The majority of professional golfers are fond of their top-notch golf GPS watches. These devices are designed to take the guesswork out of the sport, rendering them some of the most reliable technology a player can use to significantly enhance their performance.
Among the features, these devices come with its worth mentioning shot analyzer, course view, digital scorecard, and green view. Made with pre-loaded course maps, GPS golf watches are among the tech which is ready to use out of the box. After comparing their features head to head, here are the best performers.
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The all-black watch is compact and made with a square screen. It features one of the leading profiles for durability. Adjustable just as a regular smartwatch, it represents one of the most interesting solutions to wear outside the golf course. It includes a couple of fitness features for this objective.
Most importantly, it comes packed with golf features. Its auto shot analyzer function allows users to improve each shot with included statistics. Users can even get clubs’ recommendations based on the green distance.
With a green view mode, the GPS watch shows a zoomed-in image of the green. It alerts users of their approach and what they should do to get the most out of their shots to the green. With good visibility, even on bright days, the black and white map of the green is easy to follow.
Made to improve swing speed or technique with metrics powered by Garmin TruSwing, the golf watch is ready to sustain hours of training and play. Garmin’s app is recognized for its accuracy. One of the main advantages of the app is that it manages to show accurate location based on Garmin’s positioning software.
An activity tracker reminds the user to keep moving. It reminds the user to stay active with notifications to start walking. Those who want to live an active life, which is always the case with golfers, can rely on the gadget to act as a personal assistant and reach a certain daily steps goal.
- Included Auto ShotAnalyzer Garmin function
- Available on black and white
- Shows yardage to the front, middle, and back of the green
- Doesn’t manually record drivers
The durable watch is made with a classic design. It features a large digital display and rubber straps. Made according to USGA regulation, it is one of the most durable watches seen in the industry, even if it is certainly not the most modern-looking.
With 30,000 preloaded courses, it’s ready for action across the country and abroad. All courses can be updated for free. But most players usually stick to just a handful of courses in their living area.
The GPS watch measures the distance to the front, back, and middle of the green. Golf players get to estimate their efforts and create one of the most interesting experiences for those who want to enjoy clear data. This data is then interpreted in choosing the right driver.
When players sometimes need to get out of difficult situations, they can even choose a wedge to estimate the distance and direction of the swing.
Showing distance to hazards, gold players know exactly what to stand away from. Nobody wants to lose balls in water or banks. This is why a hazard-showing tool is often interpreted as the best solution for new players, even if it’s an issue many tour-level players face.
The GPS watch is easy to use with no subscription plan and free updates. Designed with four large buttons, it’s among the GPS watches which offer quick menu navigation. No player wants to lose time navigating complex menus while out in the summer sun.
- Includes automatic hole progression
- Features Bluetooth capabilities
- Based on auto course recognition
- Doesn’t include a scorecard feature
Made to switch holes automatically, the GPS watch is easy to use. It can be an automated golf accessory that only helps players as it doesn’t take their minds off the game. A durable strap represents a solution that can be worn even on the hottest summer days.
It shows the green and hazard distances to allow players better planning. The digital watch is among the leading options for those who want a simple scorecard with large digits for multiple playing partners. It keeps a digital scorecard within easy access as its side buttons are among the easiest to use with intuitive menu navigation.
It also functions as a digital watch for those who might want to keep it on the wrist for the rest of the day. Apart from indicating shot distance, the GPS watch also comes with a solid battery. Under normal use, it can work up to 11 hours, placing it among the top solutions with thousands of stored golf courses.
- Includes an auto hole function
- The main screen also shows the score
- Shows hazards as pictograms
- Slow course downloads
With a sleek design, the GPS watch has a soft, comfortable strap, the device is one of the true sports designs in this class. It features a soft strap that isn’t uncomfortable when worn for hours. It’s also made with a large display that allows its data to be visible in direct sunlight.
It shows yardage to the green's front, middle, and back so that players know how to calibrate their efforts. A mini-map of the green is also presented on display. While not particularly needed, it’s a good graphic representation of what can be expected when golfing.
The device also keeps a digital scorecard. This function isn’t something most other devices in this price range can offer. But at the same time, it’s a good function for any game that can last for hours.
These scorecards can be uploaded to Garmin Express or Garmin Connect and then be used as personal statistics or as part of friendly tournaments. The software is still improving, but at the same time, it’s pioneering the digital scorecard function.
With long 12-hour battery life, the GPS watch is among the most reliable products in its class. It has a pure quality for 1 or 2 days of playing, which situates it slightly above its competitors. Its drawback is that it doesn’t include a color touchscreen display with its monochrome display made for maximum battery life.
- Made with a sleek design
- Keeps and uploads a digital scorecard
- Available on black, gray, and granite blue
- Made with a floppy strap
The sleek GPS watch has a colored digital display and unrivaled Garmin GPS accuracy. Its large 1.2” display offers good visibility and a ceramic bezel similar to dive watches. Its scratch-resistant glass makes it one of the most durable devices in its class at the same time.
AutoShot recognition and hole recognition uses multiple sensors to show clear game statistics. Players can also record distance to later analyze their game with the help of its software. Using the watch is not complicated, as it comes with tap controls. For example, players can get instant distances simply by tapping a location on the course.
With a detailed green view, players always know the strength they need to use for certain shots. Those facing blind shots also have an easier time as the PinPointer shows the player the direction of the shot when it’s physically impossible to determine it without help.
- It can be used up to 10 days in the watch mode
- Designed with anti-scratch coating
- Supports ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
- It requires multiple apps to access all functions
How to Choose the Best Golf GPS Watches
Golf GPS watches are not particularly expensive today. But their performance can be very different from one case to another. Most of them are now made with around 40,000 golf courses. A good device should be able to show yardages to the green and key hazards.
