More advanced watches even let you place the pin on the green for more exact distances. In addition to being used on the golf course, some watches are wearable as a daily watch and will provide information such as a fitness tracker, heart monitor, receiving messages from your mobile phone and even allows you to take calls on your watch.
What is a Golf Watch and How Does it Work?
A golf watch is a blend of a rangefinder and caddie with a specialist understanding of the course you are playing on. Information is supplied from GPS satellites offering reasonable accurate distances to certain areas on the course.
Unlike some golf rangefinders that operate on laser precision, watches still remain reliant on GPS satellites and consequently, they are less precise than laser rangefinders.
Features to Consider When Evaluating a Golf Watch
Golf watches are not dissimilar to smartphones that provide apps to aid you in finding your way around any of the pre-loaded golf courses.
The interface ought to be clear and easy to operate and not too many confusing options. It must complement and aid the golfer in bettering their golf game.
Golf is a game that is played outdoors and exposed to the natural elements and therefore it is important that they are protected from inclement weather and ultraviolet rays.
Number of Courses Mapped
Several watches have more than 30 000 courses previously mapped out and stored in memory waiting to be chosen and then deliver the appropriate information as you play in conjunction with the GPS satellites. The more advanced watches will recognize the course that you are on via the GPS satellites and preload the course.
Realizing that there are many more than the 30000 courses that are pre-loaded, you may find yourself planning to play a course that is not preloaded. No problem, some watches will allow you to download the course you are to play via Wi-Fi if it is available online. This feature will similarly update previously loaded courses with the most recent developments and modifications.
The green may not always be clearly visible from your position and unless you are well acquainted with the course, you may easily select an inappropriate club or attempt to hit the ball into an area beside the green. There are several watches that will permit you to see the layout of the green including the width and depth of the green. Many watches will provide you with 3 different readings for the front, middle and the back of the green.
Manual Pin Adjustments
Now that you have an unobstructed vision of what the green looks like, the pin positioning could play a role in your club selection. Even though many courses indicate whether the flag is positioned in the front, middle or back, the feature that allows you to relocate the pin position on the green will offer a more exact reading and therefore allow you to get the ball closer to the pin.
The most standard reading that is provided by rangefinders and golf watches is the yardage information to specified hazards and to the green.
Shot Distance Tracking
The distance that your previous shot covered is essential to establish how far you hit a particular club for future reference, and occasionally to boast as to how far you hit a drive.
This is done by setting the measurement on once you have hit a shot and you start your long walk towards your ball. This is measured by the distance from the start point to the endpoint based on GPS tracking and not the number of steps taken to reach your ball.
The more sophisticated watches have sensors built in to observe your swing speed and swing path for fine-tuning your swing based on the information gathered during a round in actual playing conditions.
In addition to tracking your swing data, the more advanced watches will track your score as well and enable you to track how you are playing compared to previous rounds.
The battery life of your golf watch is enormously crucial as it should be capable of lasting for a bare minimum of 18 holes prior to necessitating a recharge. Many golf watches can be worn outside of the golf environment and typically have a battery life exceeding 10 days.
Usability Outside Golf
Manufacturers of golf watches have appreciated that they have an opportunity to allow golfers to utilize their investment in their golf watch outside of the golf environment. They have made it possible to continue wearing the golf watch as an everyday watch. The top-end golf watches will even permit you to check in on your emails or answer your phone while playing golf or away from the course.
Review of the Top 5 Watches For Golfers
1. Bushnell Neo Ion 2
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Accurate yardages,
- An intuitive and straightforward user interface,
- Reversible band
- Integrated fitness tracker
- Robust design
- Automatic course and hole recognition
- Long battery life
- Distance measurements can be read effortlessly
- No touch screen
- No overhead map view
- Not as innovative as some rivals
- Can take long to locate courses
- Charger design could be improved
This is not a watch that will provide you with all the bells and whistles that some of the more advanced watches do. It delivers the most essential data in a simple and efficient way.
