Best Golf GPS

Golf Tech: Review of the Best Golf GPS Watches and Handheld Units

Golf is one of those games where a yard can make all the difference. It can mean winning your match or having to go into a playoff. On the biggest golf stages, it can mean millions of dollars. Luckily for those professionals, they have caddies to lend them a helping hand.

For amateur golfers, you probably don’t have that luxury unless you’re playing a bucket list golf course. But knowing your distances and having a sound strategy for the way you play each hole is vital to shooting your best scores.

If you want to take your golf game to the next level, you have to know your distances. The days of being able to find a sprinkler head and guess your yardages is a past memory.

With so much amazing technology out there, it’s important to have some sort of device to help you find the exact distance. While it would be nice to have a caddy, it’s just not an option at 90% of the courses that most amateurs play.

While you can buy a rangefinder, sometimes a golf GPS is an even better investment. They not only provide distances but also provide additional information to help you determine the best way to play every hole.

To help you, it’s essential to have a golf GPS, whether it’s a wearable watch or a handheld device. In this post, we will review the best golf GPS devices to help you find the perfect device for your game.

Our Favorite Golf GPS Units

  1. Garmin Approach S20Best Budget Golf GPS Watch
  2. Garmin Approach G10Best Budget Handheld Golf GPS
  3. Garmin Approach G8Best Premium Handheld Golf GPS
  4. Garmin Approach S60Best Premium Golf GPS Watch
Best Golf GPS Watch

Best Golf GPS Watches

In the world of golf GPS, there are tons of top brands competing for your business. It’s important to find one that works for your game and budget. Below is an in-depth review of the most common wearable GPS watches for 2019.

1. Garmin Approach X10 GPS Golf Band

The Garmin Approach X10 GPS Golf Band is an extremely efficient device. While it doesn’t have some of the other health tracking features of other devices, it has everything you need for your round of golf. It is lightweight and comfortable with a very easy-to-read touchscreen display.

Features of the Garmin Approach X10

  • Huge Selection of Courses – This golf GPS watch comes preloaded with more than 41,000 courses worldwide.
  • Hole Overview: With the X10, you get all the data to know the distance to the front, back and middle of the green. Plus, it also provides the distances to hazards and doglegs to make sure you pick the right club off the tee.
  • Advanced Green Layout: The green view has manual pin placements that will help you see your target by showing the true shape and design of the green.
  • Compact Size: The small/medium band is 5.2”-7.7” (132-195 mm) circumference. The large band is 6.4″-8.9″ (162-225 mm) circumference.

The Garmin X10 comes in an all black and volt blue color. It has a battery life of up to 12 hours in GPS mode and a super friendly user interface. If you’re a beginning golfer, this is an excellent choice to get you introduced to golf GPS devices. Not to mention it is priced very affordably.

2. Garmin Approach S20

If you love statistics, this is the best golf GPS for your game! The Garmin Approach S20 is one of the best GPS devices that money can buy. It looks similar to Apple watch and has a slim wristband and sleek design. Like other devices, it provides distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.

Features of the Garmin Approach S20

  • Autoshot Technology – This is a round analyzer feature that measures your distances with auto-recording technology. This way after the round you can upload everything with the Garmin Connect account to study your round and find ways to improve.
  • Tru-Swing Compatible – If you have the Garmin TruSwing, it pairs together to provide additional metrics for improved gameplay.
  • Activity Tracking – Not only is this an awesome GPS device, but it also will help you stay active, both on and off the golf course. It will display the total steps taken, sleep monitoring, and calories burned.
  • Track Your Stats – This device will help you track your fairways, green, and putts per round using the Garmin Connect app.

Overall, this device is not only great looking but highly functional for your golf game and life. Not to mention, it has the longest battery life of any Garmin GPS at 15 hours when fully charged.

It comes in four colors; black, white, midnight teal, and slate gray.

3. Garmin Approach X40

The Garmin Approach X40 is another one of the best golf GPS devices that you can find. It’s a small and sleek design than many on this list. It is a slim, lightweight GPS golf band with built-in Elevate wrist heart rate technology.

