Are you looking for the best golf GPS watches and handhelds 2018 to give you instant distances? Apart from having insightful golf GPS reviews, this is a comprehensive buying guide that explains how golf GPS reduces your handicap and brings a new lease of life to your game.
Manufacturers are harnessing satellite-based precision to put convenience in your palms. Why not let these snazzy devices do the caddying for you?
These reviews will help you pick best golf gps watches & handhelds in 2018 for golfing..
Best Golf GPS Reviews 2018 Recommendation
How Does Golf GPS Help?
It improve your games:
Contrary to what non-conformists believe, golf GPS watches and handhelds do not make you a slave to technology. Instead they help you point out and confirm to your best instincts. This conditioning comes with a little help from a passive mentor that these golf watches can be. It goes a long way in reducing your golf handicap.
The whole idea behind golf GPS is providing distance. It does the work of laser rangefinders at half the price and size. Granted Laser rangefinders are more accurate, usually within a yard. But golf GPS watches are accurate within a few yards and eliminate the shaky hand conundrum and the time-consuming process of determining distances to center, back and front.
Distances to 'invisible' targets:
Well, not literally. Laser rangefinders require the targets to be in line of sight for distance measurement. This is because they are dependent on a forward and backward traveling laser wave to measure the distance. Any obstacle should not obstruct this wave on the course. Since golf GPS watches and handhelds depend on navigation satellites, they do not need to generate line-of-sight waves. Golf watches will calculate the distance measurements to out of sight targets as well.
The interface of golf GPS units is usually quite user-friendly. Once you get acquainted with your play and operation of the golf watch, you can customize the settings for future games.
Lowers golf handicap and increases confidence:
Golf is a game of instincts. Rangefinders are but minor contributors to the match outcome. New players may find the premise of golf staggering, given the need to beat the golf course and nature.
A good golf GPS device lets you test your gut feeling and get on with the game faster. It keeps you from second-guessing the distance as you would with laser rangefinder which is prone to human error. The ability to track statistics using the golf GPS device gives you additional information on the key points to improve your game.
Type Of Best Golf GPS & Our Golf GPS reviews
1. Best Golf GPS Watches:
Easily the most conspicuous of Golf GPS systems, the GPS watch is a caddie on your wrist. Distance to front, center and back are the most common parameters measured in golf. A watch that does it while automatically updating your advancement through the golf course is indeed technology you need.
Once you have made up your mind to jump on the Golf GPS bandwagon, take a look at the following devices that I handpicked and broke down for best golf GPS watch reviews. So, here are the best golf gps watch to buy:
Editor's Rating (5/5)
Garmin Approach S6 golf GPS watch wins, this is the best Garmin golf GPS watch because of its brilliant approach towards packing all sorts of features onto your wrist.
The S6 has a high-resolution touchscreen display. The battery lasts for 10 hours on a single charge. Apart from distances to the center, front and back of the greens, you also get a layup, hazard and dogleg distances.
The features I benefited the most from in Garmin Approach S6 golf GPS are swing training aids in form of SwingStrength, SwingTempo and TempoTraining.
The view of the map has a zoom-in feature. The overhead map view can be accessed and used very easily. The S6 golf GPS has a scoring function, it can get pretty intuitive by figuring in handicap scoring.
This golf GPS has shot tracking capability. You can connect the S6 golf GPS with your smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth. This allows you to receive notifications about texts, emails, calls, etc... on your watch.
- Swing Tempo training
- Swing strength indicator
- Automatically zoomed overhead map per hole
- Pinpointer for direction during blind shots
- Distance to any point
- Scorecard and tracking
- Smart notifications
- Can save custom points on course maps
- Shot distance tracking
- Operation has a sizeable learning curve
Read full reviews: Garmin Approach S6 Golf GPS Watch
Editor's Rating (5/5)
Neo Ion golf GPS watches sporty look really suits my golfer’s hands. It is complemented by a perforated strap that makes sure your wrist stays ventilated through the rounds. It packs some basic fitness tracking to its golf capabilities. With over 35,000 preloaded golf courses, it provides wide coverage.
It has the Tee Time function. Once the next Tee-off is set for the current week, the watch will automatically enter the Play Golf mode 7 minutes before tee time and recognize the course.
