I Used My Awesome New Laser Rangefinder to Watch a Chipmunk Eating a Mouse

had an issue with the rubber eyepiece on my previous laser rangefinder. But my current rangefinder, a Bushnell Tour X, is great. It’s the same one Rickie Fowler uses:

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It’s accurate and fast, it’s easy to focus, and the eyepiece is firmly attached. I can set the LED display to either black or red—a useful feature as light conditions change:

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It gives my hand a satisfying “jolt” of haptic feedback when it locks onto a flagstick. And the battery life is seemingly measured in years. That fact alone makes it better than any GPS rangefinder, in my opinion. The Tour X comes with a hard zippered case that attaches to a golf bag and works pretty well, between shots, as a rangefinder holster:

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The Tour X is little too big to fit easily into my pants pocket—the only negative I can think of. I usually carry it in the compartment in the handle of my push cart, into which it just fits:

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The Tour X has a slope-reading feature. When you aim it at a target that’s higher or lower than you are and shoot the yardage, it tells you how much the change in elevation increases or decreases the effective distance. You can’t legally use that feature (or use a rangefinder that has that feature) in events that allow rangefinders. But you can disable it, making the Tour X legal, by changing the face plate. The red one turns the slope feature on; the black one turns it off:

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I’d always thought that measuring slope was kind of dorky, but my friend Ray, whose handicap is 3, told me that it’s actually very helpful. He uses during practice rounds, and says it’s quite accurate:

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Just remember to switch face plates before you play in a tournament. Ray forgot to do that before our Professional’s Cup, and he had to disqualify himself.

A Tour X is also useful for looking at stuff that’s too far away to see clearly with just your eyes. I’ve used mine to identify birds and distant golfers whose swings I didn’t recognize, and the other day I used it to get a closer look at a chipmunk that was sitting on a stone wall near our practice green and doing something I’d never seen a chipmunk doing before: eating a mouse:

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I Perform Reconstructive Surgery on my Laser Rangefinder

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A year and a half ago, I bought a Bushnell Tour Z6 laser rangefinder. It’s not as good at picking up distant targets as its predecessor in my golf bag—an ancient Bushnell PinSeeker 1500—but it’s small enough to fit in a pants pocket, and the battery lasts forever, and I like it. My only beef about the Z6 (as I wrote here) is that the eyepiece, which keeps sunlight off the lens while you’re using it and is the thing you turn to adjust the focus, looks solid but is actually a cheap, floppy rubber tube that’s held in place by not-very-strong glue.

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The eyepiece on mine came almost all the way off one of the first times I used it, but I pushed it back on and tried to be careful with it. At some point during a round last spring, though, it disappeared. A reader named Matty wrote to say that he’d had a similar experience:

“I have this problem with my Z6 as well. Only difference is I didn’t lose my eye piece — it just came off. Called Bushnell, and apparently it’s a common problem. He says to just clean the inside and the eyepiece part of the rangefinder with alcohol and use ‘Zap Glue,’ like they use, at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions so it doesn’t interfere with the focusing part of the rangefinder. There’s a dot on top of the eyepiece where you can make an alignment so that, when you glue the rubber eyepiece back, you can align the red line with it. As for the rubber eyepiece going missing, I’m sure Bushnell would be happy to send you a new one.”

Because I had lazily waited to complain until after my warranty had expired, Bushnell’s happiness about sending me a new eyepiece depended on my sending them $6.00 for a replacement part and $3.10 for shipping, plus a stamp for the order form (which can be downloaded from the company’s website but not submitted there). Worse, the new eyepiece they sent me wasn’t new. It was clearly a cadaver part from somebody else’s busted Z6, because there was lots of old glue stuck to the inner surface of the rubber (which is turned inside-out in the photo below, to make the old glue easier to see):

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There was also residual finger crud, presumably from the previous owner, in the indentations on the other side:

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Oh, well, forgive and forget.

Since the kind of glue Bushnell uses at the factory clearly doesn’t work very well, I used epoxy glue instead—after first setting the focus at a distance I figured I could live with, since I assumed (correctly) that the eyepiece would no longer turn once I had finished cementing it in place.

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Bushnell apparently isn’t the only company whose rangefinders don’t stay together. Here’s my golf buddy Rick’s Callaway LR550, which was made by Nikon and probably ought to have come with a roll of Scotch tape:

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Has Anyone Else Had This Problem With Their Rangefinder?

