It’s been about three years since I went all in on laser range finders, and given the current state of technology I do not see any reason to turn back. Obviously, the main advantage of a laser range finder is accuracy. Even the worst of range finders are accurate to a few yards, and with the Bushnell Pro X2 you get up to 1/10 yard accuracy inside of 130 yards.
18 months ago I did not think I wanted a laser rangefinder. Then I got one to review, and despite it being an entry level model, I quickly changed my tune. It only took me a few rounds to realize that a laser rangefinder is the best distance finding instrument. Sure watches and apps can get you quick and accurate distances to the front, center and middle of the green, but only a laser range finder can give you exact distances to the pin or other objects.
Confession time..I have stopped using every GPS device I have ever owned or reviewed. Don’t get me wrong, my dismissal of these units was not because they did not work or were not useful, but rather simply because they end up in my bag uncharged. Maybe it is just me, but I pack GPS unit in my bag after my round which means I end up forgetting to take it out and charge it. Flash forward, to the next round and my GPS is safely packed away with 10% battery.. Adding to my reasoning for not using a GPS is because I often play the same course and have unfounded belief that I can accurately judge distances without a measuring device. Superpowers aside, I am actually well aware that I would benefit from a GPS, but until I can find one that meets my basic nature I am going to have to rely on yardage markers and hunches. Good news, I think I have finally found my GPS soulmate. The Bushnell NEO XS GPS is not fancier than the ones I quit using but it does one thing none of the other do . . . it comes back in the house with me. The simple fact that it is a watch style GPS has been a total game changer for me. Starting with some facts (or at least my opinion of facts). The Bushnell NEO XS is pretty darn light and thin. At no point does it bother me and I often forget to take if off after the round, which is fine because it is also a waterproof watch. I found out about the waterproof after I realized it was on my wrist after a shower. Hey oh, good thinking Bushnell! Just as important is the display which is super easy to read with big numbers that contrast in bright sunlight. Plus, there is no issue reading the numbers if you wear polarized sunglasses like I do. That is not the case with some units which require me peeking under my glasses to read. Then there is the little fact that it is on my wrist the whole time, which saves me from having to tote it around or worry about losing the sucker. I mean, I guess some guys like to bring out the arsenal of technology before each shot, but not me – just give me the yardage (heck if I could dial in to 132 yards I would not be a 10 handicap). Function wise, the buttons are all intuitive. To start the game just click “play golf”. The GPS quickly finds course around you so that you can choose the correct one. A few minutes later you are ready to go. On the course, the GPS will move from hole to hole but you can always toggle holes if for some reason it is showing the wrong hole. The other button I like to use is the “Golf” button. After you hit a ball simply click this button and it will start calculating how far you hit the ball. A handy feature if you are trying to dial in you club distances or when you bomb a drive and want some additional satisfaction for exactly how deep you went. Because I play 80% of my golf on the same course, I really only need distances to the front middle and back. Sure hazards are fine but 99% of the time I don’t use them. Fortunately, the Bushnell includes up to 4 hazard distances just in case. The code for the hazards is slightly confusing but typically, I can figure out that “RGB” means “right green bunker”. There is a key to all codes in the manual. Beyond the basic “Front, Center, Back”, the Bushnell NEO has a couple of other bells and whistles that make this a great product. First, the battery life is solid. You can easily get 3 rounds of golf in before charging. In “watch” mode it will last about a year (but I am not sure who would buy this GPS unit and only use it as a watch). The point is that what chows the battery is the GPS and since it is super easy to forget to turn off the GPS, there is a feature that will automatically return the unit to “watch mode” after a set amount of time. For example, I set the Bushnell NEO XS to turn off after 4.5 hours. If I am stuck behind a slow group and end up on the 17th fairway after 4.5 hours, the GPS will ask me if I want to resume playing so that I do not have to restart the round. In other words, you won’t have to fear forgetting to turn it off or having it turn off before your round ends . . . best of both worlds situation. Another feature that is kind of cool (even though I don’t use it) is that the NEO has an odometer, so I can tell my wife that I just walked 5 miles so there is no reason for me to go to the gym. After really digging my newfound love with a GPS device, there was still one looming issue. My home course moved 3 greens last summer and for some unknown reason, the management has never gotten the course remapped. That means everyone’s SkyCaddie is useless for three holes. Not surprisingly the Bushnell NEO had the same issue. However, after a little poking around on the Bushnell website I found a form to submit changes to a course. Bing, bang, boom, two days later my course has been updated! Heck yes, that is what I call customer service! So bottom line: if you want yardages but not the hassle that comes along with a larger device the Bushnell NEO XS is a great option. It only runs about $199, which is roughly half the price of handheld models. Sure, it will not give you yardage to every tree on the course, but it works great for simple access to accurate yardage to the green.
You can learn more on the Bushnell website
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