Golf GPS Watch vs. Golf App for Apple Watch: Which is Best for Your Game?

Over the past few seasons, I’ve noticed an increasing number of golfers looking down at their wrists while they’re out on the course.  The reason?  GPS watches.  Thanks to rapid advances in technology, golfers are now able to digitally calculate yardages to the flag, and all-important points of interest out on the course.

That’s right, gone are the days of having to trudge all over the fairways looking for yardage markers, guessing where the pin is on the green, what the wind is doing, etc.  Just look at your GPS watch, and you’ve got all the information you need to pull the right club. 

The problem is, which GPS watch should you choose?  One of our loyal readers recently asked whether I thought a traditional golf GPS watch, or the Golf app for the Apple watch was better.  So, I thought I’d do some digging. . . Keep reading to learn what I found out.


Do You Swear by Apple?

More than any other tech company, Apple has a prominent and loyal following.  These are the kinds of people whose desktops, laptops, phones, watches, and everything else are made by iOS. 

If you’re one of these people, then it makes total sense to use the Golf app for Apple Watch to get yardages and all other important information out on the course. 

But what if you aren’t one of the folks that only uses Apple products?  For far less money than the cost of a new Apple watch, you can get yardages, track shot data, see course maps, and so much more with a watch like the Garmin Approach S62 or Voice Caddie T9.

So, the basic answer is that if you’re an Apple loyalist, the Golf app for the Apple watch is the way to go.  If you don’t own an Apple watch, there are plenty of options out there that are cheaper and give you the same information.  Not to mention they’re far simpler in their function.

Are You Tech Savvy, or Do You Need Something Simple?

Even though technology is a part of everyone’s life, some of us are better at using it than others (I’m not one of those people).  If you’re like me, the Golf app for the Apple watch probably isn’t your best choice.

Why?  Because you’re going to have to use a third-party app, and finding the right one in the sea that is the app store can be confusing.  And even if you do find a decent third-party app, it may no longer be available or supported. 

The advantage of purchasing a GPS watch from a company like Garmin or Bushnell is that everything is in one place.  You completely avoid the hassle of having to download other apps, switch back and forth between programs, and constantly wonder if everything is updated and supported. 

While the Golf app for the Apple watch has lots of cool attributes, it also costs a lot of money.  Not only is the app itself expensive, but the fees for additional features are also steep. 

Here again, if technology comes easy to you and you love everything Apple, there’s nothing wrong with the Golf app for the Apple Watch. 

But if you’re like a lot of folks that don’t have all Apple products and want something that’s affordable, easy to use, and highly functional, a golf-specific GPS probably makes more sense.

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Are You Attached to Your Phone, or Do You Want to Put it Away When You’re Playing?

When you use the GPS on your Apple watch for hours on end, it’s going to rapidly drain the battery.  So fast that it might not last the whole round. 

Sure, you can activate the app on your iPhone and use its GPS function, but carrying it around in your pocket probably isn’t something you want to do for 18 holes. 

Conversely, having a GPS watch that’s meant specifically for golf eliminates all the hassle.  As long as you make sure it’s charged before your round, you’ll have everything you need right on your wrist.

What About Lifestyle Features?

I’ll be the first to admit that the Apple watch has more features than just about anything on the market.  It can track your sleep, fitness information, and just about anything else imaginable. 

But what a lot of folks fail to realize is that today’s golf GPS watches also have a lot of those same lifestyle functions.  The latest watches from manufacturers like Garmin, Bushnell, and Voice Caddie are made specifically for golf, and also help you track sleep, diet, fitness metrics, and many other important things you need to stay healthy and productive.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re on the fence about whether to choose the Golf app for the Apple watch, or a golf-specific GPS watch, there are some important things to consider.

Sure, if you’re loyal to Apple and all its different interfaces, it’s easy to see why Apple’s Golf app makes sense.

However, if you aren’t as tech-inclined and are looking for a cheaper, highly functional option to get you around the course, do some research and purchase a golf GPS watch from a reputable company, like those we’ve mentioned in this article.

As always, if you have questions, or additional thoughts you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below.  

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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