The 6 Best Golf GPS Systems & Devices on The Market

The game of golf has evolved over the last couple of decades where the development of the gear has changed courses substantially and precision in establishing the distance of your next shot has become increasingly vital.

The introduction of the GPS system and the advancement of handheld GPS’s, and the progressively tinier components have evolved into watches being able to provide you with precise distances.

This piece is intended to provide some understanding regarding the functionality provided by both handheld GPS devices and GPS watches and thus empower you to make an educated choice on which one will suit your needs best.

Criteria Used For Evaluation

With a plethora of GPS devices offered to choose from, it can be quite a daunting task to scrutinize all the potentials and select the most suitable device. We aim to highlight some of the devices that have demonstrated themselves to be magnificent and deliver dependable service.

Why Are GPS Devices Used?

In the early years of golf, players were dependent on markings on the course whether it be on the side of the fairway, or later markings on the fairway, indicating the distance to the green.

This was not always clear whether it was describing the distance to the front, middle or back of the green. Distances to hazards were mostly estimation but certainly not perfect.

With the advent of the GPS system and then gadgets that were made available to the general public to ascertain distances, the need for GPS rangefinders rapidly increased.

Present-day GPS devices can quite conceivably provide precise information to within 5 feet making the shot selection and club choice significantly simpler. They are furthermore able to display the layout of the hole inclusive of all hazards and even the green layout and pin position

How Do Golf GPS Devices Work?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) consists of more than 30 navigation satellites circling the earth. A GPS receiver in your device listens for these signals and when 4 or more of these satellites provide information to your device, it can calculate your current position.

The detail of the course is preloaded on your device with the locations of the relevant greens, hazards and other points of interest.

What Is An App And What Does It Do?

The app is short for application. An application is a computer system written to provide your GPS device with instructions on how to operate.

Logging into the app will allow you to execute certain instructions and provide you with relevant. One of the major components of such an app is to sync with the main server of the app and download the latest information available to your profile. Some apps require subscription and will only divulge certain information free of charge.

Golf GPS Watch or Handheld GPS Device?

Many a golf pundit has strived to provide the solution to this question without major success. Golf is a game comprising of many individual factors and the choice between a GPS watch and a GPS handheld device will be deliberated for many years to come.

Your personal preference and skills will play a big part in the selection and at the end of the day, your decision will be determined by your needs and preference.

The GPS Watch

  • A golf watch is lightweight and easy to carry around on your arm. A watch that is tied to your wrist is much closer and simpler to gain access to than a device that is stored in a case, most likely in your bag or in the cart. Therefore it will create less of a disturbance and allow you to speed up play.
  • A golf yardage finder will give you the distance to the hole from any point on the course. If you are satisfied with it during your performance, you would be fine with those watches.
  • Some golf watches can be utilized as an everyday watch as well.
  • On the negative side, the display on a watch is most probably smaller than that of a handheld device.

The Handheld GPS

  • Handheld devices are normally larger and bulkier than GPS watches and have larger displays making it easier to interpret the distances displayed on the screen. The golfer that wants an all-round experience may prefer a handheld device.
  • Handheld devices are able to store more functionality and statistics due to their size.
  • On the negative side, the increased bulk makes it difficult to carry around while playing and it requires storage either in your bag or on the cart.

Conclusion

Ultimately your personal preference will dictate which device you will select. As technology improved, more functionality is added to golf watches and screens are made larger for ease of reading.

Selection Criteria to Consider

Synchronization / App integration

Confirm that the device can synchronize with the app via Bluetooth or wi-fi for updates of the software, course information and to download new courses that have become available on the app.

Some apps can integrate with your smartphone allowing you to track your stats electronically and even make information on your round accessible online to family, friends or other golfers wherever they may be on the planet.

Preloaded Courses

The number of golf courses pre-loaded on the device is of extreme importance but would be of no value if it does not incorporate courses that you may possibly play on a frequent basis. Some of the devices at the top of the range have included in excess of 40000 pre-loaded courses covering more than 30 countries.