If you specify the Auto Shut off time, it will Exit the Play Golf mode to conserve power after those many hours. This substantiates its already strong battery life of 4 rounds.
The Auto Hole Advance kept my Neo Ion abreast of the game. Shot distance measurement helps you find average club distances. The operation of Neo Ion golf GPS watch is quite simple and customer-oriented. Moving through the menu feels intuitive. It has an odometer and a pedometer to calculate steps and distance walked.
At its price, it is best gps golf watch for the money.
- Tee Time feature prepares the watch automatically before tee-off anytime during the next 7 days
- Auto Shut off exits Play Golf mode after specified amount of time
- Auto Course Recognition and Hole advance
- Distances to layups and 4 hazards
- Shot distance measurement
- Long battery life
- The display could have used more area on the round screen
Read full reviews: Bushnell NEO Ion Golf GPS Watch reviews
Editor's Rating (4.5/5)
The S2 is one of Garmin’s most basic golf watches. And it is still in the market because of its flawless operation. Veteran golfers like Richard who are just switching to the golf GPS domain will like the minimalistic features. The display is readable in sunlight and has a backlight as well. This is a regular screen instead of a touchscreen. We golfers prefer this over having to poke at a watch with our sausage fingers.
Even though it has been designed to give simple yardages, the operation and features have been executed with typical Garmin finesse. It’s a wonder to see that a puny watch comes with more than 30,000 worldwide courses preloaded.
S2 golf GPS provides shot distance measurement feature. I enabled the measurement and navigated to other screens without hindering the measurement process. I was able to pull up a scorecard as soon as I connected it to a computer.
It also has automatic course and hole recognition features. When I only needed yardages, this turned into a hands-free device. It has an inbuilt odometer for measuring the steps you walked.
- Accurate within 3-4 yards
- Layup, dogleg distances.
- Shot distance measurement
- Digital Scorecard
- Easy to operate
- Waterproof and visible in all climates
- No touchscreen means battery drains relatively slowly
- Score tracking requires more button presses.
Read full reviews: Garmin Approach S2 Golf GPS Watch
Editor's Rating (4.5/5)
SkyCaddie golf GPS watch is one of the most user-friendly watches I have seen on a small budget. If you want the basic distances and smooth functionality, this is your go-to watch. The strap allows excellent airflow with ventilation gaps and keeps my wrist irritation-free. The display is easily readable in bright light.
There are 30,000 worldwide courses pre-loaded on to this GPS watch. The number of details and number of courses is more than what I expected at this price.
Course updates were only available at yearly subscription fees but now it’s advertised to be free of charge.
You can select whether you want to allow auto hole advance or not. I have rarely seen this facility in the other watches. This watch has scoring feature for single player. Shot distance measurement feature allows you to gauge the distance of each shot.
The battery of the watch lasts through 8-10 hours per charge cycle. The SkyCaddie golf GPS watch is water-resistant up to 30m of water.
- Course coverage of 30,000 courses
- Very user-friendly
- Multiple fitness-related features
- Shot distance measurement and scoring function
- Other distances are not available in spite of good course coverage
Editor's Rating (4/5)
Callaway has always been on top of all things golf. The GPSy is their affordable jab at golf watches. It gives you all the distances and performs simple functions with relative ease. Golfers of medium and high handicaps should invest in Callaway GPSy Sport watch.
This GPS watch comes preloaded with a whopping 30,000 courses. The yardages to the front, center, and back of the greens are displayed on the screen together.
It is lightweight and comfortable. The display is one of the easiest to read amongst golf GPS watches I have used. The learning curve for GPSy is small but I had to get acquainted with the button sequence.
This golf GPS watch has scorekeeping function. It will save data for the round including hole number, total score, GIR, putts per round etc.
GPSy has both auto course recognition and auto hole recognition. It gives you a list of nearby courses once on. It has a smart notification feature which relays notifications from your smartphone to the watch.
Apart from golf data, GPSy golf GPS watch can also show time in digital or analog mode. An odometer is also part of the package.
