Everything evolves with technology, golf included. In the modern era of golf, GPS (Global Positioning System) devices are a great accessory to your golfing game.
We are going to compare some of the best golf GPS devices on the market, while giving you a list of pros and cons for each one.
Although a GPS for the green isn’t a necessity, it’s certainly a great way to enhance your game.
There are plenty of things to consider when deciding which is the best golf GPS for you. Would you prefer a handsfree watch, or a handheld device? Would you prefer touch screen or buttons? Have you considered extras, such as a built in pedometer? What about battery life?
Keep reading to see what golf GPS devices on the market are the most well suited to your game.
Product Quick Comparison
GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS/Rangefinder
The trusted brand GolfBuddy has brought another great product to the table. The budget-friendly Voice 2 has proven extremely popular with customers for various reasons; a prominent one being the fact that it’s voice-enabled.
If you’re too focused on your shot to read the screen, or if you have any visual impairments this device can clearly tell you the information you need with the press of a button.
With this device, it’s important to plan ahead when you’re using it. It can take a while to load everything up- so it’s probably best to turn it on as soon as you reach the green.
The device is preloaded with up to 11 languages, which will be useful for any international games of golf.
14 hours of battery life on this GPS will be more than sufficient for 2 long games – 3 at a push. When the battery runs low, it can be charged with a standard USB.
This can be clipped to your hat, bag or anywhere convenient for yourself.
Although the Voice 2 doesn’t give you the option to manually change a hole number, the GPS technology is strong enough to rely on it solely.
The large display gives you exact yardage for your next shot anywhere on the course – front, back, and center of the green on second shots.
- Voice reader
- Water resistant
- Budget friendly
- Can take a while to load up at the start of the game
- Slightly shorter battery life than other available
Garmin Approach S20 GPS Golf Watch
This Garmin GPS watch has it all. There are two colors available – black and slate. The small design (0.9×0.9in) doesn’t mean that the watch is lacking in any way. The watch not only serves as a watch and GPS but has various other add ons.
The autoshot round analyzer can measure the shot distances with auto-recording, so you can review your shot post-swing.
This watch has a built-in activity tracking device that can be useful to you on and off the course. It displays steps, calories burned, distance and time of the day, while also monitoring hours of sleep.
The GPS moves hole to hole. It tracks everything and even loads your steps, time and odometer automatically after the round, so the lack of touch screen won’t affect your game at all.
You’ll have no issues viewing the screen on a bright sunny day, as the resolution of this is super high and sunlight readable.
Battery life won’t be an issue for you either, as this device can stay on longer than other GPS’s on the market. The battery life is an impressive 15 hours for a GPS, and up to 8 weeks as a watch.
Ways of connecting to other devices from the Garmin Approach s20 include Bluetooth Smart and ANT+. This also integrates with Garmin Connect, a health/ fitness tracking system.
- Watch design
- Pedometer and sleep tracker
- Sunlight readable
- Integrates with Garmin Connect
- Smaller screen (0.9x0.9")
SkyCaddie SX500 Handheld Golf GPS
If you want to loosen your purse strings a little to give yourself an undeniable advantage on the green, then this SkyCaddie GPS device may be the best golf GPS for you.
You can put all your trust in this device. The SX500 is one of the most accurate GPS golf products out there, giving you the exact spot you’re on to within one yard.
35000 maps come preloaded on this GPS, and all are ground verified, and error corrected for unbeatable accuracy. If your course isn’t on here, don’t worry as it’s easy to add it using the wifi connectivity.
The GPS on this is great, with plenty of course information. You can see how far you need to carry certain traps, and the yardages are highly accurate.
The touch screen may shave seconds off your game, simply pinching or double-tapping zooms the screen revealing all the accurate geo-referenced targets.
You won’t need to worry if you forget to charge this after your game, as the SX500 can go up to 14 consecutive hours without charging with its powerful lithium metal battery. When your battery does die, just charge it using the micro-USB charger.
The annual fees may put people off, but a subscription to SkyCaddie provides you with the benefits you need to keep your score down. Plus, with this purchase, you get a whole years subscription for free.
- Large touch screen (5")
- Wifi connectivity
- Free 1 year subscription
- Heavier than others on the market (1.4lb)
- Annual charges
GolfBuddy Voice Golf GPS
GolfBuddy is a trusted brand when it comes to golf products and accessories, and they certainly haven’t disappointed with this device.
This Voice GPS really does what you want it to. If you want to know the distance to the pin, great- press a button and it will show you or tell you. If you need the distance to the front or back of the green, easy- just press the same button but for 2-3 seconds and it will tell you.
Keeping score won’t be a tedious task anymore when you’re equipped with the Golf Buddy Voice GPS. It will record the distance between two points.
If you want to know how far you hit your six-iron, simply press a small button on the side of the device, then the main button. Then hit the ball, walk to it, press it again and it will tell you how far you hit the ball.
The figures update real-time as you walk through the course, which is useful when you’re navigating your way around a new course and want to know how far until the next hole.
The sound on this is easily adjustable, so if you’re hard of hearing or if it’s noisy on the green, you can just turn the volume up.
Similar to the Voice 2.0, this comes with a strong and sturdy clip so it’s super accessible and there’s no chance that the device will drop off your hat or belt.
- Preloaded with 35,000 courses
- Voice enabled
- Easily clips on to clothing, hat or belt
- Not as easy to use as other available
- Not water resistant
- Shorter battery life
Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS
This easy to use Bushnell GPS device is great value for money. With a basic design, this device can be used by anybody, no matter how experienced you are with the latest technology.
The GPS is preloaded with 36,000 courses in 30 different countries, so no matter where you are in the world, this device should be able to assist your golf game. Not only that, but the device will automatically detect which course you’re on.
