The Shot Scope Pro L1 laser range finder brings you premium features and performance in an affordable price range, making it a fine option for those looking to buy their first range finder or just for any golfer who likes getting value for money. That’s my one sentence review but if you need more convincing then read on.
Laser range finders have been around for a while but it took until this year for the professional game to embrace the technology. Tour professionals have used them in practice rounds to scout the course but they were prohibited from using them during actual tournaments. That changed this year when the PGA of America permitted the use of range finders during the 2021 USPGA Tournament at Kiawah Island.
It was a significant development as golf’s governing bodies have been generally reticent to embrace technology. You won't find the likes of Jon Rahm or Collin Morikawa wearing the best GPS watches for golf, but for one week only we did see them using range finders.
These handy devices come in a wide range of prices, from the basic entry level ‘point and shoot’ option to the more advanced, high tech offerings from the likes of Bushnell and Garmin. The Shot Scope Pro L1 sits somewhere in the middle, but has some features you would normally only expect in the more pricey category.
Shot Scope are best known for their excellent golf watches and analytical technology and this is their first foray into the range finder market. As far as first attempts go, they've smashed this one straight down the middle.
Shot Scope Pro L1: price and availability
You can find the Shot Scope Pro L1 in most established golf retailers, both online and in store for the extremely reasonable price of £199.99 in the UK and an even more reasonable $199.99 in the US.
Shot Scope Pro L1: Features and functionality
For a device that comes in at under £200 the Pro L1 is packed with features usually only found in a more expensive model. In fact, the only real difference between the Pro L1 and a number of range finders at double the price is speed. You may get your distance half a second quicker but it will cost you twice as much.
Shot Scope have produced a laser that provides all the basics you would expect from a product in its price range but that also has a couple of handy extras you generally would not get at that price point.
The most notable is Adaptive Slope Technology which gives you the distance to the pin as well as an adjusted number based on elevation. So for example, a downhill shot is going to play shorter than an uphill one and sometimes this can make club selection tricky. With the adjusted slope number you have a much more accurate picture of the shot you are facing.
This feature is illegal in tournaments or in competitive play but it can be easily toggled on or off using a switch on the left hand side of the device. Be aware, when the light is on that means function is inactive. Usually it would be the opposite, so when playing competitively be sure to inform your playing partners beforehand to avoid any accusations of cheating!
You also have the option of black or red visuals when you look through the lens. This is a really cool feature as it ensures the display is visible in all light and weather conditions. You can toggle between colours using the button on the right of the device and it really does make a difference depending on what time of day you are playing.
There are two main modes available, as well as a third that doesn't really seem to have much purpose but can nevertheless be quite fun. The first (M1) is a scanning mode that displays distances almost instantly and will change as you scan the fairway, green, hazards etc. This is useful for when you need to know how far you need to carry the ball over a lake, or to lay up short of a bunker etc.
The second mode (M2) is the one you will use most as this will tell you the distance to the pin. When you select M2 a flag icon appears and when you lock onto the flag it will vibrate to let you know it has acquired the target and will then give you the distance. The Pro L1 is accurate to 0.1 yard and has a range of 875 yards. Not that you’d ever need that, but it’s still mightily impressive.
The third mode (M3) measures moving objects and tells you the speed it is travelling at. This isn't going to be of any particular use to your golf game but it's still kind of cool if your pal has to run back to the tee to hit another shot and you can let them know how fast (or slow!) they are moving.
The Pro L1 has an adjustable eyepiece and a whopping X6 magnification which is a big help when locking onto pins that are some distance away. In layman’s terms this means a flag that is 150 yards away will appear as clear and visible as if it were only 25 yards away, making it much easier to get a lock on.
It’s water resistant, comes with a 12 month warranty and is available in three different colours so you should be able to find something that matches your golf bag.
Shot Scope Pro L1: Performance
Prior to taking the Pro L1 out for a spin I’d been using the Garmin Approach Z82, which is one of the best laser range finders on the market. The Z82 is a pretty amazing device so this immediately put the Pro L1 at something of an unfair disadvantage.
Comparing the two is not really fair considering the Shot Scope comes in at less than half the cost of the Garmin and is understandably not going to fare well in any direct head to head comparison. Yet it is only human nature to compare and when certain features I’d started to take for granted with the Z82 were suddenly not available, I’ll admit to feeling a little disappointed initially.
I quickly discovered that the Pro L1 is a smart bit of golf tech in its own right and that many of the features you find on the most expensive devices are not really needed, especially if you are using other bits of tech such as a GPS watch or a smartphone in tandem with it.
