Golf is a game of inches and yards.
An inch right or left, that putt you need to break your own record goes in. A yard more and your ball makes it over the hazard to avoid a big number (or a potential meltdown).
Luckily, the guys who are competing for millions of dollars on the PGA Tour have caddies to help them out. But for us amateur golfers, we’re our own caddy, swing coach, mental coach, and part-time mathematician. It’s all on you to calculate each shot and make it happen.
While working to make your swing more consistent is key, don’t doubt the importance of knowing each hole and playing with strategy. In the past, golfers relied on sprinkler heads and maybe a golf GPS in the cart to make do.
Now, every golfer has a GPS rangefinder and/or GPS watch or handheld GPS device. And they should, these devices make the game so much easier! A golf GPS is like your personal caddy and digital yardage book combined to give you the edge.
That being said, there are so many brands and types of GPS devices that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But at the Left Rough, we’re all about keeping it simple for you!
To help you, we reviewed the best golf GPS handheld devices to help you find the perfect device for your game.
Best Golf GPS For 2021
If you want the cliff notes, here are our top three golf GPS picks:
- Bushnell Phantom GPS – Best Golf GPS Devices for Beginners
- Garmin Approach G10 – Best GPS Device for Any Golfer
- SkyCaddie SX 500 – Best Premium Handheld Golf GPS
If you want the entire rundown of golf GPS’s to choose from, here are our in-depth reviews and top picks for 2021. Plus, we’ll also help you with a few GPS watch recommendations too.
1. Garmin Approach G10
The Garmin Approach G10 is a top choice for “best golf GPS” as it’s sleek, compact, and provides everything for your next shot. This insanely small, pocket-sized device that will fit conveniently on your belt, bag, or even in your pocket.
The G10 is one of the best golf GPS units on the market. With all these features for such a low price, it’s no surprise that it’s been so well-received by the everyday golfer.
Features of the Garmin Approach G10
- 15 Hour Battery Life: That’s more than three rounds of golf!
- 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 still has a relatively large display size of 0.9” x 0.9” (23 x 23 mm).
- Hazard View: Don’t you hate it when a hazard sneaks up out of nowhere? Well, thanks to the Garmin G10 you’ll never have to worry about making a silly mistake like that again. It will help you identify locations of sand straps, out of bounds, and water hazards.
- Layup Distances: To give you a perfect layup distance, the Garmin will provide you with the exact yardage to end up at 100, 150, or 200 yards.
- Green View: Even though it’s a smaller display, it will still tell you the shape of the green to make sure you know where to aim at your approach. And you also have the ability to adjust for manual pin placement as well.
- Exact Yardages: The GPS receiver gives you the distance data you need to fire away with confidence.
Like the Garmin GPS devices, it also does have advanced stat tracking to track your number of fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts per round. While it’s not as advanced as the G6 & Garmin Approach G8, it’s perfect for most amateur golfers and has an incredible battery life.
The best part? Even, with all this awesome technology to help you build confidence, 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.
I’ve actually bought this for a family member who suffers from the shakes and can’t stop raving about it. Since he can’t use a traditional GPS rangefinder, this has been a game changer.
Here is why we like it so much.
Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS Features
- 36,000+ courses in more than 30 countries.
- Auto course recognition and auto hole recognition.
- Extremely 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 unlike most other devices that don’t have an app. When you download and sync it, you can view 3D flyovers with extra distances, hole layouts, 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 G10 is that it comes in four unique colors; black, blue/black, green/black, and red/blue. These bright colors will make it less likely that you’ll leave it in your cart or if it falls off your belt.
The Bushnell Phantom is a great option for beginner golfers who want to save money and keep it simple. I just wish the battery life was a little bit longer but for the price, it’s hard to complain about this handheld golf GPS device.
3. IZZO Golf Swami 6000 Clip GPS
IZZO Golf is another top brand for golf GPS devices and made a nice upgrade to their past models with the Swami 6000. While the IZZO Golf Swami 5000 was great, the 6000 is even better.
Unlike the Bushnell Phantom, this is a larger, handheld device that will help you give a color map of the hole. It’s also easy to attach to your belt or to a golf cart with its integrated magnet for hands-free use.
IZZO Golf Voice Clip 6000 Features
- 38,000 Courses. The IZZO comes preloaded with 38,000+ global course maps and there are no annual or download fees. This is a great way to save money and avoid costly subscription fees!
- Full-Color Display. This is the best feature of the IZZO 6000 with a 2” full-color display that fits in your hand. Besides previewing the hole, it also provides distances to the front, middle, and back of the green as well as hazard distances. Plus, it will help you understand the distance to doglegs and lay up yardages as well.
- Shot Distance Tracker. With this golf GPS you can track your distances with each approach shot to get to know your numbers.
- Scorecard Feature. Not only can you track the score for your group, but it also stores your last 10 rounds as well.
