Garmin Approach S2 Watch Review – Can GPS Make A Difference?

Golf is a game where inches can make the difference between a good round and an average to poor round. Garmin is a world-renowned provider of directions and distances using GPS technology. Having access to the correct distances can make a difference in your club selection and the shot that you attempt.

Although the Approach S2 was launched on January 23, 2013, and the technology is not the latest available, you can still receive the benefits of having access to accurate GPS measurement to predetermined layup points in the fairway and, measurements to the front, middle, and back of the green.

Garmin Approach S2 Watch Review

Garmin Approach S2 Watch

Pros

  • Straightforward to set up, easy to use, and light on your arm.
  • Color options make it aesthetically pleasing
  • Nearly all courses globally preloaded
  • No annual fees to access the course database
  • Affordable
  • Accurate from wherever you may find yourself on the course
  • The digital score tracking function
  • Yardage to the dogleg and layup locations

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • It doesn’t show the distance to and to cross hazards
  • Battery life could be frustrating
  • No online portal to track your performance
  • No touchscreen
  • Lacks Green view mode to accommodate pin placements

In this Garmin Approach S2 review we will delve into the benefits, features, and functionality that you can expect to reduce your scores and handicap.

Having access to nearly all golf courses on the planet means that you can use the Garmin Approach S2 golf watch anywhere around the globe.

What it does not offer you is the measurement to a hazard, and the distance required to clear the hazard.

Design

Designed to provide you with distance information to assist you in playing better and more accurate golf, Garmin did not neglect the aesthetic appeal required to make it a watch that can be worn for everyday use.

A smooth rounded plastic body is attached to your arm via a comfortable rubber band. The face of the watch and the band are not a single molded unit as found on other Garmin watches. It may appear slightly larger than the Garmin Approach S1 or the Garmin Approach S3 due to the larger bezel around the watch face.

Perforations in the band offer 17 different sizes to accommodate the size of your wrist. A small rubber protrusion locks into the appropriate hole to keep it comfortable.

The 1.0-inch monochrome LCD screen with 32×64 pixels is small enough to keep it light and wearable yet big enough to provide readable information.

Four buttons on the side of the watch provide access to the functionality required to show the different views and operate the watch conveniently.

Weighing in at a mere 1.8 ounces it is lightweight and will not interfere with your swing. The 32 MB memory offers ample storage for storing multiple golf courses.

The 1 ATM Water rating makes it water-resistant up to 10 meters meaning you don’t have to remove it when retrieving your golf ball from a water hazard or in heavy rains.

The Approach S2 is available in bright white, white/purple, and low-key black shades.

The use of chemically strengthened glass protects the lens from scratches.

The One-Year Limited Warranty adds to your peace of mind.

What’s in the Box:

The Garmin Approach S2 comes with:

  • Approach S2 watch
  • Data/charging clip
  • Cable (USB-to-charging clip)
  • Getting Started Manual
  • Tools and pins
  • Safety and Product Information

Recommended Downloads:

  • CourseView Updater (for firmware and course updates)

Technology

Technology in use by the Garmin Approach S2 may not be the latest but it is still available for purchase and a smart and affordable alternative to many similar but less affordable golf GPS watches.

Tee shots are simplified with the information provided to recommended layup areas and dogleg distance while approach shots are easier to evaluate with the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.

Keeping track of your score is straightforward with the digital scorecard that can be uploaded to your computer via the supplied USB cable and printed after the round.

Setup/syncing

Setting the Garmin Approach S2 watch is a streamlined process once you have charged it. The duration for a full charge is approximately 3 hours.

To shorten the time of the setup, approximately 40,000 courses from around the globe are preloaded and if your preferred course is not pre-loaded, it can be downloaded from Garmin’s website using the “CourseView Updater” application. Maps are divided into 3 regions, North & Latin America, Europe, and Australia & New Zealand.

The download and update process takes approximately 10 minutes.

Ease of use

The design makes navigating the screen of the Garmin Approach S2 a simple task.

There are only 4 buttons and all you have to do to start your round is turn it on, select the menu option, choose your course from a scrollable list, and start your round.

The watch will default to the hole closest to your position.

it’s pretty simple to navigate through all of the different modes by pressing the “menu” button.

The views provided by the Garmin Approach S2 are:

  • Hole View
  • Layup/Dogleg View
  • Measurement View
  • Time View

Hole View

This is probably the most used view that provides information on the hole number, its par in the form of a number of dots, and the distance to the front, center, and back of the green. Unfortunately, the difficulty and handicap of the hole are not available.

Layup View

Accurate distance to the middle of a dogleg or a layup area could leave you with an easy approach shot. The Garmin Approach S2 provides you with this information up to 45 yards out from the green.

However, it does not provide the distance to hazards and the distance to get over the hazard which would have been more helpful than the layup distance.

An additional option that would add more value is if the S2 offered you detail on the width of the fairway.

Measurement View

The Measurement View measures the distance of the shot that you have hit. This is helpful in club selection for the next time you have to decide which club to use.