Check whether there are courses in the vicinity that have not been pre-loaded and ascertain whether they are expected to be added in the near future.

Features

The latest GPS devices have many features to assist golfers at all levels to achieve the best results possible. We will highlight the best features of every device to enable you to make the best decision on whether the features are an essential or nice-to-have feature.

Cost

GPS devices are available in a wide range of prices and it will be up to you to set the budget upfront and then stick to the budget. There are so many features available and one can easily get carried away by the features and forget about the budget

Display

The essential parts of the display are the clearness and dimension and if the device will be able to show the full length of the hole in a clear layout.

Another area to take into consideration is if the display has touch screen technology incorporated to facilitate you to move about to sections of the hole and zoom in for a clearer insight of what you can expect along the way.

Battery power

The battery in the GPS device must have ample life for you to finish at least 18 holes. Most devices have battery life in excess of 8 hours, so this ought not to be a problem.

6 Best Golf GPS Reviews

1. Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS

Pros:

  • It’s easy to use the GPS and all the features.
  • It’s almost competitive with laser technology
  • Phenomenally clear 3-inch color display
  • Particularly accurate

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • A little bulky

The handheld Approach G8 is rated as the best handheld GPS device available and it is aimed at golfers that have a higher disposable income. It provides a load of functionality and provides assistance for people that struggle with smaller fonts but allowing you to switch to a larger font mode.

Synchronization

  • Automatic updates are received wherever you have contact with wi-fi and it is free.
  • You will be able to connect to your iPhone and receive notifications, email, text and other alerts sent to your phone to ensure that you do not miss out on any critical information.

Pre-loaded courses

  • There are in excess of 40000 golf courses spanning the globe preloaded on the G8 and more courses are loaded on a regular basis. This makes it one of the best-covered GPS devices in golf.

Features

  • Through the use of slope technology, the G8 will provide you the actual distances that the shot will play at. It will adjust the distance left taking into account whether the shot is playing uphill or downhill.
  • Based on data collected from previous rounds it will recommend advice on which club to select for your next shot

Display

  • The 3-inches color touchscreen displays numbers in big digits for ease of viewing. You can also touch the area that you are targeting to land the ball for more detail regarding distances and possible areas of concern.
  • The display will show you the layout of the hole you are playing on and the green view and allow you to toggle between the two views.
  • Green view mode allows you to position the pin for more accurate distances.
  • Blindshot assistance will provide you with the direction and distance to the green when you are in a blind spot and you are unable to see the green.

Battery power

  • The battery life of the device is set at 15 hours which will enable you to complete 3 rounds of golf

2. GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS/Rangefinder

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Shot distance tracking.
  • Exceedingly accurate
  • Clear readout via voice or text
  • Easy to attach to your body through the Snap-on clip

Cons:

  • Could take a while to detect the course
  • Long startup

Even though it lacks some of the functionality provided by its rivals, the water-resistant Voice 2 from Golf Buddy is a trendy edition of GolfBuddy’ s extremely competent range of voice-enabled GPS devices. It provides the essentials in an effective way and is small enough to fit comfortably on your person while playing golf.

Synchronization

  • The Voice 2 is preloaded with 8 languages and can be synchronized for free updates by linking it to your computer via the USB port.

Pre-loaded courses

  • There are 40000 courses spanning 170 countries preloaded on this device.

Features

  • The device comes with automatic course and hole detection technology
  • It displays distances to the back, middle, and front of the green, the par of the current hole as well as the number of the hole being played.
  • Dynamic Greenview technology will give you the green shape distance readings from the golfer’s perspective even when you are not on the fairway.
  • The device will measure the distance of your shots for future reference and allow you to analyze your round later.
  • The distances can be shown on the display or read out to you in any of the 8 preloaded languages.

Display

  • The 1-inch monochrome LCD display will provide you with a complete layout of the hole.

Battery power

  • The device is fitted with a rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery that will last for 14 hours in GPS mode

3. Garmin Approach S60, Premium GPS Golf Watch

Pros:

  • Best GPS watch available
  • Large touchscreen for easy viewing
  • The adjustable strap is particularly comfortable
  • Easy charging system
  • 41,000 pre-loaded courses
  • Long battery life
  • Swappable bands for style variations.

