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Every golfer knows that the key to lowering your scores lies in course management.
This involves knowing the distance to the front, back and center of the green as well as the yardages for other key locations on the course.
At the same time, improving your golf game can be a very lengthy and difficult task. Fortunately, the evolution of technology has done a great deal to streamline this process.
Having access to golf GPS trackers is something that golfers may sometimes take for granted, but these instruments can really be invaluable for your rounds.
Many golfers prefer to wear golf GPS watches instead of using a handheld unit because they’re much more convenient. But choosing the ideal GPS watch can seem like a daunting task because of all the different options.
If you’re looking to buy a GPS watch for golf, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf GPS watches across a range of different budgets.
We base these choices on our own personal testing, popularity, and the general reception from consumers and critics who have used the watches.
Our Top Picks For Golf GPS Watches
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, the following are our top selections:
- Garmin Approach S10 GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch
- SkyCaddie LX5 Golf GPS Watch
- TecTecTec ULT-G Golf GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S12 Golf GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S40 GPS Watch
- GOLFBUDDY Voice 2 GPS With Wristband Bundle
- Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch
- Shot Scope V3 GPS Watch
- Garmin Approach S60 GPS Watch
The S10 by Garmin Approach certainly isn’t as feature-rich as many other watches out there, but it gives you the essentials that every golf GPS watch should, and it does it well.
It takes the #1 spot on our list not only because of its reliable performance, but also because it’s a top seller (arguably the best-selling GPS watch on the market).
The Garmin Approach S10 does three key things: keep score, give you the distance to the front, back, and middle of the green, and give you distances for hazards and doglegs.
The GPS watch is very easy to use; simply power it on (it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 seconds), choose your course (it can auto-detect based on location), and start playing.
More than 41,000 courses worldwide are loaded into the S10. The high-resolution, black-and-white display is quite easy to read in sunlight.
The rechargeable battery lasts up to twelve hours on a charge, which is more than enough to get in several rounds.
Another thing: if you’re worried that the S10 will interfere with your swing while it’s on your wrist, don’t be; the unit is very light and you hardly know it’s even there!
The S10 is a no-frills golf GPS watch that will get the job done on a modest budget.
Garmin Approach’s S62 model is expensive for a golf GPS watch, but it’s also one of the top sellers on the market. Why? Because it’s packed with useful features and because quality matters.
The S62 is probably Garmin Approach’s most advanced GPS watch that is specifically built for golf.
This watch does it all, and it’s backed by impressively high customer ratings. People just love it.
To start, the S62 has a large 1.3″ colour touchscreen display with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and interchangeable QuickFit bands.
One of the standout features of the S62 is a Virtual Caddie. The S62 takes into account your average distances for the clubs in your bag, and it uses wind speed and direction to suggest the best club to hit and the landing area in any given situation.
That’s right: the watch can display wind speed and direction when connected to the Garmin Golf app through your smartphone.
Beyond this, the S62 has all the features you would expect from a quality golf GPS watch:
- displays par, hole, distances to back/front/center of green, and a colour CourseView map
- ability to scroll through each hazard on the map and view the associated distances
- yardages can be adjusted to account for uphill and downhill shots
- ability to view the true green shape and drag the pin to any location
The S62 also has some more unique features that you won’t find in lesser models, including:
- PinPointer: indicates the direction of the pin for blind shots
- advanced club tracking when paired with the Garmin Approach CT10 sensors
- a completely customizable watch face
- green contour data with an active Garmin Golf app membership
The S62 contains over 41,000 preloaded courses that can be updated. A battery charge can last an impressive 14-20 hours depending on the mode.
The S62 has many more features related to stats tracking, analytics, athletic activity, and even contactless payments. For a full picture of everything that’s possible, go here.
Labelled “golf’s smartest, brightest and fastest watch” and featuring next-generation technology, the LX5 has the largest colour touch screen in the industry at 1.39″.
Not only do we think the LX5 has one of the nicest displays you’ll find, but it’s also very accurate, has advanced features, is easy to use, and has excellent app compatibility for post-round analysis.
The LX5 got top marks in our tests, and it also has very high consumer ratings.
Right off the bat, one of the things we really like about the SkyCaddie LX5 is the fact that you can get distances to any location you want (not just the front and back of the green) simply by sliding the cursor.
Beyond that, the LX5 features yardage arcs that overlay fairway landing areas, and dynamic distances to the front, center and back of the green. Hole handicaps are also indicated.
The LX5 comes preloaded with over 35,000 courses that are ground-verified and error-corrected. This eliminates the reliability issues that other golf GPS manufacturers have, since SkyCaddie actually walks each course.
The LX5 provides accurate high-definition overhead views of each hole, and you can pan and zoom to any location as desired. The AMOLED display is easy to see even in direct sunlight.
