My New Leupold GX-4i (product review)

I have used my new Leupold GX-4i now for 5 rounds of golf and thought it was time to write a review. First a little history on the company. Leupold & Stevens, Inc. has been around since 1907. It was originally started by a German immigrant named Fred Leupold. The company was virtually a one-man shop in Portland, Oregon that repaired optics on surveying equipment. During the Second World War Leupold teamed up with the U.S. Army to work on a rifle scope and the U.S. Navy to develop optics to use aboard Navy ships. During that time Leupold’s engineers learned how to waterproof and create durable optics that eventually found their way into sport optics. Leupold & Stevens is still an innovative family owned American company that produces high performance optics and accessories. Their products are renowned for ruggedness and superior optical quality.

The Leupold Gx-4i has two front face plates that are interchangeable. One enables all the features for general use and the other disables most of the features except distance so that it is legal to use in many tournaments. To use the unit to its fullest capacity and power certain functions need to be set-up. These are easily done with a mode button on the side of the unit. They include course elevation, current temperature, units (yards or meters), club selector set-up, and reticle style (there are 3 to choose from). Basically, the only things that need to be changed for each round is the temperature and elevation. Everything else is set once and forget it.

Once set-up it is just a matter of point and shoot. The power button on top of the unit is also the scan button. When the power button is held down the unit will scan and return distances every 1/2 second. This makes it easy to distinguish between the pin and anything behind it. The unit compensates for inclination and displays actual distance and adjusted distance based on such. It will then recommend a club providing you have input your club distances during set-up. Other features include a fog mode and the ability to lock-in on prisms that are attached to the top of the flag stick. I have only played one course so far with prisms and they were easily picked-up by the unit.

I have compared distance results with people who have GPS units. There have been times when there was a 10 to 15 yard difference. GPS units usually give front, center and back of the green distances. If the green is large and the pin is somewhere in between those distances, the GPS readings won’t be as accurate as a laser device. I believe the Leupold has already saved me a few shots because of its accuracy. My one criticism is that it does not compensate for hand movement. It is always hard to hold an optical device steady when what you are looking at is magnified (this unit magnifies by 6x). There are cameras out there now that do that and it seems to me that laser range finders could incorporate the same feature (I could not find a range finder on the market that did). Overall, I am satisfied with the unit and would recommend it to anyone that wants a waterproof and reliable unit that is loaded with features.

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