You cannot save this information on the S2.

Should you toggle between the Measurement View and the Hole View while approaching your ball, the Approach S2 will provide you with an option to restart the measurement or continue with the measurement before toggling.

An additional feature is a built-in odometer that automatically tracks the distance you cover during your round.

Time mode

Using the watch off the course is made possible with the Time Mode. It displays the current time and date just as you would see on any other digital watch.

Features

Although the Garmin Approach S2 may lack some features such as a portal to store and track your scores, it does track your score even in inclement weather. Settings cannot be changed without exiting the current round which could be slightly frustrating.

Preferences

The only preferences that can be adjusted on the Garmin Approach S2 are the unit of measurement (yards or Meters), language, and tones.

In Time mode you can select your preferred time and time format or set the watch to automatically update the time when it acquires the required satellites.

Score tracking

The Garmin Approach S2 enables you to track your score while you are playing and then download it on your computer at home but there is no portal to store and track statistics.

To commence with score tracking you have to press “Menu” then scroll to “Start Scoring”.

Auto-advance

Once you’ve started the scoring function you will be able to enter your score after each hole and the S2 Auto Advance will automatically move onto the next hole. Should you fail to enter a score, the Auto-Advance option will prompt you to enter a score. Some concerns have been raised that the Auto-Advance function fails to recognize that you have moved onto the next hole if you have not entered your score.

Score tracking will show your performance against par for the entire round enabling you to see how you are doing overall.

Accuracy

The use of GPS technology is not as accurate as laser technology. The distances provided by the Garmin Approach S2 for the front, middle, and back of the green are within the accepted tolerances that you would expect from any GPS device, normally within 4 yards.

The front and back distances are not shown once you enter an area within 30-40 yards of the point. The Center of green distance is shown irrespective of the distance from the middle of the green.

Versatility

The number of color options combined with the Time mode makes the Garmin Approach S2 versatile for use on and off the course.

The white and purple color combinations will add a sparkle to your dress style while the black option will blend in and not stand out.

Battery Life

Battery life is important if you want to play multiple rounds during the day. Energy hungry GPS use limits the use of the Garmin Approach S2 to 8 hours between charges which could be frustrating as it may require charging after every round.

If used in Time mode, you can stretch the battery life up to 3 weeks before it requires a recharge.

Checking the charge levels before you set out for the course is highly recommended.

Alternatives

1. SkyGolf SkyCaddie

Pros

  • SkyCaddie accuracy of information due to walking every course on their database
  • Lightweight construction
  • Stopwatch

Cons

  • Bigger than the Garmin Approach S2

The SkyCaddie SW2 provides similar functionality to the Garmin Approach S2 with distance to the front, middle, and back of the green based on GPS information from satellites.

You can download course maps with no annual subscription required.

SkyGolf walks every course on their database with professional-grade survey equipment to create original course maps that are accurate within 1 yard.

The SkyCaddie is 1mm thicker, 1mm longer, 6mm wider, and 7g lighter than the Garmin Approach S2

It offers functions that are not available on the Garmin Approach S2 such as calories burnt, stopwatch, and a deeper waterproof rating at 30m.

The built-in odometer and stopwatch track location, distance, time, laps, speed, pace, and calories burned during your round of golf.

2. IZZO Swami watch

Pros

  • Lowest priced golf GPS watch at the time of testing
  • Ability to keep score
  • No fees to update courses

Cons

  • No hazard information
  • Course mapping errors
  • Poor interface for entering scores

Similar to the Garmin Approach S2, the IZZO Swami Watch displays distances to the front, center, and back of the green has an auto hole advance, shot distance measurement, and a digital scorecard.

The Time mode function offers standard watch functionality as well as an alarm.

The quality of the user interface could be better and does not compare well against the Garmin S2.

3. Bushnell NEO-X watch

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good course coverage
  • Up to two hazards per hole available
  • No subscription fees

Cons

  • Limited hazard information
  • No scoring features
  • No ability to sync for course updates

The Bushnell NEO-X golf GPS watch offers some of the functionality that can be found on the Garmin approach S2 and adds a little additional functionality through the addition of up to two hazards per hole.

It still provides the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green using similar GPS technology as the Garmin S2 but lacks the scoring functionality available on co the Garmin Approach S2.

Unfortunately, you cannot load more courses on the Bushnell and have to make do with what comes pre-loaded.

Final Thoughts

GPS golf watches provide basic technology and distances to the front, center, and back of the green with some offering more advanced options such as auto-advance and a digital scorecard. Most of these watches can double up as a watch for everyday use in time mode.

The Garmin Approach S2 may not use the latest technology and have stiff competition from later releases but it remains competitive offering sufficient features for the pricing point at which it competes.

The number of courses available and that can be added at no extra cost makes the Garmin Approach S2 worthwhile to consider assisting you in improving your golf and scoring.

Any feedback regarding your experience with the Garmin S2 will be highly appreciated in the comments section below.

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