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Last June, I bought a Bushnell Tour Z6 laser rangefinder. It’s not as good at picking up distant targets as my ancient Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 was, but it’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and the battery lasts a long time, and I like it. (I had made myself believe that the PinSeeker was broken, but as soon as the Z6 arrived I discovered that it still worked fine. So I sold it to Kevin for $48 and a ball-marker.)
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My only beef about the Z6 is that the eyepiece, which keeps sunlight off the lens while you’re using it and is the thing you turn to adjust the focus, looks solid but is actually a cheap, floppy rubber tube that’s held in place by nothing but some kind of not-very-strong glue. Here’s the eyepiece:

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Mine came almost all the way off one of the first times I used it, but I pushed it back on and tried to be careful with it. At some point during a round today, though, it disappeared. Here’s what my Z6 looks like now. You can see a tiny, booger-like remnant of the old glue, over on the lower right:

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Has this happened to anyone else?  I didn’t handle it roughly, a lesson I learned with my first rangefinder. I just used it while playing golf. And — Hey, Bushnell! — what am I supposed to do now? Is my rangefinder still waterproof? Can the eyepiece be replaced? Should I try to trick Kevin into selling me back my PinSeeker?

Rangefinders, Ivan Lendl, Lawyer Feet, a Lazy Thirty-Year-Old, a Hole-in-One, and Vegan Burgers for Dinner

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My ancient laser rangefinder, a Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 (above, left), finally stopped working. The low-battery warning began flashing and wouldn’t stop, even though I replaced the battery, twice, using fresh spares from my golf bag. As soon as I got home, I ordered a new Bushnell Tour Z6 (above, right), for three hundred dollars. The Z6 is quite a bit smaller than the PinSeeker, and it weighs almost four ounces less—a potential advantage in competition.

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The day after the Z6 arrived, I was rummaging in my desk and came across an unopened package of the kind of batteries the PinSeeker used to use. Out of curiosity, I popped one in, and—what do you know?—it worked just fine. I guess that carrying two nine-volt batteries in your golf bag for more than a year isn’t a good idea, as far as the batteries are concerned. So I now have two perfectly functioning laser rangefinders, and I’ll thank you not to mention that to my wife.

I used the Z6 for the first time on Friday, in a match at home. The match was Addison and me against Ray and our Close Personal Friend Ivan Lendl, who belongs to a couple of clubs in our area, including our Enemy Club. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that I had a short birdie putt on the eighteenth hole to square the match, and missed it. But Addison had a slightly longer birdie putt to do the same thing and made it, so good for us. We’re all square for now, and we will play a rematch at a time and place to be determined.

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In the photo above, Ivan is using his own rangefinder, which is Bushnell’s “hybrid” model. It has a laser, like mine, but it also has a GPS unit, which is sort of grafted onto the side. I asked him whether he ever used the GPS part, and he said he didn’t because the GPS part (like all GPS yardage devices) is so power-hungry that if you use it you have to recharge it after every round.

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About thirty minutes after our match was over, Addison and I played again, in the Friday-afternoon edition of the Sunday Morning Group. During that round, several unusual things happened. First, Other Gene joined us late and played without shoes or socks, giving the rest of us a close look at something you don’t see on a golf course every day: lawyer feet.

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Second, Austin, who is thirty years old and was the second youngest person playing that afternoon, took a cart after nine holes:

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Third, on the third hole—a 185-yard par 3—David W. hit a gorgeous 4-iron shot, which landed on the green, rolled toward the flag, and disappeared. Nobody in our group, including David, could see well enough to be certain what had happened, but we had a feeling. 

Because this was an S.M.G.-sanctioned outing, David will receive $250 from the Slush Fund. (An non-Sunday-morning outing is considered sanctioned if an email inviting everyone to join goes out in advance over the S.M.G. Listserv.) If David had done the same thing on a Sunday morning, he’d have received twice as much.

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That evening, my wife, Ann Hodgman—who has written several cookbooks, and is currently writing one for strict vegetarians—made vegan burgers for dinner. They contained chick peas, barley, leeks, and other stuff. (That’s the mixture, in the photo above.) They didn’t taste like burgers made from beef, but I liked them. And when I got home from playing golf the next morning I ate two more of them, right out of the fridge.

vegan burgersNow who’s a good husband?