Best Golf GPS – A Throughout Buying Guide With Recommendations
Golf is a game in which winning a yard means winning the whole game, so proper positioning is incredibly important. Professionals all have caddies to take care of that mission, but amateurs may not have that kind of luxury. Instead, we rely on the best golf GPS.
Anyone serious about taking their golf game to the next level must be able to tell the distance. There is no use in guessing yardages anymore, so you must get the best possible golf GPS watch.
In most cases, this means a Garmin golf watch, but some people may find them too pricey. Thus, we want to provide you with our list of the most suitable golf GPSs for different needs.
#1. Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS – Best All-Around
On a list with two Garmin attendees, it is unbelievable that the top spot does not belong to them. Yet, the Bushnell 368821 Phantom Golf GPS has done the impossible, taking the title of the all-around best golf GPS.
While each of the other entries on this list has its unique advantages, this model excels in all aspects. It has a strong Bluetooth connection, allowing easy updates for all the wireless courses.
Aside from being able to update anywhere, this most accurate handheld GPS is also preloaded with 36,000 courses across 30 countries. This huge amount of data is only inferior to one other entry on this list. Thus, you will never have to worry about any data issue.
A big issue with using handheld GPS is the portability since you cannot carry them easily as GPS watches. However, that is no longer an issue with the Bushnell Golf GPS due to its built-in BITE magnetic mount. With this mount, the handheld GPS will stick to any metal object firmly.
This GPS utilizes a phantom display, which is a good choice, as it is easier to read in the sun. You can see the front, back, and center distance clearly.
The only thing preventing us from giving this handheld Golf GPS a perfect rating is its phone app. Although the app presents accurate information to a tee, it is rather slow.
#2. Samsung Electronics Galaxy-Watch Active 2 Golf Edition – Best Insight
No matter which department, the Korean tech giant Samsung has only released strong products, as they always do their homework. The Samsung Electronics Galaxy-Watch Active 2 Golf Edition is no exception to this rule. After all, this best smartwatch for golf is still a variant of the legendary Galaxy Watch.
The biggest advantage this best golf GPS watch to buy has over its competitors is the insight. Galaxy Watches made their names measuring the vitals of their owners; this time is no different. In addition to the usual data, you also get accurate yardages for shot planning.
Another bonus point is the Super AMOLED display, which was why the Samsung Galaxy became a best-selling phone. The content of this display will always be visible, even under direct sunlight. Having it means the Active 2 is perfect for golfing.
If you are a serious golf player, you must have realized that wearing watches can negatively affect your ability. This issue is irrelevant with the Samsung GPS watch, as it is easily one of the lightest watches on this list. You won’t even feel like you are wearing a watch.
Maybe it was due to the watch having too many additional features, but its battery life is not impressive. Yes, the battery can last you through almost one round. However, that duration pales in comparison with the other entries on this list.
#3. Garmin Approach S60 Premium GPS Golf Watch – Best Shot Tracking
After some tests, we must admit that we are very impressed with the Garmin Approach S60 Premium GPS Golf Watch. The most magnificent thing about this watch is how accurate its shot tracking is.
There is no better feeling for golfers than to end a round and can reflect all of their previous shots. Many golf GPS devices have tried to quench this thirst, but none have succeeded until this watch’s release. It does not miss any shot, from drivers to putter, as long as you wear it correctly.
Aside from the shot tracking, this Garmin golf watch does a wonderful job showing the course map. Thanks to a newly-developed location pinging algorithm, it can quickly display your location. Moreover, the distance between greens, doglegs, and hazards are all precise.
Many people overlook this aspect, but a bad wristband determines the difference between a perfect driver shot and a miss. It seems like Garmin has taken this issue into account, as this Garmin golf watch has a convenient QuickFit band.
This Garmin golf watch’s only weakness is the lack of complete readout, if we can even call it one. For this reason, there is no way you can get a full layout of the hole in front of you. This problem can be devastating if you are a careful planner type of golfer.
#4. Golf Buddy Aim W10 Golf GPS Watch – Best Database
When it comes to the database, the Golf Buddy Aim W10 Golf GPS Watch reigns supreme. With a preload of more than 40,000 courses from over 170 countries, there is no chance of it being unusable. However, that’s not all, as this best golf GPS watch to buy also has free lifetime updates.
