We’re in the age of technology. Today, it’s conceivable to run your life, or even an entire business from a phone in the palm of your hand. Baby Boomers frown upon the ease with which we can obtain information but, even they’re starting to catch on.
Golf hasn’t exactly been left behind by technology. Gone are the days where tournament leaderboards were updated by hand. Players no longer have to track their own stats. And distances don’t require the use of sprinkler heads, and guestimates about how far away you are from the pin. The latter is thanks to the invention of golf GPS. Some GPS’s are handheld devices that give the layout of holes on a screen. Others come in the form of watches. We’ve now reached the point where you can download golf GPS apps on your smartphone. That’s pretty cool.
In this article, we review the 10 best golf GPS apps on the market today. We also answer the most common questions about what you should look for in a golf GPS app.
What to Consider in a Golf GPS App
Golf GPS App vs. Handheld Device
Not all that long ago, handheld golf GPS units were all the rage. Instead of having pace off yardages from sprinkler heads and guess where on the green the flag was cut, all the information was in the palm of your hand. Handheld GPS’s even had features that tracked your score, how far you hit each club, and stats like fairways, greens in regulation and putts. However, all these cool features came at a fairly hefty price. That was then, and this is now. Today’s smartphones have the technological infrastructure and capabilities to give you all these features, at a fraction of the cost. So, unless you’re married to your handheld GPS from yesteryear, our recommendation is finding a golf GPS app you can download on your phone.
Golf GPS App vs. Laser Range Finder
The first golf distance measuring devices to hit the shelves was laser range finders. Imagine the scope on a rifle. Rangefinders functioned the exact same way.
Even though they were the hottest ticket in town when they first came out, their functions were limited, and technology has advanced a lot since those early days. All they could do was measure distance to whatever they were being shot at. A complaint for a lot of golfers was bad yardages to the flag. All too often, golfers would be aiming the rangefinder at what they thought was the flag and it would pick up something else. Maybe a tree behind the green, or the top of edge of a bunker short of the flag. You don’t have to worry about picking up wrong yardages with golf GPS apps. Their yardages are calculated by using satellite imagery that marks your exact location.
What Should You Look for in a Golf GPS App?
The first thing you should check for is distance accuracy. If possible, find a spot on the course you know the yardage too. Compare that yardage to the one the GPS app is giving you. To be absolutely certain, test from a few different locations. The next most important feature is the course database. Some GPS apps have tens of thousands of courses preloaded. Others have considerably less. Before you make a purchase, make sure the app includes the courses play most often. The map display is important too. Some GPS apps will only give you yardages to the flag. The best ones include yardages to penalty areas, bunkers, doglegs and other points of interest. The more numbers you can get, the better your chances of staying out of trouble.
Reviews of the Best Golf GPS Apps
Below we have described and reviewed 10 of the best golf GPS apps on the market today.
1. GolfShot Plus
There are two versions of the GolfShot Plus app. One is free, the other costs roughly $30. If you choose to go with this app, get the paid version. It comes with 3-D previews of each hole, allows you to zoom in on specific targets to get yardages, recommends clubs based on your yardage, tracks your stats, score and, is preloaded with over 15,000 courses. The app is user friendly, gives you all the information you could ever need, and will save you money on yardage books every time you play somewhere new.
Originally, GolfLogix was a handheld GPS. They’ve now developed an app for smartphones. The app is free to download but, you have to pay a nominal annual subscription in order to use it. The course mapping and overhead preview give you an intimate look at each hole you play. As you approach the green, the green only view shows all the contours in vivid detail. The app also allows you to track your score and important stats.
If you’re looking for a golf GPS app that’s functional, and won’t break the bank, check out the SkyDroid. At only $3, this app comes with all the features you need to get around the course, and none you don’t. The GPS relies on Google Maps for its course data. When the maps are correct, the app is spot on with accuracy. However, if a golf course has changed, and the maps not updated, you could find yourself a little lost. With that being said, the added features of score and stat tracking round out this app. It more than serves its purpose and, is user friendly.
4. Shot Tracer
Even though this app isn’t is a GPS, it’s too cool to leave off our list. The Shot Tracer app functions to give you real time feedback of your shots. All you have to do is have your playing partner stand behind you and take a video of your swing. When the shot’s over, the app will give you a trace line of your ball flight, just like you see on television. At about $7, this app is a great tool for improving your swing and, having some at the same time.
Mobitee is one of the hottest new golf GPS apps on the market. Each of the over 37,000 courses is mapped to the smallest detail. Mobitee also gives you club recommendations based on your yardage. Sold separately, the PIQ sensor allows you to have real time shot tracking, and even analyzes your swing. Even with all the features, golfers say this is one of the easiest interfaces to use. If you’re willing to pay a small fee for the app upfront, you won’t have to worry about having the wrong yardage ever again.
6. Fun Golf
The Fun Golf app comes with over 33,000 courses, so chances are, you won’t ever have to worry about the course or hole recognition. The 3-D hole maps are crystal clear and provide lots of detail. Yardages include the flag, bunkers, penalty areas, and doglegs. You can also keep track of your score and important stats throughout your round. If you have an Apple watch, you’re in luck because the Fun Golf app is Apple compatible. Instead of having to look at your phone, you can have all the information you need right on your wrist.
7. Game Golf
The Game Golf app is more than just an app for your phone. The app comes with a tracking device you attach to your belt and, lightweight sensors that attach to the end of your club. Combined, these two devices track your movement and swing, give you real time shot tracking, and in-round analysis of your game. The app itself has detailed hole maps with yardages to all the important features. One of the coolest features is the live feed that shows you every move of some of the top players in the world.
8. Arccos Golf
Similar to Game Golf, Arccos golf comes with censors that attach to the end of your clubs. These censors give you shot by shot analysis of your swing, distance, shot dispersion, and much more. The information gets stored in a cloud and can be revisited whenever you want. Along with giving you all the pertinent yardages, the Acrros Golf app also allows access to see what other portal users are doing on the course. This is a great way to see how you stack up against the competition, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. If data is important for your game, the Arccos Golf app has everything you could ever want.
9. Hole 19
If you’re looking for a free, easy-to-use GPS, Hole 19 is an excellent option. The app has all the pertinent yardages to the green, penalty areas, and bunkers. It allows you to track your score and stats quickly and easily. The best part is the 42,000 courses that come with it. Even if you’re playing in some faraway corner of the world, chances are, the Hole 19 app will work.
10. The Grint
This Grint golf GPS app has everything you could ever need. Its interface gives you all the important yardages and, lets you zero in on a specific location with your finger. The app tracks all the relevant stats and even lets you keep score using different formats for everyone in your group. An added bonus is the free USGA handicap that comes with the purchase of the Grint app.
Technology has advanced so much in golf that there’s no excuse to not have the right yardage on every shot you hit. And, there’s plenty of options to help you find the right number. Laser rangefinders serve a purpose, but they’re cumbersome, and you’re never quite sure if you’re hitting the right target. Watches are lightweight and convenient, but they can be a nuisance during your swing and tough to read. Handheld GPS’s give you all the information you need but can cost a fortune. Golf GPS’s apps for your phone, however, have all the features of a handheld GPS, but at a fraction of the cost. If you’re looking for a new golf GPS, but don’t want to spend a fortune, downloading an app for your phone might be your best option.