- Affordable good-looking watch
- Yardages to greens and layup distances
- Shot distance measurement
- Accurate and comfortable
- 30,000 courses with auto course and hole recognition
- User interaction could be made easier
2. Best Golf GPS Handhelds:
The user interface in these golf GPS systems will be similar to your smartphones so the familiarity makes it easy to navigate. Here are the best handheld golf GPS 2018
Editor's Rating (5/5)
Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS lives up to the expectations of the Garmin users who used the Approach G6 or G7 previously. It is the most advanced golf GPS I have tried till now.
Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS has a 3.9x6.5cm screen. The device is 1.3cm thick. The touchscreen is easy to navigate even with my beefy fingers. I found that I could even enlarge the font to suit my vision requirements.
The highlight feature of the Garmin G8 is the slope-adjusted distance. This is called PlaysLike Distance. The feature can be switched off.
It has over 39,000 worldwide courses preloaded. Garmin G8 can receive course updates over Wi-Fi. That and the PinPointer feature are the upgrades from the Garmin G7.
The Pinpointer feature is another handy tool. It also has an inbuilt ClubAdvice functionality which suggests a club for the target distance. This feature is not in USGA’s good books either.
G8 has the scorecard functionality for multiple players. Score, fairway hits, putts etc. are available...
- Slope-adjusted distances
- Pinpointer feature for blind shots
- Club recommendation
- Touchscreen for beefy fingers
- Scorecard for up to 4 players
- Smart notifications over Bluetooth
- Scorecard feature is complicated to operate
- Not tournament–legal
Read full reviews: Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS Course
Editor's Rating (4.5/5)
The Garmin G6 handheld golf GPS brings you the best of Garmin golf arsenal without the debatable slope-distances. All golf tournaments are likely to let you use it, subject to the Local Rule. Garmin G6 is the top model in Garmin’s handheld line which does not have slope-adjusted distances. So it will be tournament-legal in any area where golf GPS is allowed.
Garmin G6 successfully leaves the old Nokia phone-look. Two buttons at the bottom with Green View and digital scorecard functionality.
Apart from the yardages, you can get the distance to any point by simply selecting that point on the screen. Scorecard and statistics tracking capability of the Garmin Approach G6 is simplistic.
Garmin Approach G6 comes preloaded with more than 25,000 courses. Garmin website offers a big repository of updated courses. You can download them without any subscription fee. Another tool for staying ahead of the game is the layup arc. Arcs at 100, 150, 200 and 250 yards keep the ball ahead of the hazards.
The Garmin Approach G6 manual in multiple languages is loaded on the device in PDF format.
- Lightweight and compact
- Sensitive screen
- Easy to use and setup
- High course coverage
- Entire green view with exhaustive mapping
- Distance to any point and greens yardage to it
- Layup arcs
- Scorecard and statistics tracking
- Battery life up to 15 hours
- Some software glitches
- Moving flagstick around the screen is difficult
- Distance display is sketchy
Read full reviews: Garmin Approach G6 Golf GPS Course
Editor's Rating (4/5)
Izzo Swami Golf GPS is one of the most affordable devices. The Swami 5000 adds some key features over the 4000+ golf GPS.
This golf GPS device is very small. It will easily fit in the palm of your hands, your pant pockets and it does not lose connection with the satellite. The usual option of displaying distances in meters or yards is available. This golf GPS comes loaded with 30,000+ global courses.
It has auto hole advance. This transfers the readings as per the next hole once you have taken your shot. Auto course recognition finds the course you are going to play at right as the device is switched on. Shot distance measurement feature of this golf GPS allows you to measure the distance you hit each shot.
The battery usually lasts through 2 rounds on one charge. The Lithium-ion battery is not replaceable though. A USB charger is used to connect it to the AC power supply.
Izzo Swami 5000 Golf GPS is a water-resistant device. It survived a light rain while I ran and took cover.
- 30,000 courses preloaded
- Distances to hazards, doglegs
- No subscription fee
- Very budget-oriented
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Battery is not replaceable
Read full reviews: Izzo Swami 5000 Golf GPS Rangefinder
Editor's Rating (4/5)
GolfBuddy Voice GPS is a small but ingenious device. This is a clip-on accessory that gives you the distances vocally. It is very reasonably priced as well.
