300-yard shot would be within 293 and 307 yards. In other words, the shorter the distance, the less useful the GPS technology.

Laser technology is just the opposite. The 75-yard laser measurement would be between 74 and 76 yards 98% of the time while the 300-yard measurement would be between 297 and 303 yards 98% of the time.

It's simple, GPS cannot estimate distance to the pin

Only to stationary landmarks, such as the front, middle, and back of the green. Some cart-mounted GPS claims the ability to estimate distance to the pin, but in reality they are only measuring to section of the green where the pin is located. So, if the pin is not located in this section (because the hole was cut in the wrong spot), you will not receive distance to the flagstick estimations.

Only if they didn't care about accuracy

Contrary to what you see in paid advertisements, NO professional player in the world is using GPS to prepare for tournaments. Why? Top players do not use GPS to map golf courses because of the inaccuracy of the measurements. With that kind of money and prestige on the line, distance estimates to within 8-10 yards aren't good enough. If they were, you'd never see a caddie out walking a golf course prior to a tournament; they would just use the GPS to map the course. What you see on TV are paid endorsers telling you the company line.

In fact, it's NOT enabled most of the time

WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) is only available in North America, and it was designed to support high-precision GPS navigation of aircraft, not on-the-ground uses that can have significant problems with ground-level obstructions. There must be line-of-sight between a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and at least one of the WAAS satellites. Across the United States, WAAS satellites are in the southern sky and range in altitude from 10' to 55' above the horizon. Tree canopies and other obstructions that block this part of the sky prevent GPS devices from receiving WAAS corrections. The golf GPS companies could put indicator lights on their units to let you know when WAAS is functioning. Why don't they? Because you'd learn that it is not functioning more often than it is.

Laser wins the speed battle any day

One of the arguments heard in favor of GPS is that you don't have to touch it like you do a laser rangefinder, which has to be picked up and fired for each shot (seems like a small price to pay for information that is accurate and useful). I think what they forget is:

  • Course Downloads - take it home, plug it in, go to the website, find the course?
  • Recharging - take it home every night to plug it in. Wouldn't you like to just leave it in your bag? Well, you can't.

Odds are the sprinkler head markings are correct

Your GPS is giving you the wrong measurement. As you read through this site, you'll see that it is common to get GPS readings that are off by 7 or more yards. And keep this in mind - if you find that every sprinkler head on the course is incorrect, don't you have to question the tool you are using to "check" those measurements?

If you want to check sprinkler heads, use a laser. It's simple, fast, easy, and, most importantly, accurate.

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19 Responses to “Myths”

  1. Dan (July 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm)

    No post has been removed, but we do our best to make sure spam is not posted. Three postings in a short period of time, with no pause in between, can sometimes be considered spam by the machine.

  2. Dan (July 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm)

    This is absolutely a site that is pro-laser rangefinder. The name of the site is “laserisbetter”.

  3. William Donato (June 30, 2015 at 06:03 am)

    Interesting when I post ANTI LASER RANGE FINDERS, they remove my postings……folks the owners of this page are not only biased to the extent of being ridiculous, but just do not know what they are talking about

  4. William Donato (June 29, 2015 at 07:55 pm)

    This site is so so obviously laser finder biased……my goodness man, do you really sleep at night or do they pay you so much you do not care if the truth is told or not….you must be the child of a politician

  5. lovesgolf (March 10, 2014 at 02:35 pm)

    Just read an article about ShotLink. Used on the PGA Tour to track stats of the players. Uses nothing but laser due to their accuracy, ease, etc. Lasers are perfect for golf — accurate and they tell you distance to any object on the golf course including the flagstick.

  6. Dave (December 8, 2013 at 09:49 pm)

    I’ve tested the Birdie Apps gps app on over 180 holes and it has never been more than 1 yard off. Granted, the gps chip does take some time to “warm up” and connect with multiple satellites to reach that level of accuracy. But after 30 seconds or so, for the rest of the round, I’ve field tested and found them to be quite adequate.

  7. Ray (July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm)

    I found that everyone that I played with that loved their GPS have been crappy players, and were content with being a crappy player.
    If you don’t need an accurate distance to a flag on a green you are probably arn’t a player that can hit the ball very well, and it makes no difference if you know how for the flag is because you can’t hit it there anyway.

  8. Carole (July 17, 2013 at 07:31 am)

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  9. Franchesca (March 30, 2013 at 08:00 am)

    I absolutely didn’t expect to see a information like Laser is Better: Laser vs. GPS distance finders for golf. today. Very impressive. Reminds me of something I learned about romantic winter vacation the other day.

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  10. Max (February 15, 2013 at 10:20 am)

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  11. David (January 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm)

    I’m a newer golfer with a 14 USGA handicap. I have been using a “pay for” version of a free GPS golf app for my smartphone (score cards, club distances, extensive stats are all tracked in the “pay for” version) for the last year. While the GPS is handy, and the stats are really helpful, I find at this point in my game improvement strategy, I really need help tracking how far my shots go during a practice session. Sure, it’s all groovy to hit a large bucket of balls a million miles, but that doesn’t improve scores. Knowing exactly how far a certain club and swing will hit a ball is probably the most important knowledge any golfer can have. I am thinking about getting the laser finder to supplement my practice sessions so I can increase the accuracy of my short game. If the laser can tell me how far I shoot each shot, over a period of 30 or more similar shots, I want it. GPS can’t do that efficiently. How far did my 3/4 gap wedge go? 82 yards? That’s really the only way I’m going to break into the 70′s. But the app was $14, and a range finder $300. If I’m going to shell out that much more money, it had better be for a good reason.

