Distance is everything in the game of golf. Sure, we could be talking about bombing it off that tee – that’s certainly part of the equation. If you’re going to score well though, you need to know how far away the target is. Can you carry that fairway bunker with your driver? How far over the green is that penalty area? How far do you have to the pin? In his book, How I Play Golf, Tiger Woods talks about the importance of always being pin-high. He knows that if you’re able to hit shots the correct distance, your chances of getting into trouble are greatly diminished.
That begs the question though, how far away are you? From a bunker, the flag, etc.? In the old days, you had to find the nearest sprinkler head in the fairway, pace off the yardage to your ball, guess where the flag was on the green, take into account the elevation and the wind. It was a lot of work and often led to wrong yardages and bad shots. Thankfully, the invention of golf GPS has made calculating yardage a lot easier. If you’ve never tried one, you could be costing yourself precious strokes every time you tee it up. With so many options to choose from though, buying the GPS that’s best for you can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve created our list of things to consider when buying a golf GPS and, reviewed the best options on the market.
Top 6 Best Golf GPS
Features to Look for in a Golf GPS
Just like any other piece of golf equipment, the last thing you want to do is grab something random off the shelf. It’s important to do some research and ask a few questions to make sure you get the right product for your game. So, what do you need to consider when buying a Golf GPS?
What good is a GPS if it doesn’t give you accurate distances? Believe it or not, there are GPS’s out there whose distances are way off. Have you ever played out of a cart that has GPS, only to find that the distances it gives you were incorrect? It’s not just aggravating, it can downright wreck your score.
The best way to test the distance accuracy of a GPS out on the course. Find a spot you know for a fact is a certain distance away. Compare that number with what your GPS tells you. It’s best to test on a couple of different targets to be absolutely sure.
Another good idea is to read some reviews from people that have already purchased the GPS. What do they have to say? Are the distances spot on? Or, is there some discrepancy?
No matter what GPS you’re thinking about buying, its most important function is giving accurate distances.
Golf GPS’s range a lot in price. Basic models can be found for pretty cheap. Other devices that need a yearly subscription or, have lots of bells and whistles can set you back hundreds of dollars. Again, you’re going to need to do some research to make an informed decision.
Initially, you might be tempted to go with a more expensive option. The extras with a certain GPS might be tough to resist. You need to look at your purchase as objectively as you can though. Do you really need all those fancy functions? If yes, then be prepared to pay for them. On the other hand, if all you’re really concerned about is knowing how far away things are, perhaps a less expensive option is a better choice.
Durability and Battery Life
Golf GPS’s are electronics. Just like any other type of electronic, they need to be protected and handled with care. Golf is an outdoor sport and not always played in the nicest of conditions. Rain, cold, rough surfaces, the list is long of elements that can wreak havoc on your GPS if you aren’t careful.
Before you pull the trigger on a GPS, you’ll want to make sure it’s durable. Does it come with a protective, waterproof case? What kind of warranty does it have? What have other golfers said about its durability?
Battery life is another important consideration. You’re going to want to make sure your GPS can last at least one full round. What’s the point otherwise? The best GPS’s on the market has a battery life that will last several rounds. Again, a little research ahead of time will help you answer this important question.
Golf GPS Watch vs. Handheld
This is all about personal comfort and convenience. Some golfers can’t stand playing with a watch on their wrist. They find it distracting or cumbersome when they swing. If you’re this type of player, a handheld device might be a better option. Handheld devices are compact and most fit easily in your pocket or even the cup holder on a cart.
If you don’t mind having something on your wrist, it’s hard to beat a GPS watch. They’re practically weightless and you’ll have the convenience of having your yardages with you when you get to your shot.
GPS watches are also harder to lose. Since they’re attached to your wrist, you won’t have to worry about misplacing the unit in between shots. Losing a golf GPS is an expensive mistake. GPS watches alleviate that worry.
Reviews of the Best Golf GPS
Garmin Approach X40
The Garmin Approach X40 is one of the most high-tech GPS watches on the market. It has a reputation for providing the most accurate yardages to everything a golfer could want. Penalty areas, doglegs, bunkers, the pin, you name it. The auto-shot round analyzer tracks the distances of all your shots during the round. This feature allows you to see how far you hit certain clubs and log your shot distance data over time. If you’re playing with the purpose of being physically active, you’ll love the activity tracker that reminds you to stay active on the course. If you want to keep track of your heart rate, the Garmin Approach X40 tracks it 24/7 so you’ll know how many beats per minute your heart is pumping even after you’ve left the course for the day.
