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When looking to get yardages and track statistics for a round of golf, dedicated golf GPS watches or handheld units are great and serve their purpose well. But there is another option that may not even require an additional purchase: GPS apps.
These days, nearly all smartphones made by reputable companies come with their own integrated GPS tracking systems. Golf GPS apps can take advantage of this to provide distances to the green and other points on the golf course, course views in colour, statistics tracking, and more. All that’s needed is your phone.
If you have or are planning on getting an Android phone in particular, there are several excellent golf GPS apps available that are highly rated by users. Most of them offer a paid version with added features, but otherwise, they can be used absolutely free.
If you’re looking for the best golf GPS app for your Android phone, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf GPS apps for Android.
Note: Golfstead has tested and/or conducted in-depth research into all of the apps featured in this guide. Our editorial process for these rankings takes into account a mix of many factors which may include performance, reliability, usability, value for money, cost, and the general consensus from other users. The list that follows may be reassessed or updated over time.
Our Top Picks For Golf GPS Apps For Android
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:
- 18Birdies Golf GPS App
- Golfshot Golf GPS & Caddie App
- Golf Pad Golf GPS Rangefinder App
- SwingU Golf GPS App
- Hole19 Golf GPS & Scorecard App
1. 18Birdies Golf GPS App
18Birdies is a golf GPS app available for Android that has one of the highest average user ratings on the market.
It offers free and premium versions, but the free version is packed with plenty of features that give you all the course information you need for improving your game.
18Birdies provides a GPS, rangefinder, and scorecard and statistics tracking. The interface looks great and is easy to read. Of course, you can get distances to the front, center and back of the green, as well as to hazards. Even better, you can find the distance to any point on the course you’d like.
The app is powered by Google Maps to provide data for over 35,000 worldwide courses, each of which has verified GPS measurements for maximum accuracy.
Other features in the free version include:
- side games that you can use to track bets with friends. Available games include Skins, Wolf, Dots, Targets, Vegas, and Nassau.
- instant tee time booking for over 6000 courses.
- golf handicap tracking based on past scorecard data.
An optional premium version of 18Birdies (weekly, monthly or yearly subscription) adds enhanced “plays like” GPS yardages and club recommendations for every shot based on elevation, humidity, temperature, and other factors.
Other features in the premium version include:
- AI Coach: send in a video clip of your swing and an AI-based swing analyzer will provide instant feedback with suggestions for improvement.
- advanced stats with additional charts and custom filters.
- advanced strokes gained scoring.
- a tee shot planner which indicates the safer side of the fairway.
- shot tracking and putt tracking.
- exact GPS distances to the flag location on every hole.
There are other features that we haven’t covered. The bottom line is that 18Birdies is a very well-made golf GPS app with some powerful unique features and exceptional reviews to back it up.
2. Golfshot Golf GPS & Caddie App
You’ll see Golfshot recommended all over the place as a top golf GPS app, and there’s a reason for that. It has many thousands of positive reviews.
Golfshot is claimed to have over five million community members and to be the only golf GPS app fully compatible and compliant with the new World Handicap System (WHS).
The app is loaded with over 45,000 courses around the world and gives you distances to the green (front, middle and back) as well as hazards and other targets. You can also visualize each hole with 3D flyover previews, or view an entire 3D course preview before starting a round.
Other features you get with the free version of Golfshot include:
- a digital scorecard for up to four golfers
- the tracking of statistics such as greens in regulation, fairways hit, and putts per hole
- automatic hole advancement and voiced hole info
- handicap index tracking
- discount tee times provided by GolfNow
Golfshot offers a paid version of their app called Golfshot Pro. With Golfshot Pro, you get (not limited to):
- real-time distances to hazards, layups, targets and the front and back of the green (in addition to the center of the green)
- on-the-spot club recommendations based on past performance
- ability to zoom and pan
- an ad-free experience
- integrated handicap index tracking by linking a GHIN number
- advanced scoring for match play, Nassau and Skins
One more offer, The Ultimate Combo, gives you golf coaching material in addition to Pro features, but this is currently only available for iOS.
One of the great things about Golfshot is that once it’s downloaded, it doesn’t require data to be used. Customer support is excellent and will help you if you’re having any issues.
3. Golf Pad Golf GPS Rangefinder App
Golf Pad is one of the most consistently praised golf GPS apps out there. It’s simple to understand and easy to use.