A simple LCD screen provides the user interface where some of the more superior products offer a touch screen as a user interface and for that reason, it will not be able to display an overhead view of the maps. The large display will show the distances in a very readable format.
Weatherproofing and Number of Courses Mapped
The Bushnell is waterproof and comes with around 36000 pre-loaded golf courses that cover 30 countries. There is an instinctive course recognition feature and will automatically move on to the next hole as you complete the current hole. The built-in Bluetooth connectivity will allow you to install the Bushnell App on your smartphone, renew current course information and download courses that are not pre-loaded.
Due to the use of an LCD screen, you will not be able to view the overhead display of the green and alter the pin location for exact distances as is possible on other GPS watches.
It will display appropriate yardage data for up to four identified hazards and the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.
You can assess the distance that your shot traveled by means of the distance data provided on the tee and deducting the remaining distance from your ball position to the green. You can connect to the Bushnell Golf App via Bluetooth for a thorough assessment of your round.
The watch has an Ion 2 battery that will provide you with information for up to 12 hours in GPS mode
Usability Outside Golf
There is a reversible strap that can turn the black strap into blue, and silver into green for flexibility and use away from the golf course. Furthermore, it contains a pedometer and an odometer for tracing the distances covered either on the golf course or in general.
Verdict – Whilst this is not the golf watch with the most features, it does provides the basic functionality in a simple to use manner and does its job well.
Garmin has been at the forefront of GPS technology for decades and Garmin has moved on from only supplying the mobile market with GPS devices and included their technology in golf watches. There are many watches in the Garmin range, and we have looked at the most popular and well-loved watch they offer rather than including all of them in this piece.
The S40 is waterproof and there are 41000 courses from around the globe loaded on the S40 and allows you to compare your score against other golfers that have played the course before you. The color screen measures in at 1.2 inches and is extremely responsive and easy to read in strong sunlight.
The color screen also allows you to view the aerial layout and the elevations on the green and permits you to move the pin on the green for more precise placement and distance calculation. Green elevation display with a moveable pin.
Distances to hazards, front, middle, and back of the green are displayed clearly on the 1.2-inch color display
Shot Distance Tracking
The AutoShot Game Tracking automatically records the distance that your ball traveled without you having to instigate the command. This not only records your shot distances but also every pitch and putt for post-match analysis.
The battery life on the S40 is on the higher end of the scale and will last for roughly 15 hours in GPS mode and will work for up to 10 days as a non-GPS watch making it a great everyday partner.
Usability Outside Golf
There are quick-release bands on the S40 that can turn the watch from a sporty golf watch into a formal watch when fitted with a leather band. The watch can moreover be connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth for the exact tracing of fitness activities and sleep patterns.
Verdict – Although it is missing some of the features built into the higher-priced watches in the Garmin stable, it is one of the most popular golf watches and provides sufficient features for most golfers.
The Golf Buddy WTX is a waterproof golf watch that is preloaded with roughly 38000 golf courses. It has automatic course recognition and auto advance to the next hole. Synchronizing your watch with the app will provide updates to the courses loaded as well as any new courses loaded onto the system. The large 1.2-inch LCD display is clearly visible even in bright sunshine
The dynamic green view presents you with a picture of the green based on your present position and it will swivel the picture of the green if you move about the fairway or, on the odd occasion, the rough.
A flyover vIew of each hole aided by a powerful GPS combined with the intuitive interface provides for great distance and hazard tracking. The full-color touchscreen provides an accurate distance to the front, middle and back of the green.
The battery life on the WX is an average of 8 hours that is enhanced by the wake-on-lift feature that saves battery life while your hands are in a natural position while walking or during the swing. It will only light up the display when your hands are lifted to a horizontal position.
Verdict – The WTX provides golfers with all the information required to plan the next shot irrespective of where they are playing their approach shots. The dynamic green view will aid golfers in understanding the exact look of the green from their current location without having to walk up to the green for a close-up view.
