It’s symptomatic of our times that we expect regular upgrades to our everyday technology. And whenever we’re tempted to wonder about a device “what more can it do?” it does something new. That’s certainly true in the golf industry, where R&D teams are hunched over computer screens, tinkering in labs, and testing in wind tunnels and on courses looking for the next big thing—even if it’s just a small improvement on last year’s big thing.
Take, for example, distance-detecting devices. At the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, I saw more than a dozen GPS and rangefinder units, each smaller than the next and more feature-packed. (And I’ve been testing them. My article on the best new GPS devices will appear in the spring issue of LINKS, coming out in a few weeks.)
While the GPS category is showing the most innovation—units are shrinking, talking out loud, and displaying more and more information—it’s easy to think that rangefinders have reached their technological terminus. As in, “What more can they do?” Well, it turns out there are still advancements to be made. As proof, check out Bushnell’s new V3.
Understand that rangefinders can’t get much smaller without becoming hard to hold and even harder to hold steady. The V3—which fits perfectly in my hand—is a great size and shape, and weighs just 6.6 ounces with battery. Its range is phenomenal, up to 1,000 yards (I don’t want to play that hole!), but more important, it can lock onto a flagstick at more than 300 yards and measure hazards such as water and trees to 700 yards.
But what’s new is what Bushnell calls “PinSeeker Technology,” which upgrades two functions. First, the unit is able to ignore clutter in the image—like overhanging branches or trees in the background—and isolate the flagstick. Second, once the flag is found, the V3 doesn’t only display the distance, it delivers a little “jolt” (a vibration) that tells you positively that the target has been locked on and the yardage is accurate.
To paraphrase an old deodorant commercial, the jolt takes the worry out of being far away.
The V3 is available in two models. The basic unit works as described above, plus has 5X magnification through the viewfinder (which has diopter adjustment to suit your eye), can be set to yards or meters, and the jolt can be turned off.
The V3 Slope Edition does all that and more: If you’re standing above or below the target, the readout indicates the line-of-sight distance plus the angle of the slope and how long the shot plays based on that angle. So it computes a shorter actual playing yardage for downhill shots, a longer yardage for uphill shots. This feature is especially helpful when playing unfamiliar courses.
V3: $299; V3 Slope Edition: $399