Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS Watch Reviews

The Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch is one such device. It brings the distances to your wrist-top, fast and accurate. It has been succeeded by more versatile and smarter golf watches with more crucial features. But S1 remains the definition of simplicity and a reliable model to build on.

Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS Watch


  • Simple and easy to use
  • Yardages to greens
  • Shot distance tracking
  • Compact and lightweight
  • No maintenance cost
  • Extensive course coverage


  • Course coverage is region-specific
  • No hazard distances

Design & Features of Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS Watch

The feature set of Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch, though limited, is executed efficiently in that all operations are seamless. There are no software glitches or hardware oversights. We tackle the design and features point-wise below:

1. Design:

- Case:

The Garmin Approach S1 looks like a sports watch with a round body. The screen is 1 inch across and the body is only slightly bigger. At 1.8 ounces, it is the lightest, most compact golf watch we have tested till date. So it can be worn with regular clothes outside of a golf course. It is available in black and white models.

- Operation:

The operations are carried out by four buttons on diagonal points of the circular body. One is the power/backlight button, a second one is an OK/menu button and then the up/down buttons to scroll through the menu options. Between these four, the operations are smoothly handled.

- Screen:

Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch carries a black and white screen which can be easily read in any light. It has a backlight which stays on for around 8s after you press the backlight button.

- Strap:

This golf GPS watch has a silicone strap with extended holes along the sides for ventilation and the quick-release strap system.

- Charger:

The Garmin Approach S1 is charged via a USB-to-clip cable. There are multiple leads on the clip which connects to the back of watch. Although they may feel tight, all leads might not touch properly until you fiddle with the charger. Look at the screen for charging status before walking away.

2. Features:

- Yardages:

The Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch shows you distances to the center, front and back of the greens. The center distance is in the largest font size in the center of the dial. The other two yardages are in slightly smaller font at the top and bottom of the screen. There are no hazard distances though. Garmin S2 and S3 don’t provide hazard distances either. But S2 provides layup and doglegs.

- Shot distance:

A standard features in most golf GPS watches, the S1 goes into measurement mode for tracking shot distances. You can note down the shot distances separately, as it doesn’t save the values, only measures them.Course Coverage: The course database of pre-loaded course maps is region-specific in the Garmin Approach S1. If you buy the US version, you get 16,000+ courses. You have a Canada version with Canadian courses. Suffice to say, they you cannot take this golf watch global. It is best suited for leisure golfing at golf clubs within the country.

- Auto hole Advance:

Garmin Approach S1 HoleView

The S1 golf GPS watch advances to the next hole on the golf course once you have finished with one. While you cannot switch off auto advance, you can manually reverse or advance hole number. Hole and par information are provided on the screen. Hole handicaps are not available though.Settings: You can personalize the Garmin S1 golf watch through some preference settings. You can choose between yards and meters for distance readings, language of the watch, alert sound etc.

- Watch functions:

The S1 has a watch face which turns it into an innocent-looking watch when you are not playing. It shows the time and date. You can also set an alarm on it. It also has an odometer which helps you map the number of steps you walked.

- Course Updates:

We first got a real whiff of Garmin’s camaraderie when it announced zero subscription fee for course updating. You can simply connect it to your PC and run the updates through a Web Updater program.

- Accuracy:

We found the distances from Garmin S1 golf GPS watch to be accurate within 2-4 yards. This is all you need with the convenience of GPS on your wrist. The satellites lock quickly. The accuracy remains consistent throughout the years of use.

- Battery Life:

The rechargeable battery of Garmin S1 can get through 6-8 hours of GPS-ing. So we are estimating maximum 2 rounds of golf per charge. In the newer versions of the Garmin Approach line, the battery life is better. As a watch, it can show time for 3 weeks before going dead.

- Waterproof:

The S1 can withstand up to 1m of water pressure for 30 mins which means it will survive the rains until you find safe cover but do not take it swimming.

Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS Watches manual

The Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch is designed to be used without any hassles right out of the box. We do recommend charging it to full potential before the initial use. You can update the software and course database directly through a PC program called the Web Updater. It requires minimal manual supervision. This program automatically recognizes the device and shows available updates, if any.

Garmin Approach S1 manuals

The GPS satellites lock and distance reading is instant in spite of this being a 7-year old technology. Once you switch the GPS on, you can access the menu which will show the 10 nearest courses based on your location at the time. You can select the course you are playing and after that the operation is pretty much hands-free. It will recognize the hole nearby and advance itself after tackling every green. We sorely miss the hazard distances here because with the available buttons, we can scroll between the three nearest hazard distances easily. There is no manual flag-moving feature or scorecard ability either.

Social Proof

The Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch was widely accepted by the golfers upon its debut. The convenience of having the yardages available at the twist of a wrist is tempting. The fact that this novel device worked glitch-free right out of the box further bolstered its reputation. Accuracy and speed-wise, users have never had a problem. Garmin has debuted S2, S3, S4, S5 and S6 watches with superior features and the same ease of use. There’s Garmin Vivoactive 3 which excels as a multisport watch with golf module. Check out our list of the best golf gps handhelds reviews.

Garmin Approach S1 Golf Watch


Garmin Approach S1 golf GPS watch is the most user-friendly golf tech we have used in a while. Although it provides only the most basic distances, it implements every feature with measured ease. It’s thoughtfully designed to sit lightly on your wrist while giving you a proper view of all the important figures. The fee-free access to updated course databases is a big plus. It makes a good golf GPS watch for the uninitiated or leisure golfer. Barring the lack of features which we see in the Garmin handhelds, the S1 defines convenience.

If you are not satisfied with the Garmin s1, check out our reviews on another Garmin Golf GPS Watch of 2018 or Garmin Approach s4 Golf GPS Watches.

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