Other features of the SkyCaddie LX5 include:
- a fast mulit-core processor
- exact shapes of greens that automatically rotate to match your angle of approach
- extensive scoring and stats tracking
- the ability to select an analog or digital watch face
- fitness features including heart rate, step count & goal, stopwatch and timer
A purchase of the LX5 includes a 3-year prepaid worldwide membership to SkyGolf 360, which enables real-time updates to all verified courses and performance analytics.
The battery lasts up to two rounds on a single charge. We recommend fully charging after each round if possible.
What really makes the LX5 so great is that it’s much more similar to a handheld unit than most other GPS watches.
The LX5 is packed with more features that we can’t all cover here. For more details, visit this page.
You may recognize TecTecTec as the brand behind the extremely successful VPRO500 rangefinder. It turns out they have a GPS watch offering as well, called the ULT-G.
The ULT-G is an extremely popular, budget-friendly, affordable watch that gives you the essential distance information you demand in a GPS unit.
The TecTecTec ULT-G is a fairly basic golf GPS watch that gives you:
- the distance to the back, front and center of the green
- the distance to hazards (water, bunkers, etc.)
The ULT-G has Auto Course Recognition technology built into the watch; this accesses the satellites to identify the correct golf course, of which there are more than 38,000 preloaded. Hole-to-hole transitions are also automatic.
The ULT-G has a pretty bare-bones feature set. Unlike other GPS watches reviewed on this page, it doesn’t provide any images of holes or greens and cannot retrieve the exact distance to a flagstick.
The attraction of this unit, however, is the affordability, very good accuracy, and free updates without the need for a subscription.
Garmin Approach’s S12 watch is an excellent option for golfers who like the simplicity and effectiveness of the black-and-white S10 but want something a little better.
In fact, the S12 can be considered an upgrade to the S10, giving you:
- a premium round-watch design
- a higher-resolution display that is sunlight-readable
- a significantly longer battery life of up to 30 hours
Given this, the S12 still manages to stay affordable.
The Approach S12 has more or less the same features as the S10. You can:
- retrieve green shape and distances to the front, middle and back of the green
- get distances to hazards, doglegs and layups
- keep score and upload your scorecards to the Garmin Golf app
- participate in weekly leaderboards
The S12 is preloaded with more than 42,000 golf courses from around the world, and you can download course updates wirelessly through the app.
The internal battery of the S12 is rechargeable and operates for up to 30 hours in GPS mode, which is tremendous. The S12 is also compatible with the Garmin Approach CT10 sensors for advanced club tracking.
Golfers love the speed at which this golf GPS watch finds courses, its simplicity with four buttons, light weight, affordability, and unbeatable battery life.
Maybe you like Garmin Approach’s watches, but you’re looking for something more advanced than the S12 and less expensive than the S62.
In that case, you should take a serious look at their S40 model. It’s more similar to the SkyCaddie LX5, with a colour touchscreen, stylish looks, and “smart” technologies.
How It Works
Once you get to the course and power the watch on, it will use the satellites to find the course you’re at. The S40 is preloaded with over 41,000 courses, each having a full-colour CourseView map that can be updated through downloads.
The standard view will display the hole number, par number, and distances to the front, back and middle of the green.
By tapping on the green, you enter Green View, where you can view the true shape of the green more closely and drag the pin whenever you want. The S40 will give you the new distance to the flag as you move the pin.
The other screen of the S40 gives you distance information on hazards, bunkers, and layups. You can cycle through each object and view the relevant distances.
Other features include:
- AutoShot game tracking which automatically detects shot distances
- quick-release bands
- 1.2″ touchscreen with metal bezel
In our experience, the S40 is pretty spot-on when it comes to accuracy. It’s easy to keep score and the battery life is excellent.
With this bundle, you’re getting GOLFBUDDY’s most successful talking GPS unit, the Voice 2, along with a specially designed wristband strap.
The Voice 2 can be used as a handheld, clipped to your belt, or attached to the included silicone wristband strap and thus be worn as a watch.
This unique GPS unit audibly reads out the distances to the front, middle and back of the green with the push of a button, eliminating the need to squint down at a screen every time you need a yardage.
The Voice 2 GPS has four primary modes:
- Green Distances: displays the distances to the front, center and back of the green, with optional voice readout.
- Dynamic Green View: displays the shape of the green, angle of approach, hole & par numbers, etc.
- Shot Distance Measurement: measures how far you hit your shot.
- Time Mode: displays course info alongside the current time in digital format.
You can generate audio for the center green yardage by pressing the large front button, and the front/back yardages by pressing and holding the button. Buttons on the left and right sides of the unit are used for volume adjustment and mode switching.
The Voice 2 is preloaded with more than 38,000+ courses as well as seven additional languages. You can set a male or female voice based on your preference.
