Top Rated Golf GPS Watches Review Guide For 2023
Top Rated Golf GPS Watches Review Guide For 2023 – Every golfer knows that the key to lowering your scores lies in course management. This involves knowing the front, back and centre of the green as well as the yardages to key locations on the course. Improving your golf game can be a very lengthy and complicated process. The evolution of technology has definitely made way for progress in this area.
Having access to golf GPS trackers is something that golfers may sometimes take for granted, but these instruments can be invaluable in improving your golf skills.
Course management has been made easier for golfers through the development of GPS technology and its integration in watches. However, choosing the ideal golf watch can be such a daunting task because there are seemingly a ton of choices. To find out more keep reading our Top Rated Golf GPS Watches Review Guide For 2023.
Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch
The Garmin Approach S20, which is preloaded with more than 40,000 courses, is another member of
the Garmin Approach family.
- Green view display – Displays the layout and shape of the green even when the user is behind it.
- TruSwing compatibility – When paired, the TruSwing golf swing sensor provides metrics to improve your swing consistency.
- Smart notifications – Notifies you for incoming calls, texts and other alerts.
- CourseView – Automatically updates frequently played courses for free.
- AutoShot – This round analyzer measures and auto-records shot distances.
- Activity tracking – Move bar alerts remind the user to keep active whether on or off the course. Displays distance, time of day, calories burned, and more.
Weight 1.6 ounces
Course Preload 40000+
Colour Black, white, midnight teal, slate
Battery 15 hours (GPS), 8 weeks (watch)
- AUTOSHOT – Round analyzer measures shot distances with auto-recording for post-round analysis on your Garmin Connect account
- STYLISH COMFORT – Fully-hinged, sleek watchband design with comfortable fit. Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
- TRUSWING COMPATIBLE – When paired, Garmin TruSwing golf swing sensor provides metrics to improve your swing consistency. Display size: 0.9 x 0.9(inches)
- ACTIVITY TRACKING – Reminds you to stay active on or off the course with move bar alerts. Displays steps, calories burned, distance and time of day, plus it monitors hours of sleep.
- STAT TRACKING – Enhanced stats keeps track of fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per round
- battery life is great when compared to previous models
- very accurate in measuring distances
- has a comfortable wrist band
- it can get cumbersome to press the buttons all the time
- failure to press the button during club tracking leads to errors with Garmin Connect
Bushnell Neo Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch 368850
The Neo Ion GPS watch is manufactured by Bushnell to help golfers effectively manage the course.
- 35000+ course preload – The watch is preloaded with more than 35000 courses in over 30 countries.
- A battery life lasting 16 hours and a recharge time of 2.5 hours
- Auto hole advance and auto course recognition – Provides you with easy-to-read center, back and front distances
- A calculator for the distance and a maximum of 4 hazard or layup distances per hole
- Tournament legal
Weight 4.8 ounces
Course Preload 35000+
Colour Black, charcoal, white
Battery Three full rounds
- None at this time
- long battery life
- quick and easy charging
- remarkable yardage accuracy
- has a large display that is easily read
- relatively inexpensive
- not the greatest grip – can easily fall off your wrist
- the cable used for recharging does not firmly secure itself; you can use a clip to secure the cable
Garmin Approach G8 GPS Device
The Garmin Approach G8 is not actually a watch, but it’s so good that we just had to include it in our best golf GPS watches reviews.
- Plays Like Distance – Provides the golfer with target distances adjusted for uphill or downhill shots.
- Smart Notification – Allows you to receive texts, calls and email alerts from your phone.
- Big Numbers Mode – Makes it easy to view information on the screen.
- Club Advice – Records how far you hit each club and uses this to recommend you on the best club to use. This is based on the distances of your shots.
- Automatic Course Update – It automatically updates the courses at no additional charges when a Wi-Fi connection is available.