Yards to the Green
Yards to the green are a feature that must be present and effortless in the best GPS watches. Connecting to the satellites quickly and getting these readings fast is crucial. At the same time, all users should know that the distances to the front, middle, and green can come with or without a graphic interpretation. The dynamic green view is a function to consider.
Yards to the green are also functions that can be activated by tapping an area of the screen. The distance should be fast and accurate. Some of the best functions for staying focused during the game require immediate results.
Yards to Hazards
Showing yards to hazards is now a mandatory function for all GPS watches, not just for the high-end releases. This is the main reason users should be using the products which are made to be responsive and which use popular geo-location software, which is not always the case with some products. On the other hand, responsiveness is not the only reason to consider a golf GPS watch, especially in the high-end category.
A digital scorecard function is still not supported by all devices. However, it is something many users can feel drawn towards. Today, the way a digital scorecard looks is very simple as it’s made for efficiency. Some of the watches on the market can even come with larger digits here, improving readability for those who don’t enjoy the best vision.
The scorecard function can also synchronize with the official smartphone app or third-party golf apps. With the right digital scorecard, users can find their products among the most interesting for statistics purposes, making them stand out.
Analyzing swing power and efficiency is key today. Several watches can be used to show statistics on shot distance and handicap. Since not all watches show the distance and many aren’t able to have clubs input into the app, users who want this feature will need to look for a handful of watches like those listed above to get the virtual assistant-like function.
Pin Seeker Functions
Pin seeking is a function similar to those found in golf rangefinders. But it is a function that can allow users to find the flag even when they can’t see it. For example, users are stuck when the golf ball has traveled in a bunk from where the flag can’t be seen. A quick tip on the watch shows users the direction they need to face when using their wedge to get the ball out of a difficult situation.
Watch Face, Bezels, Buttons, and Usability
When it comes to physical construction, good devices become a bit more expensive. Good straps, solid bezels, and screens which don’t crack easily might be hard to find. But for most users, it can be a personal preference when the watch is also used outside golf.
Some of these watches are used as activity trackers when the game is over, which is why they need to be made with solid materials. A watch with a fixed strap that can’t be removed will not be the best option.
Watches with limited functions and buttons are also not the best for everyday use. But watches that include advanced controls such as rotating bezels to change screens and navigate menus will be the most interesting for their high versatility.
Having a screen with anti-scratch resistance is also important. Out in the summer sun, the scratches can significantly hinder visibility, which can hurt the overall performance when on the course.
A GPS golf watch normally has a battery life of 7 to 12 hours. Most commercial-grade watches are found in this price range. However, there are plenty of other watches with smart features that have even longer battery life.
As most players should know, the shorter battery life is caused by GPS connectivity. This is where the device’s battery starts to drain quicker, but it should still cover 1 or 2 days of playing.
Another interesting feature only found in the best devices is the course overview function. It’s the function with the highest appeal for those moving up from entry-level watches.
It isn’t a function to look for when playing on the same course daily. But it can be one of the leading functions for those who play on different courses frequently. This is good golf GPS devices should be made with solid functions for those who travel and who don’t know how a new course looks.
Sold with interchangeable bands, the best golf GPS watches are now made to be matched with the training outfit. But these bands can also be used for various other outfits outside golf. For example, during the game, players can use rugged rubber straps. Outside the game, they can elevate the look with a timeless leather strap.
With ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity seen more today, golf watches excel at quickly synchronizing their data with their apps. Golfshot Plus, SkyDroid, Golf GPS Scorecard, and Mobitee Golf are apps that connect wirelessly. They can be used for statistical purposes where players find the best results with their shots.
The activity tracker function of the golf GPS is where players have the freedom of keeping an eye on how they do outside the course. It is a combination of features that often includes a step counter or an automated sports recognition function that estimates the number of burned calories.
Those who invest in the best GPS watches should know that activity tracking might be limited compared to a dedicated fitness watch. Most of them aren’t waterproof and can’t be worn swimming. This is why a dedicated watch can be better for the best fitness tracking.
Heart Rate Monitor
A heart rate monitor is rare to see on golf watches. It uses a separate sensor that takes up space, which might raise the device’s price considerably. As a result, it’s not as popular as it could be. But several devices offer this function, and those who’re also doing sports to stay fit might consider it a priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do golf GPS watches work?
Golf GPS watches connect to satellites to map out a golf course and show distances to any of its locations. Users tap the screen to show yardage to a certain point of the course, and the watch calculates this distance and displays it on the screen.
Connected to the GPS systems, these watches are also made with high-end technology and programming to analyze shot success and keep the score. Most of the watches can be operated without too much tech knowledge based on the physical buttons or tap controls.
How accurate are golf GPS watches?
Most GPS technology watches are very accurate. Their maps have been drawn out and saved by the biggest software companies of the moment by their thousands. This is why most of these watches come with thousands of saved courses that are all accurate for the user’s benefit. Course updates are automatic.
Which is a better rangefinder or GPS watch?
Golf rangefinders such as those made by Bushnell and GolfBuddy are hand-held devices. It requires the user to look through its prism, and it can zoom in on certain areas of the course. A GPS watch only works on mathematical calculations.
Those who want the most immersive experience can rely on a rangefinder. But the GPS watch has the advantage of showing the direction and course overview of the game, which a rangefinder can’t. A handheld GPS is closer to a wearable GPS watch than a rangefinder, even if they all feature a shot distance calculator function.
Which Garmin golf watch should I buy?
Garmin Approach S20 is a reliable device with an affordable price made by one of the most respected names in the industry.
Is a golf watch different than a smartwatch?
A golf watch has certain specialized features missing from a smartwatch. For example, it shows an overview of the green, which is something smartwatches can’t do. The GPS mode is specialized in GPS watches.