How Does GPS Yardage Compare to Actual Yardage on a Golf Hole?

Brad Carey14 Apr 2022

Accurately measuring golf holes is essential for a variety of reasons. Precise measurements are required by course officials to establish the right par for each hole. Players require exact calculations to select the best club for each shot. Furthermore, because course ratings are dependent in part on yardage, correct information is essential to calculate a suitable rating and produce appropriate handicaps for players playing the course.

How are Golf Holes Measured?

In a nutshell, golf holes are calculated across the ground following the most common path taken by golfers. On a dogleg hole, for instance, the distance is measured from the tee box to the dogleg's apex. Then go to the center of the green from the apex. The yardages on the card are helpful, although they are not always perfectly true. Not knowing the right statistics could have a significant impact on your approach play.

A golf course is mostly measured in yards. This is the result of many courses existing for decades and pre-dating the metric system. Official course yardages have always been indicated in yards in North America and the United Kingdom. However, some would refer to distances in meters. With the introduction of rangefinders and GPS devices, this has become increasingly common as these devices allow you to select the unit of measurement you prefer.

Devices to Measure Golf Holes

When golf originally began, the only way to determine your distance from the hole was to eyeball it. This meant that if you weren't very excellent at gauging distances, your approach shots would frequently be too short or too long which isn't ideal if you're having a friendly game with your golf buddies.

Various solutions were devised over time. Course yardage books were established to provide players with particular reference locations on each hole. In reality, if you watch any golf onTV, you'll see caddies utilizing them on the majority of PGA/European Tour events presently. Apparently, yardage books are a bit much for the amateur golfer out for a leisurely 18-hole round, so distance markers were implemented instead. These are normally 150 yards and 100 yards from the green and are either a tiny disc implanted in the fairway or a stake to the side. On very short or long holes, some courses incorporate 200-yard markers or 75-yard markers.

However, as technology progressed, measurement instruments became more precise and far less expensive. Laser rangefinders and GPS technology have both altered the game for the average Joe who plays golf for fun, with minimal risks, and pure enjoyment is unlikely to be concerned about yardage books.

Yardage Markers

Yardage markers, teeing ground signs, and other markers on golf courses indicate golfers how much farther they are from the green. However, is the yardage given on such signage measured to the front or center of the green? This could make a significant difference in club selection, particularly for really skilled players and on deep greens.

The yardage could also be indicated at other spots along each hole, such as 200 yards out from the putting green, 150 yards out, and 100 yards out. A golf course could utilize color-coded stakes on either side of the fairway, with blue indicating 200 yards away, white for 150 yards out, and red for 100 yards out, for instance. These markers help golfers calculate how far they have for approach shots into the green.

Laser Rangefinders

Point. Click. Done. With a few exceptions, getting a distance with a rangefinder is basically that simple. Many use rangefinders mostly entirely for approach shots, assuming they can see the pin. Lasers and rifle scopes share technology, and in both situations, you can't fire what you can't see. You have to travel to higher ground for a blind uphill shot to acquire a look at your target, but laser precision is now more of an estimation. Hitting the distance to a fairway bunker or the woods at the end of a dogleg is another option. Just make sure you're concentrating on the proper subject.


GPS distance finders have been increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, many of them are now available as applications for your smartphone or as a watch that you could wear on your wrist. They measure the distance from the hole using the built-in capabilities of your mobile device. They frequently have useful "plays like" features that could take into consideration the slope of the ground and the current weather conditions to provide club selection guidance.

If you determine a rangefinder is right for you, the slope will come in handy. After all, it's not cheating until you use it in a tournament. GPS, on the other hand, provides the most general usefulness to the golfer who wants it. It is crucial to realize, however, that not all GPS devices are the same. Many applications and handhelds rely on satellite imagery, which may or may not be up to current and may overlook new hole routings or tee boxes, as well as up to 25% of hazards on a particular course.

GPS Yardage in Comparison to Actual Yardage

GPS is a spectacular breakthrough in golf technology that has significantly improved the games of golfers all around the world. One of the features that appeal to many is the variety of forms these GPS devices could take. Yardages could be obtained using your phone, watch, or even a hat clip. Not to mention the original, and still extremely popular, portable devices. This digital convenience is precisely what golfers want, and watches are especially enticing since they can provide yardage information with a short glimpse at the wrist.

A GPS with tons of features will provide you with the most data, particularly if you're playing a new course for the first time. It has the info on everything you need to know. A GPS will not only tell you how far you are from bunkers and water hazards, but it will also show you risks that aren't visible to the human eye. There are also data about the size and shape of the green, which can be useful to manage the course. The GPS device's Achilles heel, however, is its accuracy. Since GPS calculates a straight line to the hole, it is not always a perfect measurement in comparison to the actual hole, especially when slopes are factored in.

Technology is an amazing thing. GPS helps in determining yardage to holes and improving your overall golf game. However, keep in mind that while useful, the measurement is not always accurate.

Brad Carey

Brad Carey

An avid golfer, brad loves a round of 18 on a Sunday. After getting involved in the technical side of golf, he thought he'd share his insights with others.

Comments (0)

Copyright 2023 © Golf GPS Choice. All Rights Reserved.