!!!!DISCLAIMER!!!! This site may contain Amazon & other affiliate links.
This means if you click on one of the product recommendation links, this site may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and may include exclusive discounts when possible. This helps support this site and allows us to keep making content like this. Thank you for your support!
One of the most important golf measuring device investments you can make in your golf game is buying a high-quality golf GPS watch. Choosing the right golf GPS watch means understanding that not all models are equal.
There are many different brands and models on the market, and what may be an excellent model for one golfer might not be a good fit for another golfer.
So if that’s what you came here for, we took a deep dive into everything there is to know about a golf GPS watch.
What Is A Golf GPS Watch?
A golf GPS watch is a wristwatch-like device that can be used to keep track of the distance, direction, and location of the device’s wearer via a global positioning satellite (GPS).
Most provide the wearer with GPS distances to any location within view, Green or layup distances, accurate hole layouts in the event of an errant shot off the fairway or from a hazard, yardage to other problem areas of a course such as sand traps and doglegs, and also show the altitude and exact location on a map.
Golf GPS devices also vary widely in their features and functionality, ranging from basic distance-only devices up to full-featured color navigational units equipped with digital scorecards, detailed course maps and other course information, and electronic “friends” that can give updates mid-round on how the user’s friends are doing.
Golf GPS watches are useful to beginners playing unfamiliar courses, but experienced players can use them as well.
What Can A Golf GPS Watch Do For You?
Above all, a golf GPS watch will give you the ability to accurately measure your distance from the hole each time you make a golf shot.
This eliminates any guesswork for you and allows you to make better decisions about how hard or soft to hit each putt/chip/approach shot.
No more guessing which club to use when your ball is located on a slope or in an elevated position on the green. This also makes it easier to be accurate with your club selection before each shot.
A golf GPS watch can also keep track of your score (much faster than keeping your score manually). You can review statistics about your performance between each hole you play and track how your game is improving.
Controversy Behind Golf GPS Devices
Many golf course owners and managers are threatened by the increased popularity of these devices. The clubs maintain that these devices give golfers an unfair advantage over those who pay to play the course.
The argument centers on the fact that golfers are using scores from their GPS watches to compete in local club events, where they may be more likely to win prize money due to their lower handicaps, which they are able to achieve by using the devices.
In addition, many courses have rules against the use of electronic devices during play, which includes GPS watches. They also report that the devices allow players to cheat by knowing distances to the hole and hazards when they play from the wrong tee box.
Because of this controversy, several state golf associations have attempted to ban or limit GPS usage during tournament play. These have included Florida, Arizona, Ohio, New York, Washington, Alabama, and many others. Some clubs have even gone so far as to ban their use on their premises entirely.
Despite that controversy, it didn’t stop golfers from purchasing these gadgets. The sales of golf GPS watches have increased in recent years, and they can now be found on the wrists of thousands of avid golfers.
Golfing communities such as Massachusetts and Chicago play host to regular tournaments and leagues where the use of a golf GPS is not only permitted but encouraged.
How to Choose a Good Golf GPS Watch?
When choosing the right golf GPS watch for yourself, you should first consider whether or not you are a beginner golfer or an advanced player. Basic models may not offer all of the same features as more advanced models, so read each model description carefully before deciding which one might fit your needs best.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that more expensive golf GPS watches are better than less expensive ones just because the price is higher. With this kind of technology, you get what you pay for. Most of the higher-priced models offer features that are helpful to advanced players, such as putting modes and statistics tracking.
Types of Golf GPS Watches
Go Basic or Advance?
Golf GPS watches are something that every golfer should consider. These devices can really help your game in a big way, and they can be a great benefit both for beginners and professionals alike. That is why in this section, we are going to see what options are available that would suit every unique individual.
Basic Golf GPS Watch
The most basic golf GPS watches come with a single-color display and a small number of features. The GPS gives distances to the front, middle, and back of the green on a relatively simple map view. In addition, they contain yardage for all of the major hazards and doglegs.
