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Leupold Sets Its Sights On Golf

I am not one for quoting from advertisements, but a recent one from Leupold touting its GX series of rangefinders is worth recounting for the simple, yet compelling, way it touts the technology those products employ.

“We put the best trained American soldiers on target at 1,000 yards,” the copy reads. “And you are worried about that little 147-yard uphill approach?”

Leupold has manufactured riflescopes, binoculars and other sophisticated optics primarily for the military and big-game hunters for more than a century. But a few years ago, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company moved into golf, developing rangefinders with what officials describe as comparable devotion to quality and accuracy.

The results are a highly regarded line of products that more than 130 PGA Tour caddies currently use to map out the courses on which tournaments are being contested. Through this year’s Players Championship, Leupold loopers amassed a dozen victories on the PGA Tour. Among those winners was Charl Schwartzel’s caddie, Greg Hearmon, at the 2011 Masters. He employed a Leupold range finder in practice rounds at Augusta National as he prepared for what became his player’s first major win.

The Leupold line that is getting most of the attention is the GX, and the most intriguing offering in that series is the GX-4. Intriguing because it is a hybrid product that gives golfers (and their caddies) two types of rangefinders in one.

Like its series mate, the GX-3, the GX-4 is a line-of-sight device that utilizes precision glass and cutting-edge coating technology as well as an easy-to-read OLED display to give distances that boast an error rate of less than one percent.

But the GX-4 morphs into an even greater diviner when a golfer snaps a Smart Key onto the faceplate. That enables the aluminum-bodied device to calculate data on slope, altitude and temperature for an even more detailed reading of “actual” distance, either in yards or meters, thanks to the use of sophisticated, algorithmic software called TGR (True Golf Range).

The GX-4 also includes a feature called Club Selector that automatically recommends the appropriate club for each shot (after a golfer has inputted data on his or her usual distances).

Alas, the Smart Key makes the GX-4 illegal for tournament play under the current Rules of Golf. But Leupold has given the component a bright yellow cover that quite obviously indicates when it is in use, in hopes of getting that restriction changed down the road. Until then, the GX-4 is fine for operation in practice rounds, which is how the Tour caddies use it. And there are no issues with putting the GX-3 into play when the competitions have begun.


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