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One of the most common questions on the golf course besides, “Did you see where it went?” is “How far am I?” When I first started playing, I was what you could call a guesser. There a lots of guessers out there. Their answer to the question above would be something like, “I’m thinking 7 iron.” Then there are the yardage marker guys. I was that guy for awhile too. Not a bad system, but yardage markers can be hard to find and they aren’t really made to mark hazards or lay-up spots. Next up on my distance measuring journey was the GPS, which is really one of the most useful tools a golfer can have. The only real shortcoming they have is that you can’t always get exact distances to points of interest and they provide readings for the front, back, or middle of the green rather than the precise distance to the flag. The laser rangefinder was created for those of us that want exact distances to objects. For those folks carrying one, the days of pacing off distances or just plain guessing are gone. Leupold Golf, one of the worldwide leaders in optics and distance measuring technology, sent one of their latest products, the GX-3, to THP for a review and I had a chance to put it to use for our readers. Take a look at how it performed.

Technical Information from Leupold
Featuring an incredibly compact body formed by a solid block of aluminum, the GX-3 defines rugged. Add the bright OLED display to the standard Fog Mode and Prism Lock™ and this rangefinder will play along in any weather. The GX-3 is tournament legal, offering line-of-sight distance measurement only.

In Hand
The GX-3 is a small handheld unit that comes in a carrying case with a magnetic flap and a belt loop. The flap stays closed quite well, while remaining pretty simple to open. I would much prefer a belt clip to a loop so I didn’t have to thread the carrying case on my belt, but that is a minor complaint. The unit itself is very compact and easily fits in one hand. The outer shell is a hard rubber that has dimples where the user’s hands go to prevent slipping. In all, the GX-3 is very cool looking and a good conversations starter. The metal portion of the outside was bright, shiny, and quite reflective. It is definitely a neat little package.

Features and Performance
One thing I love about laser range finders is their ability to measure flags at driving ranges. We all know that the 100 yard flag doesn’t move, but the area where we hit the ball often does. Granted, the range isn’t the best place to learn your distances, but I’ve been known to throw a few of my own spare golf balls down and hit them instead of the range balls. More than anything, I’m an inquisitive guy and it’s nice to know exactly what distance I’m trying to hit at the range. This is where I first used the GX-3.

The first thing I noticed was the incredibly bright red OLED reticle that is used to pinpoint the spot you are trying to measure. The red color is very intense and makes focusing on the target a quick and simple task. When you press the power button on top of the GX-3 twice, a set of bars appears under the reticle, which indicates you are currently taking a distance measurement. The measured distance pops up very quickly in the same bright red. There is no mistaking when you are actively measuring the distance to your target due to the visual indicator and I appreciated that. Sometimes I’m not sure if I hit the button all the way or not and the GX-3 takes that bit of doubt away.

For the most part, I had no issues with acquiring my target while looking in the GX-3’s viewfinder. The view through the eyepiece is very bright and vibrant. However, I did have a bit of trouble seeing darkly colored flags in the distance while wearing sunglasses. One example I can specifically remember was a time that I was wearing my sunglasses and attempting to laser a blue flag in the 180 yard range. I did have a hard time finding it right away. Nothing that slowed me down too much, but I definitely experienced better results when I wasn’t wearing my shades.

One thing that can be difficult for those new to laser range finders is keeping them steady enough to get a good measurement. I never realized exactly how much my hands move until I started using one. It appears that I may need to consider laying off the caffeine. Surprisingly, I was still able to get quick and accurate readings from the GX-3 with my somewhat shaky hands. It seems that it was built with human imperfection in mind and was good at getting a read when I wasn’t completely still. I did find that standing in a well balanced position and holding the unit with both hands greatly increased my ability to get a quick measurement. Oddly, sitting in a golf cart proved to be the most difficult position for me to reduce shakiness. Regardless of my over-caffeinated tremors, the GX-3 was very adept at locking on to a target and getting a quick and accurate reading. Speaking of accuracy, during my testing I measured the GX-3 against another brand’s rangefinder numerous times and always found it to be within one yard or exactly the same.

One very cool feature of the GX-3 is the scan mode. You can actually hold a button down and move the unit around to get the distance to a few objects. There’s a bit more to it than that, though. Those of you that have used a range finder may know the frustration of attempting to get the distance to a flag that is far away and has a tree or other large object right behind it. My experience has shown that I often end up getting the distance to the other object quite well, but not so much when it comes to the flag. The GX-3’s scan mode is designed to allow you to scan an area, so you can grab that flag from the background. For example, the tree will show a distance of 250 yard, but when it locks onto the flag, you will get the correct reading of 220 yards. This is an awesome feature that really sold me on this unit.

