***If you’re looking for the most recent reviews for 2021 gear, we will be updating this page in the summer after we’ve had a chance to review them!
When golf is your game, there are certain things that you can do to improve your performance. Shooting a low score on the links is a combination of many things, but what if you could assess risk by using a GPS device that would be able to provide you with accurate information? In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different types of devices (handheld and watches) so that you can choose the best golf GPS for your needs.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following golf GPS devices:
Which is Best: a GPS or Rangefinder?
As you know, there are different types of devices that are designed to be used for measuring golf distances and navigating a golf course. There are GPS devices and rangefinders that can be used, but which one will work best for your game? Well, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each.
- GPS – It is a simple device (short for Global Positioning Satellite) that will provide you with the a lot of information about the course that you are playing on. The entire course will be laid out in front of you, and it will show you the bunkers, the water hazards, and other things on the course that are not even in your viewing distance.
- Rangefinder – This is a great tool to use when you want to improve the accuracy of distances you can actually see. It can be used quite easily, but one of the downsides of this device type is that to get a reading, you will need to aim at some sort of image in your line of sight. It cannot provide a distance for items that it cannot see.
So which is the best to own? Well, since these two devices do two different things, it is likely that a golfer will want to have both of them to get an accurate picture of the hole that you’re playing and to see the next shot you need to make.
Why Not Just Use an App on Your Smartphone?
Of course, using an app can be a solution when there are no other options available, but these apps are limited in what they can do, and some courses may even restrict the use of such apps during a game. Using the app on the course will also likely leave you with a really low battery at the end of the day because the app tends to drain the battery pretty quickly. If you do decide to use your phone, make sure to have a rechargeable battery available as well.
Handheld or Watch?
So you decided to go with a dedicated GPS device over your phone, now which option should you choose? Well, both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is essential that you choose the option that works for your needs. Let’s take a look at both options.
- GPS Watches: These are relatively less expensive options that are easy to use as well as carry on the course. Since they are smaller, they tend to lack extraneous features like a larger display, and the battery life is not as long as other types of products.
- Handheld GPS Devices: This is an option that will provide you with more features that you can use on the course. The screen is rather large, and they can have a lot of additional features that can be useful, but they can be bulky and more costly to purchase.
Who Should Get One?
Though one of these devices can help any golfer on the course, they are going to be the most beneficial to have for an amateur who cannot calculate the exact yardage from where they are located on the hole.
If you’re serious about playing your best and shooting the lowest score possible, than a golf GPS makes sense. On the other hand, if you’re just playing the game to spend time outdoors with your buddies and don’t care what you shoot, then you probably don’t need one.
The one caveat is that you can’t use a GPS or rangefinder for tournament play that takes slope and weather into consideration for calculating shot distance
Benefits of Golf GPS Devices
When it comes to these GPS devices, there are quite a few benefits that you will experience simply by having one. Some of these benefits include:
- Provide you with information about the course quickly
- Improve your accuracy; in fact, most are accurate within a couple yards
- Help you be able to choose the right golf club to use for every shot
- Speed up your pace of play
- Increase your confidence on the course
What to Look For in Choosing the Best Golf GPS
When you are ready to purchase your new GPS device, there are going to be certain features that you will want to look for the product to have. All of these aspects are not vital, but some of them you will not be able to do without. Figure out which aspect is the most important to you and make sure that it is up to par when you make your purchase.
One of the main reasons that you are getting a new GPS device for golf is so that the accuracy level of your game improves. Most of these devices will provide an accuracy level that is less than two yards. Many of these devices use the same satellites so everything is going to be fairly close to one another
Ease of Use
When it comes to this type of device, the best option is going to be a straightforward device that allows you to use it, whether you are an amateur golfer or a professional. You definitely don’t want something that’s to intuitive and makes you shuffle through a bunch of different screens to get the information you need.
The display size is something that is going to vary quite a bit with size. Of course, you will need a screen that is easy to see, but something that is too large may also be challenging to manage on the course.
These devices are going to be a great option that can tell you what you need to know when you are on the course. You need a device that can clearly tell you important details at any time in easy to understand voice.
A general rule is that the more features the GPS has, the larger the device will be. On the flip side, the smaller the device is, the less features it will have but it will be easier to carry with you on the course. Make sure you select something that works with whatever situation you prefer.
Since this is a device that you are going to be using for a long time to improve your golf game, you are going to want something that is extremely durable. The device could easily get dropped on the course, so if you have a durable option that is made out of strong material, it is going to be more likely to last.