For many golfers, all they need from a range finder is an accurate measurement to the pin. You get that and a bit more on top with this offering from Shot Scope.
I played several rounds of golf using the Pro L1 and only once did I feel as though it gave me the wrong distance. I zapped the flag and it gave me a distance of 151 yards, which would usually be a 7 iron for me. The conditions were firm and the greens weren’t holding too well so I went with an 8 iron but airmailed the green and went right through the back. I checked the yardage on the GPS watch I was wearing and it gave me a distance of 138 to the back of the green, so clearly something had gone awry.
I’m certain the tech didn’t fail me so the obvious explanation is human error. I suspect I had zapped a tree at the back of the green rather than the flag, which is something that can occasionally happen when using range finders. You need to be careful, especially on courses you are not familiar with. It's always wise to double check by zapping twice, or if you are using a GPS watch make sure the numbers match up. This is a lesson I learnt the hard way.
On this point, GPS watches and lasers actually work very well in unison as they can each compensate for the weaknesses the other has. A range finder is of little use to you when you have a blind shot, while a watch has its limitations on larger greens when the base of the pin is not visible and you don't know if it's front, middle or back. Having both a watch and a laser covers all bases, but obviously cost is a factor and not everyone is going to be able to afford - or even want - both.
You therefore need to decide which suits you best. Ordinarily I would have always chosen the watch option but there is a lot to be said for the extra accuracy that range finders bring to the table. Having both is definitely an advantage when it comes to lowering your score.
In terms of speed when locking onto the flag, the Pro L1 is apparently a little on the slow side in comparison to the more expensive alternatives but it's all relative. In the competitive world of range finder design and technology, half a second might be seen as a huge deal but to the golfer using them it's really not noticeable.
The Pro L1 is really simple to use but because of how lightweight it is I occasionally had trouble getting it focused on the flag stick and would need two or three attempts before getting it right. That isn’t the fault of the Pro L1 specifically, it’s more to do with my shaky hands. I tend to find it really difficult holding these devices still and therefore a heavier model suits me better. Golfers with steadier hands than myself may well appreciate how lightweight it is though.
Another self inflicted issue I ran into the first time I used it was when the device started giving me the distance in metres rather than yards. This threw me off completely as I had no clue what club to hit or indeed how to reset it back from metres to yards. So, being the resourceful individual I am I googled a metres to yards converter, entered the reading the Pro L1 gave me and let my smartphone do the rest for the remainder of the round.
Of course the most resourceful thing to do would have been to just google the solution as soon as the problem occurred, but hindsight is a wonderful thing!
For the record, the fix was actually quite simple; hold down the mode button until it toggles between yards and metres.
The different colour modes are a nice touch and I loved the option of changing to the red indicator on the screen as it was much more visible, especially on dull cloudy days or late in the evening. One push of a button on the right hand side of the device lets you toggle between red and black and this is a cracking little extra that makes it seem that bit more high end in comparison to other devices in this price range.
The Pro L1 is powered by a replaceable CR123 battery and although I had some initial reservations about that, they turned out to be completely unfounded. Usually I prefer a rechargeable USB option as you know where you stand. You just charge them up before you go out to play and you’re all set. The last thing you want is to get to the course and discover the battery has died, so I was expecting to mark that down as a negative but in fact it’s the opposite.
The device switches itself off after 10 seconds so it’s just a case of powering it on, zapping the flag to get your yardage and then put it back in the bag where it will power off until you need it again. A single battery will give you 5,800 measures so if you use it twice on each hole you play then you will get 160 rounds of golf from it. That’s an awful lot of golf for one battery.
I used the Pro L1 in the rain and had no issues with it. It's nice to handle, sits comfortably in the palm of your hand while using it and because it's so lightweight it is an ideal accessory for those who like to travel light and carry their bag. It weighs next to nothing, even when it’s in the handy little carry case.
This won't suit everybody though, especially on windy days when even the heavier range finders can be difficult to hold steady.
Shot Scope Pro L1: Verdict
This is fine entry level option for new golfers who are looking to buy their first laser range finder or even for the more seasoned player who might be thinking of upgrading on a more basic model.
The Pro L1 provides some of the features you would normally get on a high end device but it sits nicely in the low/mid price range, which makes it excellent value for money.
If, however, you don’t have steady hands then steer clear as you will be much better served with a heavier, more stable alternative. If that isn't a concern for you then the Pro L1 will provide you with everything you need plus a bit extra, all for a very competitive price.
So in summation, if you’re looking for a laser device that’s highly accurate, simple to use, easy to read in any conditions and won’t put a huge dent in your finances then this could very well be the one for you.