What we really appreciate about Golf Pad is that the free version provides many features that are locked behind a paywall with other GPS apps. This includes:
- distances to the front, middle and back of the green (not just the middle)
- detailed PGA-quality scorecards for up to four players
- aerial maps with flyovers
- a one-tap shot tracker that can be used for every shot tee-to-green
Golf Pad provides GPS functionality with satellite views for over 40,000 courses around the world. For each course, you can tap the screen to measure the distance to absolutely any point including bunkers, water and other hazards.
Other features included in the free version are viewing full player history with the ability to add notes, group rounds, online leaderboards, strokes gained shot-by-shot analysis, and statistics tracking. More features are being added over time, many of which come from golfer feedback.
Golf Pad offers a Premium version of the app. Some of the features added with Golf Pad Premium are:
- smartwatch compatibility
- detailed stats for every club
- club dispersion analysis
- multiple scoring modes with handicap scoring
- hole elevation profiles with change in elevation to target
Golf Pad also has another offer called Golf Pad TAGS. This is a physical purchase that gives you special tags for mounting to the top of your club. Once the tags are in place for a particular club, you can track shot distances, accuracy, putting stats, and much more. You can get the full details on Golf Pad TAGS here.
Golf Pad conforms to USGA tournament rules and is optimized to minimize battery drain. Golfers find the accuracy to be excellent and within a few yards of handheld rangefinders.
4. SwingU Golf GPS App
SwingU is another hugely popular golf GPS app for Android right now with over 5,000,000 users.
There are over 34,000 courses in the database, although SwingU claims that the app works on any course in the world. The four main functions of SwingU are:
- GPS: get accurate distances to the green and every hazard.
- Scorecard: tracks your score and putts. Holes advance automatically.
- Statistics: includes putts per hole, driving accuracy, scoring accuracy, and number of birdies.
- Instruction: a daily golf instruction tip from top-100 instructors.
You can get a free handicap after posting scores for three rounds. Games such as skins, stableford, Nassau and match play are available.
SwingU Premium (monthly or yearly subscription) is an AI-powered digital caddie and instruction platform. It offers a number of powerful features that include:
- “Plays Like” yardages which are based on factors like elevation, temperature, humidity, wind, and barometric pressure
- SwingU Versus: tracks every facet of your game and gives you a personalized strokes gained analysis
- “zoom-in” distances for greens as well as additional course yardage information
- club recommendations based on wind speed and elevation
- on-demand access to over 600 video lessons and drills from top-100 instructors including Chris O’Connell and Jason Sutton
- a personal swing locker for saving and analyzing your golf swing
- additional on-course games
- no ads
The golf instruction feature, in particular, sets SwingU apart from other golf GPS apps. If the unique features they offer appeal to you, we definitely recommend giving them a try.
5. Hole19 Golf GPS & Scorecard App
Hole19 is a straightforward golf GPS app that offers a GPS rangefinder, digital scorecard, and live leaderboards. It’s compatible with the latest Android phones and works nicely with Wear OS devices.
One of the things we like most about this app is that you don’t need the premium version to get yardages for the front and back of the green — front, back and center distances are all there in the free version.
More than 43,000 golf courses are available with Hole19. Moreover, the app has a cool feature where you can view ratings and reviews for courses in order to find the best ones to play.
Other features included in the free version of the app are:
- stroke play and Stableford scoring systems
- social sharing with an active community
- real-time competition with other golfers using the app
For a monthly, semi-yearly or yearly subscription, you can enjoy Hole19 Premium and get additional features that include (not limited to):
- real-time club recommendations based on your personal distances
- a shot tracker with shot-by-shot input
- the match play game mode
- a handicap calculator and handicap simulator
- various performance statistics such as driving accuracy and greens in regulation
- premium golf course maps with improved resolution
- your personal highlights
- an ad-free experience
Hole19 is a popular golf GPS app with an excellent average rating. Unfortunately, they locked some more features behind a paywall in 2020, but you still get all the essentials in the free version.
There are many golf GPS apps available for Android, and because they all essentially do the same thing, knowing which one to choose isn’t always easy. This guide will provide you with the education you need in that regard.
The most essential purpose of a golf GPS app is being able to conveniently get distances to the green as well as other points on the course such as bunkers and water.
