There are a myriad of ways to calculate distance needed for an approach shot while on a golf course. Some methods are easier than others (looking at you, Tour caddie who’s walking off yardage from that sprinkler head 20 feet away and attempting pre-cal math). For the average golfer looking for exact yardage to the flag though, the most accurate tool is a laser rangefinder.
Rangefinders generally come in two variants: a straight-line calculation version and one that also calculates slope to account for elevation changes. The main reason to stick with the non-slope base model is simple: cost. The upgraded models which calculate slope are often priced at $400 or more while the more simple non-slope versions can usually cost $200 or less.
Enter the TecTecTec ULT-X laser rangefinder which not only includes slope calculation but another high-dollar feature: pin-seeking technology with confirmation feedback. With a retail list price of about $250, the ULT-X appears to offer a real value when compared to the similarly-equipped Bushnell Tour V4 Shift which lists for about $450.
So is there any reason to spend $200 more on the name-brand offerings? Let’s find out. I used the ULT-X at multiple courses during several rounds for two weeks, testing it out in a variety of situations and conditions and my overall impression of it was very positive, especially for the price.
I found the size, shape and overall ergonomics to be top-notch, especially when compared to my current GolfBuddy rangefinder which is in the same price bracket. The ULT-X is compact, making it easy to stash in any golf bag pocket or even in your pants pocket if you are playing in cart-path-only conditions (which is most of the suddenly-subtropical eastern US as of this writing). I found it fit in my medium-sized hands very well and as a bonus, it only weighs 0.46 pounds.
While my test sampler came with a custom-fit, all-weather rubber sleeve, I didn’t find it necessary as most of the model’s casing is covered with a non-slip coating. The white-and-black motif is sharp, and the overall look and feel of the TecTecTec ULT-X are solid and premium. There are no signs of cost-cutting from the exterior, so things are looking up.
Furthermore, tapping the power button and looking through the eyepiece presents no disappointments either. The graphics are clear and easily legible. There’s a pleasing set of crosshairs to center your target and icons letting you know when it’s located the flag. Yards/meters are displayed down to the tenth decimal, suggesting a seriously high level of accuracy (more on that in a moment). Cycling through the modes is easy though I had to read the manual to understand how to engage the feedback function to confirm you’ve hit the flag and not that tree 58 yards behind it (spoiler alert: you simply hold down the power button and scan side to side until it buzzes).
There’s no point in spending any money on a rangefinder if it doesn’t fulfill its purpose. The ULT-X performs satisfactorily here, but not exceptionally. The device is eager to display yardages as soon as you depress the power button, but unless you hold it down, you’re likely to get a different number with each tap. Before utilizing the press + hold method of acquiring the target, I often had to take 3-4 measurements to feel confident I had hit the flag.
By pressing and holding, the rangefinder provides real-time measurements so you can generally pick out the flag by the number that most logically associates with its position to the foreground or background objects.
Like other 2-in-1 rangefinders, the TecTecTec ULT-X can be set to either “legal” tournament mode or slope-enabled mode by merely sliding the edge of the device out. Doing so reveals a visible yellow warning to other golfers and tournament officials that you have crossed over into the land of outlaws (worth noting: the yellow band indicating not-tournament-legal is relatively narrow, and I was able to manipulate the slide on it to close nearly the entire gap before the slope function turned off)
As for accuracy, I did not find any glaring errors so long as I captured the flag in my measurements. During my last round, I did have a playing partner compare distances with his more expensive rangefinder and found several yards different from mid-iron range. That’s not likely to make a difference to most casual golfers, but it certainly doesn’t make the decimal reading seem nearly as useful.
In addition to some minor accuracy issues, the main detractor I found using the ULT-X was time. Like with any device there was a learning period to master when to press the power button and how long to hold it to get the most accurate and efficient reading. But even after several rounds, I found the process of getting a good yardage to be time-consuming. The device takes over two full seconds of booting up before it’s ready to measure. Add in several more seconds of pressing and scanning, and I found most readings took 7-10 seconds.
That may not seem like an eternity but consider an alternative: I could glance at a GPS watch and make some quick mental calculations about green depth and pin position in less than 5 seconds and have about the same level of confidence in the number. Of course, GPS watches are cumbersome and make you look like Inspector Gadget, so there’s that.
It would seem the most significant selling point of the TecTecTec ULT-X is its price and despite its minor shortcomings in performance, there are plenty of value-conscious golfers who would sacrifice a bit of accuracy and patience for a brand-new device that’s hundreds less than the big name brands. With so many features and only a few annoyances, the ULT-X is a good buy at $250, but not a steal. If you’re looking for blazing speed and pinpoint accuracy, there are likely better options, but the ULT-X is a competent offering.
If you are looking for a premium rangefinder option, check out our review of the Voice Caddie SL1.
Overall Grade: B+