The battery lasts up to 14 hours on a single charge which is good for a minimum of two rounds. The GPS unit is water-resistant, and if there are ever times when you don’t want to wear it as a watch, it has a built-in clip that can be used for mounting to hats, bags, and belts.
You can optionally get the Voice 2 SE which has a battery life of 20 hours.
The golfers who tend to love the Voice 2 GPS the most are those that just want simple yardage readouts to the green. The unit is simple, effective, and does its job reliably.
As you might have noticed, Garmin dominates this feature list. Many people consider Garmin to be the king of the hill when it comes to golf GPS watches.
Indeed, they have many popular and successful models out there — another one is the S42.
The Approach S42 is one of the hottest new releases from Garmin. It can be considered as just creeping into the upper “premium” tier of golf GPS watches.
The S42 is very similar to Garmin’s S40 which we reviewed above. The S42, however, has an extended battery life (five more hours in GPS mode), improved internal hardware, new cosmetic options, and a few new functions.
In addition to the essentials like distances to the front, middle and back of the green as well as hazards and doglegs, here are more key points about the S42:
- a 1.2″ colour touchscreen display
- 42000+ preloaded courses with CourseView, updateable through the Garmin Golf app
- Green View for true green shapes, and the ability to drag and drop the pin
- AutoShot game tracking which can be paired with Garmin Approach CT10 sensors
- strokes gained analysis, additional data, and tournaments & leaderboards through the Garmin Golf app
When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can get Smart Notifications (emails, alerts, texts) to your S42. You can also take advantage of activity-tracking features like steps, sleep, calories, and vibration alerts.
The rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 days in smartwatch mode and 15 hours in GPS mode.
You can think of the S42 as an upgraded S40 with additional fitness features. If you don’t mind paying a little bit extra, you should seriously consider it. It’s available in gunmetal, rose gold, and silver ceramic bezels.
The Shot Scope V3 is another excellent option for those who aren’t interested in Garmin models.
The V3, a Golf Monthly Editor’s Choice winner and a best-seller that has been rated very highly by critics, is an advanced golf GPS watch that offers automatic shot tracking and a statistics platform. It’s stylish, lightweight, and can be worn as an everyday watch off the course as well.
The Shot Scope V3 provides distances to the front, back, and middle of the green that change dynamically as you progress. Also provided are front and carry distances for every hazard, and these can be displayed in yards or meters on the daylight-readable colour screen.
The standout feature of the V3 is automatic shot tracking, which measures the distance of your shots. This is enabled through a Power-Sense strap and tracking tags (16 included) that have smart GPS chips for automatic club recognition.
In addition, Shot Scope provides a stat analytics platform through a web dashboard or through the Shot Scope app available for iOS and Android. There are over 100 statistics that can be viewed for your tee shots, approach shots, short game, putting, and scoring.
The V3 contains over 36,000 preloaded worldwide courses, mapped with Google Maps and geofencing. Just be aware that this might result in out-of-date maps if the course has been recently remodeled.
Other features include:
- ability to pause rounds to take a few practice swings
- round syncing via Bluetooth
- easy social sharing of rounds
- interchangeable straps
- PinCollect technology which provides the exact pin location
- Course Hub which enables to you see how Shot Scope users play a course
The rechargeable battery lasts for 10+ hours (or 2+ rounds) on a single charge.
The Shot Scope V3 GPS watch is accurate, easy to use, and informative. However, the shot detection feature is not flawless, and in our experience, it can sometimes be incorrect or not pick up a shot at all.
The Garmin Approach S60 is a less expensive alternative to the S62 model reviewed above.
Although it has a slightly smaller display, is not meant for everyday wear, and lacks a few advanced features, the S60 is undoubtedly one of the most powerful GPS watches for golf.
Like the S62, the S60 benefits from interchangeable QuickFit bands. It has a large 1.2″ colour touchscreen display with a polymer or ceramic bezel.
One of the most powerful features of the S60 is PlaysLike Distance: this accounts for elevation changes (slope) on the course and adjusts yardages to account for uphill and downhill shots. You won’t find a slope compensation feature like this in many golf GPS watches at all.
Beyond this, the S60 has all of the features of the S62 including:
- distances to the back/front/center of the green as well as hazards
- colour CourseView maps
- true green views with drag-and-drop pins
- PinPointer which indicates the direction of the pin for blind shots
- 41,000+ preloaded course with updates
- AutoShot automatic distance tracking
- optional advanced club tracking with the Garmin Approach C10 sensors
- green contour data with an active Garmin Golf app membership
The S60 also offers calorie and step tracking, as well as activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, and more. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours in golf mode and up to 10 days in watch mode.
This is a really great watch, but we feel like the battery life isn’t quite up to par. You might find that you struggle to get through two rounds before needing to charge it again.