Weight 4 ounces
Course Preload 30000+
Battery 15 hours
- Plays like Distance Gives The Golfer Distances To The Target, Adjusted For Uphill Or Downhill Shots. Display size : 1.5 Inch x 2.6 Inch (3.9 x 6.5 cm). 3.0 Inch diag (7.6 cm)
- Smart Notification Receive Email, Texts And Alerts From Your Iphone (4S Or Later) Directly On Your Golf Handheld;Physical dimensions:2.1 x 4.4 x 0.6 inches
- Garmin Connect Online golf community lets you play, then share and compare your round; visit connect.garmin.com to find out more
- Club Advice Remembers how far you hit each club, and provides recommendations on which club to use based on your shot distances PINPOINTER Provides blind shot assistance by pointing you in the right direction when you are unable to see the pin (G8 only)
- Big Numbers Mode For easy viewing on your screen, increase the font size for distances to the front, back and middle of the greens AUTOMATIC COURSE UPDATE Device automatically updates courses with a Wi-Fi connection for no additional charge (G8 only)
- bright screen is clearly seen even on a sunlit day
- it is user friendly
- it has nice added features
- short charging cable
- the screen is on the smaller side
Izzo Swami Kiss Golf GPS Rangefinder
The IZZO Swami might be compact, and it might not be a watch, but it delivers accurate and fast measurements. It is extremely lightweight at 2.4 ounces, and it can be easily carried inside pockets or clipped to a golf bag.
- Compact design – The device is small and can fit inside a pocket.
- Large 1.8 inch display – Makes it easy to read the information on the screen. The display includes the hole number, hole par and time.
- Requires no subscription or download fees
- Auto-course recognition at startup
Weight 5.61 ounces
Course Preload 38000
Batteries : 1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)
- Preloaded with over 38, 000 global course maps; no subscription fees & free updates
- Accurate distances to Front, Center, Back of green; Layup and Carry distances to hazards and doglegs
- Integrated magnet for attaching to cart frame for handsfree and eye-level viewing during the round
- Digital scorekeeper; save round scores
- Auto course recognition, Auto hole-advance, Individual shot distance measurement
- it has large number readouts
- it’s affordable
- it’s accurate
- it’s not very user-friendly
- it takes time to fully charge
Garmin Approach X40 GPS Golf Band
The Garmin Approach X40 incorporates golf tracking activity to a wrist-based monitor for measuring your heart rate. The watch enables you to check on your overall fitness as you play golf.
The X40 utilizes Garmin Connect, an online golf community which enables the user to play and then share and compare their rounds. This helps you to track your improvements through every course.
You can also use the Garmin Connect app in any compatible Apple device to assemble your ideal rounds and combine your best scores after each hole.
- GPS receiver – This displays the distances to the back, center and front of the green as well as the presence of any hazards.
- Heart rate technology – The technology is inbuilt into the wrist band to help measure your heart rate 24/7.
- Autoshot tracking – The tracking feature allows the user to measure and automatically record the shot distances for future reference and comparisons.
- Activity tracking – The feature shows the amount of calories burnt, distance, steps and the intensity of the activity.
- Smart notifications – Vibrations to notify you in case of incoming calls or texts.
Weight 1.6 ounces
Course Preload 40000+
Colour Black/grey, limelight, midnight blue, white/black
Battery 5 days in activity mode, 10 hours in GPS mode
- GPS receiver – high-sensitivity GPS acquires satellites quickly to Show distance to greens, Hazards and doglegs -even under Tree cover
- Auto shot – round analyzer measures shot distances with auto-recording for post-round analysis on your Garmin connect account
- 24/7 Heart rate monitoring – Elevate wrist Heart rate technology allows you to track your Heart rate all day and night – Activity Tracking Accuracy (go to garmin.com/at accuracy)
- Activity Tracking – reminds you to stay active on or off the course with move bar alerts ; Display size: 1.00 x 0.42 Inches
- Battery life – rechargeable battery: up to 5 days in activity mode; up to 10 hours in GPS mode
- Regular: 5.4”-7.6” (136-192 mm) circumference X-large: 7.1″-8.8″ (180-224 mm) circumference
- stylish and appealing
- great interface with other apps (for example MyFitnessPal)
- screen is made of plastic and hence it easily scratches
- battery does not last all that long; you generally cannot use it through 36 holes
- a bit difficult to set up and use
GolfBuddy WTX GPS Watch
GolfBuddy combines both fashion and function in the WTX GPS watch.
