- 40.000 courses around the world
- Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 weeks
- GPS mode: Up to 15 hours
- 128 x 128 transflective MIP screen
- Waterproof in up to 50m of water
- Fitness Tracking
- Truswing compatible
- Garmin connect
- Digital Scorecard
Golf GPS watches might seem slightly boring in comparison with multisport watches. But the latter mostly push golf features to lower priority. So Garmin figured why not create a golf watch with some extensive fitness features. And that’s how we have the Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch. This is an entry-level unit with comprehensive golf features and the most relevant activity tracking. Garmin refrained from using the touchscreen and we like that because our sausage fingers get a break. The unique feature set and accuracy have struck a chord with the golfers. So we decided to delve deeper into an unbiased review.
- AutoShot round analyzer
- Lightweight with decent looks
- Comprehensive golf features
- Most relevant fitness features
- TruSwing compatible
- Consistently accurate
- Some operations require more button clicks
Garmin S20 vs Garmin X40
The Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch is a decent-looking wearable. It started off with some software hitches but the subsequent updates have done a good job cleaning it up. It has all the features of the Garmin X40 but in a larger screen and more familiar golfer package. The S20 is a lightweight version meant to favor the golfing side of it but with a robust fitness tracking side. It brings you all the yardages including hazards in a simple display readable under any lighting. It ditches the touchscreen in the favor of more usable buttons for golfers with larger fingers.
Garmin S20 vs Garmin S4, S6
There are other advanced watches in the Garmin line, the S6 being the most notable. It has a touchscreen and a smaller footprint which makes it look less like a sports watch. The S20 requires more button clicks than we are used to but it has better fitness tracking capabilities than Garmin S6 and is by extension better than the awkward middle child Garmin S4. S20 one-ups both the X40 and S6 in terms of battery life. Some of its debuting features are work in progress. But it seamlessly connects to TruSwing from Garmin. Garmin S20 is an interesting find that might fit perfectly into the requirements of somewhat tech-savvy golfers.
- Size and Weight:
Garmin S20 goes for an all-plastic dial design which drastically reduces its weight down to 1.6 ounces. The dial is a 0.9 sq inch square which you can easily read based on the usual font size. It is larger than the round dial of Garmin S6. The dial is made of rubber and has perforations along the whole length for sizing and ventilation.
The Garmin S20 golf GPS watch has a negative monochrome display where the letters are displayed in grayish-white over a black background. The 128 x 128 transflective MIP screen is easy to see in sunlight because of the dark background. The font size of numbers and notations is comfortably large to read for everyone. There’s a backlight to read in the dark as well.
There are four low profile buttons on either side which enable you to navigate through the features. This is not a touchscreen. We found it convenient because it’s slightly easier than tapping small touchscreens and also saves battery life.
This golf GPS watch is waterproof in up to 50m of water. So it can survive a couple of minutes in the rain until you find cover.
The Garmin Approach S20 brings you yardages to the center, front and back of the greens. You can move the flag within 9+ pre-defined points which contributes to manual pin positioning. You get yardages to the front and the back based on your angle of attack.
- Hazard distances:
The S20 golf GPS watch shows hazard and dogleg distances on par-4 and par-5 holes. A small representation tells you distance to the hazard, it position with respect to the greens and the distance from it to the green. We like how S20 handles it in such a neat way where other watches often struggle to show hazard distances unambiguously. It cannot save the locations of unmapped hazards though.
- Green View:
You get a tiny pictorial representation of the green. This brings you a small idea of the true shape and layout of the greens.
This is a new functionality wherein the S20 automatically measures the shot distance and other metrics related to the shot. It maps the distances of each club. AutoShot doesn’t always activate itself and misses collecting data on some of the shots. Since you can’t manually fill that data, Garmin S20 could do with some improvement here.
- Fitness Tracking:
The Garmin Approach has a number of activity tracking apps like sleep monitoring, Move bar inactivity alert which prompts to get on your feet often. It also measures steps and calories burned. The Garmin X40 has a few more of these fitness tracking apps like preloaded running profiles, GPS-based pace etc..
- Digital Scorecard:
The Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch has a digital scoring facility. It takes a few button clicks to enter the score so it might be slightly annoying but it beats using a scrap of paper. And you get to download the score to Garmin Connect and share with your golf buddies.
- Smart Notifications:
The Garmin S20 can display the alerts from your smartphones when connected to it via Bluetooth. Instead of showing a text message alert, it can show the text of the message, a real feat for golf watches. We like not having to run back to our phones to check the messages.
- TruSwing compatible:
The S20 watch is compatible with Garmin TruSwing Swing analyzer accessory. We connected the TruSwing to the clubs and the watch and voila! We could see real-time swing data measurement on the watch eliminating the need for another device.
- Garmin Connect:
You can download Autoshot and other information from the Garmin S20 watch to another device and analyze it to find trends and correct your game. You can also share your progress with the Garmin golf community.
The battery of Garmin S20 golf GPS watch lasts through 15 hours which roughly translates to 3 rounds of golf. We are mighty impressed with that. It lasts one month on normal watch mode. You get a charging clip to charge this device.
The Garmin S20 has proved to be very accurate within 2-3 yards of the distance. It consistently maintains this streak since the software updates and that’s why it’s one of Garmin’s bestselling units.
The Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch garnered rave reviews from the users because of its simple but highly responsive operation. There were some hiccups with the software freezing but that dialed down after they were updated. Users have lauded the accuracy and the general ease of use of S20. The operation through button was the major selling point. But the main USP is that S20 delivers well on the popular features. The extended activity tracking abilities also got a good reception because it doesn’t clutter up with other sports that the golfer might not be interested in. Compare S20 with other golf GPS watches here.
The Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch is a well-executed entry level watch. It has its specific strengths which are difficult to find together in another devices. Its biggest takeaway is packing relevant fitness tracking features with all the golf features you would normally need. So instead of buying a wristband to only count steps and motivate you for activity and a separate dedicated golf watch, you can invest in a single device. It’s comfortable and looks decent on the wrist. If you can overlook the inadequate AutoShot feature, this is a reliable and highly accurate device for golfers of all abilities.