NEW! GolfBuddy LR4
NOW I'm going to be honest with you. Laser rangefinders have never really appealed to me before because they're a little time consuming and far too precise for my 7-handicap game.
Give me a watch any day has always been my take when it comes to distance measuring devices, and consequently I haven't given the laser the time it perhaps deserves.
But because it is my job to give such products time, I decided it was probably the right thing to do to take the GolfBuddy LR3 for a test drive at Marriott Worsley Park in Manchester recently. Someone has to do it.
Two birdies, one double and three bogeys later for a 3-over 74, my best round in nearly three years, and I'd found my new golf buddy.
When you consider this finicky game is getting bad press for slow play, an area of the sport that drives players away by the weekend, there is no question a GPS watch seems the more viable option, particularly for us amateurs who are just happy to hit the ball not only on target but somewhere near the intended yardage.
Yet while the laser rangefinder is time consuming - taking product out of the bag, pressing the top button and waiting for a vibration and ensuring a steady hand doesn't pick out the lady walking her dog behind the green, and returning product back to base - the GolfBuddy LR3 was bringing about a remarkable improvement in my distance control. I was really dialled in for the duration of 18 holes and it was great to know I had the exact yardage to the pin, rather than one that was just to the middle of the green.
While a watch is perfect for giving the rough yardage to the middle of the green, which is always my target from outside of 100 yards at least, you've no idea how far the pin is away from you. It was therefore nicer to set up closer birdie and par attempts.
I will also add I was using a golf buggy so there was no danger of me holding up any groups behind. It was the perfect golf buggy, GolfBuddy combo!
Enough of my thoughts about GPS v laser rangefinder, it's personal preference at the end of the day. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of this product...
Weighing in at just 200g, the LR3 is by far and above the most compact, light and powerful rangefinder I've seen on the market. At little more than £200, it's value for money too, especially when you consider what it offers. Accuracy is a big plus point with +/- 1 metre or yard (can be adjusted to fit your preferred measurement) and while I mentioned before that it's a time consuming process from bag to actual strike, the whole movement takes no more than 30 seconds (with one practice swing). It's not that bad.
Another positive for me was that I could pick up multiple reference points, not just the flag, so the choice of operating modes allowed me to get distances to points like the lips of bunkers, edges of greens and dogleg corners. It's not something I necessarily needed but it was there and so I took full advantage.
The product comes with three different operational modes of 'Scan' - provides a continuous 10-second display of all objects located, 'Flag' - homes in on the pin and factors out background noise from trees etc to give precise readings, and 'Normal' - provides a single distance to any chosen target from flag to dogleg point or hazard edge.
LR3's IPX4 structure design ensures it's water and dust resistant, while there's a x6 magnification, a 7-degree field of view, eyepiece focus adjustment and a 23mm objective lens.
And as with all GolfBuddy products, there are no expensive annual membership fees, no hidden costs and the LR3 is ready to go right out of the box.
One slight niggle is that the battery case can only be opened with a five pence coin or screwdriver - not ideal should you need a pit stop on the course.
LR3 is a great product that will no doubt suit better players than game improvers and I've been somewhat converted on the issue of laser rangefinders.
Click this link to see the four new GolfBuddy products for 2014, including two world exclusives from the PGA Show.
For more information about GolfBuddy visit www.gpsgolfbuddy.eu