  12. Vince (October 21, 2012 at 06:00 pm)

    Dan… when’s the last time you used a GPS? Most models have a full top down image of the entire hole where you can pick any point and it’ll give you distances to the point and from that point to any point on the green… having “only pre-mapped landmarks” simply doesn’t exist anymore. Hitting a lay-up over a hill and there’s a bunker that you can’t see…? Would you rather have your laser or my gps? A GPS unit can do EVERYTHING a laser can do… the only difference is the GPS information is not accurate to the exact yard. Yet for that accuracy… you’re sacrificing all the GPS features that your laser can’t touch. How many amateur golfers need that kind of accuracy? C’mon man. Lasers have their purpose among competitive and LOW hcp golfers. However… this website is doing a major disservice to the golf community as a whole by slamming GPS units with outdated and biased information.

  13. Dave W (October 16, 2012 at 08:15 am)

    This is blatant advertising by the Laser companies. The other Dave said it perfectly. I use GolfLogix currently (12 handicap) and it is great for what I use it for. I have tested it several times with the yardage markers on the course and at most courses it’s within a couple of yards (and always in the same direction (short or long, almost never both). I do find courses that are off and for those I just use it for scoring and stats (can’t do that with a laser). That being said, my big purchase this winter is going to be a laser. I have started working with a coach and it’s worth the money just to have it on the range to see the distance to the pins, front, and back of the greens. I also find that it is quicker for me to hit a yardage with a laser than to wait for my phone to register the yardage some times, however, I’ll also keep Golflogix running for scoring, stats, and blind shots.

  14. Dave (October 5, 2012 at 09:16 pm)

    You guys need to stop bickering, both tools are great. I’m a 5 hcap and at the point where if i’m at 125 yards or in, I want an exact yardage. GPS doesn’t give me that. its too unreliable. But when i’m on a resort course and I blow my drive into an ajacent fwy but still have a clear shot at the green but no way of getting a yardage or a clear shot at the flag with laser, give me GPS all day! Oh yeah, and then there is that little problem of Uphill or downhill blind shots. HAve fun with your laser there. There is a place for both. What I laugh at are idiots who are 15 hcaps who will spend $400 for a driver, $200 for a putter but wont take a lesson and wont spend $100 for a golf gps or $200 for a laser.

  15. Dan (October 4, 2012 at 03:37 pm)

    Are you kidding? Erase these comments? These are great comments! This site was designed specifically for GPS users. Golfers who are already using the correct tool (laser) don’t need this information! There’s no question that GPS can be accurate at times, as long as conditions are right. As long as you want “just OK most of the time” info for your money, you’ve found the right product. But if you’re going to pay for it, why not have the best information you can get all of the time — accurate distance TO THE FLAGSTICK (or any other target you would like — another great benefit of laser – you aren’t locked into only the landmarks provided by the map). General measurement information is free — just check the sprinkler heads and you can get all the “middle of the green” measurements you would like!

  16. james smith (October 4, 2012 at 11:17 am)

    I like my gps i compare it to the yd markers on the courses an find it to be right with them within a yd or so an if that isn’t close enough for an average golfer i suggest you get a caddie

  17. ken (October 3, 2012 at 02:56 pm)

    GPS works well for me. Now for shots inside of 100 yards, in my opinion one should not be using a GPS device. As long as the pin position is known, the player is close enough to judge the distance the old fashioned way. For those with big budgets and a propensity to get “hooked on electronics” , a laser unit would work for them.
    I do not care for an article that essentially trashes GPS devices when they are a useful tool for millions of players.
    Tell me is this an objective story? Or an advertisement for laser products?

  18. Allen (October 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm)

    I will never give up my SkyCaddie SGX. The extra information it holds is far too valuable.

  19. Doug (October 1, 2012 at 07:41 pm)

    I use the “golf buddy” GPS and this is more than accurate enough for most amateur players. How many amateurs hit the same club the same distance two times in row? Very, very few. The GPS is simply a tool to help estimate the distances to the green, the hazards, how far it is to carry a hazard, etc. I play every Saturday morning with two friends who use lasers. They very well in fact may get more accurate readings, (how do I know my reading is wrong??) but the bottom line is I still beat them every week. I shoot in the low to mid 80′s (11.2 GHIN) and the GPS is more than accurate enough for me. Amateur players simply need a reference distance to certain points on the course. In fact, anyone wishing to lower their scores probably reads several golf magazines. Article after article, pro after pro advises to lower your score significantly, always, always shoot for the middle of the green. That said, yes, the GPS units are more than accurate enough for the average player. I fully realize this will not get published as this statement of fact is in direct contradiction to the Laser manufacturer/sponsor of this site.

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