Golf watches have become a common sight on courses everywhere, and they have quickly gone from novelty to necessity for serious golfers. The technology that powers a golf watch is quite mature, but it took a while for golfers to reap the potential benefits of using Global Positioning System information to improve their game. GPS devices have brought incalculable benefits to drivers, bikers, runners, boaters, hikers and millions of other people that need to know exactly where they are located anywhere on the planet. Now that same kind of precise location information is being offered to golfers to make it easy to navigate their way around the course and for calculating distance, club selection, and strategy.
|Garmin Approach S2||Click for the Price||8 hours GPS mode /|
3 weeks watch mode
|4.5 / 5 stars||Full Review
|Garmin Approach S4||Click for the Price||10 hours GPS mode / |
6 weeks watch mode
|4.1 / 5 stars||Full Review
|Garmin Approach S6||Click for the Price||10 hours GPS mode / |
14 weeks watch mode
|3.5 / 5 stars||Full Review
|Bushnell NEO XS||Click for the Price||12 hours GPS mode / |
2 years watch mode
|4.3 / 5 stars||Full Review
|SkyCaddie||Click for the Price||8 hours GPS mode / |
8 month watch mode
|3.6 / 5 stars||Full Review
|TomTom Golfer||Click for the Price||10 hours GPS mode||5.0 / 5 stars||Full Review
|GolfBuddy GB9-WT4||Click for the Price||13 hours GPS mode /|
20 days watch mode
|5.0 / 5 stars||Full Review
Key Features of a Golf GPS Device
User-Friendliness – The features of golf watches vary a great deal from one manufacturer to another, and from model to model, but even the most stripped-down models are feature-rich. Depending upon how you’re planning on using it, too many features on your golf watch can lead to information overload and diminish both the amount of useful help you get from the device as well as your enjoyment of your golf game. Purchasers should be wary of buying golf watches with more features than they really need. A straightforward interface is likely to be more important that dozens of menus you need to scroll through to get to the information you really want.
- Brands – There are several manufacturers of golf GPS watches on the market. The most popular watches are the Garmin Approach, Bushnell Neo, SkyCaddie, IZZO Swami and the Golf Buddy. These are really the best available and you can’t really go wrong with any of these watches since these brands have been making golf GPS devices for quite some years now. They know what the golfers want, which information they need to see on the display and in what kind of weather conditions golfers play.
- Durability – If you’re a serious golfer, you know that you and your equipment are subject to a good amount of weather and dirt when you’re out on the links. There’s a reason why a golf umbrella is as common in golf bags as an eight-iron, and why a towel is always hung on your bag as well. If your golf watch can’t stand up to the rigors of holing out from a sand trap or the blast of mud that comes from a bad lie near a water hazard, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits that come with GPS information without worrying about hurting the device.
- Signal Quality – A GPS device that can’t find the satellites that feed it the information it needs to tell you where you are is just a wristwatch. Miniaturization of GPS device to a size that can be worn comfortably has been an enormous boon to the utility of any number of wearable devices for exercise and navigation, but if it comes at the expense of the ability to work reliably when the weather isn’t perfect then it’s not going to help your game. Look for devices that don’t mind overcast conditions, and remember that no matter how good a golfer you are, you will occasionally be underneath tree canopy that can put any GPS device to the test. When visibility is obscured by weather or obstructions like trees is generally when you’ll need help with information like direction and distance the most, so get a golf watch that won’t let you down in a pinch.
Battery Efficiency – When you’re golfing, the last thing you’ll want to be looking for is an electrical outlet. If your golf watch doesn’t have an efficient and long-lasting battery, you’ll find yourself without trustworthy information on the course when the device goes dead, with no chance to recharge it. GPS technology is very useful, but keeping a live signal at all times from numerous satellites is much more power intensive than simple standby modes that devices like cellphones offer. If you’re used to playing more than one round a day, or like to play later in the day when daylight is fading and GPS information could be critical to being able to continue effectively, you’ll be glad you chose a model that lasts as long as you do.
- Accuracy – GPS satellite information is amazingly accurate, but using a GPS device for golf is a much more demanding application than using it for things like driving directions in a car. If your car GPS is off by twenty-five feet, you won’t get lost or start driving off the road. If your golf watch is off by twenty-five feet, it could cost you an extra putt, or even lose your ball in a water hazard that isn’t supposed to be there according to your device. Even though golf is played for enjoyment, you’ll find that you’ll be happier if your golf watch offers more exacting information than any other GPS device you own.
- Useful Add-Ons – Golf watches can be great at speeding up and streamlining your golf game. Look for useful add-ons like a USB interface, digital scorecards, and course previews. If you like to download your scores to database, you’ll especially like a straightforward USB hook-up, and a digital scorecard will let you stop looking for a golf pencil all the time.
- Size – Sometimes referred to as its form factor, the size, weight, and shape of your golf watch or other golf GPS device could be the single most important features when choosing one model over another. If a golf watch is too bulky or heavy to wear comfortably, it could affect your swing, and if you find it uncomfortable to wear or carry, it could become an annoyance rather than a help on the course.
