T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Perfect practice companion: Bushnell's Tour v3 Slope Edition Laser Rangefinder
One of the easiest ways to get better at the game of golf is to know just how far you hit your clubs.
Seems pretty elementary, doesn't it? But, time after time, I see guys that I'm playing with who think there's a standard for the distance that each club should travel. For instance, some of these guys think their pitching wedge should travel 130 yards. Hey, maybe it can. But, most likely, that's what it will travel when a shot is flushed -- and for recreational players like me, you might only flush one out of every five shots.
Over the last couple of years in a valiant effort to get better at this game I love so much -- basically to try and become a single-digit handicap -- I've decided to check my ego (not that I'm even worthy of one) at the door. I hit the club that I know will get me relatively close to my target... not the one I think I should be hitting to get to my target.
To help me to that end, I've tried a number of GPS devices over the last few years. Many of them have been nice, but not always precise. Of course, when I say "precise" I don't mean I'm the type who needs "perfect" yardage. But, if I know exactly how far away my target is, I have a much better chance of getting it closer than if I'm guessing, or even walking off yardage.
And that's where the single greatest tool I've ever come across -- aside from a PGA Professional -- comes into the equation. I'm talking about the new Bushnell Tour v3 Laser Rangefinder with Slope.
Whenever I have any spare time, I try to head over to the driving range. The GPS golf devices I was using were great on the course, but they couldn't help me at the range. Recently, I was able to spend some quality time with the Bushnell v3 Tour with Slope and I've been blown away by the results.
I've never been one of those people who like to go to the range and "hit balls." As wise a teaching professional once advised me: "Instead of hitting balls when you go to the range, hit shots."
This means approaching each shot on the range the way you would each shot on the course. Breathe. Think. Imagine where you want to hit the ball and hit it there.
Thanks to the Bushnell Tour v3 with Slope, I'm able to shoot a target to learn it's precise distance (and, surprise, the yardages they display at the driving range for various flags are rarely accurate). That allows me to hit a variety of shots with a variety of different clubs. I know close to how far a certain club will send the ball when I hit it perfect and not so perfect.
Here's how Bushnell describes its Tour v3 line:
With its new ergonomic design and its award-winning PinSeeker with JOLT Technology, the Tour V3 sets the standard for being the complete laser rangefinder package -- design, performance and feel.
JOLT Technology eliminates all doubt by delivering short vibrating bursts to reinforce the laser has locked onto the flag. Use what the Pros use, feel the exact distance.
- PinSeeker Technology with JOLT Technology to zero-in on the flag
- Accuracy within 1-yard
- 5 yards - 1,000 yards ranging performance. 300+ yards to a flag
- 5x Magnification
- Ergonomic design provides a stable grip
- Posi-Thread™ Battery Door
- 3-Volt Battery and Premium Carry Case included
- Rainproof Construction
- 2-Year Warranty
As stated, the model I've used was "with slope." It's amazing. It takes into account the terrain your playing and -- depending on the terrain -- might give you two yardages. The first is the "actual yardage," or, how far away your target is. The second yardage takes slope/elevation into consideration, which means it will be more or less than the actual yardage.
Say you're playing a hole where the actual yardage is 150, but it plays severely downhill. The yardage with slope might be adjusted to 135 yards. So, while the hole is 150 yards long, the Bushnell Tour v3 with slope is telling you: Hit your 135 club.
I've had the chance to use the Tour v3 with Slope both on the range and for two casual rounds of golf. While the Tour v3 doesn't actually hit the shot for you, the results speak for themselves -- my two best rounds this season were the two with the Tour v3.
It should be noted that he Tour v3 is legal for use in competition, while the Tour v3 with Slope is not. That said the Tour v3 with Slope is an outstanding tool for practice.
There's no denying -- distance control will make you a better player. You won't believe how much the Tour v3 by Bushnell can help you to that end.
To learn more about the Bushnell Tour v3 and Tour v3 Slope Edition, as well as other Bushnell golf offerings, click here.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.