You'll never see a Tour caddie use a rangefinder at a tournament—that would break Rule 14-3, which prohibits such devices. Of course, a good looper has already gunned every target before the first shot is struck.
"When it comes to charting distances, there's no better tool than a rangefinder," says Bushnell Golf's Jason Seeman. "They're a caddie's best friend, and every Tour looper has one."
They're also very popular with weekend players, about 70 percent of whom use some kind of laser or GPS device, according to Bushnell. Still, not every gadget has the stroke-saving ability to adjust yardage based on elevation changes.
Knowing the "true" yardage, or slope, is invaluable. A moderate incline on a 150-yard approach can add up to 15 yards to the shot.
Now, a word about the Rules: It's legal to use rangefinders to gauge distance only, if a local rule allows it. Using a device that calculates elevation changes is not legal, but hey—in a casual round, if no one objects to some technological help, we won't report you to Rules Guy.
Golfers love options, and two popular Bushnell laser rangefinders—the Tour X ($499) and Tour V4 ($399)—can switch between slope-finding mode and (for Rules sticklers) a yardage-only setting. The truth is, slope adjustment removes the guesswork for the average Joe. And there's an added benefit. "With time, you learn to pull the right club, even with the slope function off," Seeman says.
Thought-free golf? These 'finders are keepers.