The Callaway LR1200 is part of the new Callaway lineup of five (!) rangefinders, and is their high-end USGA-compliant device. While you may not have traditionally thought of Callaway as a provider of rangefinders, they have jumped into golf accessories in a big way with their current line of laser rangefinders (which is co-branded as “technology from Nikon”) and their acquisition of uPlay, makers of the uPro golf GPS device.
The 7x magnification of the Callaway LR1200 tied for the highest level of magnification of any laser rangefinder we tested. It features the ability to scan targets and receive constantly rapidly updated distance readings, and does so while still doing an excellent job at picking out flagsticks at a distance. Additionally, the Callaway LR 1200 is the only device tested that displays yardages to 1/2 yard increments.
While it is the highest priced device in our test, the Callaway LR 1200 is a well-made device that covers all of the needs a user would have in a USGA-compliant device. We recommend that it be included on any buyer’s short list.
Retail price: $499.99
Availability: Discontinued; Replaced by the Callaway iQ
Ease of Use
The Callaway LR1200 is the most portly of the vertically-held laser rangefinders tested by a wide margin, at 10.1 oz and 5.7” x 1.9” x 3.2”. It comes with a lightweight soft “sport case” (picture a wetsuit for a laser rangefinder) designed to be kept on the device during use, and includes a carabiner clip to attach the LR1200 to a bag or cart (though reviewers tired of having to clip and unclip the carabiner each time and would have preferred a pouch similar to the Leupold devices). The “case” features a removable lens cover (button on one end, Velcro on the other) – users can either remove this cover entirely during play, or simply un-Velcro it for each reading (we are anal enough that we preferred to keep the lens protected during play…just in case).
The Callaway LR1200 displays the distance read-out in the upper half portion of the viewfinder. If you’ve read our review of the Leupold GX-I, you’ll know what comment is coming next – we think that this positioning makes the distance read-out more difficult to see because the dark LCD numerals are often shown against a dark background, such as a tree line (though the situation is not as extreme as with the Leupold). Compare this with the Bushnell devices, which place the yardages directly below the crosshairs, where they are typically contrasted against the lighter colors of the green or fairway.
There is no ability to choose from different styles of crosshairs – just one simple version with lines extending from the center of the targeting area, and additional lines emanating from the center that appear when the laser is fired.
The LR1200 shines in generating rapid distance readings, and providing them in half-yard increments, the only device tested to provide such specificity (the company caveats that accuracy may not achieve +/- 0.5 yards at distances shorter than 22 yards or greater than 550 yards). The ability (or simply decision) to show in ½ yard increments sets the Callaway apart from all other laser rangefinders tested – now whether the typical user’s golf swing requires this level of precision is another matter entirely. The distance readings we obtained on the Callaway LR1200 were as accurate as the other devices we tested. As noted in How We Test – Accuracy, it was virtually impossible to differentiate the accuracy of one device from another – instead, variations were generally the result of better interfaces that lessened the chance of reading the distance to the wrong object.
As with most other rangefinders tested (the exception being the Opti-Logic InSight GL device), the Callaway LR1200 features an eyepiece that focuses the internal display. Compared to the others in the group, the LR1200’s eyepiece is the easiest to focus with one hand on the device.
Two buttons control the device, a power/laser button that powers the device on/off and also fires the laser, and a mode button to toggle between using yards and meters as the standard unit of distance.
The Callaway LR1200 takes one 3-volt Lithium battery. A battery meter is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder at all times.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.
The Callaway LR1200 features a “pin locating” mode (Callaway calls it “First Target Priority” mode) that helps the user lock in on a flagstick or other object, which is active at all times. As with “pin locating” modes on competitive devices, “First Target Priority” mode means that when the device detects multiple objects when the laser is fired, it will provide the distance to the closest object. As a result, if the user is targeting a flagstick in front of a grove of trees, First Target Priority should help the device return the distance to the flagstick, which is closer.
Although the LR1200 in always in First Target Priority mode, it still allows the user to pan to different targets on the course and receive constantly updated distance readings by simply holding down the power/laser button. Contrast this with the Bushnell devices, which do not offer the panning mode when their “pin locating” mode is engaged. After about 25 seconds of continuous scanning, the user must re-fire the laser.
The Callaway LR1200 is about as simple as you can get – no settings to change other than yards or meters. And while some might say the more features the better, what the Callaway does, it does extremely well. It’s a straightforward device that is USGA-compliant, and meets all basic rangefinder requirements and then some.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder features.
Obtaining Distance Readings
Callaway’s marketing materials state that the LR1200 can obtain distances from 11 to 1,200 yards, but doesn’t provide “performance ratings” of maximum distance readings for different types of objects. That’s fine with us – these “performance ratings” are relatively meaningless once you get to the course.
Ease of Locking on a Target:
- At 150 yards, the Callaway LR1200 was quick in delivering readings, as were all of its competitors
- Between 200 to 300 yards the LR1200 could pick out flagsticks reasonably well, though not at the level of the Bushnell 1600 or Leupold devices.
- At over 300 yards, where users are pushing the abilities of rangefinders to lock onto flagsticks, the Callaway LR1200 was tops in our test alongside the Bushnell 1600 under optimal conditions, though under more challenging conditions trailed the Bushnell 1600. Flagsticks are really somewhat irrelevant at this distance, but for those who like to plan their strategy for laying up on a hole, this long-range accuracy can be handy.
The 7x magnification of the Callaway LR1200 is better than every other vertically held laser rangefinder, and equals the magnification of the horizontally held Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition. It’s a great advantage to have this level of magnification, which makes targeting objects and flagsticks at a distance much easier. We were surprised to find that there was a noticeable difference when we switched to using a device with just a slightly lower magnification (such as 6x). If you are like us, you will have a hard time returning to a device that provides any less magnification.
In our speed test we found that the Callaway LR1200 was the fastest in scanning among devices tested (58 seconds).
- Panning Mode: When we compared the LR1200 in its one mode (since it always has panning and pin-locating available) against other devices in their “panning” modes, the LR 1200 came in quickest among currently offered devices.
- Pin-Locating Mode: When we compared the LR1200 in its one mode (since it always has panning and pin-locating available) against other devices in their “pin-locating” modes, the LR1200 really pulled away in terms of speed.
- Using Both Modes: Suffice it to say that the LR1200 was also tops in the speed test when other devices were allowed to use both modes together (which, in the case of most other devices, required pushing the buttons to cycle between modes).
For comparison, check out the Critical Golf comparison for Ease of Obtaining Distance Readings.
At $499.99 retail, the Callaway LR1200 is the highest priced USGA-compliant laser rangefinder that we tested, and was exceeded by only the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition among the more expensive slope-adjusting non-USGA compliant devices.
But value isn’t solely based on how cheap a device is. The LR1200 provides not only the Callaway name (for whatever that’s worth), but also 7x magnification, rapid distance updates while scanning at 1/2 yard increments, and solid flagstick targeting at the longest distances. It isn’t going to be easy for the Callaway LR1200 to match up against devices that are over $100 cheaper and offer the same functionality, such as the Leupold GX-I and Bushnell Tour V2, but if you are looking for an very good USGA-compliant vertically held laser rangefinder and you want to do your part to help bring this recession to an end, this device should be on your short list.
Amazon.com price: Discontinued; replaced by the Callaway iQ Laser Rangefinder
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