Can Apple Watches be used as Rangefinders

With the invention of rangefinders, a whole new world of opportunities opened up in areas where a visual survey is required like hunting, forest surveying, security surveillance, aiming and shooting, and even golfing. However, In this article, we are going to be focused on golf for the most part.

Like the topic suggests, during the course of this article we are going to be discussing and analyzing the use of Apple watches as rangefinders. Is it even possible? Is the Apple watch that innovative you may wonder? Well, the answer is yes. Apple watches can be used as rangefinders for specific purposes like golfing.

Can Apple Watches be used as Rangefinders

Different Types of Rangefinders

There are different types of rangefinders and before we get into the specific one that concerns this article, we should at least talk a bit about the different types of rangefinders.

Laser rangefinders

These types of rangefinders use the laser beam projection mechanism to measure the distance of the object or target.

Laser beams are shot from the rangefinder and the time it takes for the laser beams to travel to the target and back is calculated and measured.

It also has magnification capacity, it sends back a distance measurement and a clear image of the target to the observer. These types of rangefinders are among the most common types found in the market.

Optical rangefinders

These types of rangefinders use the mirrors and glass reflection mechanism to measure the distance between the observer and the target.

GPS rangefinders

These are also known as global positioning system rangefinders are used to measure distances using the position of satellites.

GPS rangefinders are almost exclusively used for golfing and most of the GPS already have the distance to the pin installed as an option.

Others have the GPS mapping of the golf course installed and the distances in-between. However, there is also the option of manually choosing to allow the GPS rangefinder to measure the distance to the next available hole.

These are the most common types of rangefinders we have but we will be focusing on the GPS rangefinder models because like I mentioned before, we are going to hone in on golfing using GPS. However, the crux of this article is to find out if Apple watches can be used as rangefinders.

Can Apple Watches be used as Rangefinders

Apple watches are a product brand under the umbrella ‘Apple Inc.’ brand. They have other tech products including the iPhone, MacBook, and iPads.

The apple is a smartwatch that has several amazingly innovative features that include, wireless communication linked to mobile devices, it has a fitness tracker and other health-centric abilities and because it is an Apple product, it has other Apple and iOS services integrated into it.     

Yes, Apple watches can be used as rangefinders. As a matter of fact, a lot of golfers use them to make their game easier and their importance cannot be over-emphasized.

Best Apple Watches that can be used as Rangefinders

We are going to be discussing all the watches that can also function as rangefinders and their impact on golfing and distance measurement.

The Apple watch series 1 or S1 does not come equipped with a GPS, subsequent product releases in series 2 and series 3 were upgraded and they have the GPS feature.

With the invention of the GPS features in smartwatches, using rangefinders when golfing became much more eventful and easy.

We will talk about some of the common smartwatches and how to utilize them for golfing. We will also go over the integrated GPS specifications and the associated golf applications many golfers use and the ones you should give your attention to.   

Apple S2 (Series 2)

Apple S2 (Series 2) Watch

As I mentioned before, the first Apple watch series does not have the GPS feature, so we are going to be focusing on the common series that have the inbuilt GPS feature.

The series not only has a GPS, but it also has GLONASS also known as Global Navigation Satellite System.

Much like the GPS, the GLONASS is also space-based satellite navigation. When the two features are used together, it makes range-finding perfectly accurate and easy for golfers.

This is why the Apple series 2 is one of the common watches used as rangefinders. The watches in this series have waterproof screens that are around fifty percent proved. It is durable, multi-functional, and golfers find it very useful and portable.

Apple S3 (Series 3)

Apple S3 (Series 3) Watch

This model is not overly different from the series 2 but the upgrade for this series can be noticed in the GPS; the GPS for the series 3 is much more sensitive and accurate in comparison to the series 2 GPS.

It comes equipped with more user-friendly functionality and abilities like tracking heart rate, a more accurate fitness tracker, and a workout session recovery rate.  


In recent years Apple Inc. has created more innovative and functional Apple watch series that are even more sensitive and accurate in terms of distance reading and magnification of target holes, poles, or flags.

The Apple watch series has grown to include; Apple S4 or series 4, Apple S5 or series 5.          

Best Golf Apps for Apple Watch

Now that we know the different models of Apple watches that can be used as rangefinders, let’s talk about the applications that are best for the watches in terms of rangefinders and golfing.

There are different golf applications available on App Store that can be downloaded and used with the watch as a rangefinder.

Before we get into the different types of applications, I must first mention that your Apple watch has to first be paired with a compatible iPhone.

The golf applications can be downloaded on your mobile phone and then proceed to set up the golf settings on your smart Apple watch. Some of the common golfing applications used with Apple watches includes;

Trackmygolf GPS

Trackmygolf GPS App for Apple Watches

This application makes the user’s golfing experience so much easier, and straightforward.

One of the reasons the Apple series 1 watches could not particularly be used as a rangefinder, apart from it not being equipped with a GPS, the compatible iPhone needed to be kept in close proximity to the Apple watch.

This was not exactly effective or user friendly but with the S2, S3 watches, and this app, the phone does not even need to be nearby to function effectively as a rangefinder.

This watch application integration can spontaneously count strokes, and carry out the swing analysis of the golfer. This application works by taking note of the GPS location of every swing the golfer takes, this helps the watch to measure the precise distance of the golfer from the hole at every point in time.

The measurement of this application has accuracy and it can record the swing distance across about 35,000 golf courses.

It can be used across different golf courses and it has an easy interface that allows users to quickly edit shots and track active club use.

This application has helped a lot of amateur golfers hone their skills, it is great for development and can even help to distinguish between a real swing and a practice swing.


Hole19 Golf GPS App for Apple Watches

This application is not only used for range-finding, it is used as a social media platform that enables users to share their rounds or scores with friends or fellow users.

The app also has access to other popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It is like a social media platform for golfers.

Its rangefinder’s functions provide the user with accurate measurements of the distance to the front, middle, and back of the course. This application can provide very accurate readings of the yardages.  


Golfshot App for Apple Watches

This free golfing application is one of the most commonly used by golfers who do not want to break the bank on a rangefinder.

The application works directly with the GPS installed in the Apple smartwatch. The application helps you calculate distances in real-time, offers tracking of active shots, and it gives club recommendations in real-time.

This application does not necessarily need the compatible iPhone to be nearby but some users have recommended that for more effective functionality, the connected phone should be kept in the user’s pockets or somewhere close.

This application offers a magnification or zooming feature that provides the user with zoomed-in, crisp and sharp images of the target. It can also provide aerial images.

Other types of applications include FunGolf GPS, 18Birdies, Golf GPS ++, GolfNow, Golf Pad, etc., the apps listed in this article are among the top best when it comes to golf rangefinders in watches, some of the applications even have a voice assistant that can read the yardage of the course to the user.   

Features of Apple Watch Rangefinders                              

Common features of an Apple watch rangefinder include;

  1. GPS: Real-time distance measurement of the front, back, and middle of the golf course. It also calculates the distance to the pin if the location of the pin is marked on the course.
  2. Apple watch rangefinder can account for the sloppy landscape of a golf course, wind, and any other external factors that could impact an accurate reading.
  3. Club recommendation for users in real-time


In conclusion, I have to reiterate that yes, Apple watches can be used as rangefinders for golfing, in fact, it is in high demand in the golfing world. They have all the functions and perks that come with having an Apple product and they give you automatic yardage calculations in the course when golfing.