- Comfort – Related to form factor, you’ll want any device that you wear or carry to be comfortable. Keep in mind that weight is only one factor to consider when you’re choosing a wearable device. A close, comfortable fit might trump a little extra weight when judging ease of use. You should keep in mind the kinds of climatic conditions you generally play in when choosing your device. If it’s often chilly when you play, you might not prefer a device with a metal housing or strap. Conversely, if it’s often very hot, some golf watches will be more comfortable than others if you’re likely to be perspiring.
Golf Watches Can Offer any Level of Information You Desire
If you’re looking for a golf watch that simply tells you a few important pieces of information in order to improve your game, you won’t have any trouble finding one for your exact needs. Golf watches can offer a great deal more to users who are interested in seeing and keeping track of more kinds of information during a round. If you’d like to have the ability to drill down into mountains of information while you play, or after the round is over, there’s a golf watch that will keep track of almost any kind of information for you.
Golf Watches Have Become Tiny
Early wearable GPS devices were very useful for every kind of athlete, but they were once so bulky and cumbersome that they affected the performance of the competitors that used them. With miniaturization, GPS-enabled devices like golf watches are now so light and easy to wear that you barely notice them unless you’re looking at them to get the information that you need for the next shot.
Golf Watches Have Mapped Out Thousands of Courses for You
While it’s quite possible to purchase a golf watch that allows you to enter every kind of information about your game and the course on which your play, golf watches offer an amazing amount of pre-mapped courses that are either already in the device or available for download. Some Golf GPS devices have almost 50,000 different golf courses mapped out already, and add more almost every day.
Golf Watches Are Available in Every Price Range
When you factor in all the equipment that’s used to play a round of golf, it can add up to quite a bit of money. With even a simple set of irons often costing upwards of a thousand dollars, a golf watch will seem like a small outlay for all the benefits it can bring to your game. Golf watches are available in price ranges for any budget, and they can even save you money by speeding up your game and letting you play all the holes you’ve paid for before you run out of daylight.
Golf Watches Are Like Having a Highly Trained Caddie Along
When you watch pro golfers play on television, you can see how important a skilled counselor like an experienced caddie can be to lowering your scores. Few golfers can afford a caddie that offers that kind of expertise, but every golfer can take advantage of that same kind of important information that a golf watch offers. A golf watch takes all the guesswork out of distance calculations, sees around corners and over obstructions, and helps you in the same way a caddie does; but your golf watch never requires a tip at the end of the round.
Golf Watches Speed Up Your Game
Golf can be expensive and time-consuming. Golf watches can cost hundreds of dollars, but they can save you much more than that in time, aggravation, and greens fees. If you’ve ever had to cut short your round because you ran out of daylight, you know how important it is to play in a brisk manner. If you constantly have to stop to calculate distances, walk back and forth to see around doglegs, wander around looking for yardage markers on sprinkler heads, or pace back and forth in the rough looking for a view of the pin, you’ll instantly see the difference in the amount of time it take to play a round using a golf watch. Speeding up your game is a way to display good manner to other golfers that are using the course at the same time as well.
Important Considerations for Choosing a Golf GPS
Mapping – If you live in a major metropolitan area, or if you often travel to popular resorts in order to golf, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a golf watch that offers maps of the courses. If you live in a more rural and out-of-the-way area, it can be a challenge to find pre-loaded maps for obscure golf courses. If you’re going to be playing regularly on courses that aren’t mapped, you may be happier with a golf watch that lets you easily enter course information yourself. After a few rounds at your favorite club, you’ll have almost as much information as the pre-loaded maps offer, and it will be tailored more closely to your particular game.
- Look Out for Fees – While many golf watches offer so many pre-mapped golf courses that a golfer might never use them all, some only offer new courses, or courses in certain parts of the country or the world as fairly pricey add-ons. If you only enjoy an occasional round of golf, you might get tired of paying yearly fees for course maps, even though those fees might seem very small to someone that plays all the time. A one-time fee for golf courses that include all the courses you play might be all you need.
- Golf Watches and the Rules of Golf – Golf watches come under the heading of an artificial device under USGA rules. If you’re playing in tournaments where rules are followed closely, make sure you understand what information, that your golf watch makes available to you, is allowed during your match play. Even the most stringent rules usually allow you to use a golf watch to calculate distance and other simple calculations. Remember that local rules always trump rules promulgated by national and international governing bodies, so don’t simply assume you know the rules about using a golf watch during a tournament without knowing how it’s handled where you’re playing. As in all things, it really doesn’t hurt to ask beforehand, and since many golfers now use golf watches instead of old-fashioned distance cards, they’re generally no longer looked at like an unfair shortcut.
Rangefinders vs. GPS – Rangefinders use laser technology to determine distances, and because they don’t rely on constantly reading signals from satellites orbiting high over the Earth, they can be more accurate than a GPS. Rangefinders require a direct line of sight to function, though, which is often not available if you find yourself off in the rough or staring down a dogleg with no way to see the pin. A GPS can also easily tell you the distances to the front, back, and center of a green instead of just the pin. Golf shots don’t often fall directly into the hole on the fly, and calculating the distance to where the shot will strike before rolling is much more useful than the distance to the pin in many cases.
Golf watches can be a great help to increase the level of your play. After you are familiar with the watch and know how to get the best information out of the device then you can take the right club and bring the ball as close to the position you want the ball the land. Of course this takes a bit of practise but there is massive potential!