- Hole layout view – This displays the layout of the hole as well as the player’s current position.
- Notifications – Synchronizes with your smartphone to notify you in case of any incoming calls, texts, etc.
- Course update – Updating course data via Bluetooth with the GolfBuddy app for smartphones
- Simple, fast touch user interface
- Pedometer activity tracker
Weight 1 lbs
Course Preload 38000+
Battery 8 hours in GPS mode
- Simple and fast touch user interface
- Course update via Bluetooth with GolfBuddy Smartphone app
- Notifications sync from Smartphone
- Pedometer activity tracker. Display: 240 x 204 pixels
- Hole layout view with current position of the player
- it is very accurate in measuring distances
- versatile, easy to use
- useful features
- it is stylish
- it has a comfortable fit
- some of the features are difficult to understand and use
- the icons displayed on the hazard screen are too small to view
Garmin Approach S4 Golf GPS Watch
Another very sporty-looking watch, the Garmin Approach S4 has more features than other quality GPS watches.
With a high-resolution touchscreen, some map features, 40,000 golf courses, statistical tracking information and text, e-mail and call notifications, it is no wonder why Garmin Approach S4 is among golf GPS user favorites.
It is among the highest-rated golf GPS watches.
- Shows precise yardage to greens
- High-resolution touchscreen that is sunlight-readable
- Shows shape of green
- Preloaded with 40,000+ global courses
- Digital Scorecard
- Swing/shot tracking
- Includes odometer
- Bluetooth compatible; receive text, e-mail & call notification
- 10 hours in golf mode and 6 weeks in watch mode battery life
- Water resistant to 10 meters
Weight 2.08 ounces
Course Preload 30000+
Colour White, black, blue/black
Battery 10 hours in GPS mode, 6 weeks in watch mode
- Hi-res touchscreen High-resolution, sunlight readable, glove-friendly touchscreen display
- Green view button Dedicated button shows true shape and layout of the green by one simple push, and then you can manually move pin to day’s location
- Smart notification Receive email, texts and alerts
- Extended battery life Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery with up to 10 hours in GPS mode and 6 weeks in watch mode
- Worldwide courses Over 30,000 preloaded worldwide courses and free lifetime course updates
- The Garmin Approach S4’s yardage measurement is slightly more precise than other competing watches.
- Its readability is of great quality due to being tailored for sunlight exposure and having high resolution.
- The watch conveniently shows the shape of greens for a more visual interface.
- You will find more golf courses on the Garmin Approach S4 than on the vast majority of golf watches.
- You can keep the score using the scorecard.
- It gathers your shot measurements and information to give you detailed statistics post-game. This is a great feature for significantly improving your skills.
- Never miss a call or important e-mail with its notification feature, which allows you to read texts and notifications directly from its screen.
- It has a longer battery life than many other watches.
- It can go under 10 meters of water without a problem.
- Its yardage measurement is not as exact as the newer Garmin Approach S60, and it does not include yardage to hazards.
- Unlike other Garmin Approach watches, the map is not in color.
- Aside from the odometer, it does not offer other sports-tracking features.
- It does not have a customizable design. Similar to the GolfBuddy WT5, it may not be appropriate for other professional/social settings.
- It does not come with a manual, so you will have to look up usage instructions on their site,being that it is a slightly tech-savvier watch.
Garmin Approach S60 Golf GPS Watch
The Garmin Approach S60 does not disappoint, being one of the fanciest and highest rated watches on the market. With this sophisticated and well-rounded piece, you’re almost guaranteed to have an excellent golf experience.
Though it may be too sophisticated for some new golf GPS users (due to its more complicated
software), starting off with this watch may just put you ahead of the game.