The device is normally worn around the wrist like a watch and relies on its own internal batteries or solar power to provide longer life between charges.
Other examples of basic devices include the Garmin Approach S1, Garmin Approach S2, and the GolfBuddy World GT-5.
Some basic golf GPS watches are available for as low as 50 USD. Upgraded versions with additional features and a larger screen are available for several hundred dollars. Many of these models also function as standard digital wristwatches that can be used for everyday timekeeping.
Models such as the Garmin Forerunner series incorporate fitness features such as heart rate monitors, calorie counters, and other workout-related data into their designs.
You may even check out our article on The Best Basic Golf GPS Watches.
Advanced Golf GPS Watch
The other type, which is a more advanced golf GPS watch, is a “route management” model that comes with a lot more features.
These include the ability to show layups and doglegs and also supply distance to hazards, sand traps, and other objects. The maps tend to be in color and provide a better map than is possible with a basic device.
Examples of advanced devices include Garmin Approach S6, S60. The S6, with the addition of a course map, is designed to guide the golfer from hole to hole. The S60 and S6 are waterproof.
These watches come preloaded with thousands of courses, which makes it easy for a golfer who plays at a wide variety of courses to bring the watch along on any round.
These watches are usually more expensive than distance-only devices but make up for the added expense with other useful features such as preloaded course maps, scorecards, and GPS chips that are designed for golf and are typically more accurate than those found in distance-only devices. You may even check out our article on The Best Advance Golf GPS Watches.
Here is a video of a Golf GPS Watch in action (Garmin Approach S40):
Some Things to Consider
What’s Your Budget?
Golf GPS watches typically range from $60 to $500 plus in price, with most models costing well over $100. Do you want to invest in a mid-range model, or are you looking for something top-of-the-line? Do you need a lot of extras (such as an integrated digital scorecard), or is your focus on price?
How Often Will You Wear The Watch?
If you’re only going to use it at the course, then a good golf GPS unit will be more than sufficient. However, if you want to use it for other purposes – such as running, cycling, hiking, skiing, or swimming – then you’ll want something with more features.
What Sort Of Distances Are You Interested In Measuring?
If accuracy and precision to 1 yard are important, then look into models that come with laser technology. If you don’t mind measuring to the nearest yard, or you only want to measure shots on the green, then you can get away with a less expensive model.
What Do You Want Your GPS Watch To Do Beyond Golf?
The answer here can really determine what kind of features (and price) you’re going to need. If you’re only looking for distance and lie, then a straightforward unit will work fine. If you want a lot of extras – such as skins games, weather info, and more – then look into a big-ticket model that has the capabilities for those things.
Are You Going To Use The Watch On A Course Where There Are No “Official” Distances?
If you’re going to play where there is no laser-measured yardage – such as a muni with yardage markers that are out of date – then make sure your GPS model has a mode that estimates distance based on slope.
How Do You Want To Display Your Data?
Some watches have an amazingly easy display, while others are more complex. Some allow you to customize it according to your needs, while others force their own settings on you, regardless of what you truly want.
Do You Want To Measure Different Parameters While On The Course?
Some Golf GPS watches are extremely basic and only measure distance. Others have a lot of other features, such as digital scorecards, wind reading, etc. Figure out if these things are important to you before looking at different models.
How Often Are You Going To Update Your GPS Software?
Some watches offer free updates for life – but some don’t. If this is important to you, check into it before purchase.
Do You Want A Watch That Can Work With Multiple Clubs?
Most GPS watches can be used with multiple clubs, but some do better than others with this function. If it’s important to you to have something versatile, then this is something you need to look into.
Wrapping it up
Golf GPS watches are a new and popular option for golfers. They can help golfers who are just starting to play to get around a course and help experienced golfers play more accurately.
GPS watches are commonly used by golfers. They can show the user distances to greens and hazards and tell which club is needed for each shot. These devices help golfers improve their accuracy on the course, saving strokes that would have been caused by bad club selection.
So if you’re in the market for one, just remember that accuracy is a key factor to consider, as well as whether or not the course you want to play is in its database.