This watch can almost instantly and automatically recognize and update holes, thanks to its strong Bluetooth feature.
This feature, coupled with the huge database, means that you can access all the necessary information about the course. We are talking yardages, hazards, and pin selection here, all of which can make or break a golf game.
Despite providing so much information, it is not hard to use the Aim W10 GPS watch. The 1.3” TFT-LCD touch screen is slick enough to keep the information in a constant flow with some simple gestures. After using it for a while, you will notice the clunkiness in other watches.
We are, however, not that impressed with how heavy this watch is. Newer players may not notice the difference, but the watch can add a noticeable weight onto your wrist. For a sophisticated sport like golf, this change means that a successful driver can turn into a miss.
#5. Golf Buddy Voice 2 Golf GPS – Best Value
There is a popular misconception that golf players usually consist of only wealthy elites. That is not always the case, as the sport is not exclusively limited to the richest 1%. But golf gears are notoriously pricey, especially golf distance measuring devices.
That is why Golf Buddy presented the Golf Buddy Voice 2 Golf GPS, the most affordable option on this list. Nonetheless, this watch is not just any cheap equipment, clearly shown with its advanced voice recognition tech.
All you need to do is utter one sentence, and this GPS will immediately start giving out clear readouts. Having the same database as the Golf Buddy Aim W10, this GPS will provide you enough data to plan a shot. You can access the data of almost every golf course in the country.
In the usual case, golf distance measuring devices offer a single mode of information display, text. This golf GPS does not stop there; instead, it offers you a clear and concise voice guide. Now, you no longer need to try to look for information on the screen actively.
The biggest weakness we were able to determine within this golf GPS is its long loading time. Once it hits the ground running, it is fast and precise, but it does take a long time to power up. Our recommendation is to plan your golf trips in advance.
#6. Bushnell Neo Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch – Best Battery
Have you ever experienced the misfortune of your golf distance measuring devices running out of battery mid-round? Believe us, there is nothing more frustrating than this kind of feeling, as you are now essentially blind (far distance-wise).
The Bushnell Neo Ion 2 368850 Golf GPS Watch with its incredible battery can eliminate that problem permanently. This golf GPS watch will last for at least three rounds of golf, with its integrated cutting edge battery technology. This kind of battery life is truly superior to the rest.
Of course, a good battery is not all there is to this GPS watch. It also has quite a precise motion sensor, serving as a data input for the highly accurate shot distance calculator. Regarding shot distance calculation, we believe this watch can beat even the Garmin Approach S60.
Moreover, we are especially fond of the mobile app accompanying this watch. Unlike the typical golf GPS watch that is awkward and hard to use, this app is slick and very responsive. It also separates data into suitable categories, something many apps overlook.
There is, however, one huge issue with this watch, and it lies within the charger. We are talking about its “prongs,” which is utilized to attach the charger to the watch. These prongs are too flimsy due to their plastic material.
#7. Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS – Best Auto-Suggest
While the best all-around title rightfully belongs to the Bushnell 368821, the Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS can put up a fight. Thanks to the unique auto-suggest function, this golf distance measuring device holds a special position.
This auto-suggest function named Club Advice will remember the distance of each shot you make with every single club. Then, it analyzes the information and makes a recommendation on the most suitable club for that specific situation.
Another advantage that this Garmin Approach G8 GPS holds over other competitors is its large screen and zooming ability. If you have poor eyesight, this golf GPS is simply a godsend, allowing you to view all the data clearly.
We also like that Garmin has cultivated quite a lively online golf community. You can share the best of your rounds and compare them with other players around the world. This kind of interaction can build up tremendous interest in players of any league.
On the other hand, there is no mobile application accompanying this device. As a result, you cannot send the data to your web browser or smartphone for further reviews.
#8. Izzo Swami 6000 Golf GPS – Best Portability
If you do not use GPS golf watches, you must have dropped your device at least once or twice before. This issue can be quite annoying, but we are sure that you will love the Izzo Swami 6000 Golf GPS.
As it has a strong integrated magnet and is considerably lightweight, this GPS device can firmly stick to any metal. Consequently, you can carry it on your belt across the golf course without having to worry about it falling. This kind of portability is especially useful for a sport like golf.
You would think that this GPS device must have sacrificed its functionality to be so portable. However, it still has over 38,000 maps for courses across the globe, only pales in comparison to the Golf Buddy Aim W10. It also offers free, regular updates to the database.
Despite the small size, the battery capacity is not small at all. With a full charge, you can use it for a maximum of 16 hours, enough to last through any golf round. Besides, if you happen to encounter rain, the water-proof feature enables this GPS to serve without any setback.
The biggest minus we have observed from this GPS device is how rigid it is in scorekeeping. Most of the time, you will have to get at least 60 yards away from a hole to record the score.
How To Pick The Best Golf GPS
What Will I Need To Consider?
GPS Watch Vs. Handheld GPS Device
This comparison has been raging on for quite some years with no clear winner. After all, it is incredibly hard, even for professionals, to declare an option the absolute better one. Most of the time, it all depends on your play style like a golfer, as each option has its clear-cut pros and cons.
A Golf Watch is much lighter in weight and wrapped tightly around your wrist. Due to these features, it is much easier for you to carry golf watches around and access the necessary information. All you need to do is lift your arm.
There is also the added aesthetic benefit when wearing a smartwatch, something the normally clunky handheld GPS cannot provide. These days, some watches look so futuristic, they will surely turn eyes to your direction.
You can also gain access to the vital measurements some watches offer. This feature is imperative for sports in general, not just golfing.
However, the trade-off is that these watches tend to have lower battery life, lasting anywhere between 4 and 8 hours. This range means they may not last you through a full golf round.
Additionally, you may need to avoid older models, as they can restrict your hand movements. For a sport focusing almost entirely on hand-body coordination, this can be very damaging.
On the other hand, a handheld GPS can last through two, sometimes three rounds of golf. They may not look as good, but they sure can store much more information than the watches.
Besides, handheld GPS devices are not limited in size; thus, the manufacturers can fit in many add-ons.
For instance, some handheld models offer users a slope compensation function. This function allows a more accurate measure of distance by taking into account the terrain’s slopes.
Knowing which golf course is available in a GPS device’s database is indispensable. At the end of the day, if there is no course data, the device is no different from a rock.
Due to this reason, you should always look for GPS devices that have a database of at least 30,000 courses. The more golf courses there are, the better; none of us want the device to become useless in a new course, right?
Nevertheless, you should also make sure that all of your frequent courses are present in the database.
A good GPS device almost always has a mobile app specifically developed for it. These apps make it much easier to track your stats digitally, which is vital for after-round reviews. Besides, some of the apps have a leaderboard, where you can post your best results.
You should confirm before buying that your device can properly synchronize with its application via either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This integration can do wonders to update the course information when there are new courses on the app.
Why Are GPS Devices Used In Golf?
In the early days, golf players all relied on the courses’ markings to know where they are. This case is especially true when they ventured into the fairway, as the markings can tell them the distance to the green.
As you can guess, this kind of guide is vague at best. Thus, it became quite hard to tell how far one is from the back, middle, or front of the green. Golfers must also estimate the distance between their place and hazards, making golf much harder.
Thanks to technological advancements, the GPS has become smaller and smaller until it can fit in pockets. Then, golfers realized that they only need to carry these devices around to know their exact positions.
With some tweaks, the golf GPSs now, aside from telling golfers their location, can also play the guiding role. These devices are also able to show a hole’s full layout, including all hazards. They can analyze the player’s information and tell him or her to choose the most suitable driver, etc.
How Do Golf GPS Work?
A golf GPS works on the same principle as a regular GPS. GPS is the shortened version of the Global Positioning System, a satellite-based, operated by the US Space Force, radio-navigation system.
This system is among the most popular global navigation satellite systems, providing timely information and geolocation to receivers worldwide.
The GPS devices we use have these receivers installed. Therefore, they can pinpoint locations whether or not something obstructs their sight line to at least 4 of the 30 GPS satellites.
This system operates without the need for any internet or telephonic reception. Thus, they are perfect for golf, which involves huge fields.
What Is An App And What Does It Do?
An app, or application, is a computer system providing instructions to your GPS devices. Nowadays, most GPS devices require you to install their specific apps to unlock their potential fully.
In our opinion, the best golf GPS is, without any doubt, the Bushnell 368821 Phantom Golf GPS. With accuracy rivaling that of the best Garmin golf watch, this device also has a more responsive display.
However, if you don’t like handheld golf GPSs, you can always get a golf GPS watch like the Garmin S60.