Features of the Garmin Approach X40

  • AutoShot Technology – The Garmin Approach X40 also has the same technology as the previous model to help you track the important metrics of your game.
  • 24/7 Heart Rate Monitoring – This is a rare feature among golf GPS but it has a wrist heart rate technology that allows you to track your heart rate all day and night. This will help you manage your heart rate (and make sure you’re not getting too angry on the golf course)!
  • Activity Tracking – Like the S20, this device will track your activity both on and off the golf course.
  • Smaller Design – There are two models available. The regular measures as 5.4”-7.6” (136-192 mm) circumference while the X-large: 7.1″-8.8″ (180-224 mm) circumference.
  • Battery Life – It has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 5 days in activity mode and up to 10 hours in GPS mode.

Overall, the Garmin X40 has a few more features than the S20 and a smaller, more wearable design. The X40 comes in four colors; black/gray, limelight, midnight blue, and white and black. Lastly, it is priced slightly higher than some of the other golf watches (depending on size and color) but it’s still a great deal for your game.

4. Garmin Approach S60

The Garmin Approach S60 is a premium golf GPS that provides everything you need to know for any shot that you will face on the course. This is not the device for the beginner golfer and more designed for someone who wants an all-in-one device. While it is more expensive than any others on this list, you 100% get what you pay for.

Features of the Garmin Approach S60

  • Large Display – The S60 comes with a 1.2″ sunlight-readable color touchscreen display. Whether it’s bright and sunny, overcast or any other condition, this device is very easy to read in all conditions.
  • Fast GPS – It will quickly provide your location using advanced GPS to show precise yardages to greens, hazards, and doglegs.
  • Full-Color Map – Unlike almost every other golf GPS, this watch provides a full-color course map. This makes it easy to set up an effective tee box strategy and not lose any shots to unknown hazards.
  • Quick Fit Bands – This golf GPS is as much of a normal watch as any of them on this list. The Garmin Approach S60 allows you quickly switch out the bands without any tools so you match with outfits or wear casually.

Like all Garmin devices, you have access to more than 40,000 preloaded courses from around the world with constant updates. You can sync the S60 to your compatible smartphone so you can get smart notifications for incoming calls, texts, emails, and other alerts. Think of it as a part golf GPS, part smart-watch, and part normal, stylish watch.

Plus, using the Garmin Connect, you can download custom watch faces, apps and widgets from the Connect IQ store. It even lets you customize your watch face with any photo from your mobile device with the Face It app. The three color choices for the band are white silicone, black silicone or black leather but can easily be interchanged.

While the device is a little pricey, it has everything you need to look good and play your best. Think of this as more than just a golf GPS but a watch you can wear all the time that will also help you play your best golf.

Needless to say, we love this device. For more information, check out our detailed review of the Garmin S60 golf watch.

We featured this watch as one of our favorite golf gifts. Make sure you send this list to Santa and circle the S60!

Best Golf GPS

Best Golf GPS (Handheld Devices)

While there are a ton of golf GPS watches, not everyone likes the extra wrist accessory. If that sounds like you, make sure to check out the best golf GPS handheld devices as an alternative.

My only advice if you purchase these, make sure you have a case or set a reminder on your phone to make sure you take it out of the golf cart. Most of them are small and black usually matching the color of the cart so it is easy to leave them behind.

1. Garmin Approach G10

The Garmin Approach G10 is the “Amazon Choice” when searching for “best golf GPS” as it’s sleek, compact, and provides everything for your next shot. It is sleek, pocket-sized device that will fit conveniently on your belt, bag, or even in your pocket.

Features of the Garmin Approach G10

  • Compact Design – It’s so small you won’t even realize it’s on your belt or in your pocket. Even though it is one of the smallest on this list, it has a display size of 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm).
  • Exact Yardages – The GPS receiver gives you the distance data you need to fire away with confidence. It provides distances to the front, back and middle of the green, hazards, layups, bunkers, and doglegs.
  • Green View – Even though it’s a smaller display, it will still tell you the shape of the green and you have the ability to adjust for manual pin placement as well.

Like the Garmin GPS watches, it also does have advanced stat tracking to track your number of fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts per round. The best part? Even, with all this awesome technology, it’s very affordable!

2. Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS

While Garmin seems to have cornered the golf GPS market, there are still a few relevant competitor devices as well. The Bushnell Phantom golf GPS device is nearly identical to the Garmin G10 with a few key differences.

Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS Features

  • Easy to Use – With only a few buttons, this device is simple and effective when providing distances to the green and hazards.
  • Bushnell Golf App – The app is included with all purchases and pairs with your phone to view 3D flyovers with distances, hole layouts with distances, and wireless course updates as well.
  • BITE Magnetic Mount Technology – The Bushnell has built-in magnetic technology that allows you to mount the device onto your cart if you don’t want to carry it in your pocket or belt.

One benefit it does have over the Garmin G10 is that it comes in four unique colors; black, blue/black, green/black, and red/blue. These colors will make it easier to not leave on the cart or accidentally fall off your belt. Another affordable GPS unit, this is a great option for beginner golfers who want to save money and keep it simple.

3. IZZO Golf Swami 5000 Golf GPS Rangefinder

The IZZO Golf Swami 5000 golf GPS rangefinder is a solid choice if you don’t want to wear a golf watch and want to work within a tight budget. Unlike the G10 and the Bushnell Phantom, the IZZO comes with a full-color screen yet remains at the same price point.

IZZO Golf Swami 500 Features

  • Full-Color Display – This is the best feature of the IZZO with a 2” full-color display. It provides distances to the front, middle, and back of the green as well as hazard distances.
  • Shot Distance Tracker – With the IZZO, you can track your distances with irons and woods so you can figure out how far each club is traveling!
  • Scorecard Feature – Not only can you track the score for your group, but it also stores your last 10 rounds as well.

The device is extremely durable, highly reviewed by fellow golfers, and even water resistant. It comes preloaded 38,000+ global course maps and there are no annual or download fees. For the price, this is a steal and one of the best golf GPS devices out there.

4. Garmin Approach G30

The Garmin Approach G30 is a larger screen handheld GPS device that is great for intermediate to advanced players. While not quite as advanced as the Garmin Approach G8, it has a ton of awesome features to help improve your game.

Garmin Approach G30 Features

  • Full-Color Display – Not only is it sleek but it has a bright 2.3-inch color touchscreen display.
  • Record Your Round – The digital scorecard features makes it super easy to keep score for your group. Plus, it can sync with Garmin Connect app to allows you track your stats as well.
  • Pairs with TruSwing – This is the lowest-priced GPS device that also syncs with TruSwing to help improve your game. TruSwing helps you determine your swing speed and club path angles.
  • Long Battery Life – This is one of the best devices for batter length as one charge can last 15 hours!

The G30 is definitely an upgrade from the G10 with its color screen and upgraded features. It’s well worth the extra money!

5. Garmin Approach G8

The Garmin Approach G8 is the most comprehensive golf GPS on the market. It’s part GPS and part rangefinder, and part caddy.

Features of the Garmin Approach G8

  • Integrated Slope Feature – The Garmin Approach G8 will help you with slope whether you’re uphill and downhill as it provides adjusted distances to the target.
  • Large Display Size – It has a full-color screen that measures 1.5 inch x 2.6 inch x 3.0 inch. The physical dimensions are 2.1 x 4.4 x 0.6 inches.
  • Digital Scorecard – The G8 doubles as a digital scorecard for your group with scoring options for Stroke Play, Stableford, Skins and Match Play with adjustable handicaps.
  • Club Advice Feature – The device remembers how far you hit each club and even provides recommendations for future shots. Think of this is as your own personal caddy!
  • PinPointer Technology – Don’t you hate blind shots? Well, not anymore! It provides blind shot assistance by pointing you in the right direction when you are unable to see the pin.

It also has a “big numbers mode” for easy viewing, integrates with your iPhone for emails or alerts and more. The Garmin Approach G8 comes in at a premium price, but with all the features, 40,000 courses, free course updates, and the features above, it is well worth the investment.

How to Pick the Best Golf GPS

Still not sure which is the right GPS device for your game? Check out these factors when picking your next GPS device.

