Golf scopes either utilize laser or GPS technology to measure distances on golf courses. GPS golf scopes or rangefinders measure distance from known or mapped points on the golf course. The GPS scope requires course mapping before providing accurate measures. Laser scopes or rangefinders do not require mapping because the measurement is based on how long a low-powered beam takes to reach the desired target.
GPS golf scopes determine distances from satellite signals. To receive accurate results, the course must be loaded or selected before playing. Once loaded and at the appropriate course, the GPS golf scope will acquire its satellite signal. When the signal hits the GPS scope, it will provide the golfer with intermediary distances and distances to the pin from the device’s location. The distance updates when players move throughout the course and onto new holes. The majority of GPS golf scopes require monthly subscription fees.
Laser golf scopes determine distance from the time it takes a laser to reach the golfer’s chosen target. The desired target must be in the golfer's view for the laser golf scope to work. The laser golf scope requires the golfer to aim and pull the trigger to release the laser beam. The distance readout will show up on the scope’s display a few seconds after the beam releases. An error will display on the screen if the golfer failed to lock in the intended target.
Laser scopes are harder to use and take longer than GPS scopes, but laser scopes are cheaper and do not require preloading.