What additional features are important to have on your device? Some handheld devices will have options for the weather that can help you get the most accurate information, while some will even have a built in launch monitor. For watch-style options, you can connect it directly to your phone to give you messages while on the course, while some have built in fitness tracking features as well.
The longer the battery life on these devices, the better they are going to be. Ideally, you don’t want to be charging your device on the course, so it will need to have enough battery life to last you at least 1 round or 4-5 hours.
With all this being said in order to compare one device to another, let’s go ahead and dive into the reviews!
Best Golf Handheld GPS Devices Reviewed
The first GPS device that we are going to look at, which is the Skycaddie SX500, is a handheld device that is ideal for the course.
It is designed with a large 5-inch touch screen that is easy to read and use while you are playing a round or two. It also has a big number mode so that individuals who need glasses to read will be able to see it without stopping to put their reading glasses on during the game. You will be able to see the exact shape of the green using the IntelliGreen Pro technology that is incorporated into the software design.
Intellipath technology is a very dynamic tool to use that will help you make accurate measurements of your next shot. You will also easily be able to track the swing information for each hole on the course so that you know the distance and the hazards on the hole the next time that you play.
- There are over 35,000 preloaded courses available.
- The battery lasts quite a while without a charge.
- It is easy to keep your score and statistics for the hole with this device.
- Easily fits in your pocket
- Device is a bit cumbersome
- Buttons are a bit too sensitive.
The Garmin Approach G80 is a great option to use on the course because, even though it only has a 3.5-inch screen, it is designed to be easy to read in the bright sunlight.
It also has a touchscreen display that will allow you to quickly access the buttons that you need. This device has been preloaded with more than 41,000 golf course maps that all have a vibrant, colorful display. In addition, the battery is designed to last for up to 15 hours, so you will easily be able to play more than one round.
There is also a warmup mode that can be used on the course that will provide you with feedback about the speed of the ball, the speed of the club, the tempo of your swing, how hard the club hits the ball, and the distance that it should travel. There is also a big numbers mode on the device that makes the screen more readable.
- It works great for improving your smash factor and swing with a built in launch monitor
- This is a very accurate device to use on the course
- The radar on the device can easily overheat.
- The screen seems a bit small for a handheld device.
With 38,000 preloaded golf courses and accurate distances to the front and back of hazards and greens, this GPS is a great addition to your golf game.
You can also use it as a digital scorecard so that you do not have to keep track of every shot in your head before writing it down. It is water resistant so that you can use it on one of those rare rainy days on the course and the battery can last up to 16 hours on a full charge.
- It is simple to use even if you struggle with technology.
- If you do a little digging, you can find it on sale for a great price.
- The display and look of the device are pleasing to the eye and easy to read.
- Internal magnets make it easy to to stick it on the frame of your golf cart.
- The battery easily lasts a couple of rounds of golf even with high use.
- Can take a long time to download a course depending on your connectivity.
- Touchscreen functionality may improve use experience.
The Golf Buddy Voice 2, is a small handheld option that is going to be simple to carry.
It’s designed to be something to just provide yardage information since the screen is small and doesn’t a provide a complete layout of the hole. Nevertheless, it’s still a good option for minimalists.
It comes with 38,000 preloaded courses that you can find around the world, and the device can be set to up to 11 languages. The device is also water-resistant, so it will be more durable on the course. In addition, the unit can be used with accessories that will allow it to be attached to your wrist, your hip, or a bag.
There are a few different modes that you can use with this model, which include a distance mode, a view mode, and distance mode, and a time mode. All of these modes together make it a versatile option that will make it easy to improve your game.
- Battery will last long enough to play two rounds of golf.
- It has both male and female voice options.
- Recognizes the course quickly
- Sometimes, it can fail to connect to the Wi-Fi when restarted.
- It has a somewhat too compact size.
The final golf GPS handheld device that we are going to look at in this guide is one that is extremely easy to use.
The Bushnell Phantom comes with over 36,000 courses preprogrammed, and these courses can be found across the globe in about 30 different countries. It is designed with BITE magnetic technology that will allow you to attach the device to your golf cart or another metal surface with ease. The display on the unit is large, which makes it easy to read when you are trying to get information on the course.
The device will provide you with an eagle’s eye view of the hole that you are playing as well as let you know which hazards are nearby. In fact, the GPS device will be able to show you up to four hazards at a time so that you can be more prepared to take your swing.
- It is available in multiple colors.
- The magnet offers a very strong way to hold the device in place.
- This device comes with a one year warranty.
- The phone app for the product is not the best.
- The battery life is sufficient, but it could be better in this model.