There are many golf GPS watches on the market, and knowing which one to choose isn’t necessarily easy, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. This guide will provide you with the GPS watch education you need in that regard.
The most essential purpose of a golf GPS watch is being able to conveniently pull up distances to the front, back and center of the green. Other functionality such as mapping and hazard information can be considered a bonus.
If you want to find the right golf GPS watch, here are the most important factors to consider:
1. Added Features
This is probably the main factor that will determine which model you choose. You should ask yourself what you want to get out of a golf GPS watch:
- Do you just want to get yardages to the front, middle and back of the green?
- Do you want to get distances to various hazards?
- Do you want to see an overhead map of every hole you play?
- Do you want to use the watch to keep score and organize your data?
- Do you want to get distances to different pin locations or even to any location on the course?
- Do you want to know your shot distances and performance statistics?
Practically every golf GPS watch gives you distances to the front, middle and back of the green, and almost all of those give you distances to hazards as well. Basic watches like the Garmin Approach S10 and TecTecTec ULT-G are great for this.
Some golf GPS units like the GOLFBUDDY Voice 2 actually talk to the player and read out distances so that looking at the display isn’t necessary. Others, like the Shot Scope V3, track shot distances and detailed statistics so you can understand your game on a better level.
If you want more advanced features like a colour touchscreen, overhead maps, zoom, custom pin placement, and even wind direction, you’ll need to cough up extra money for something like the Garmin Approach S62.
At the end of the day, consider models that have the features you want and that fall within your budget.
2. Feel & Weight
It’s very important to consider how the watch feels when it’s on your wrist. In fact, this is essential, because if it’s too bulky or heavy, it can interfere with your swing, and that’s the last thing you want.
The ideal golf GPS watch should be lightweight, comfortable, and feel like there’s barely anything there.
Heavier watches may be okay, but you should ensure that they don’t affect your swing. If you do find that a GPS watch is negatively influencing your swing, get a different one.
If you aren’t satisfied with the wristband of your GPS watch for whatever reason, you also have the option of getting an aftermarket replacement.
3. Battery Life
Practically all modern golf GPS watches use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
When it comes to battery life, it’s critical that a single charge can last for at least one full round of golf (18 holes). Being able to get out a couple more rounds beyond that before needing to recharge it is a nice bonus.
A good golf GPS watch should have a battery life of 9-17 hours, depending on the mode. We do not recommend getting a model with a battery life that is lower than this range.
There are two main types of GPS watch displays: touchscreen, and non-touchscreen with side buttons.
As you might suspect, touchscreen golf GPS watches are usually more expensive, and they also tend to have more features such as coloured hole maps and true green views. Conversely, non-touchscreen displays tend to be in black and white with a minimal amount of graphics.
We find that touchscreen displays aren’t necessarily easier to work with; it’s just a matter of getting used to the design. How big your hands are will also affect how well you use a touchscreen.
Neither of the display types are strictly “better” than the other because they are both functional and get the job done. It’s up to you to determine how important the display type is relative to other factors.
This is really the name of the game when it comes to golf GPS watches. If the watch is off by 10+ yards consistently, you’re honestly better off not having one at all.
At the same time, one important thing to realize with golf GPS watches is that even the best models will tend to be off by a couple of yards. This is normal, and it is why it’s a good idea to also have a rangefinder on hand in case you need a precise distance down to the yard.
In general, accuracy can be considered acceptable if it’s within seven yards of the correct reading. You’ll find that most GPS watch models have similar accuracy, since they use the same satellites to calculate distance.
Do make sure to keep your maps up-to-date, as this will give you the best chance of getting the most accurate readings possible on your watch. At the end of the day, high accuracy will remove guesswork from your game and improve your club selection.
Your budget ties in with everything else and, of course, is very important when shopping for a golf GPS watch. For example, some people don’t want to spend more than $150 on a GPS watch. That’s okay — they have several great options.
High-end GPS watches can cost upwards of $500, or even more if purchased with powerful tracking systems like the Garmin Approach CT10.
Cheaper golf GPS watches may be less accurate, have slower operation, have a more primitive display, or lack useful features such as manual pin placement.
In this guide, we’ve tried to include quality golf GPS watches over a range of budgets that golfers might have.
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 a top-down visual and distances. This is what a golf GPS unit is able to do.
A golf GPS watch can be a big asset for your golfing toolkit. And all it really takes to choose a good one is a little bit of research.
With features such as distance measurements, visual aids, and post-game analytics, these devices are revolutionizing the world of golf, making it easier for golfers to hone and refine their game.
Each of the GPS watch models listed above deliver exceptional performance. We’ve given you the information you need; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
It’s also very beneficial to read customer reviews to acquire some useful insights as to how GPS watches actually perform. This will help you a great deal in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. Which golf GPS watches are you interested in? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.