GPS Watch vs. GPS Handheld Device

If you are not someone who regularly wears watches in the real world, wearing one next to your golf glove might feel awkward and uncomfortable. Make sure you decide which is best for your game this is a top factor when comparing devices.

With watches, you don’t have to worry about losing them and can double as a fitness app plus normal watch. If you’re more concerned with golf than fitness, maybe a handheld device is better as the screen is larger with more data.

Courses Included

When picking your GPS, make sure you find one that has plenty of courses available. There is nothing worse than going to a new course only to not have access to it. With most GPS devices this isn’t a problem anymore as they come with 40,000 and are constantly updating.

Price

If you’re just getting started with golf, I recommend a cheaper, more simple model so you don’t get overwhelmed. As you advance and want more information for your shots, invest in a higher priced model.

One of the biggest factors that makes some more expensive than others is a full-color screen. Usually opting for this in the watch or handheld device, raises the price with the exception of the IZZO 5000.

Durability

Golf GPS watches tend to be more durable than the handheld devices as you are less likely to drop or damage them. But for the most part, all of these devices are meant for normal golf wear and tear. If you decide to go with a handheld device, make sure to purchase the matching protective case which usually costs about 10 bucks.

App Integration

Pretty much every golf GPS come with app integration and new courses are being uploaded regularly. Make sure that you download the app so you can sync the devices and learn more about your game.

FAQs About Golf GPS

What is the best golf GPS?

The best golf GPS is the one that fits your game and budget. If you’re just getting started, find one that is simple and easy to use. As a beginning golfer, you probably don’t need the Garmin G8 or the Garmin S60 watch. Instead, choose the one that is cheaper as they provide plenty of information.

If you’re trying to take your game to the next level and finally break 80 or 70, I recommend a more advanced model. If you’re at this point in your golfing career, knowing exact pin locations, hazard distances, and stat tracking can really help you improve your game.

Which is the best Garmin golf GPS?

The Garmin GPS devices are dominating the market and reviews show that all of them are quality. Remember, Garmin specializes in golf GPS so you can ensure they are high-quality and will last a long time. Garmin even offers a GPS unit that includes launch monitor features.

Does Apple Watch have a golf GPS?

Apple watches themselves aren’t golf GPS devices but they do have apps you can download. Make sure to check out the Golf GPS app, Hole19 Golf GPS, and Golfshot. Most of them are free and have available features for purchase.

Should I choose a wristwatch or hand held device?

This is 100% what you like the best. Personally, I can’t imagine wearing a watch while golfing and rarely see anyone on the PGA Tour wear one other than Phil Mickelson. Handheld devices tend to give you a bigger screen and more data such as hole overviews, distances to hazards, and more info.

Regardless of which one you choose, make sure it doesn’t slow your pace of play down.

What’s the difference between a rangefinder vs. a golf GPS?

A rangefinder simply provides the distance to a given target, usually the flag. But with rangefinders, it can make it hard to laser bunkers, hazards, and lay up positions.

A golf GPS is a slightly more advanced range finder that not only gives you the distance to the flag but also the front, middle, and back part of the green. Plus it also helps you with course strategy by viewing the hole from the tee box.

Do I have to pay extra subscription fees for my golf GPS device?

No, all GPS devices have 30,000 + courses and are constantly upgrading at no cost to you. For the most part, the only time you have subscription fees with golf gadgets are paid apps or software for a launch monitor.

Final Thoughts on Golf GPS Devices

If you’re ready to max out your potential and play your best golf, you have to know your distance on every approach shot. Owning a rangefinder or golf GPS is how you make that happen. More and more course aren’t even installing GPS devices as they understand that most players carry something.

When it comes to finding the right GPS for you, I recommend finding one that suits your game. If you’re just starting out, a cheaper one will work perfectly. But if you want to shoot lower and lower scores, it’s time to invest in your game with a higher-priced model. Not only do you get better details for each shot but you also get more tools to track your game!

That is a huge benefit of some of the higher end devices as you can learn a lot about your game so you know where to spend your practice time. Also, make sure you charge your golf GPS before heading out and ensure the course you’re playing is downloaded. Lastly, make sure you grab a storage kit or keep it somewhere where it won’t get damaged.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *