Golf apps for the Apple Watch offer an affordable and convenient option compared to a launch monitor or rangefinder device. However, in the past, these apps have not performed to the level of single-purpose golf technologies.
Like anything, the golf app developers needed time and customer feedback to improve their products, which brings me to the point of this post. We are searching for the best Apple Watch golf apps in 2023 to save you from going down the rabbit hole of finding the right option.
Here are the 5 best golf apps for Apple Watches:
- 18Birdies – Best Overall
- Roundabout – Best Features
- SwingU – Best Free Golf App
- The Grint – Best App for Scoring
- Arccos Caddie – Best Swing Analysis
As you can see, each app excels in a different area. However, there is plenty of overlap. Read each of our reviews of the best apps on the Apple Watch for golf below to see which best suits your needs.
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For this post on the best golf apps for Apple Watches, we considered the following criteria:
- Easy-to-use interface
- Useful features
Read More: Best Golf Swing Analysis Apps
The 5 Best Golf Apps for Apple Watch
1. Best Overall Golf App for Apple Watch – 18Birdies
- GPS yardage provides plays like distance
- Recommends clubs based on previous data from that distance
- The AI coach helps you hone your skills
- The tee shot planner helps you hit the ball to the best spot for your approach shot
- The blind shot compass feature keeps you on target, even when you cannot see the flag.
- The app does not have a free version, only a limited free trial
- There is no free trial with the weekly subscription
- Requires significant input to make use of all the features
When we take a closer look at the full scope of features offered by 18Birdies, there is no doubt that it is the best golf GPS app for the Apple Watch. Surprisingly, 18Birdies does not feature in many of the Apple Watch Golf App reviews despite the fact the Apple Watch integration is flawless.
The app features a Doppler radar view of the weather in the surrounding area. Adding to the cause is the virtual caddie+ function which gives you plays like distance to your target and club recommendations to get you there. In this way, it is like SwingU as this competing app also shares these functions.
One unique feature that I love is the tee shot planner. It shows you the best area to hit based on data from other players. Furthermore, the app includes a blind shot compass. This helps you ensure that you are aiming correctly at blind targets.
Added to the guidance it provides on the course, it also enables you to access pro tips during your round to see how to play shots from various lies. What’s more, the app automatically tracks your strokes, FIRs, GIRs, penalties, and putts per round.
Off the course, the application allows you to analyze your stats to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your golf game. Plus, you have their A.I. coach at your disposal to analyze your swing and provide drills to enhance your skills.
Besides the features of this app, it is more affordable than many of its premium competitors. And caters to golfers of all abilities.
Unlike other golf apps with multiple subscription tiers, 18Birdies keeps it simple with a free trial and premium version. You can cover your subscription by forking out an annual, monthly, or weekly fee.
An annual fee of $99 gives you a two-week trial period, while the monthly fee of $9.99 includes a one-week free trial. If you opt for the weekly subscription fee of $4.99, you will not enjoy access to a free trial.
Read more: You can compare this app with the latest prices of GPS devices and watches in this full review.
2. Best Apple Watch Golf App Features – Roundabout
- GPS data on 40,000 golf courses
- The GPS rangefinder provides accurate yardage to hazards, landing zones, and the green.
- Offers detailed insight into your game to help you improve
- Functions as a digital scorecard
- Auto shot tracking
- You have three tiers of subscriptions to suit every budget
- There is a free version that includes GPS distances and shot tracking
- The Par subscription only offers one more feature than the free version
- To enjoy all the features of the app, you will need to subscribe to the Eagle package for $119 per year
- Shot tracking is hit and miss
It comes as no surprise that the Roundabout app (once called the V1 Game app) is near the top of our list for the best golf GPS app for the Apple Watch when it comes to overall features. It gives you everything you could ever need in one application, which impressed our team of golf techies.
The Roundabout app is a premium virtual caddie that offers detailed insight, providing everything from yardage readings to shot tracking and post-round statistics.
The GPS functionality of the app features data for 40,000 golf courses worldwide, which covers most layouts on earth, according to Golf Monthly’s Elliot Heath. This function gives you yardage to the green, water hazards, bunkers, and landing zones, to help you plan your hole from the tee.
Furthermore, the app’s rangefinder technology enables you to manually set the position of the pin on your watch for a more precise club selection.
It can also track your shots to better understand your distance capabilities with each club. This setup is helpful to improve your distance control and get closer to the hole with your approach shots. However, we did find that shot tracking was not always reliable, as it didn’t capture all of our shots. Yet this was fairly infrequent, so it’s far from a deal-breaker.
The app is not only focused on yardage, though. It also features digital score tracking so you can record your strokes on every hole. This includes penalty strokes, putts per hole, and fairways in regulation (FIR).
The data recorded during your round is uploaded to the cloud for you to view and analyze later. Having access to this level of data gives you insight into your game that I wish I had access to when I started playing.
There isn’t a golfer on the planet who wouldn’t benefit from detailed insight into their game. It offers an excellent roadmap for mid to high handicappers to eliminate their weaknesses and lower those scores.
While all these features are outstanding, they come at a cost. Fortunately, the Roundabout app gives you four options, unlike 18Birdies. The most affordable option is the free package, which is very limited. This is followed by the Par package, the Birdie, and, you probably guessed it, the Eagle.
The Par package costs you $20 per year, while the Birdie membership costs $59.99 per year. Finally, the app’s premium subscription, the Eagle, comes in at $119.99 for twelve months, so it’s not all that different from the $99 for a 1-year subscription to 18Birdies.
You can opt for a monthly fee if you are not ready to commit to an annual subscription. Just remember to cancel it if it is not for you, as it will auto-renew. You can find the monthly pricing in the description on the App Store.
Read more: A rangefinder can also help you with club selection, so here is an in-depth review of the best rangefinders on the market today.
3. Best Free Golf App for Apple Watch – SwingU
- There is no cost unless you wish to upgrade
- GPS rangefinder functions on most courses
- Provides yardage to the green and hazards
- Measures the distance of your shot
- Tracks your handicap through the round
- You will need to upgrade to premium to enjoy the host of game-improvement features SwingU has to offer
- Sometimes freezes
- Error messages make it difficult to use at times
Although SwingU offers a paid-for premium version packed with features, it tops our list for the best free Apple Watch golf GPS app. While many golf apps offer a free trial for one or two weeks, this app has a full-time free version.
Granted many functions are omitted, but it provides GPS rangefinder features and a digital scorecard at zero cost. As such, in our opinion, it’s the best free golf app for the Apple Watch in 2023.
The GPS rangefinder functionality of the app gives you the yardage to hazards and the green on most golf courses in the world. Plus, it allows you to track the distance of your shots to analyze after your round.
On top of your distance analysis, SwingU allows you to keep track of your score, FIRs, GIR, and putts per round. Plus, you can compare this with your round history. This gives you deeper insight into your overall performance, helping you identify areas that need improvement.
In terms of areas this app is lacking, it’s not functionality, but rather performance. It is sometimes slow to run and can even freeze which is a little frustrating. You may also experience error messages about not being able to connect to the servers which is disappointing if you are a paying member.
Yet despite these drawbacks, we can’t help but love SwingU. As far as a free golf GPS app goes, SwingU is the best place to start. It is ideal for those of you on a budget or beginners looking to test out the world of Apple Watch golf apps. It even has a daily golf pointer from top golfing instructors, this is a cool unique feature you won’t find anywhere else.
Besides the free version of their App, SwingU also offers a premium option if you are looking for more advanced stats and features. If you pay annually, you will have to fork out $99 just like for 18Birdies. However, there is the option of a monthly fee of $14.99.
Read more: For further instruction on hitting laser-straight shots, including a one-on-one session with a pro, check the current price on the Ballstriking Mastery Program.
4. Best Golf App For Scoring – The Grint
- Record your putts per round
- Keep track of your strokes per hole
- Provides yardage to the fairway and the green
- One of the most affordable annual subscriptions around
- Tracks the club used for every shot in your round
- You have to have a pro membership for the app to function on your Apple Watch
- It only provides yardage to the green and not to the pin
- Not particularly user friendly
The Grint is a quirky golf GPS app for the Apple Watch that has revolutionized scoring among large groups. Having played in my fair share of amateur tournaments, I felt it would personally help to know where I stood in the field. But there was no way of knowing until I had signed my card and handed it in.
While you can’t see this feature on the Apple Watch app, you can check it on your iPhone. The application lets you record your score on each hole and your drive’s accuracy. It also includes an option for shanks.
The scoring feature tracks the distance of your putts and how many putts you made per hole. Furthermore, you can track the club you used for each shot, as well as if you landed in any hazards on a hole.
Besides its diverse scoring features, it also functions as a golf GPS, providing yardage to the fairway and green landing zones. Finally, it’s set up to make it easier to get a World Handicap System Number and upload your scores which I highly appreciate. As a result, it only felt right to give it the title of the best Apple Watch scoring app for golf.
There are two types of subscriptions for The Grint app. Handicap and Pro. Handicap sets you back $19.99 annually and gives you a World Handicap System Number. However, if you want access to the GPS and scoring features, you require the Pro membership at $39.99 annually. While $39.99 isn’t all that much for a premium annual membership compared with the other apps, you get access to GPS features with the free version of the V1 Game, so The Grint app loses out here.
There is a free option available. However, you can only use the app on your Apple Watch if you have the Pro version. As such, if you don’t want to open your wallet, it’s not an app we recommend. The best golf app that operates for free is SwingU, so we recommend checking that out instead.
Read More: Best Golf Apps with GPS
5. Best Swing Analysis – Arccos Caddie
- Accurate real-time tracking of every shot taken without manual input
- In-depth data analytics aids in refining specific aspects of your game
- AI-powered rangefinder accurately suggests club selection based on real-time performance
- Phone-in-pocket functionality for hands-free convenience during rounds
- Tracking glitches during certain rounds, causing shot misregistrations.