- Shows exact yardage to greens, hazards and doglegs
- High-resolution color touchscreen that is sunlight-readable and glove-sensitive
- Preloaded with over 40,000 courses from around the world
- Quick and automatic golf course recognition
- Swing/shot tracking
- Includes activity profiles to track other physical activity/sports
- Bluetooth compatible; receive text, e-mail & call notification
- 10 hours in golf mode or 10 days in watch mode battery life
- Water resistant to 50 meters
- Customizable design
Weight 1.6 ounces
Course Preload 40000+
Colour Black leather, black silicone, white silicone
Battery 10 hours in golf mode, 10 days in watch mode
- This Certified Refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, a minimum 90-day warranty, and may arrive in a generic box. Only select sellers who maintain a high performance bar may offer Certified Refurbished products on Amazon.com
- Sleek GPS golf watch that reflects your passion on and off the course. Quick Fit 22 mm watch band compatible
- Large, 1.2 inches Sunlight-readable color touchscreen display
- Quickly gets your location using GPS to Show precise yardages to greens, Hazards and doglegs, on full-color course maps
- Convenient Quick Fit bands for fast style changes without tools. Battery life- up to 10 hours in golf mode; up to 10 days in watch mode
- It has the most precise yardage within its brand, making the Garmin Approach S60 one of the most precise watches out there.
- Being able to keep your gloves on while using the GPS allows for greater comfort and less distraction from the game.
- You are more than likely to find just about any golf course with 40,000 uploaded courses from around the world.
- It quickly recognizes and uploads golf course information so that you can begin playing right away.
- Like the Garmin Approach S4, this watch gathers your shot measurements and information to give you detailed statistics post-game.
- It comes with other sports profiles, which makes for a more comprehensive physical activity monitoring system.
- Also includes the text, e-mail and call notification system.
- It can go under 50 meters of water without a problem – ideal for water sports.
- 10 hours of battery life is more than enough for two complete rounds.
- Its customizable design allows for multiple band combinations so that you can wear the Garmin Approach S60 anywhere you go.
- It does not have as much watch-mode battery life as other competing watches.
- This is a highly tech-savvy gadget, yet it does not come with a manual.
- It is very pricey.
Top Rated Golf GPS Watches Buyers Guide For 2023
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A GPS GOLF WATCH?
The following is a list of possible features your GPS golf watch could include but doesn’t guarantee a watch will have them.
Keep in mind that the more expensive watches will usually carry more tech in them since they are usually built for professionals who want to monitor more advanced data than basic yardages.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A GPS GOLF WATCH:
- Basic Distance Information
- Touch to Target
- Individual Shot Tracking Distance
- Pre-Loaded Golf Courses
- Auto-Course Recognition
- Green Mapping
- Manual Pin Setting
- Swing Analysis
- Long Battery Life
- Touch Screen
- Ease of Use
- Fitness Tracking
- Garmin Golf GPS Watch
First and foremost, you want your GPS watch to display accurate distance yardages on the screen to assist you as if you had your own personal caddie. Your GPS watch should include distances to the front, back, and center of the green. It’s a bonus if it also includes yardages to hazards and doglegs.
TOUCH TO TARGET:
Additionally, more advanced GPS watches offer touch to target distance information allowing you to press a certain location on the screen and it will quickly calculate a distance to that point. This is helpful if you want to manually check distances to a layup zone or to a specific bunker you’re trying to avoid, for example.
INDIVIDUAL SHOT TRACKING DISTANCE:
The track shot distance feature is a separate mode you can click into on your GPS watch and it will allow you to track the distance of that specific golf shot. For example, you’d click “begin” on the watch and then hit your tee shot. Then you’d drive to your golf ball and when you get up to it, you’d click “end” on the watch.
It would then calculate the distance between your start and end point so you can learn how far you just hit your club. This is very helpful for learning your golf club distances overtime and making smarter choices on the course.
PRE-LOADED GOLF COURSES:
In the old days you’d have to connect your golf watch to your computer and manually download lists of golf courses. But most golf watches today come pre-loaded with 30,000 to 45,000 golf courses from around the world.
Some of these watches will automatically update as well when connected to wi-fi and others will auto-update on their own without needing wi-fi connectivity.