I should mention that along with the GX-3, Leupold also released the GX-4. This unit is an upgrade to the GX-3 and has a few extra features. For one, it has a removable attachment that calculates slope into the distance measurement. So, if you are 20 feet above the hole you can get a better picture of exactly which club will get you on the green. This feature is not legal for many tournaments, which makes the fact that is removable all that much better. Other features included with the GX-4 are Club Selector, Temperature Input, and Altitude Input. Both the GX-3 and GX-4 have a few reticles to choose from, feature a fog mode, and are weatherproof.

Final Thoughts
I’m struggling to say anything other than I came away very impressed with the GX-3. It does the job it was designed do very well, looks great, and has some features that really impressed me. The only complaint I can really muster up is that I’d like to see a belt clip instead of a belt loop attachment. The GX-3 has a MSRP of $400.00 and the GX-4’s is $500.00. I suspect a little shopping could surely find a lower price such as www.Blind9Golf.com, but this is definitely a device that you could have for years and years. The extras included with the GX-4 are nice, but I was very happy with the standard options that came with the GX-3. For more information, please check out Leupold’s website at www.leupold.com. As always, thanks for taking the time to read and best of luck out on the course this year.

Ryan H.

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Category: Accessories, Equipment, Headlines & News

About the Author ()

Editor and writer Ryan Hawk lives in northwestern Illinois with his fiance and son. He's been a writer for The Hackers Paradise for two years and has been involved with a number of THP events.

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  1. Leupold GX-3i and GX-4i Rangefinder Review | The Hackers Paradise | April 30, 2012
  1. TC says:

    That was a thorough review. I’ve been a gps guy for a couple of years now, but between having to upload courses, having to remember to plug it in to charge it, and to be honest, having to remember to take the dang thing with me half the time, I believe I’m ready to move on to a rangefinder. The ease of use and sheer quickness of it (point, shoot, get yardage) pretty much has me sold.

  2. wcueb923 says:

    Great Job Ryan, I have a range finder and have found much of the same in your review. But even with that I would never want to play a round without it.Thanks

  3. biggsy says:

    Ryan, they must have you chained in the THPHQ Basement, you are pumping out thorough and informative reviews left and right. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the info. Sounds like a solid little device.

  4. DawgDaddy says:

    Good write up Ryan, I have been using the GX-1 for a couple of years now and if it ever becomes inoperable, I will be getting the GX-3 as my rangefinder. Leupold make a fine quality unit and I really like the size. As far as the belt clip, the GX-1 does not have that feature on the pouch and I think that is a good idea, but the unit is small enough that I have not trouble putting it in my pocket when I carry it.

  5. Dmb012 says:

    Awesome job Ryan. I personally have a rangefinder and don’t know how I would play with out it. It is crucial for going after any flag out there. I think I dropped at least 3 strokes after purchasing it. I have used a GPS to and I prefer the accuracy of the rangefinder over the GPS.

  6. Michael Cook says:

    Great review!! Never really considered one of these…..until now. Seems to have some strong advantages over the standard GPS units.

  7. 10YardDraw says:

    Great Job Ryan, im really wanting one of these and i think its going to be the GX-3, its just hard to justify that much money on one

  8. johnboy12.5 says:

    Nice review Ryan. I especially like the scan mode feature. It’s a little more expensive than a golf gps, but sounds like it’s worth the extra $$$.

  9. cg13 says:

    Nice review Ryan. I liked the red crosshairs – looks like it was very bright and would be easier to read in sunny conditions

  10. Yoccos says:

    Great review Ryan. That was extremely thorough!!!! I love my GPS but have really considered going to a range finder and the range is ironically the place I’d like it most. Mostly for when I practice wedge shots. Not sure I’d go with this price but like you said, just shopping around would be a good start.

  11. Griff says:

    Good info. I keep telling myself I need to get some sort of laser or GPS.

  12. AHA says:

    Great review Ryan. I have a few friends who are using these and they love them! I have to say they feel good in your hand, and the red display font is bright and easy to read. They are on my short list when it’s time for a new range finder.

  13. SW says:

    Wow Ryan, your reviews are taking over! Incredible job buddy, maybe Leupold should send you a thank you card cause I beleive you just sold a few of these wonderful devices.

  14. 9-Iron Man says:

    Great review Ryan! I’m a guesser and NEED one of these units. I think it would be so useful to my game.

  15. Dr. Teeth says:

    Great review! I have had the opportunity to use one of these units before and was completely impressed! I know that my game and practice would benefit from having a Leupold in the bag.

  16. Sean says:

    I’ve been thinking of picking one of these up. Nice review Ryan.