It looks like an iPod with its adorable square architecture. The Voice can be clipped on to your hat or hung from a belt loop. You can also purchase its wristband separately and wear it like a watch. It is very lightweight.
GolfBuddy Voice GPS will give you the distance to the center, back, and front of the greens. I found the distance to be accurate within 3 yards. Apart from the yardages, you get the par score and a pictorial representation of the greens.
It speaks out the distances in any one of the 8 languages you can use it in. The voice from this golf GPS is not distracting. It has a quiet tone which only I could hear. You can read distances from the screen directly as well.
Voice GPS has shot distance measurement function. This is equipped with the auto hole and course recognition.
It comes preloaded with more than 35,000 courses. Its maximum capacity of storage is 40,000-course maps. You can access free course updates through their course manager.
GolfBuddy Voice GPS can hold its power for 9 hours between charges. It also tells time vocally.
- Gives you greens yardages and shot distance
- Voice-enabled in 8 languages
- Auto hole and course recognition
- Wide course coverage
- Not highly accurate
- It is available in a single color.
1. What is Golf GPS & How Does It Work?
GPS or Global Navigation System is the same commercial system that is used in car navigation and your phone navigation apps. With this feature, you are utilizing the power of satellites in space to pinpoint your location. Started as a military enterprise, this concept and it benefit vent commercial now. The location determination depends on GPS receivers in your device that constantly receive location information from three satellites that are hovering above your location. The signal from each satellite indicates that you must be located in a circular range on the surface of the Earth.
Wherever the signals of three GPS satellites intersect, that's where device pinpoints your location. The fact that the enormous power of space technology is being used for distance measurement on a golf course is humbling.
Beginners trying to learn the ropes can find electronic caddies in the form of these wondrous GPS-enabled golf devices. Too much competition in this niche market means you are going to be bombarded by a variety of Bushnell this and Callaway that. Garmin Connect and Truswing can sound like alien technology.
2. Golf GPS Watch vs. Handheld?
Golf GPS watches and GPS handhelds have their distinct advantages:
- Golf GPS Watch:
These are small and lightweight wearables. You don’t have to worry about making separate arrangements to carry them. They present data to you at the twist of a wrist. They can also function as a regular watch as you go about your normal day although they don’t look as fancy as your business watches.
On the downside, the golf GPS watches are limited in size by the amount of features they can pack. Although devices like Garmin S6 and S60 have taken giant strides with advanced features like Swing training in their area. Still too many features clutter the user interface and force more button-pushing and jabbing at a small touchscreen.
- Golf GPS Handhelds:
These GPS units are roughly the size of a cellphone with a sizeable screen that displays the yardages and more in an easily readable font. Given the larger real-estate, packing advanced stat tracking and features like slope-adjusted distances is relatively easy. The larger touchscreen is more tactile to use. Some handhelds also peddle entry-level features with button operation for users who like basic devices.
On the other hand, golf GPS handhelds are not as portable as the golf watches. That’s a major reason why golfers favor the watches. But still, if you want better functionality and save a few bucks, handhelds are better.
3. Which Best Golf GPS To Buy?
What to think about when buying a golf GPS ? Here are things to consider when you choosing a golf GPS:
- Distance measuring capabilities:
The primary reason of having a golf GPS watch is to find accurate distances to center, back and front of the green. Laser rangefinders take the privileged spot when it comes to accuracy of distance measurement. But the golf GPS watches are also catching up with better GPS receivers. The web is replete with reviews of various golf watches, and you can refer to them to get an idea of how to fare relatively in terms of accurate distance measurement
Once the most important feature is spotted, the question appears: What to think about when buying a golf gps watch? how much are you willing to pay for it? The golf GPS watches run north of low price. Depending on the features you need and the models that are allowed in competitions, you might want to strike a balance between the cost and features. If you are just starting to practice and you are looking to hone your instincts in the game, then you should look for a fancier golf GPS watch priced accordingly.
- Course Availability:
A significant concern that is usually overlooked. The distance measurement capability of the Golf GPS watches is dependent on the device having access to the course maps of the golf course where you’ll play. Most of the golf watches come with at least 20,000+ golf course maps preloaded onto them.
