Best Golf GPS Watches

best-golf-gps-watches-review
There was a time when the naked eye, perhaps guided by a 150-yard marker, was sufficient to gauge distances. But this was more by necessity (or lack of invention), rather than design. Indeed, it wasn’t that long ago that interim measurements between the 150 and 100-yard pole were considered revolutionary.

But the days of making do with guesstimate distances to the middle or front of the green are long gone and, if you’re trying to improve your game, it has become critical to know exactly how far to hit it. After all, it’s difficult enough to actually hit a high-quality shot. What’s the point of wasting one or more of these by inadvertently sending it short or long owing to a lack of knowledge?

This, of course, is where distance measuring devices (DMDs) come in, and at (or near) the pinnacle of this particular niche are GPS Watches (or related gadgets and devices) which give you exactly what you need: quick, convenient and accurate distances.

The latter of these attributes is arguably the most important, Because what can fill you with more confidence than knowing precisely how far it is from A to B, and by extension, that you (hopefully!) have the perfect club in hand as a result?

Of course, some devices perform this task better than others. So which are top of the pops? We’ve picked out the five which we believe will get the job done for you in the simplest, convenient, reliable and most value-for-money manner.

Don’t have Time to Read On?

Our Editor’s Choice for Best Golf GPS Watches is the Garmin Approach S6 Watch.

Use the quicklinks to navigate my Best Golf GPS Watches Review.

Key Considerations

1. Design and Build Quality

When it comes to anything that requires forking out hundreds of dollars, you don’t want to be skimping on quality. A GPS Watch and/or device is an investment, so you want to be sure that boxes such as durability, reliability and look & feel are all ticked. It isn’t always easy to establish the difference between a well-made gadget and a cheap knock off, but, don’t worry… we’ve got you covered.

Of course, design is a big factor too. Not just in terms of hardware, but also in terms of user experience. Yes, you want to have something wrapped around your wrist or in the palm of your hand which looks the part. But it’s just as important that the user interface tells you exactly what you need to know. And hey, if it does so in an aesthetically-pleasing way, well, that’s a bonus!

2. Ease of Use

It’s not just about setup. Real estate on the user interface with such devices, by design, is in short supply (typically no more than 1 square inch) so it is imperative that this space is used effectively, and yields a pleasurably simple user experience.

Whether it’s a watch or a hand-held device, you need to get to where you need to be with the minimum number of clicks, and the end result needs to be data which is easy to interpret. The whole point of spending your hard-earned dollars on one of these devices is that it does the thinking for you. Determining a distance? That should be the easy part. Making a good swing?

Well, these bad boys are good. But they ain’t that good!

4. Value for Money

It’s interesting to note that such a small piece of machinery can produce quite a sizeable variance in terms of price. You can pick one up for as little as 50 bucks, or, for the same token, cough up in excess of $500!

We’re not in the business of promoting cheap knock-offs, nor do we endorse overpriced, overhyped equipment riding the wave of brand or reputation. We look at each individual product in isolation, and consider ‘good value’ to be the most important stamp of approval. And it’s not one we give away lightly! So if we say a GPS device represents good value for money, we really do mean it.

5 Best Golf GPS Watches

Garmin Approach S6 Watch – From $349.99

best golf gps watches review
Okay, brace yourself… this isn’t the only Garmin you’ll see on the list. We sampled a number of Garmins, and it’s amazing how much they all have to offer in their own unique way. Yet for us, the S6 remains right up there.

I know it’s been around for a while. But what’s that saying about the original being the best?

We’re talking about a device which has mapping over 40,000 golf courses around the globe, with a second-to-none series of hole maps with a touchscreen that allows you to pinpoint distances to anywhere on the course. It also has great features such as ‘SwingStrength’ and ‘TempoTraining’. The explanation for each is kind of in the name, but all you need to know is that they work well, are easy to use, and generate meaningful and (seemingly) accurate data.

We’re also really impressed with the seamless interaction between the watch and Garmin Connect platform; the latter of which provides you a plethora of scoring and stats analysis. And all of this in a watch.

True, it costs a bit (and a bit more!). But the quality of the S6, not to mention the simplicity of the user experience, is simply not in dispute.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.


PROS:
  • The features are impressive, and, importantly, syncing with the Garmin Connect platform is a piece of cake
  • It’s lightweight, sleek and very well designed
  • You’ll love the overhead hole maps and aerial views. The touchscreen works a treat too
  • Based on concurrent distances from rangefinders and on-course markers, we found it to consistently be accurate within about 3 yards

CONS:
  • None, except maybe cost. But at $350, this still represents good value!

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TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch – From $249.99

best golf gps watches review
It’s a household name in the world of GPS, but TomTom have firmly entered the golfing fray; first with the original TomTom Golfer GPS watch, and now with the sequel. We’re big fans of the original, but there’s no doubt that the second version cranks things up a notch. Let’s be honest… first impressions count. And the TomTom Golfer 2 is a watch that is incredibly easy on the eye.

Obviously though, there is more to it than that. It ticks all the basic, but important, boxes such as being waterproof, weighing a paltry 2 ounces, comfortable on the arm and a battery life which can easily last up to rounds of golf.