Cons:

  • Provides fewer yardage readings than rangefinders
  • Prone to picking up practice swings

This is one of the sleekest and chic golf GPS watches available and it is also robust and the face is made of Gorilla Glass 3 that will shield it should it fall or be struck by a stray golf ball.

The 0.86-inch Quickfit band completes the looks of this watch magnificently and these bands are effortlessly swappable for style variations.

Synchronization

The Garmin Connect app delivers free course updates via an associated smartphone. It is furthermore possible to receive call and text notifications and to regulate the music stored on your associated smartphone from here.

Pre-loaded courses

There are 41000 courses from across the globe pre-loaded onto the 1 GB memory of the Garmin Approach S60.

Features

  • The watch tracks your activity through the Garmin Connect app for review after your round.
  • It measures the distance of your last shot automatically
  • After a period of inactivity, this GPS watch will notify you of a moving bar on the display. The bar will disappear after movement.
  • The Garmin S60 calculates your current position swiftly and accurately.
  • There are a compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer to provide you with ample information during your round.
  • The green view feature allows you to place the pin on the green for more accurate distance reading.

Display

  • The large 1.2″ color display is easily readable in direct sunlight and has a touchscreen display
  • Personalization of the watch is possible, and you can effortlessly put your favorite background via the Face It app on your smartphone.
  • Points of interest such as hazards and doglegs are presented accurately on the full-color map of the hole you are currently playing.

Battery power

  • The battery will last up to 10 hours in GPS mode and the watch is functional for roughly 10 days as an everyday watch before it requires a recharges.

4. IZZO Golf Swami 5000 Golf GPS Rangefinder

Pros:

  • Large display and buttons for ease of use
  • Extremely accurate
  • Color screen
  • Easy to operate
  • Yardages to hazards and doglegs
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Inconsistent quality of pieces
  • Repeated incorrect distance readings
  • Clunky set-up
  • Proprietary magnetic charging cable

The 5000 is an IPX6-rated water-resistant, colorful handheld device that provides the golfer with a clear view of the current hole.

Synchronization

Synchronization and setup can be a laborious process that will take and can take around 45 minutes to complete. Once registered and an account created, the software must be downloaded to a PC, not a Mac, and then you can select the courses that you want to download to your device. There is no subscription fee or download fees

Pre-loaded courses

There are in excess of 38,000 international courses preloaded

Features

  • As soon as Play mode is selected the device will display nearby courses in under 1 minute and you can select the course that you are playing on and upon completion of the hole, it advances to the next hole.
  • You will be provided with distances to hazards, distances for saving lay-up and distances to carry the hazard to prepare you to make the most suitable shot and club selection
  • The Izzo Swami 5000 will measure your shot distance by pressing a single button and it is able to compare your shot distance with the longest drives recorded on the specific hole previously.
  • The digital scorecard allows you to store your score upon completion by pressing a single button and then entering your score.
  • You can edit course maps to add missing information such as newly established hazards or any important points of interest to keep your data as relevant as possible.

Display

  • There is a 2” full-color display with simple to distinguish numbers and easily identifiable icons.

Battery Power

  • The battery lasts for 12-hours and can be charged swiftly with the Easy-Charge magnetic charger.

5. Bushnell NEO XS

Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Strong course coverage
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Auto hole advance
  • Auto round start
  • Ready to play right out of the box

Cons:

  • Scoring and statistics tracking are not available
  • Shot distance tracking cannot be saved and linked to a club.

This lightweight golf GPS watch is waterproof, comes with a 1-year limited warranty, comfortable, and easy to use. There is no obligatory setup required and it will be eager to play from the instant it leaves the box.

Synchronization

You will first have to register with iGolf that supplies the golf course information to Bushnell. Once registers the app updates are achieved easily by plugging the watch into a computer via the USB port.

Pre-loaded courses

  • The watch is preloaded with more than 33000 golf courses spanning 30 countries.