  17. hanks says:

    Good review Hawk! Did you ever have any issues with reading the numbers if you were pointing to something where the background could interfere with them (i.e flag against the background of trees or shadows?)

  18. Drumdog says:

    Great review!
    I use a Skycaddie, but after reading this, I am going to get one of these.

  19. Ryan H. says:

    Hanks – During the time I used it, I did not have that problem. The numbers are the same bright red and really pop against the background.

  20. ripper says:

    Great review, very well done. I have been thinking about a GPS for a few months now and this really gives me something to think about. Maybe it would be a better option for me. Thanks

  21. rrpruett says:

    Great write up. I just got a range finder and I love it. Wish I had it long ago.

  22. BrianT says:

    Great review. I have been interested in rangefinders and this has helped me gather information on features and functionality.

  23. Canio says:

    Excellent review. I have been wanting to get a rangefinder for a while. I’ll definitely keep this one in mind.

  24. adwillingham says:

    Great review Ryan. Sounds like these units are really top-notch.

  25. Dirtydawg67 says:

    Great review Ryan. Sounds like a great device and the removable slope feature sounds nice.

  26. dallashack says:

    I have a GX-I and its a great little tool.

  27. Jacob says:

    Very nice review. I have been longing for a GPS for a while now, and this company has always interested me. Little out of my range, though I see that their base model is not overly expensive. Could I expect the same accuracy?

  28. Spank818 says:

    Great review, Ryan. This has me pondering a rangefinder for those certain type of situations that are much better off with it.

  29. TheDue says:

    Great job Ryan. Its about time for me to start the shopping again and this one will move up the list.

  30. Kildaire says:

    I never even though of a range finder until this article. Great read, looks like I’ll be making another investment.

  31. royalwulff says:

    Great review Ryan! I have both a GPS and a range finder and my range finder is about 10 years old, so this may be my upgrade.

  32. Jooma says:

    The biggest issue with this range finder is a lack of a tripod screw at the bottom of the unit.
    It is virtually impossible to get the range by hand holding after some walking. Even a single leg support would have improved this instrument greatly.

  33. Ryan H. says:

    @Jooma – I’m not sure I understand what you are saying? I have never had an issue with rangefinders during a walking round. I couldn’t imagine carrying a tripod on the course.

  34. Smallville says:

    One of these days I’ll need to replace my 10 year old Bushnell rangefinder, in fact I am looking forward to it but the thing keeps working and working. I really want to get a smaller rangefinder, but I can’t justify it when the one I have still works. I am also more of a GPS guy as most of the time I don’t need my distance down to the yard.I’ve been sold on Bushnell and have honestly never tried this brand. When the time comes to replace mine, I will look at Leupold as well.

  35. Esox says:

    We’re in the market most likely for a range finder. This one seems like a dandy. I wish they were all a little less expensive.

  36. Scott says:

    Great review. I have had the GX-4 since last year when they first came on the market. I love the build quality of these units; they are very sturdy with great optics! The only difficult times I have is during twilight with dark colored flags. I use mine for mostly the 150 yd and in shots. For those of you considering lasers, they have really helped me with my shots inside of 125 yds. I originally purchased the range finder to help me get the feel and distance accuracy for the approach shots. I am going on my second year of playing, and I find the practice with the laser invaluable. Also a GPS cannot give you true distances on the driving range! GPS solutions seem somewhat more useful from the tee on unfamiliar courses with blind shots. Great, sturdy range finder; highly recommended!

  37. Jooma says:

    @Jooma – I’m not sure I understand what you are saying? I have never had an issue with rangefinders during a walking round. I couldn’t imagine carrying a tripod on the course.
    Ryan,
    You telling me that you can measure the exact distance of the flag stick from 150 yards?
    I wish I could do that.
    You do not carry a single leg (tripod) during the round, you can measure a course at your leisure.

  38. Griff says:

    Jooma, as an amateur shutterbug I am often improvising monopods when I need stability. I would think a golf club could work quite well as a monopod for a rangefinder. It’s not as ideal as having a dedicated stability device, but plotting courses outside a golf round is not really an option for many people. I’ve used tree branches for my much heavier camera with success.

  39. Brian Doer says:

    This thing… the GX-4 looks really great with the faceplate switch up. Tournament legal and some extra help from the yellow faceplate. I like it.

  40. Tom McLean says:

    What kind of battery does it take, how much do they cost and what is the expected life?

  41. Mike Kemper says:

    I have had a GX-3 for over a year. Ryan doesn’t give it enough credit. It is incredible. The Take a Cr2 battery that cost about $6 each. A battery lasts about 1000 scans.

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