The IZZO GPS device is extremely durable, with a battery life of 16 hours, highly reviewed by fellow golfers, and even water resistant. For a very small investment in your game, this is a bargain deal and one of the best golf GPS devices out there.
4. Garmin Approach G80 GPS Golf
The Garmin Approach G80 is one of the most comprehensive golf GPS on the market. Not only is it a full-screen, color GPS, it’s also part launch monitor as well!
Features of the Garmin Approach G80
- Large Display Size: This GPS features a 3.5” touchscreen display that is easy to read even in direct sunlight. It also has quick button access to your radar.
- Launch monitor capabilities: This is what separates this device from all the others on this list — a built-in launch monitor. The launch monitor will help you track club head speed, smash factor, ball speed, swing tempo, and estimated carry distance. This will help you refine your game and improve practice sessions by learning more about your game.
- 41,000 Courses Preloaded: More than any other on this list and in full-color display to help you create a tee box strategy for every hole.
- More effective practice sessions. With its practice and game modes you can test your game on or off the course. Or, you can use it on the range to warm up.
- Virtual rounds: This golf GPS allows you to compete and play in tournaments with different targets too so you can work on all aspects of your game.
- “PlaysLike Distance”: This GPS also adjusts for the slope of your shot which is something that no other GPS does. While a GPS rangefinder with slope does this, most do not and cost extra. If you do use this feature, make sure it’s off in tournaments as slope is not allowed in USGA competitive events.
- Big numbers mode: This for easy viewing which is great for senior golfers or if you have bad eyesight. Not to mention, it integrates with your iPhone for emails or alerts and more so you don’t miss anything while you’re on the links.
Don’t get me wrong, the Garmin Approach G80 comes in at a premium price, but it warrants it thanks to the built-in launch monitor. And with all the other features, 41,000+ courses, and free updates, it’s a great GPS for serious players.
5. GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS Rangefinder
If you want an even lower price but similar version to the Bushnell Phantom, you’ll love the Golf Buddy Voice 2 GPS. This has a ton of similarities and a few differences to the wildly popular Phantom.
Don’t sleep on this device though as it’s garnered rave reviews from players worldwide. What makes it so appealing is the ease of use and small size making it very convenient for golfers. It’s a nice upgrade from the GolfBuddy WTX watch too.
GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf Features
- Easy to use: This small device will give you the distance to the front, middle and back of green with a touch of a button. Plus, it has automatic course and hole recognition so it should instantly figure out which course and hole you’re playing.
- Additional features: Besides informing you of the three green distances, it also has a dynamic green view, shot distance measurement, and time mode as well.
- Audio feature: If you prefer, you can turn this device on so that it tells you the three distance with sound. You can choose a male or female voice and it works in 11 languages with eight of them preloaded. Or, easily turn it off to not upset any of your playing partners either.
- Long battery life: Despite its small size, this golf GPS can last around 14 hours in GPS mode with one charge (about two full rounds, maybe nine more holes).
- Works as a watch too: Simply buy a wristband for an additional cost and you can turn this into a wearable watch as well. Or, you can clip it to your belt without having to take the unit off.
For a small price, this device packs a punch and you can choose from one of five colors. While it doesn’t have the color display like some devices, it’s still a great choice for most everyday players.
6. Garmin Approach G30
The Garmin Approach G30 is a medium screen handheld GPS device that is great for intermediate to advanced players. While not quite as advanced some on this list, it has a ton of awesome features to help improve your game. For a mid-range price, it’s well worth the investment if you’re ready to start shooting in the 80s or 70s.
Garmin Approach G30 Features
- Full color display: Not only is it sleek but the handheld GPS has a bright, 2.3-inch color touchscreen display. While not as big as others on this list, it easily fits in your pocket without impacting your swing.
- Dynamic green view features: If the pin location isn’t syncing up with the actual pins, you can manually place the pin to improve accuracy.
- Record your round: By using the digital scorecard feature, it makes it very easy to keep score for you and your group if someone forgets a scorecard. Plus, it can sync with the Garmin Connect app to help 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 golf GPS has a decent battery life of 15 hours.
The G30 is definitely an upgrade from the G10 with its color screen and upgraded features. While it’s not quite the Garmin Approach G80, it’s well worth the extra money for the color touch screen.
7. SkyCaddie SX500 Handheld GPS Golf Device
If money isn’t a big issue when making your purchasing decision, you will love the SkyCaddie SX500 handheld GPS. This device is one of the most expensive on this list but also provides an insane amount of information to help you during the round.
What makes this device incredible is the size of it. With a five-inch screen, it’s like another phone that is committed solely to helping your game.
The stunning visual experience that it provides helps you take the guesswork out of each hole. Not to mention, it’s touch screen and incredibly accurate.
Features of the SkyCaddie SX500 GPS
- Preloaded With 35,000+ Courses: Plus, these courses are “Ground tested” and mapped out by real people to give you the best results.