However, if yours is not a well-known course, it may not be on the list. Check the manufacturer’s extended list of available course maps. They can be downloaded to the GPS enabled golf watch for a subscription fee. If it is not on either of these lists, it will be difficult to get the maker to add the course. It is best to opt for models that do not require a subscription fee to download more courses.
The size is another factor that can be disregarded, and it does impact the decision and your game. If worn on a wrist, a large and bulky device might really get in the way of your powerful swing. A slight interference with your swing can affect the ball’s trajectory and distance, and you might lose the game. The size can affect your game negatively or positively - you have to be careful.
With so many competitors in the field, the manufacturers of Golf GPS watches try to make their devices as easy to use as possible. It definitely skews the balance in favor of their product, especially amongst non-tech-savvy golfers. Constantly having to sync to PC, a complex navigation for basic information and poor customer service from the software vendor can doom the product sales
- Battery Life:
If you have ever owned a smartphone, you know the pain of running out of battery life when you really need it. And believe you me, you don’t want to be stranded at the same altar at a golf course.
So check the reviews and product information for a correct idea of how long the battery lasts, and whether the battery life decreases with age.
This is a no brainer. Once you start golf GPS watch hunting, you start looking out for the best that a watch can do. You should try not to hit the extremes regarding a number of features. Too many can bewilder you and too less can annoy you. Find the balance between the price and a number of features.
While shopping indoors, it won’t strike you that the screen of the golf GPS watch may not work as well in the sun. Outside, in the glare of sunlight, you might have to peer into the screen to be able to read the information. Instead, check for negative display watches or ask the sales personnel for an opinion.
- Style and Design:
Inner beauty is not everything after all. The golf GPS watch is going to be your fashion faux pas if it looks as shiny as a fake Rolex. Look for classy, stylish designs and you will not be disappointed. Wear and check if it sits comfortably on your wrist.
- Long term perfomance:
For this, you will have to rely solely on buyer reviews. A few products enter with a bang in the market but then decline into mediocrity with easily broken bands, reduced battery life or permanent ‘hanging.’ If you don’t trust your gut, you can find out what other people’s experience with the mentioned golf GPS watch was like.
4. Future Trends in best golf GPS 2019?
- GPS handhelds
The technology brought about by Garmin G7 and G8 is here to stay. Slope-adjusted distance is new to golf GPS.
- GPS watches
Golf GPS watches have been stable in their trend. Garmin Approach S6 and Approach S2 have remained favorites since they first debuted. Here again, the customers chose the most featured and the least featured devices.
- Voice GPS
The clip-on voice GPS devices can see a lot of improvement. We are hoping that 2019 will bring a more seamless performance and a larger feature set in these devices.
Best Golf GPS Brands
Garmin is creating bleeding-edge technology in the GPS domain for sports, outdoors, marine, aviation, and automotive domains. Their biggest win is in the golf GPS domain where you can’t take steps without a Garmin guiding you. GPS watches and handhelds are available in every price range and the best golf GPS is from Garmin in both categories. They are popular for including brand new features like slop-adjusted distances, zoom-in overhead maps, WiFi update etc. features in their devices. They also have the smallest, most well-executed devices.
Garmin’s greatest giveaway is the huge course map database with usually 40,000+ courses. They also do not demand subscription fee for future updates. With their newfound competition with Apple and Fitbit, they have created a number of smartwatches with golf features integrated into them.
Bushnell has a huge presence in the laser rangefinder market. But it has made slow yet steady progress in the Golf GPS domain too. Their Neo Ion watch offers a well-designed set of relevant features. It is priced just right for the features. They also have another lesser-known line of golf watches called Excel. Bushnell also makes some clip-on/handheld golf GPS devices from the Phantom line. They offer a fulsome worldwide course database and hazard distances in a rather tiny package. These are an inexpensive alternative to the golf watches and full-sized handhelds.
While the Bushnell arsenal is not as loaded as the Garmin golf GPS, they have some reliable products to offer.
