Nikon grabbed the rangefinder world by the yards last year with their latest iteration of the COOLSHOT line (designated by GII and Pro). Arguably, a standard to measure the field by, their flagship COOLSHOT PRO STABILIZED model has it all. (And no, I’m not shouting the name at you: that’s the way they stylize it in all their literature. Okay, maybe Nikon is doing a little shouting…).
The entire line has a very precise ability to give a distance reading to within a few feet of actual yardage. Your budget and intended use will bring you to the right model you should own. The differences are not in their degree of accuracy.
First, let’s take a minor digression into the 2019 changes to the official Rules of Golf as jointly promulgated by the USGA and the R&A. The rules instituted on January 1st of last year now allow the use of DMD — distance measuring devices — as long as they only give actual distances, not adjusted for slope, wind or any other conditions. Nor can they offer club selection advice. 1
Nikon’s line addresses these permissions and limitations by having three models with variations on these points.
The COOLSHOT 20 GII, their least expensive model, conforms to the rules. It is a dedicated distance measuring device. No adjustments to the actual yards to target. If you are competing in a qualified tournament and the local rules don’t limit the official rules, this rangefinder is legal. If you’re playing a round that you want to count towards an official handicap, rule 1.3i states you must follow the Rules of Golf. That means no extra help. This model conforms for the same reason: it doesn’t have the disallowed features.
COOLSHOT 20 i GII
The COOLSHOT 20i GII has that banned feature. Nikon calls it ID Technology (thus the ‘i’ in its name). ID stands for Incline/Decline, otherwise known as slope. This measures how much above or below your lie the target is and adds or subtracts yardage to let you know which club will do the job.
Image courtesy of Nikon
If you are only a recreational golfer and have no concerns about such restrictions, this useful feature only adds $30 to the bottom line.
COOLSHOT PRO STABILIZED
Their most feature-rich model, the COOLSHOT PRO STABILIZED, includes the ID Technology but has gotten approval from the R&A and USGA to disable the slope function, rendering it conforming when in that mode. There is an LED that shines either red for ID Tech on or green if off. Observers nearby can see if the player is in regulation mode with a glance. But if that was all it did, you could simply buy both of the other two, and save $20. But that extra $220 gives you more than an on/off button for the slope function. It also has stabilization technology to steady the image for you. Nikon claims 80% reduction of hand-induced jitter, for easier seeing and confirmation you’ve targeted your intended location.
All three models have diopter adjustments of +/- 4 (that’s a lot: think the strongest reading glasses you can find). There is very adequate eye relief for use with or without glasses. Both these features work together to give individualized correction for every vision need.
While we have to temper this post with acknowledging that this is last year’s product, Nikon is definitely not yesterday’s news. These are worth a look if you’re in the market for a rangefinder.
Visit the golf section on their site, nikonsportoptics.com, for more details.
And yes, if you were wondering, we photographed the show with a Nikon camera. It would’ve been awkward walking in with a Canon or Sony to cover their booth.
I’m a retired Boomer and lifetime golfer. I never got particularly good but have always loved the game. I’ll be an occasional contributor of mostly ‘adjacent’ content. I make observations about life from the perspective of the rear-view mirror. A voice of experience more than of expertise. Decidedly the junior staff. More color commentary than product expert. I’m amazed how far the game has come while still being essentially unchanged in a hundred years: a vehicle for challenging yourself to excel, improve and practice honorable behavior. In other words, build character. Brian’s dad — Donald Burt.