Every golfer wants an upper hand in the game, and this will give you just that. Calculating slopes, tracking step and measuring your shots, this useful piece of technology will enhance your golf game (while being tournament legal!).
The Bushnell Golf App is compatible with this device and is included in the purchase.
The design can be bought in 4 different colors – black, blue, green and red. These bright colors are great if you want to get noticed on the course! Also, if you’re prone to forgetting things, definitely consider getting the bright neon green – it would be impossible to leave that behind.
The simple square design is also magnetic, so mounts to any metal surface. You can very conveniently stick it to your cart, club, or even any metal bits on your bag on your journey to the next hole.
- Easy to use
- Compatible with Bushnell Golf App
- Choice of colors
- Large, clear display
- Plastic casing may get damaged
- Doesn't inform you when battery is low
How to find the best golf GPS
There is a lot to consider when picking the best golf GPS for you. This guide will help you come to your decision while acknowledging the different variations of golf GPS devices there are available on the market.
Although too many features can be overwhelming if you’re not technically minded, they could be precisely what you need to enhance your golf game.
If you’re not used to using golf GPS devices, it’s probably best to purchase a more basic GPS – maybe a clip-on or a watch.
One of the main features that the best golf GPS should offer is preloaded courses. Some of the more advanced and expensive devices can have around 40,000 courses preloaded onto their systems, whereas the more budget-friendly options available can have approximately 25,000 courses preloaded.
If you only use popular courses, or if you’re not an avid traveler, then the latter may be more suited to your needs.
It’s also important to consider how much information you need on the course.
Some GPS devices only offer a small outline of a blueprint of the course, whereas others on the market can include exact distances between each end of the green.
Most of the best golf GPS watches and handhelds offer an activity tracker. Activity trackers and pedometers are great if you’re health-conscious, and they can be used on and off the course.
Let’s move on to more physical features. Is the device water-resistant?
Water damange may not be an issue for you as you may reside in a dry area, but rainfall can be an issue for many golfers.
You may want to consider the fact that the technology used on more advanced devices may get damaged by the precipitation, and then you’ll be left on the course with no GPS to guide you through the game.
Watch or handheld?
Do you want a hands free device? Or would you rather hold the GPS in your hand and press the buttons manually?
Some prefer a watch strap for comfort and style, and it can replace a regular watch on and off the course, so it’s one less accessory to carry around the green with you.
It’s also important to note that it’s a lot harder to lose a watch, as it’s tied to your wrist. Other smaller handheld devices are easier to leave behind, attached to your cart or bag.
Handheld devices tend to be more advanced and offer more features.
For the more advanced golfers, you may prefer this. Some handheld devices can clip onto your clothes or accessories, or some may be magnetic.
Before you come to your decision, it’s important to consider where you’ll be putting the device and how often you’ll be using it.
Screen and appearance
Many people find it easier to actually view the screen and press the buttons needed to work the device, but some people in this modern era prefer touch screens.
A touch screen sounds ideal as it can be more convenient, but touch screen devices are more likely to get damaged by the rain. If the touch screen breaks, the device is pretty much useless.
If your vision isn’t that great, then you may opt for a larger screen. Some golfers would benefit from a screen large enough to read figures from a distance. One of the bigger models is around 5”, which is a big difference to the typical 2.2” screen size.
With a watch, you may prefer a smaller screen for aesthetic purposes, as not many people want a huge clunky object weighing down their wrist.
Cost and value
It can be hard to balance quality and cost, but there are so many great, budget-friendly options available when it comes to purchasing a golf GPS.
If you’re on a budget, you may go for one of the more basic GPS that does what it says on the tin – navigates you around the green. The more basic ones usually come with buttons as opposed to a touchscreen, as touchscreen devices tend to be more costly.
More advanced golfers may prefer a more advanced model, but this usually comes at a cost. It’s possible to get a great GPS with plenty of features for under $300. Other more basic models are available for under $100.
You must also take into account any additional fees. Some golf GPS models require an annual subscription or a service charge, which may come as a shock if you don’t read the fine print.
Delivery costs are in the same bracket for all devices listed in the review.
It’s unlikely you’re going to be playing for more than 10 hours at a time, and luckily even some of the most basic GPS devices offer a minimum of 10 hours of battery life.
If you’re likely to forget to charge your GPS, you may prefer one that has a longer battery life that can last multiple rounds between each charge.
It’s important to consider the fact that some of the more advanced GPS handhelds and watches that offer more features can drain the battery.
You may also want a GPS that tells you how much battery remains on the device, or how long it needs to be on charge.
There are so many great models out there equipped for all kinds of golfers, but the one that we believe is the best golf GPS all round is the Garmin Approach S20.
Not only does this model track your steps, but it also tracks your calories burned, distance walked, and other health-related statistics. This is enhanced when linked with Garmin Connect – you can even challenge friends on there.
The speed of the systems in this device is very impressive. It takes less than a minute to load all the course information and can show you the steps taken in real-time.
You can get this amazing piece of technology for a very reasonable price, which means great value for money – especially as it can be used off the course too.
This product boasts an extremely accurate GPS system, which gives you yardage to the front, middle and back of the green. It also informs you of any hazards, layups, doglegs and their position to the closest yard. It’s hard to ask for much more in a golf GPS.
As expected due to the low price tag, the product is lacking in some areas. There’s no touch screen and no color feature mode, but to most golfers, these aren’t necessities. And the Approach s20 certainly makes up for it in other ways!
The design of the watch and the screen is sleek and stylish – you can’t go wrong with a shiny black design. The screen is a great size too, a humble 0.9″ isn’t too large but is large enough to fit the necessary figures and read them from a reasonable distance.
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