Once upon a time clunky GPS rangefinders were all the rage on golf courses across the globe but that's all over now, as there are plenty of rather good rangefinder apps that can be installed on your sleek smartphone – or even the Apple Watch if you have upgraded that far – that can do all of the same things and much more.
In fact in both the Apple App Store and the Android based Google Play Store do a quick search for golf rangefinder and you'll be presented with dozens of results. But which of them are actually any good? And which are the best? We set out to find out.
Developed by Golflogix.com
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android
Freemium/19.99 annual membership
GolfLogix is the reigning rangefinder app champion as it is the most downloaded such app in both app stores. Offering pretty much everything you could ask in a rangefinder app, including constantly updated – and rather stylish – GPS flyover views of more golf courses than you knew existed in the world (over 50,000 and counting) with each and every obstacle marked and reviewed.
There are also shot measuring and tracking functions, more stats than most people need, several different scorecards and teetime booking for more than 30,000 courses. Membership earns you even more stats, discounts on major golf equipment suppliers goods, course discounts and even free access to fantasy golf leagues.
Golfshot: Golf GPS
Developed by Shotzoom Software
iPhone, iPad, iPod iTouch, Apple Watch, Android
Freemium – 29.99
Another one of the most popular (in terms of downloads) of the range finder apps for both iOS devices and Android Golfshot: Golf GPS even comes as a built in standard app for the new Apple Watch. And it is a very good app, even though to access its full functionality you do need to purchase the paid version and at 29.99 it's pricier than most of the competition.
However, regular golfers will get their money's worth. With 40,000 golf courses preloaded, and the ability to add more you should be able to find the course you plan to play easily enough wherever you are in the world.
Once you do in addition to the standard scorecard functions and some very detailed analytics capabilities you'll have access to accurate GPS measurements in both aerial and list view which include distances to the front, center and back of the green, as well as lay-up distances in front of the target and the ability to measure each shot. It also hooks up with two other Shotzoom apps, the tee time booking app Golfnow and the teaching tool Golfplan, making it pretty comprehensive overall.
Developed by Folla Media LLC
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android
Skydroid is a popular low cost alternative to GolfLogix and GolfShot that, in terms of its GPS functionality matches up rather well. The aerial and mapped views are excellent and 20,000 courses are built in with the ability to edit them yourself to add obstacles you encounter that may not be listed.
What the app does lack is the extensive tracking features that others boast and their is no electronic scorecard either. However if you are just looking for a low cost, solid rangefinder without bells and whistles you might never use Skydroid is more than adequate.
Swing by Swing
Developed by Swing by Swing
iPhone, iPad, iPad Touch and Android
This free (and it is actuality really free) operates along similar lines to the wildly popular Waze traffic app. Based off Google Maps the app has been built, Wikipedia style, by an ever growing community of users which means that there may be even more courses mapped and detailed here than on the more expensive apps.
There is also a scorecard built in which you can, maybe if you are having one heck of a game, share with the whole Swing by Swing community are there are just enough tracking stats built in to satisfy the needs of many golfers. One rather neat feature worth pointing out that comes in rather handy is the ability to tap the screen and be given the distance to that selected point, as well as how far it is to the green.
Developed by Folla Media
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android
If you prefer simplicity and minimalism then this may the right rangefinder for you. There are no fancy aerial views and no snazzy graphics but there is still plenty of information available and it is exceptionally easy to read when on the course, especially if you happen to be playing on nice sunny day.
The free version of the app simply offers GPS functionality but the paid version adds a scorecard, stat and shot tracking abilities and access to a selection of Golf Digest's video lesson library.