4. Callaway GPSy Sport Watch
- Built-in score tracker that tracks your score as you play
- Very stylish watch
- Excellent battery life
- Identifies and notifies you of hazard locations and distances
- User guide could be more user-friendly
- Charging can be a challenge
- Plain design and only available in two color choices
- No touchscreen
- Cannot connect online or to any device
- Hazard information not always precise
Callaway is a premium manufacturer and supplier of golf equipment and can always be relied on to provide a product that will work well and be robust to last or a long time. The GPSy is a feature-packed golf watch that works well and is extremely competitive in the pricing category.
The waterproof golf watch features a 1.28-inch square and features a black and white display and it is pre-loaded with 30000 courses that recognize the course being played and has auto-advance features set to recognize when you move to the next hole.
Yardages are accurately measured to the front, middle and back of the green as well as to hazards and doglegs. It will provide information regarding the distance that the ball must carry to cross hazards or when you want to cut across a dogleg. You can rely on the accurate calculation of lay-up distances should you want to lay-up before a hazard.
Scoring can be done on the digital scorecard and it will score your round automatically while tracking your movements. It will record your putts per round and the number of greens that you have hit in regulation.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery on the Callaway GPSy is in the upper range of what is on offer as it will provide up to 12 hours in GPS mode and up to 90 days when used as an everyday watch.
Verdict – Callaway has produced a watch that is a leader in keeping your score and negate the use of the boring paper scorecard. This will provide you with extensive information on the number of greens hit in regulation as well as putts per round.
5. SkyCaddie Linx GT
- 15 smart tags as standard issue
- Doubles up as a fitness tracker
- Packed with features
- Easy to see in bright conditions
- Awesome user interface
- Links to the smartphone app
- No touch screen
- Set up could be more user-friendly
- Involves a monthly subscription
- Only available in black
This golf watch is undeniably indispensable for golfers who value gadgets and want to share information on their rounds with family and friends, in real-time, with the aid of the SkyCloud 360 app. Bundled with the app on your smartphone, the package provides the golfer with a complete package to view and provide information out on the course.
In the weatherproofing category, the Shot Scope lags behind many of the competitors as it is water-resistant rather than waterproof.
It comes pre-loaded with more than 35000 courses.
SkyCaddie’s IntelliGreen® technology rotates the profile of the green to bring it into line with your attack angle. This then offers data concerning to the carry required to the front, the distance to the back, and the depth of green based on your line and angle of approach.
The watch will provide data for numerous distance measurements and provide the golfer with distance for lay-up, to the green, and to hazards. In addition to the information presented on the watch, there is additional data at your disposal on your smartphone. This will allow for more accurate planning of your next shot.
Shot Distance Tracking
A fascinating feature that is part of this comprehensive package is the Smart Tag system that provides 15 RFID tags to be affixed to your golf clubs. This will automatically register the club chosen and record the distance achieved.
Information regarding your swing is gathered and stored. In the app and can aid you in dissecting the moving parts of your swing and thus assist in improving your swing.
There is a virtual scoreboard available to assist you in keeping score
The LINX GT provides up to 8 hours battery life in GPS which is not the greatest offered, but that can be expected in view of all the technology that it provides.
Usability Outside Golf
The step, distance, and calorie tracking features make the LINX GT extremely usable for fitness and wellness tracker.
Verdict – This golf watch provides a load of data that puts it in a class of its own when it comes to tracking your shots and enables swing changes and fixes. The Smart Tag system is unique, and you will benefit immensely from the information provided regarding your swing.
Accuracy of the information accessible has become a big part of the modern golf game and the space taken up by the devices providing the data has shrunk as the technology progresses.
Golf watches are now able to deliver a comparable quantity of information as most rangefinders while being affixed to your arm and no need to retrieve the gadget from your bag or cart.
In addition to all the information the golf watch supplies, while you are on the golf course, it collects data that enables you to review and improve your swing after your round. Some watches connect you to the world and enables your family, friends, and other golfers to track your progress from the comfort of their homes in real-time.
The watch that stands out from the group in this piece and gets our vote as the best golf watch overall, is the Garmin Approach S40 for the all-around list of features at an inexpensive price that compares well with the group tested.