But where it really cuts the mustard is in terms of features, functionality and ease of use. Setup is simple, as is pairing it up with the mobile app. So is linking it up with your course of choice, which is almost instant, and gives you all the information you’d expect about the course.

We were also impressed with things like the Auto Shot Detection for scoring, the overview and zoom, accuracy, and the display of data on screen – it tells you all you need to know, but in a comprehensive, non-cluttered way. Who needs a big screen, eh?

The biggest plus of all here though is price. For what you get, $250 is difficult to argue with, and this watch should appeal to golfers of all shapes, sizes and abilities.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.


PROS:
  • $250 represents excellent value. That’s mid-range price for a quality product
  • It’s got to be one of the better looking watches on the market!
  • The display has plenty of data, but presents it all in a concise, simple way
  • Accurate, great battery life and plenty of data storage space to indulge your analysis

CONS:
  • The app doesn’t come across as ‘golf specific’. The view of the course is just leveraged off Google Maps, and we’re not really into all the other fitness guff!
  • Those buzzes and alerts are the kinds of gimmicks it could do without (although you can switch them off)

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GolfBuddy WT5 GPS Watch – From $199.00

best golf gps watches review
We hadn’t heard great things about this particular watch before we trialed it. Poor battery life, hopeless customer service – you know, the usual complaints. But analyzing the watch itself in isolation, it really was hard to find much wrong with it.

In terms of appearance, it doesn’t weigh much, fits nice, looks pretty sleek and has an incredibly simple display. Yes, it was a little bit fiddly initially with the three control buttons. But once you’re used to it, things sort of flow quite well.

When we rocked up at our local club, this watch definitely won the ‘who can pick up the course quickest’ race. Added to that, it has a good shot-tracking tool, boasts a really cool feature in the Dynamic Green View (adjusts measurements to front and back of the green, depending on your angle of approach), is accurate to within a couple of yards, has all the added functions such as hazard distances, and – guess what? – the battery still had a third of its charge left by the end of the round!

All in all, it does what it says on the tin, and for that price, we’re convinced it will attract many a keen shopper.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.


PROS:
  • Slim, trim and barely noticeable when you swing with it on your arm
  • Display is clear, and interface is straightforward as everything is well labelled
  • It’s pretty accurate, the shot tracking tool is simple to use and we really liked the Dynamic Green View
  • Competitively priced

CONS:
  • Possibly a little more complex to get to grips with than some of its rivals
  • Did this weird thing where it tried to switch holes when drove it in the trees between two fairways

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Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch – from $144.50

best golf gps watches review
Bushnell are undoubtedly one of the market leaders in the rangefinder game, and many would now extend the same argument to GPS devices.

Certainly the neo iON has added a new string to their bow – most notably through its simplicity and ease of use. Honestly, in terms of the combination of setup, updates, display and user experience, there are literally zero complications. True, it probably doesn’t boast quite the same quantity in terms of preloaded courses, data storage and features as some competitors.

But it’s unerringly accurate, has a battery that lasts for days (well, many hours anyway!), does everything you expect from a GPS watch, and does it all for a competitive price. What more could you want?

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.


PROS:
  • Battery life is market leading
  • So easy to use from start to finish. You get what you expect, in the most easy-to-interpret manner possible
  • Distances to the hole, hazards and even for lay-ups are right on point. Very, very accurate
  • Can’t argue with the price – under 200 bucks feels like a steal

CONS:
  • Did seem to take a couple of minutes to load the course when we arrived
  • The display is a bit limited. But then again, simplicity is kind of the theme here!

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Garmin Approach S20 Watch – from $199.00

best golf gps watches
Selecting our top five was no easy business, and it’s fair to say there were a number of contenders – both within the Garmin umbrella and beyond – which could arguably have merited a place. But we like Garmin, and, more importantly, we like the S20. If you’re an ardent fan like us, you’ll probably notice the similarities with the S4. But hey, I guess you don’t always need to recreate the wheel?

I wouldn’t say it has all the bells and whistles, but the Auto Shot feature is a great way to map and analyze your shots, and the ‘activity tracking’ may tickle your fancy. We also liked that it tells you both how far you have to hazards, and how far to clear them (and other detailed measurements). Added to that, we think this is one of the more accurate GPS devices out there (matched the yardage on our rangefinder every time), and the battery life is excellent.

Probably our only real criticisms were that we had a few issues syncing the device with the app after the round, and the display isn’t the best. But other than that, there were no problems for us in terms of usability, scorekeeping and setup. All in all, our take was that this represents good value for money, and, with an update or two allegedly on the horizon, may get even better.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.


PROS:
  • This device is a winner with yardage accuracy, and also with respect to variety of measurements for hazards etc
  • Decent features like Auto Shot, Activity Tracking and Club Tracking
  • This is good value at $200. Does all the basics well
  • Excellent battery life – at least 3 rounds’ worth

CONS:
  • Not the best screen in the world, and lacking maps of the entire hole
  • It does need a fair bit of button pressing to navigate the interface, which could get a bit tiresome

Are you American? Check out special offers on Golfsmith.com (free shipping on orders over $99.00). Second-hand an option? Save $100s of dollars on excellent condition second-hand deals here
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