Our Choice For Best Golf Handheld GPS Device
When it comes to the best golf GPS handheld device, there are quite a few great options that you can consider for your purchase but we feel the best one for most golfers is the SkyCaddie SX 500.
With the amount of course detail available combined with it’s easy to use design, this is an amazing device. Although the price is on the higher end of the spectrum, the large screen and easy to see visuals make this golf GPS the clear winner.
Best Golf GPS Watches Reviewed
The Garmin Approach S62 seeks to bridge the gap between golf-focused GPS watches that are unwearable anywhere else and smart watches whose apps leave a lot to be desired in terms of golf usefulness.
This watch uses sensors to detect when you hit a shot and then keeps a record of the shot for you to review after the round. You can also receive texts, surf the web, control music, and even receive push notifications on that Garmin but you cannot receive calls. If you are looking for a golf first smart watch, the Garmin Approach S62 is a great option.
- Automatic shot tracking.
- Lasts almost 20 hours of GPS time without needing a charge.
- Can be used to record stats in other sports like swims, runs, bike rides, etc.
- Easy to use even with the wealth of options and apps.
- Over 41,000 preloaded courses.
- A lifestyle watch with a golf focus rather than a GPS watch that has some lifestyle applications.
- The automatic shot tracking occasionally misses shots.
- On the expensive side.
The Garmin Approach S40 is a GPS watch that is focused on the golf experience.
It is comfortable, accurate, and the battery will last a long time in between charges. While it does have some of the same functions that can be found in other smart watches, the Garmin Approach S40 is for the golfer first and everyone else second.
- Very affordable for a high quality Garmin product.
- Very readable screen even on sunny days.
- Automatic shot detection.
- Up to 15 hours in GPS mode.
- Virtual tournaments can be played against others with this Garmin.
- 41,000+ preloaded courses.
- Ability to manually adjust pin placement.
- Few applications off of the course.
- Can be complicated to learn how to use.
A great product for golfers on a budget who need to know distances on multiple courses.
The Approach S10 can be used for scorekeeping and to track the shots you took during the round. It does not include some of the bells and whistles of other products on the list, but it does make for a really good GPS golf watch.
- Very affordable, especially for a Garmin.
- Over 41,000 preloaded courses.
- Upload scorecards from every round you play so that you can track your improvement.
- Can play virtual tournaments with other players who have the same watch.
- It is not as stylish as some of the other GPS golf watches.
- Has very few “smart phone” type features.
- The screen is smaller and more difficult to read than other choices.
The Bushnell ION 2 is a great golf GPS watch that has a very comfortable design and a sleek look that you can wear off of the course.
This Bushnell golf watch is preloaded with more than 36,000 different courses, and these courses are located across the world, so you will be able to play your best game in over 30 countries. With this device, you will be able to read the distance to the hole with ease. You will also be able to see the distance of your previous shot on the device when you are in the shot distance calculator mode.
You will also be able to see the holes from above with the hazards where they are actually located. This will help you judge how far away the hazards are with ease. In addition, the battery life on this device will last for quite a while; in fact, you should be able to play a full three rounds of golf on a single charge.
- This device has very accurate measurements when it comes to distance.
- The battery life of this watch is exceptional.
- The Bushnell device has trouble updating when you switch holes on the course.
The final watch that we are going to be looking at in this guide is the GolfBuddy aim W10.
It is a stylish looking watch that has a 1.3- inch screen that is easy to read. The display is a full-colored touchscreen that also has a zoom function that you can use. It has a standard watchband that is comfortable to wear of your wrist, even when you are not golfing. The device is Bluetooth-compatible, and it can also provide you with accurate distances for the course that you are playing.
When it comes to the battery of this device, it is designed to last for a period of 13 hours or so when it is being used in GPS made. It also has a scorecard that you can use to help keep track of the par that you are getting during the game. Since this will also be stored in the device, you can use the information to improve your game.
- This is a very durable device.
- The hazards on the course are easy to decipher on the screen.
- Sometimes, pairing the device with your Bluetooth can be an issue.
- The touch screen is not as responsive as it needs to be.
Our Choice For Best Golf GPS Watch
The Garmin Approach S62 is the Cadillac of the Garmin Golf GPS products. It can double as a smart watch with downloadable apps, push notifications, and other smart watch features.
Best of all, the S62 is a great golf GPS. It sits comfortably on your wrist, has additional padding on the band, is easy to use and read, and can automatically track your swing. The only thing not to like about the S62 is the price tag, but since it can be used in place of a smart watch, it is worth the cost.