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.
The key factors to consider before getting a specific GPS watch would be the cost and the user friendliness.
The cost should be within your budget range and the watch should be easy to set up and operate. The watch basically needs to turn on, locate the course, and display information while you are playing your round.
In order to get important information which will help you pick the ideal golf watch, have a look at our reviews of the best golf GPS watches on the market.
Our Top Golf GPS Watch Picks
Based on our own experience and extensive research, we have arrived at the following top picks:
- Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch
- Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach G8 GPS
- IZZO Swami Sport Golf GPS
- Garmin Approach X40 GPS Golf Band
- GolfBuddy WTX GPS Watch
- GolfBuddy WT5 Golf GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S4 Golf GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S60 Golf GPS Watch
The Garmin Approach S20, which is preloaded with more than 40,000 courses, is another member of the Garmin Approach family. Some of its key features include:
- 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.
|Colour||Black, white, midnight teal, slate|
|Battery||15 hours (GPS), 8 weeks (watch)|
- 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
Have a look at this video review of the S20 by Mark Crossfield:
The Neo Ion GPS watch is manufactured by Bushnell to help golfers effectively manage the course.
The key features of the Neo Ion include:
- 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
|Colour||Black, charcoal, white|
|Battery||Three full rounds|
- 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
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.
Some of its key features include:
- 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.
- 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
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.
Some key features of the IZZO Swami Sport GPS include:
- 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
|Colour||Yellow, grey, lime, orange|
|Battery||Two full rounds|
- it has large number readouts
- it’s affordable
- it’s accurate
- it’s not very user-friendly
- it takes time to fully charge
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.
The key features of the X40 include:
- 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.
|Colour||Black/grey, limelight, midnight blue, white/black|
|Battery||5 days in activity mode, 10 hours in GPS mode|
- 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 combines both fashion and function in the WTX GPS watch. The key features of the watch include:
- 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
|Battery||8 hours in GPS mode|
- 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
Having a sportier look and slightly less tech-savvy software, the GolfBuddy WT5 is a simpler version of a typical highly-sophisticated golf GPS watch.
While it is of very high quality and generally satisfies its customers, its features are somewhat limited to basic GPS tracking. Nevertheless, it ranks high among major golf GPS competitors.
- Shows yardage to greens and hazards
- Pin placement
- Digital Scorecard
- Preloaded with 38,000+ courses around the world
- Automatic golf course recognition
- Shot measurement
- GPS tracking can be used to track other sports
- 8 hours in golf mode or 35 days in watch mode battery life
- Water resistant
- Showing yardage from the tee to greens may be the most essential feature of a golf GPS watch. The GolfBuddy WT5 also shows the distance to hazards such as water and bunkers.
- To see the yardage from different locations, you can use the pin placement feature.
- Use the digital scorecard to conveniently keep track of your score.
- Golf course information is automatically uploaded. With 38,000 available courses around the world, you are more than likely to find all your local golf courses.
- It measures your shots so that you can get a better idea of where to improve.
- Having the ability to track other sports makes the watch highly versatile.
- Being water-resistant allows for more ease when wearing it in various settings/situations.
- It’s easier to use due to slightly more limited features and simpler technology.
- The yardage measurement may not be as exact as some might prefer.
- It does not show a map of the greens, which can be a big disadvantage for visual golfers.
- It contains fewer golf courses than other competing brands.
- Unlike other high-quality GPS trackers, it does not have shot analysis statistics post-game.
- It doesn’t offer very much golf-mode battery life — only enough for about a game and a half.
- Its design is not customizable, meaning the wristband cannot be easily changed. Thus, the watch may not be appropriate for some professional/social settings.
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
|Colour||White, black, blue/black|
|Battery||10 hours in GPS mode, 6 weeks in watch mode|
- 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.
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
|Colour||Black leather, black silicone, white silicone|
|Battery||10 hours in golf mode, 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.
Here is a video by Garmin talking about the functions of the S60:
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.
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 reading this guide. If you have any questions, feedback or comments, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below. Be sure to share using the share buttons.