Most GPS golf watches have a feature called auto-course recognition where it uses GPS to locate which golf course you are playing and automatically pulls it up so you can start off your round without having to manually search the course on the device.
The green mapping feature allows you to see the actual shape of the green. It’s very helpful especially in situations where you are far away from the green and want to see where you should be aiming.
This feature will help you learn how wide the green is as well as the depth of the green so you increase your chance of landing the golf ball on the green by making smarter shot choices.
MANUAL PIN LOCATION:
Another cool feature to look for is the ability to manually set the pin’s location on the green and the watch will then calculate the distance, so you get even more accurate information in addition to the usual front, back, and center yardages.
Having a waterproof GPS golf watch is a bonus for days when it rains, accidental drops into water, or excessive sweating from hot weather during the golf round.
This feature could offer tools built into the watch that track swing path, swing speed, launch angle, ball speed, and other swing metrics so you can learn your swing faults and make adjustments to your swing over time.
Instead of logging your scores on an app or on the paper scorecard which could get lost, you may have access to a digital scorecard feature on the golf watch itself.
This allows you to track and store your golf scores for review later on. It also let’s you analyze your performance over many golf rounds so you can see tendencies and improvement progress.
Battery life is another feature to consider heavily as you want a golf watch that can last you the entire 18 holes. It’s also a plus if the battery life is long enough to last multiple rounds so you don’t have to constantly charge it after every round. Most golf watches have battery life in the range of 10 hours to 18 hours but make sure to check.
Touch screen is an important feature for making the GPS watch easier to navigate allowing you to click in and out of different pages on the watch. The alternative is using the buttons on the outer edges of the watch to navigate different pages if it doesn’t have touch screen as a feature.
EASE OF USE & NAVIGATION:
Golf watches can get quite techie with the many features they have installed, and this can be very confusing for the average user trying to navigate around finding where each feature is and how to work it. You’ll want to decide based on personal preference if you want a basic golf watch that’s easy for the amateur player to use or if you want the more advanced, high-tech golf GPS watch.
Another cool bonus to having a golf GPS watch is when it doubles as an activity watch as well. You should find basic features like tracking your daily steps, calories burned, and miles walked. Sometimes you can get more detailed fitness activity as well in addition to these basics.
GPS GOLF WATCHES & SMARTPHONE APPS:
Depending on which golf watch you purchase, it may have additional features that come included on an app. This can give you access to even more data, tools, and helpful resources to improve your golf game.
For example, Garmin Connect is the app you get access to with most Garmin Golf GPS watches and it allows for extra features like fitness activity data, golf swing data, scorecard analysis, and access to an online forum community where you can interact with others on the platform (similar to a social media site).
HOW DO GPS GOLF WATCHES WORK?
A typical GPS system has the ability to track your exact location through technology which usually comes pre-installed in your car, your phone, or in this case your GPS golf watch. According to Golf GPS Authority, GPS was advanced technology first used by the military but has since been opened up to the public.
How it works is there are many GPS satellites orbiting around earth and the GPS golf watch is designed to pin your exact location by sending off signals that get picked up by the GPS satellites to locate you on the golf course.
Data is transferred back to the GPS watch and recalculated to show your exact location on a given hole. Then you get to tell the watch where you want to hit the ball by tapping a location on the screen and it quickly calculates a distance to that point.
Not every golf GPS watch has this touch to point distance feature, but they will auto calculate yardages to the green with most watches offering 3 distances; back, front, and center of the green. Some watches also give distances to hazards and doglegs.
ARE GPS WATCHES LEGAL IN GOLF?
GPS watches fall under the rangefinder devices category which also includes handheld GPS devices and rangefinders. For a long time, rangefinder devices were outlawed in tournament play and could only be used in practice rounds and non-competitive rounds.
However, with advancement in technology and a shifting culture, golf rules officials have become more lenient and do allow GPS watches to be used in certain situations of competitive tournament play. Right now, it is up to the local golf club or tournament host to decide whether they are allowed or not.
For example, junior golf and high school golf tournaments have started allowing golf GPS devices to be used. College golf which is regulated through the NCAA has allowed limited use of range finders and GPS watches.