- Requires Arccos sensors for clubs or an additional wearable sensor.
- Some data discrepancies, particularly in average score calculations, raise concerns about data reliability.
Diving deep into the Arccos Caddie, it’s clear that it offers an unparalleled golfing experience for tech enthusiasts. It’s perplexing that the app doesn’t feature more prominently in discussions about Apple Watch golf apps, especially given its near-flawless Apple Watch integration.
A standout feature of the Arccos Caddie is its AI-driven capabilities. Not only does it automatically track every shot, but its AI-powered rangefinder provides club suggestions based on real-time performance, much like the Virtual Caddie+ feature in 18Birdies.
The app’s tee shot planner is reminiscent of 18Birdies but goes a step further by automatically capturing every shot. This ensures a comprehensive post-game analysis to refine your strategies and hone your skills. The added benefit of wind speed and direction furthers its utility, making each game a learning experience.
The only hiccup arises in the form of occasional glitches during tracking. I’ve personally experienced this during crucial rounds, which was a tad frustrating. Additionally, while the data analytics provided is generally impeccable, I’ve noticed some minor inconsistencies, which, though rare, are worth noting.
Off the course, the app’s robust data analytics provides insights into your gameplay’s strengths and weaknesses, similar to 18Birdies. But the added bonus here is the club-specific insights which have been a game-changer for me. The price might seem a bit steep to some, but considering the wealth of features and the value it adds to your game, it’s worth every penny.
The Arccos Caddie requires an upfront investment for the sensors, and while it may seem on the pricier side, the plethora of features and insights offered makes it a worthwhile expenditure. The app itself comes with a subscription model, and users might find the pricing competitive, especially when comparing it to its contemporaries.
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What You Need to Know Before Downloading a Golf App
As you can imagine, there is no shortage of golf apps for your Apple Watch. That is why it is best to have an idea of the features you prefer and a budget to exclude any outliers off the bat.
Below are a few tips to help you arrive at a shortlist of applications that cover all your needs.
Are All Smartphones Compatible With an Apple Watch App?
Screenrant’s John Finn mentions that you need an iPhone to set up and use your Apple watch. Therefore, if you have an Android-operated phone, you must purchase an iPhone to run any golf apps.
Are Apple Watch Golf Apps Cheaper Than a Range Finder or Launch Monitor?
Generally speaking, even the best golf apps are more affordable than a range finder or a launch monitor. However, the subscription fees do add up and it is worth getting out the calculator. It helps to know if a rangefinder, for example, is actually less expensive over time.
If you are not up for paying anything, there are free apps. But, obviously, you will have a limited amount of features. All of the best Apple Watch golf apps run on a subscription model.
Read More: You can find budget-friendly launch monitors to check the current prices and see our full reviews.
What Are the Features of Apple Watch Golf Apps?
Apple Watch golf apps offer various features to help you navigate most golf courses worldwide. That is why you need to ask yourself what you want to gain by using an app.
Are you after a basic GPS application that gives you the yardage to hazards, doglegs, and various points on the green? Or maybe you want to measure the distance of your shots, keep score, or receive a club suggestion for your next shot. Whatever the case may be, the top golf apps have a range of features that can rival a dedicated golf watch, so they could save you a huge chunk of money.
It is phenomenal to see how far golf apps for wearable devices have come in a short space of time. Undoubtedly, they enhance the convenience of a virtual caddie device which helps speed up play.
In the intro, we asked the question, what is the best golf app for the Apple watch, and we have the answer. 18Birdies tops our list because of its robust features and affordability compared to similar options on the market.
From virtual caddie assistance to advanced statistics, weather forecasts, and a blind shot compass. It is well worth considering. While $99 per year may sound exorbitant, it is three to four times more affordable than the price of a premium laser range finder.
Out of all the best golf apps on the market, this one actually deserves the tag of a virtual caddie. It is helpful for all amateur golfers, both low and high handicappers.
If you’re looking to expand your options beyond the Apple Watch, there are a variety of alternatives available for golfers. Explore other options and alternatives to the Apple Watch here.
If our review excites you to get out on the course and see how you perform with the 18Birdies app, you can download it now.
What Are the Best Free Apple Watch Apps for Golf?
The best free Apple Watch app for golf is SwingU. While it has premium features in the paid version, the free version features a GPS rangefinder, digital scorecard, and other rudimentary stats.
What's the Best Golf Yardage App for Apple Watch?
The V1 game is the best yardage app. It has data on a staggering 40,000 golf courses and produces accurate yardages to various areas such as hazards, landing zones, and the green. What's more, it provides plays like distance which most golfers will appreciate.
Is There a Stand-Alone Golf App for Apple Watch?
Many golf apps can work mostly from your Apple Watch once you've set them up using the iPhone app. However, to get full functionality you'll need to use your phone. You may also find using your Apple Watch exclusively to be more challenging given the smaller screen size and the fact it is on your wrist.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.