There are some defining questions you have to answer as a golfer. Walk or ride? Hybrid or iron? Bent or Bermuda? GPS or laser rangefinder?
For me, those answers are: Walk, iron, bent and laser rangefinder.
However, I play with a number of friends who use GPS units and swear by them. They love being able to get the unit out of their pocket or their cart, look at the front, middle and back numbers, then swing away. I'm not that kind of guy. I like having exact numbers, and then I can either calculate slope or use the slope function on a rangefinder to get to a specific number I like. Sometimes, though, I want that GPS, particularly when I'm trying to bob and weave around doglegs and tree branches and funky green designs to hit the flagstick or other target with the laser. If I'm trying to hit a shot over or around a bunch of trees, I don't need the exact number; I just need a good idea.
So, for years, I clamored for a hybrid product: a laser rangefinder with an on-board GPS for those uncertain moments on the course.
These units have been out for a while, but in 2018, Bushnell Golf got into the game with the aptly-named Hybrid unit. Our friends at Rain or Shine Golf sent me a unit to test.
The Bushnell Hybrid has both the company's popular laser rangefinder and user-friendly GPS units on board. They're powered separately: the laser rangefinder uses the common battery found on most every gun, and the GPS unit is charged with a mini-USB cable. You can use one without the other. You can just use the laser if they GPS isn't charged, or, for some reason, you could use the GPS without the laser.
The whole unit is lightweight -- 6.1 ounces -- and the tactile areas for your top hand and thumb to grip the unit are helpful for any conditions, particularly in the rain or humidity. The laser, which reads out to 400 yards when aiming for a flagstick, is easy to point and shoot, and Bushnell's Jolt technology with PinSeeker will give vibrating pulses as feedback when you hit your intended flagstick. It's good to have confirmation you're hitting the target. The display reads black on the scope, which is clear, though I miss the red displays of other Bushnell units. In addition to the laser readings, the scope also shows the front and back yardages from the GPS when it's in use. This makes the product particularly handy, integrating all the data into one place.
The GPS is easy to operate, too. Push a button to turn it on, and the unit will figure out the course and hole you're playing. If the unit doesn't recognize a change in hole, you can advance it manually. The display on the side of the unit will show front, middle and back yardages, just in case you only need a general idea of distance. It will also share the distance to as many as four hazards on a hole. Like with most GPS units, there are 36,000 pre-loaded courses. The Bushnell Golf app is free to use for Hybrid owners, and Bluetooth technology allows for any needed updates to be performed quickly.
The Bushnell Golf Hybrid laser rangefinder-GPS combo is a great product, as you'd expect. It's $400, which is reasonable in the market, especially considering you're getting about $550 of products in this package. So, if you're looking to upgrade your distance-measuring capabilities, why not get the best of both worlds and give the Hybrid a try?