If you want to find the best golf GPS app for you, here are the most important factors to consider:
1. User Reviews
One of the first things you should do when choosing a golf GPS app is look at the user reviews. Fortunately, the Google Play app store makes this easy, displaying the average score, number of reviews, and distribution of ratings from 1-5.
It’s important to note that when it comes to Android apps, you’re going to see low ratings, regardless of how good the app is. This is the nature of the beast because there are so many factors that can influence how an app runs such as the phone model, phone configuration, internet connection speed, and other factors specific to an individual’s phone.
As a result, you will see a lot of reviews complaining about various technical issues. But you should not assume that this is due to an issue inherent in the app itself.
What’s most important is looking at the average rating and seeing what users who give the app four of five stars are saying about it. Also try sorting the list by “most relevant” to see the most helpful reviews. At the time of writing, all of the golf GPS apps featured on this page have ratings of at least 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Of course, features are essential when considering a golf GPS app, and this is especially true when you only want to use free versions which have limited features.
The paid version of just about any decent golf GPS app will have all the features you could ever want including yardages to hazards and the front, middle and center of the green, scorecards for multiple players, statistics, shot tracking, and handicap calculation.
Most golfers interested in golf GPS just want distances to the green and to different points on the course. If you want more than just simple yardage information, take note of how much information you get with the free version. Can you just view distances to the center of the green or can you get more information? Can you get course flyovers? What statistics are tracked?
Most golf GPS apps will also have a unique paid offer such as the 18Birdies AI Coach, SwingU video instruction or Golf Pad TAGS. How much such features appeal to you will influence which golf GPS app you ultimately end up using and whether you go free or paid.
3. Battery Drain
A main concern when using a golf GPS app, whether through a smartwatch or smartphone, is battery drain.
You can expect that any golf GPS app will drain your battery at a faster rate than most other apps, the two most influential factors being the GPS and the brightness of the screen.
For example, allowing the app to access your location more frequently when the app is backgrounded will speed up the retrieval of yardages but put more strain on the battery. Screen brightness will also have a major impact on how fast the battery drains.
Each golf GPS app may have different strategies for stretching out battery life during rounds. At the very least, your device should last on a full charge for at least one 18-hole round.
Having said that, if battery drain is particularly important to you and you want to get as much use as possible without having to recharge, you should consider golf GPS apps specifically advertised as being optimized for battery life such as Golf Pad. Also take note of any user reviews that comment on battery drain.
4. UI & Aesthetic
Two very important factors that affect the overall experience with a golf GPS app are the usability and looks.
In particular, how easy is the app to use, how responsive is it, and how easy is it to navigate? Consider how much the yardage numbers pop off the screen and how the overhead hole view is displayed.
Personal preference comes into play here. Many golfers will choose a golf GPS app based on which user interface and aesthetic they like the most. For us, 18Birdies and SwingU rank at the top, but other golfers may prefer the UI of other apps.
Because golf GPS apps are so similar in terms of the information they provide, the UI may end up being the deciding factor when making your choice.
If you’re looking to pay for the premium version of a golf GPS app, you’ll need to consider the price.
Offers can range from around $20-$100 per year. 18Birdies, as an example, has a higher subscription cost than other golf GPS apps, but at the same time, it has the highest average rating and is our #1 pick overall.
What we would recommend is to not necessarily go with the app that costs the least, but rather to consider apps that don’t cost more than what you’re willing to spend.
Also check to see if an app offers a monthly payment plan in addition to a yearly plan. You’ll pay more on a per month basis with a monthly plan, but the commitment is a lot smaller.
Merely estimating the distance to the green, hazards and other locations on the golf course will only get you so far.
If you’re serious about lowering your scores, at some point you need to be able to obtain accurate information about each hole you play including distances to the green and hazards. This is what a golf GPS app is able to do, and it doesn’t require the separate purchase of a golf GPS watch or handheld.
A good GPS-enabled Android smartphone or smartwatch along with a trusted golf GPS app can be a big asset for your golfing toolkit. And with features such as high-fidelity overhead maps, live leaderboards, shot tracking and statistics, this technology is revolutionizing the world of golf, making it easier for golfers to hone and refine their game.
Each of the golf GPS apps listed above are proven to work well on Android devices. We’ve given you the information you need; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
Thanks for reading this guide. Which golf GPS app are you using on your Android device? Do you have any questions? Feel free to drop a comment down below.