However, as I've already mentioned in previous posts in the "Quest For Single Figures" thread my practice is taking a more structured approach and I wanted something to give me definitive yardages, particularly going forward with my work on my pitching and approach shots from 125 yards and in. As someone notoriously thrifty with my cash, I baulked at the cost of many of the main units on the market and wanted something that was cheaper but didn't compromise on quality or more importantly accuracy. I was put onto the Suaoki Laser Rangefinder through a couple of happy users via the Golf Monthly Forum and at under £100 it seemed meet most of my criteria.
|Suaoki 600m Laser Rangefinder|
I've already given it a stringent work out on the practice ground when I worked on my pitching distances from 50, 40 and 30 yards recently. I was able to lock onto the flag on the practice ground and adjust my position to stand exact distances away. Once I used my alignment sticks to make a 16 foot circle to act as a reasonable target to land the balls in I was ready to go.
It is extremely quick and easy to use. I haven't the steadiest of hands and wear glasses to complicate matters. However with the unit on flagpole mode it's very easy to match the cross-hairs on the screen when you press the power button and once locked will give a reading. Even with a slight shake it was able to lock with no problems and looking through the eyepiece with my glasses on wasn't an issue.
Another handy feature of the rangefinder, is the fact that not only do you get the reading inside the unit when locked onto target but it has a large LED screen on the side which clearly gives the same reading. It makes it very easy to share the information with your partners or without having to peer into the unit. Perfect for me and my glasses.
|Suaoki Rangefinder LED side display|
On the course it has been very quick and easy to use with no issues in slowing play down. I've been able to get my exact number while my partners are playing their shots. I'm not too hung up on using it other than for distances close to the green (60-120 yards) and my GPS will suffice for most other distances.
It comes in a soft carry case and while that does the job sufficiently (with a cleaning cloth included) I'm getting a harder case to give it more protection in the bag. There isn't anything to protect the objective lens and two lasers (emitting and receiving) which is something other more expensive units do have. That said, with care and replacing it into the case after each scan I don't see why there would be an issue but for that added peace of mind I think the harder case will provide extra durability and protection.
So how does it rate? I've broken it down into a couple of sections to give an honest assessment.
Size - very compact and will fit easily into most golf bags 7/10
Weight - it's a light unit that sits comfortably in the hand 7/10
Functionality - it only has the four basic functions which is perhaps fewer than others out there on the market. However for my needs, specific as they are, there is enough there for me 6/10
Power - its powered by a CR2 3 volt battery (supplied). I've invested in some renewable ones and a charger as I'm not sure of the life expectancy of the standard battery provided and I wanted peace of mind that it wouldn't die on me playing or when working on my game 5/10
Ease - as already mentioned in the review, even with glasses and a slight hand shake it will find and lock onto the target easily 8/10
Accuracy - I used it on the course alongside a partner who had a more expensive model (Bushnell) and there was no variance in 6/7 readings we took and the one difference was out by a yard 9/10
Price - this is where the Suaoki is a real winner. For less than £100 it gives anyone looking for an entry level (or perhaps just above that) rangefinder, without too many bells and whistles, something that works well 10/10
User Manual - the manual supplied is sparse at best and there seems limited additional information available online even on the Suaoki website. It fails to explain the functions in any depth or give any operating instructions and it is left very much to trial and error 2/10
Overall - as a unit for my needs it meets most of my needs with aplomb. It's a basic unit compared to some but at the moment I have very few gripes other than the case, slope mode (and what it actually is) and the manual 7.5/10
Speed of Use - the unit has been very quick to use for reading on the course It slips easily in and out of the protective case and responds quickly when the power button is pressed. It's refreshingly simple and quick to lock onto the target (flag) and give a reading and hasn't seemed to delay play in any way to date 7/10
Legality - this is my big bug bear. I need to find out more about the slope function (see my gripe about user manual) and see if it's a slope reading in the golfing sense which would make it redundant for a competitive round. Looking online, it appears it may be more for giving the height of objects but I remain to be totally convinced 4/10
Durability - the case isn't the most robust (I've purchased a more robust version) but the unit is waterproof according to the manual and their blurb and so it should function well in proper British winter conditions. I'm sure I won't have long to wait to put it through its paces in the rain 6/10
Versatility - practice mode is what I purchased the Suaoki for and so far it has met all my expectations. I can scan targets quickly and easily and get accurate readings meaning I can stand there and trust my club selection. I'm trying to swap "technical mode" and swing thoughts for a more "game mode" practice routine and work on pre-shot routines, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and really make each ball count. It is easy to go from flag to flag and of course these vary depending on which bay (at range) or where on the practice ground I stand but I am now no longer without accurate distances - 9/10
Night Time - as it's winter, the ranges are floodlit when I use them. These lights aren't the best and certainly towards the far end of the range, it is pretty dark and sometimes hard to see the ball finish. However, I've still been able to pick a flag in the murk, without having to swap to "fog mode" and the unit has still managed to lock and load a number in. Ideal for hitting driver, fairway woods, hybrids and long irons 8/10
Quality of Practice - it is still very early days but I am finding it much easier to stand there and just swing, as I would on the course. I've not had a chance to repeat my statistics from the practice diary (Winter Practice Diary) but I'm hoping that the confidence and freedom the Suaoki unit has given me, it will allow me to improve on these numbers next time out. With the planned tuition from Andy Piper at Lavender park Golf Centre over the next few months I see myself hitting the ground running come the new season 8/10
There are many laser rangefinders on the market and many offer far more features but these seem to come at a price. The Suaoki Laser Rangefinder perhaps sits higher than a basic entry level model but at the price it is offers very good value for money. It meets all my requirements, has performed well at the range and on the course and seems well constructed and durable. There are some quibbles as I've highlighted, not least this slope function (and lack of clear definition and instruction) which would prevent use in competitive golf. That isn't a major issue with my Garmin G8 filling that void but it's an irritation that needs resolving once and for all.
It was perhaps something of an impulse buy, born from the thread on the Golf Monthly Forum about rangefinders, but is something I've considered for a while and the new "Quest For Single Figures" thread and my renewed vigour to improve, helped by some better health, made it an easy decision to push the "buy" button and enter my payment details. So far so good.
If you are in the market this Christmas for a laser rangefinder but feel that you perhaps don't play enough golf to justify the £200-£300+ price tag of most other units, but want better yardages when you are out on the course (or as an alternative to a GPS device) this could very well fit the bill.
Let me know if you have one of these and how you find it, or comment if you have any questions or points you want to make. You can either click on the comment box at the bottom or through Google+. Did this review help? Do you want to see more stuff, perhaps not necessarily main stream equipment being reviewed? Fear not, I'll be back soon with more Quest For Single Figures updates and some different bits and pieces for 2017. If I don't make it back here before the big day, a very merry Christmas to one and all. Thank you for taking the time to read my often rambling thoughts, and for those that have taken the time to comment here or on Google+, thanks for making the effort and providing some useful food for thought. A happy new year and I hope 2017 brings you everything you want for the golfing year ahead.