GolfBuddy is most popular for their Voice Golf GPS line. This is a line-up of compact clip-on devices with voice alerts for distances. Their Voice X also comes with a wristband so it’s wearable. Their handheld GPS units are not quite as well-known. The VTX handheld ranges with both GPS and GLONASS. The PT4 is a slim and lightweight touchscreen. Apart from WT6, their most popular GPS watch, they have the BB5 which looks like a Fitbit. And quite serendipitously, they have the LD2 which is slim and adorned with Swarovski crystals, a pretty golf GPS watch for women. The quality is not consistent amongst the pieces though.
4. Izzo Swami
The Izzo Swami golf GPS line is another fixture in our best golf GPS devices list. They have four separate kind of units on offer: handheld, handheld integrated with trackers, GPS wristband and clip-on. The wristband looks like a Fitbit and is quite affordable. The clip-on devices come in some upbeat colors and give instant distances. Most of Izzo Swami golf GPS devices are known for their simple feature set offered at nominal price. But their Swami GT brings the full gamut of functions with statistical analysis using trackers that fit on clubs. They also have a midrange handheld: The Izzo Swami 5000. It’s good for golfers who want only relevant features on a large screen.
Callaway has been around golf a long time to not be involved in all golf-related verticals. It has finally broken into the golf GPS market with a winner: their GPSy GPS watch. A midrange watch at a well-thought out price, it has been on many best Golf GPS list lately. They also have a clip-on called Eclipse with the basic and accurate distances. They also offer a couple of laser rangefinders. Their work on golf GPS is far from done, but we expect that their familiarity with the golf industry will help in the long run.
List of Top Golf GPS Brands | Top 10 Golf GPS Brands
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
1. What kind of golf GPS devices are legal in tournaments?
If the Local Rule is in effect, then you can use Golf GPS watches, handheld golf GPS systems, clip-ons or even phone apps. The device must only provide approved distance related information. It is best to check out with the club for the rules. Devices offering wind and slope measurement are strictly not allowed – you don’t want to get in trouble with the club authorities.
2. Most smartphones come with inbuilt spirit levels. Are they allowed in golf?
Under the purview of the local rule, a smartphone will be allowed if and only if you do not access the spirit level application during the round of golf. The app must not provide any aid in your game of golf.
3. What about a compass feature? Does it count as an unapproved application in a device?
As per changes made in 2014, compass feature is now allowed in golf under Local Rule. Compass only points the direction and is not considered as a restricted parameter in the golf GPS devices.
4. Does the application of the Local Rule at a club override the tournament committee’s take on distance measuring devices if the tournament is being held at that club?
No. The tournament committee has the final say on restriction (or lack of it) on distance measuring devices during the competition irrespective of the club rule. The competition committee rule trumps local club rule during the tournament.
5. The display some golf GPS watches is difficult to read in sunlight. What should I do?
Try to buy a negative display version as in Bushnell Neo XS Golf GPS watch. Or try buying a Garmin Vivoactive which has a high-resolution sunlight readable display
6. Can I find a list of course freely available on the golf GPS device?
If there are preloaded courses on the device, there would be a course library available on their website.
7. Where can the clip-on golf GPS devices be clipped on to?
They can be clipped on to your hat, visor or belt.
8. Are voice golf GPS devices annoying for other players?
Most of these devices come with volume control. You can adjust the volume to a level that only you can hear it. GolfBuddy Voice GPS has been reported to be clear and quiet at the same time.
9. Can I add more courses to my golf GPS device?
Sure, if provided your vendor has it in their library. They might or might not charge you for it. That depends on the vendor.
10. What's golf GPS without the subscription?
Golf GPS devices often demand a small subscription fee annually (or based on specific plans) to get updated coursemap databases or access to certain other features. This adds to the buying price periodically as maintenance fee. In an age where the value of electronic devices depreciates quickly, this is a wasteful investment.
Most of the Garmin devices don’t require a subscription fee and the other brands like Callaway and SkyCaddie are now doing away with it as well.
Golf GPS devices are getting increasingly popular. The technology involved with these is pulsing way ahead of the game so much so that any piece of information, be it about your swing, your shot or the course can be recorded and checked out to improve your game. golf GPS reviews could be an essential learning aid in the cutthroat game that golf is.
Hope this golf gps reviews about best golf GPS watch and handhelds is helpful.
Last updated on June 18th, 2018 at 09:39 pm