Garmin Approach S20
If you want all the features of the Garmin X40 in a stylish look and larger display, the Garmin Approach S20 is a great option. The watchband is fully hinged and adjustable for the perfect fit. The Club-track feature allows you to set your driver distance and track the clubs you use throughout the round. When paired with Garmin TruSwing, the watch metrics help make your swing more consistent. Just like the Garmin Approach X40, the activity tracker not only reminds you to stay active, it tracks your heart rate, steps, calories burned and even monitors how many hours of sleep you get.
Izzo Swami 6000
The Izzo Swami 6000 is a one-of-a-kind handheld GPS. It comes preloaded with over 38,000 courses so chances are wherever you’re playing, you’ll have all the information you’ll need in the palm of your hand. The two-inch color display makes it easy to see yardages to the front, middle and back of greens as well as penalty areas, bunkers and doglegs. If you play golf out of a cart, the internal magnet attaches to any metal cart frame so you can see all your yardages at eye level without having to dig for the device. The digital scorekeeper eliminates the need for a scorecard and saves your rounds making it easy to track your progress over time.
Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS
The Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS is great for any golfer that doesn’t want to carry their GPS around or wear it on their wrist. The BITE magnetic mount sticks to any metal surface. Pre-loaded with over 36,000 courses, finding the right yardage no matter where you’re playing is easy. When you turn on the Phantom Golf GPS, you won’t have to worry about trying to find the course you’re playing. The GPS uses auto-recognition to find it for you. The interface is easy to use and includes up to four penalty area yardages per hole, along with distances to the front, middle and back of greens.
Golf Buddy VoiceX Golf GPS
The Golf Buddy VoiceX GPS is one of a kind. Instead of having fumble with a handheld unit or watch, it tells you the yardage through a speaker. It automatically recognizes the 38,000 courses that are preloaded so you’ll never have to wonder if you’re getting the right yardage on a hole. The display is simple and allows you to see the shapes of holes and green complexes clearly. The battery life is up to 11 hours so you should never have to worry about it dying. The Golf Buddy Voice X GPS is the closest thing to having a real caddy alongside.
Sky Caddy SX500 Golf GPS
If you like clear graphics, the Sky Caddy SX500 is for you. The five-inch touch screen allows you to zoom in and identify certain targets that other GPS’s might not pick up. The GPS comes with over 35,000 courses that have all been mapped by people on the ground. You’ll never have to worry about accuracy. Battery life is 12 to 14 hours. If ultra-precise yardages and a detailed display are what you’re after, look no further.
Canmore H-300 Golf GPS
Some golfers prefer simplicity. If that’s you, the Canmore H-300 has all the essential functions and is easy to use. You won’t have any trouble finding yardages to penalty areas, or the front, middle and back of greens on any of the over 38,000 preloaded courses. The magnetic clip attaches to any metal surface for hands-free operation. The H-300 comes with an industry leading one-year warranty should anything go wrong.
Tec-Tec-Tec Ult-G Golf GPS
The Ult-G from Tec-Tec-Tec is easy to use. It has everything you need from three green yardages to distances to penalty areas. The device even measures the distances of your shots and tells time. With only four buttons, using the Ult-G is simple even if you’re not tech savvy. Battery life is guaranteed for at least two rounds.
Bushnell Neon Ion 2 Golf GPS
The Neon Ion 2 GPS from Bushnell is one of the sleekest GPS watches out there. Its light-gray band with neon yellow trim goes well with any outfit. The GPS comes with more than 36,000 courses and has automatic course and hole recognition. Yardages include those to the front, middle and back or greens, as well as up to four penalty area distances per hole. The long battery life of up to three rounds means you won’t spend all your time with the GPS on a charger.
Shot Scope V2 Smart Golf GPS
The V2 from Shot Scope has everything you need in a GPS watch and nothing you don’t. Distances include those to penalty areas as well the front, middle and backs of greens. No subscription is required, and the support team is the best in the business.
Knowing correct distances is essential if you’re going to play your best golf. Fortunately, the days of stepping off yardages from sprinkler heads and guessing where the pin is are over. Thanks to Golf GPS’s. If you want to get the most out of your game, invest in a golf GPS that’s best for you. With a little research and an honest assessment of what you can afford, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a golf GPS that fits your needs and helps you shoot lower scores.