It wasn’t that long ago that I remember playing golf without any distance measuring devices other than a bush around the 150 yard mark in the fairway. Along came the 100, 150, 200 and 250 yard markers, then sprinkler heads all over the course were marked with yardages. From there, it wasn’t long before laser range finders and GPS devices started showing up. The game hasn’t been the same since.
Leupold is well known in the hunting and shooting sports world for making some of the best rifle scopes and optics available, so naturally their expertise would lend itself well to golf rangefinders. I’ve used lasers from several different companies over the years, but I’m most impressed with the technology that Leupold has built into their GX line of rangefinders.
All laser rangefinders can give you accurate distances to most targets, and some also give you yardages adjusted for slope, but Leupold has taken it to the next level with a feature called True Golf Range (TGR) and Club Selector. The Leupold GX-2i2 laser rangefinder has the ability to adjust for slope, elevation and temperature to give you the most accurate adjusted yardage. It can even suggest the right club to hit based on the adjusted yardage. While these features aren’t legal for USGA tournament play, they are very useful for practice rounds and getting to know an unfamiliar golf course. It’s also important to note that you can easily turn off the TGR features to make the device legal to use in tournament play.
Testing this rangefinder at home in Florida might be tricky since most of the golf courses are flat and the highest point in the entire state is only 345 feet above sea level. So, to put Leupold’s True Golf Range feature to the test, I flew west to the Rocky Mountains! While attending the ING Spring Conference in beautiful Heber City, Utah I found the ideal place to test the Leupold GX-2i2. At close to 6000 feet in altitude, Wasatch Mountain State Park‘s mountain course is a perfect example of alpine golf at its finest. The front nine rises two miles up into the mountains, and the back nine descends back down to the clubhouse.
The dramatic elevation changes of this course and high altitude of the Heber Valley area make club selection very difficult for someone like me who usually plays at sea level. The thinner air means the golf ball travels 10-15% further, and while that can be a huge ego boost for tee shots, the sometimes severe uphill and downhill holes require lots of imagination to get the correct distance with approach shots. Golf blogger extraordinaire and Salt Lake City resident Tony Korologos knows this better than most.
To set up the True Golf Range and Club Selector features, you simply go through the menu options on the screen while looking through the rangefinder’s reticle. When you turn on TGR, the GX-2i2 will ask you to input the altitude, temperature and how far you hit a typical four, six and eight iron shot. Once equipped with this data, the GX-2i2 will not only give you the actual line-of-sight yardage to your target (accurate to a tenth of a yard), but it will also will give you an adjusted distance based on the temperature, altitude and slope. Not only that, but the GX-2i2 will also suggest which club to hit based on this information.
I know what you are thinking – That’s cool and all, but how well does it work? Fantastically! For my high altitude testing in the mountains of Utah, the True Golf Range feature worked flawlessly. I remember a few specific situations in which I simply didn’t trust the adjusted distance, but went with it anyway and I’m glad I did.
The 12th hole at Wasatch Mountain is a straight downhill par 5 that measures 635 yards from the back tees. Now, I’m a pretty long hitter (I average about 290 off the tee according to Game Golf) but 635 yards is no joke! Well, after a drive that measured about 377 yards, I was left with 254 yards to the flag for my second shot. The Leupold GX-2i2 told me the adjusted yardage was 219 and to hit a four iron. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of hitting a four iron over 250 yards, but in the name of science – I hit it anyway! I flushed it, and to my surprise the ball landed on the green and ended up pin high. Mind blown.
The next situation came up on the 17th hole, a 223 yard downhill par 3. On that day I had 217 yards to the pin, and the GX-2i2 suggested a seven iron. Again, my brain is just not able to process hitting a seven iron 217 yards, but being an obedient test subject I pulled a seven iron and hit it pin high. Mind blown again.
In my 54 holes of testing the Leupold GX-2i2 rangefinder at high altitudes in the mountains of Utah, I found that the True Golf Range was amazingly accurate and invaluable for me. The Club Selector feature is a very nice addition, but I found that I mostly ignored the club suggestions because not every shot is a stock iron shot in golf. When in doubt however, it proved very useful. This rangefinder is staying in my golf bag for a long time, even if I don’t use TGR for tournament play. It’s accurate, light weight and packs a lot of technology into a nice compact package.
Perhaps my buddy Tony will want a ruling now because without the GX-2i2 rangefinder and its whiz-bang technology there is no way I could have beaten him 1-up in our tightly contested 36 hole grudge match at the fantastic Soldier Hollow Golf Course. In my defense, I was actually playing with a torn retina in my right eye, but that’s a story for another day…