The Nikon CoolShot 20 is the first rangefinder I’ve owned, so I have no basis for comparison with other brands or models. Keep in mind that rangefinders run $200 and up, so stockpiling for the sake of contrast would be a costly business. I saw the CoolShot 20 on sale at a national retailer at about the same time I was given a gift card for that store. When worlds collide, it’s bad for George but good for Mo’ Golf. I laid down my card and cash, walked out with my first rangefinder and set about to testing it.

Let me begin by saying that rangefinders are fun. You can shoot anything you want, which makes hilarity an eternal option. Case in point: one of my golfing chums asked me for a yardage…for the 14th time that nine holes. I focused on the clubhouse and announced the distance as 490 yards…to the clubhouse, across the creek, past the trees, over the bridge. It was a nice and proper ice-breaker and elicited snorts, chortles and one notable guffaw.

Let me continue with this anecdote: I was such a rookie that I looked into the wrong end of the rangefinder. Heaven knows if I did any damage to my eye. I got turned around promptly, though, and all was better. The CoolShot 20 is remarkably simple to use. Point, press and read are the operative words. You press the top button closer to the eye cup, aim and press it again. You have about eight seconds to fix your target before you need to press the button again. It’s a good idea to get a second read, for comparison’s sake.

The Nikon CoolShot 20 offers distance only. No slope nor wind calculations are provided and let’s be honest, for traditional golfers like me, slope and wind are like cheating…With tax, the CoolShot 20 cost me around $180. After one round, I recommend that you consider it if in the market for a value-priced rangefinder. If the sky’s the limit, you might look into its big brother or other, more expensive/value-added models. In any case, you’ll know that the clubhouse is short par-five away.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.