February 13, 2024
Vortex® Blade™ Golf Laser Rangefinder being placed on the side of a golf cart.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every tee time came with a good weather guarantee? But the sad fact is, if you play enough, you’re going to encounter inclement weather and less than ideal atmospheric conditions sometime, and understanding how they affect your laser rangefinder’s performance can help you keep your edge on the course.

How weather affects your golf laser rangefinder.

At its simplest, your laser rangefinder works by emitting a beam of light then measuring how long it takes that light to return. In ideal conditions, you get quick returns with a high degree of confidence. In fact, all Vortex® Golf laser rangefinders are accurate to within plus or minus one yard of the pin. All you have to do is pull the right club and make a good swing. Simple, right?

Golfer ranging with the Vortex® Blade™ Golf Laser Rangefinder

In ideal conditions, golf laser rangefinders offer point and shoot simplicity. When bad weather rolls in, things can get a little more complicated.

When weather moves in.

We know that rangefinders work by emitting a beam of light and measuring its return. So how does weather affect performance? Let’s look at a couple different weather situations:

1. Fog. If you’re frequently leaving tracks in morning dew or playing very early or very late rounds, you’re going to run into foggy conditions. Fog is essentially a low-lying cloud of water and ice crystals, a cloud over the ground. When your laser rangefinder’s beam hits fog, that beam becomes more dispersed.

2. Rain. A little rain might not stop you, but it can affect your rangefinder’s performance. While all Vortex® Golf laser rangefinders are fully sealed and waterproof, ranging through raindrops can hinder rangefinder performance. By dispersing the beam, it weakens it and that can affect the reading you get.

One more condition that can affect the range returned by your laser rangefinder that’s not necessarily weather related: Ranging over water. Light reflected off water can cause false reflections and readings.

Also keep in mind that the thickness of the fog, heaviness of the rain, and length you range over water matter. Light fog will generally not affect your reading that much, same for light rain and ranging over small bodies of water like creeks and ponds.

Golf holding the Vortex® Anarch™ Laser Rangefinder up to his eye.

The easiest thing you can do when conditions aren’t ideal is to take a little extra time and confirm your range with multiple measurements. Trust your gut: If a reading seems extreme, it probably is.

What can you do when conditions aren’t ideal?

Knowing all that, what can you do to ensure the range you’re getting is accurate?

A steady, stable shot to the pin can combat these conditions. Consider stabilizing yourself on the side of a golf cart to fight through less-than-ideal weather. Take multiple measurements to confirm your range, especially if you question the first reading. Make sure to keep your golf laser rangefinder’s optics clean and debris free so they’re working as intended. (Especially after playing in the rain, water marks and smudges are likely. Here’s how to keep your glass clean.)

Shop all Vortex® Golf laser rangefinders, golf apparel, and golf accessories.

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