Features

  • The hole view will display the number of the hole that you are currently playing, the par for the hole, and the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.
  • The hazard view will only display 2 hazards on the screen at once and should there be more hazards on the hole a secondary hazard screen is available to provide more information.
  • The only information on your round that will be displayed is the current time, the elapsed time and steps taken.
  • Upon completion of a hole, the auto-advance function will move on to the next hole. It is possible to change the hole manually through the buttons provided but not to disable the auto-advance function.
  • You can set your watch to the next tee time for up to one week in advance which will initiate a search for satellites approximately 7 minutes before the set tee time.

Display

  • The screen is roughly 0.8-inch X 0.8 inch providing roughly 0.66” square inches of the display area and does not take up all the surface area available on the display. This does not distract from the quality of the display and user experience.

Battery power

  • The long-lasting battery will provide power for up to 12 hours making it one of the longest-lasting batteries currently available.

6. TomTom Golfer 2

Pros:

  • Autoshot detection
  • Auto Scorecard
  • Shot history tracker
  • Easy to read watch face
  • Waterproof to 40 meters
  • 11-hour battery life
  • Hazard yardages and lay-up distances
  • 40,000 pre-loaded courses
  • Interchangeable bands

Cons:

  • Does not have a touch screen
  • Autoshot detection is prone to detecting other movements

This water-resistant watch is compact and has a lightweight strap with tri-fold lock-in closure that fits snugly onto your wrist without being disruptive during your swing.

It is easy to use and combines all the gathered information such as the time it took to complete your round, the distance covered during the round, and the number of strokes played into a single store. It detects tee and approach shots automatically and stores it for analysis after the round.

The Tomtom Golfer 2 has an ultra-slim design. It fits on every wrist because of its snug, no-slide fit.

Synchronization

  • Synchronization via the MySports app on your smartphone will update course data automatically.

Pre-loaded courses

  • There are roughly 40,000 international golf courses preloaded on the Tomtom golf watch.

Features

  • Distances to the front, middle and back of the green will be displayed to aid you in selecting the appropriate club. It will also show distances to hazards and identify distances to safe lay-up areas.
  • The watch will automatically measure the distance of your last shot and if it has not detected the distance, you can manually tag your shots.
  • The Tomtom Golfer 2 provides a post-round analysis of your game via the MySportss app to determine where you could have reduced your score and areas that require some extra effort.
  • No need for the dreaded scorecard where you may miss a hole and have to go back in memory to calculate the number of shots played on that hole. The Golfer 2 automatically tracks your shots and captures the information in your digital scorecard on the watch.

Display

The rectangular display measuring 0.87-inch X .98 inch is clear and easy to see.  With the rectangular shape, TOMTOM intended to provide more surface area for better display more information.

Its rectangle shape is an added benefit that allows the layout of the watch to be clean and logical with a top to bottom flow.  By making the watch a rectangle TomTom is maximizing the use of the watch’s surface area.

Battery power

The battery will last you roughly 11 hours in GPS mode which is incredibly competitive compared to rivals.

Final Thoughts

Golfers are being spoilt for choice with the various devices available to aid them in determining the distance left to the green and other relevant information regarding hazards. GPS devices are now able to recommend the club you require based on your past performance and you can review your performance in the comfort of your home in order to prepare better for your next round.

The selection of whether you should utilize a golf watch or a handheld GPS device will always be based on personal preference. We have attempted to provide you with information on the best available watches and handheld devices to enable you to make an educated decision.

Golfers that are new to the game will find the most advantage from either the TOMTOM golfer 2 watch or the Izzo Swami 500 handheld device as they deliver all the essential information necessary.

The more skilled golfers will gain most from the GolfBuddy Voice 2 handheld GPS or the Bushnell NEO XS golf watch as they have more high-end features at an inexpensive price.

Top-level golfers could benefit from the Garmin Approach S60 watch or the Garmin Approach G8 handheld device as they present the most sophisticated features and will support in post-game reflection.

Although this classification can be used as a guideline and is not definitive and golfers could be guided by their budgets and determination to improve their skills rapidly.