8 Best Golf GPS Watches – 2021 Reviews & Buying Guide

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:

  1. Garmin Approach S10 GPS Watch
  2. SkyCaddie LX5 Golf GPS Watch
  3. Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch
  4. TecTecTec ULT-G Golf GPS Watch
  5. Garmin Approach S40 GPS Watch
  6. GOLFBUDDY aim W11 GPS Watch
  7. Voice Caddie G3 Hybrid GPS Watch
  8. Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch

1. Garmin Approach S10 GPS Watch

Garmin Approach S10 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) with 9400+ reviews and an average customer rating of 4.5/5.

Features

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.

Beyond the capabilities of the watch itself, you can upload your scorecards for every round onto Garmin Express (PC or Mac) and participate in tournaments through the Garmin Golf app.

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.


2. SkyCaddie LX5 Golf GPS Watch

SkyCaddie LX5 Golf GPS Watch

The SkyCaddie LX5 is special. 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 average customer ratings of around 4.5/5 stars.

Features

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.


3. Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch

Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch

Garmin Approach’s S62 model is expensive for a golf GPS watch, but it’s also one of the top best-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 an impressively high customer rating of 4.7/5 on Amazon with 1000+ reviews. People just love it.

Features

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

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.


4. TecTecTec ULT-G Golf GPS Watch

TecTecTec ULT-G Golf GPS Watch

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 a budget-friendly, affordable (just north of $100) watch that gives you the essential distance information you demand in a GPS unit. It has a ton of social credit to back it up — it’s an Amazon best-seller with an impressive 4.4/5 average customer rating.

Features

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.


5. Garmin Approach S40 GPS Watch

Garmin Approach S40 GPS Watch

Maybe you like Garmin Approach’s watches, but you’re looking for something more advanced than the S10 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.

Perhaps most importantly, the S40 is an all-time best-seller — it has an impressive average rating of 4.5/5 with 2700+ customer reviews.

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.


6. GOLFBUDDY aim W11 GPS Watch

GOLFBUDDY aim W11 GPS Watch

The GOLFBUDDY aim W11 is the successor to the successful W10 GPS watch. It offers a number of improvements including a faster touchscreen, ceramic bezel (not always available), and dynamic shot distance.

The aim W11 offers several powerful features that you can’t find in most other golf GPS watches, such as green undulation and slope adjustment.

Features

The GOLFBUDDY aim W11 has a 1.3″ TFT LCD touch screen display. The unit has pretty much every feature you could ask for, including:

  • Golf Mode: displays the hole, par, and distance to the front, back and center of the green
  • Hole Layout: view a colour image of the hole layout with yardage and layup bands
  • Green Undulation: shows you the green slopes and contours (only available for select courses)
  • manual pin placements so you can get the distance to the flagstick
  • distances to hazards such as trees, water and bunkers
  • a view of the current time
  • a digital scorecard
  • automatic course and hole recognition with vibration
  • up to 13 hours of battery life in Golf Mode

The aim W11 is preloaded with 40,000 worldwide courses and offers free updates. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating which means it can be used in the heaviest rains.

There are other features that we haven’t mentioned, many of which are unlocked through the GOLFBUDDY Smart App which can be linked to the watch.

In general, customers are very pleased with the accuracy of the watch and feel that it lives up to its promises, even if green undulation and slope-adjusted distances aren’t available at their golf course.


7. Voice Caddie G3 Hybrid GPS Watch

Voice Caddie G3 Hybrid GPS Watch

Voice Caddie’s G3 Hybrid GPS watch is brand new and the successor to the G2 Hybrid. Many golfers felt that the G2 came up short in some respects, and the G3 strives to be better.

Compared to the G2, the G3 has improved auto-slope accuracy through the new, patented V-Algorithm technology. The G3 now also displays the green shape along with the distances.

Features

  • Auto Slope: provides slope-adjusted distances based on elevation, now with V-Algorithm technology
  • Auto GPS: automatically detects the golf course and hole you’re currently on by connecting to a satellite.
  • Active Green View: provides distances to the front, middle and back of the green with true shape displayed
  • an automatic scorecard with stats and scoring history
  • Athletic Mode: displays time, speed and calories burned for walking, running, cycling, etc.

The G3 contains 40,000 preloaded courses with free updates. It has a waterproof design.

In our experience, the hole detection of the G3 can be a little wonky occasionally. If you’re noticing issues, you can enter in the next hole manually.

Given the features that the G3 Hybrid offers, it really is at a great price point and is a good option if you want to try out a different brand instead of a Garmin or GOLFBUDDY.


8. Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch

Garmin Approach S42 Golf GPS Watch - Rose Gold

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, which has an excellent 4.5/5 average rating on Amazon.

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.

Features

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.


Buying Guide

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?

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.

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

Smart watch on wrist

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 don’t recommend getting a model with a battery life that is lower than this range.

4. Display

Golf GPS Watch Display Example

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.

5. Accuracy

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.

6. Price

Price tag graphic

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.

With that said, 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.

But even for something like a GPS unit, you may be able to access financing for your purchase. Various online golf shops that sell GPS watches also offer financing here, here and here.


Final Thoughts

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.

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