The rangefinders and GPS watches that are being allowed for competitive play are usually the most basic ones that only have distance measuring abilities. You’re allowed basic information like distance to the center, front, and back of the greens.
The devices that get banned or outlawed for competitive play usually have the following features:
- Slope reading
- Weather conditions
- Wind measurement
- Swing analysis
- Club suggestions
- Ability to contact a coach/trainer
Therefore, picking out a GPS watch that you plan to use in competitive tournaments should be carefully inspected to make sure it complies with the types allowed by the USGA, NCAA, or other ruling government body.
DO PGA CADDIES USE RANGEFINDERS?
The PGA is another league of its own which is why we did not discuss it in the previous section. Currently, the PGA does not allow rangefinders and distance measuring devices to be used during PGA Tournament rounds of golf on Thursday through Sunday.
However, during practice rounds it’s common for players and caddies to use their rangefinders and GPS watches to study the golf course and prepare for tournament play in the upcoming days.
According to Golf Week, the USGA has Rule 14-3b which bans “artificial” devices used for “gauging or measuring distance” or other conditions of play, such as the course’s slope or the day’s weather. The penalty for violation of Rule 14-3b is disqualification.
Until this rule is changed, the PGA players and caddies will continue to NOT be allowed to use rangefinder devices during tournament play.
WHY ARE YARDAGE BOOKS ALLOWED ON THE PGA TOUR?
You may notice players pulling out yardage books quite frequently before hitting their golf shots. This is especially common on the putting greens with players like Bryson Dechambeau running all kinds of calculations with the aid of a putting book.
Yardage books are not considered “artificial” under rule 14-3b and are therefore permitted during play. However, in 2018 the USGA ran a feedback period and decided to make some changes regarding use of the green reading books. You can see the full details of the new restrictions on green reading books from this Golf Channel article.
HOW MUCH DO GPS GOLF WATCHES COST?
Now that we’ve discussed many features you’ll find on a GPS golf watch, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost you if you choose a more advanced golf watch as opposed to a basic watch with limited features.
The short answer is that price will vary. You’ll want to compare features among watches within a particular brand (Garmin, Bushnell, SkyCaddie) but also compare watch brands to each other. You may find a feature packed golf GPS watch at an affordable price if that’s your goal.
To give you a range, however, there are affordable GPS golf watches under $100 as well as more expensive watches that cost above $300.
SHOULD YOU BUY A GPS GOLF WATCH?
Today we covered the various features to look for when shopping for a golf GPS watch. It should of course include basic distance tracking to help you learn approximate yardages to the green and hazards but it’s also beneficial if you can track individual shots as well as touch individual locations on the watch to get distances.
We’ve also reviewed the rules regarding GPS watches. You are allowed to use them for fun on your own during practice rounds and weekend play with friends. For tournaments, you’ll want to contact the golf course and ruling government body who monitors the tournament to ensure the GPS watch is allowed or complies with rules they have set.
Overall, it’s a smart decision to buy a GPS golf watch if you think the distance information will help you make smarter club selections on the golf course. All the additional features can also help you learn more about your swing and your tendencies to help you find ways to make improvements.
These are some of the best golf GPS watches out there, with more features than generally necessary. Countless golfers have trusted these devices to take their skill to the next level.
With features such as precise yardage measurements, visual aids, post-game analytics, and thousands of preloaded courses from around the globe, these devices are revolutionizing the world of golf, giving hope to golf enthusiasts everywhere who seek to polish their game.
Of the 9 best golf GPS watches reviews above, we’d have to say that the Garmin Approach S20 tops the list. This is due to the great number of advantages it has. It is very affordable, and the average customer rating is incredibly high.
Get our #1 golf GPS watch recommendation here!
For most golfers, the ideal GPS combines both user friendliness and cost friendliness and no watch on the list does this better than the S20. You should get a watch that offers value for the money, time and the effort that you intend to spend. Thanks for taking the time to read our Top Rated Golf GPS Watches Review Guide For 2023.
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