- Long Battery Life: With one charge, the SX500 handheld GPS will last 12-14 hours for continuous use. Even if you play 36 holes with your buddies, no worries about needing to recharge at the turn.
- Immense Detail: With the double tap and zoom feature, you can get up to 40 more targets per hole to know the exact distance to almost any part of the course.
- Hole Rotation: As you hit your tee shot, it changes and orients the green from your current position to give you the best preview of the hole.
- Easy to Use: This device has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity so you can update without plugging into your computer for new courses and updates.
- Shot Tracking: While it gives you endless data about the course, it also makes it easy to track your shots so you can learn your distances. Simply tap the mark ball button, choose the club you used, and it will do the rest. Plus, it can also keep track of other stats and scores as well.
This high-end golf GPS comes with a micro USB cable, wall charger, instructions, and the first year subscription is prepaid. Without a doubt, this is one of the most comprehensive and savvy GPS devices on the market.
How to Pick the Best Handheld GPS
Are you still not sure which is the right GPS device for your game? If so, make sure to check out these factors so you can compare them and find the right one for you!
GPS Watch vs. GPS Handheld Device
This is one of the biggest considerations when buying a GPS. Do you want to wear it on your wrist or do you want to have it in your pocket (or mounted to your golf cart)?
If you are not someone who regularly wears watches off the golf course, wearing one next to your golf glove might feel awkward and uncomfortable.
I will say there are a few benefits to watches. First, you don’t have to worry about losing them as some ones on this list are so small it’s easy to leave them in the cart. Not to mention most of them are black so they blend in with the golf cart compartments.
Second, a golf watch can also help you outside the golf course with your fitness as well. If you’re someone who is trying to have a device that helps you on and off the course, a wearable watch might be the way to go.
Finally, don’t forget that some devices on this list can work as both. For example, the Golf Buddy allows you to buy a separate band and use it as a watch.
If you do choose to go with a watch, make sure to practice with it before you play. Get comfortable swinging with it on and make sure it doesn’t hinder your swing.
Number of Pre Loaded Courses Included
When picking your GPS, make sure you find one that has plenty of courses available. Luckily, this isn’t as big of a deal in today’s world but still something to consider, especially if you aren’t very tech-savvy.
Remember, there is not much worse than going to play a brand-new golf course only to not have access to it. Now, some devices like the SX5000 even have Wi-Fi and make it easy to automatically get updates and new courses without a computer.
If you’re just getting started with golf, I recommend a cheaper, more simple model for a few reasons. First, it will help you not get overwhelmed and not find it effective. Some devices on this list aren’t great for beginners and might make the sport even more difficult.
The second reason is that you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a GPS only to stop playing the game. Even if you do resell it you’ll lose out on a lot of your investment. Instead, start with a lower end and work your way up as your game improves.
Also, remember that the screen itself plays a big factor in price. Usually, the smaller devices don’t have a full color overview and are a lower price investment.
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 & Membership Fees
Pretty much every golf GPS comes 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.
You also want to double-check if there are any membership fees for using the device. Some offer upgraded features if you pay membership fees (especially if you’re using a golf app) while others don’t.
Alternative to Best Golf GPS Devices: A Golf GPS Watch Instead
If you’re like a lot of golfers, you might prefer golf watches instead of a GPS handheld device. With a golf GPS watch, you have the same information as a lot of the devices but on your wrist. For some golfers this might distract you during your swing but others love wearable GPS devices.
The only downside to golf watches is their smaller display. Since you can’t wear a normal GPS device on your wrist, the screen is a fraction of the size.
Still, some provide features like green view, distances to the front, middle, and back, and more. And a lot of golf watches do pair with apps that show even more so you can use your phone app together during the round.
Some golf watches even have extra features like activity tracking, sleep tracking, heart rate monitor, provide phone notifications, and more.
So what is the best golf GPS watch? Here are some of our top picks for 2021:
Garmin Approach S10 Golf Watch (Approach S20 Update)
If you’re looking for golf GPS watches and want to save money, you’ll love the Garmin Approach S10 (an upgrade from the Garmin Approach S20). This low-cost golf watch has everything you need but at the same time, not too much.
The one problem with so many handheld devices and GPS watches is information overwhelm. Some golfers want to keep is simple and this golf watch does just that!
Check out some of these features that make it one of the best GPS watches:
- 41,000 Pre loaded golf courses.
- Simple display and stylish for off the course use.
- Activity tracking. This looks like an Apple Watch and helps you stay active off the course too.
- Tru-Swing compatible. Paired with the Garmin Connect App to help you learn more about your game.
While the Garmin Approach S20 was great, this watch is the perfect in 2021.
Bushnell Neo Ion 2 Golf Watch
While Garmin has dominated the golf watch market, the Bushnell Neo Ion 2 is a great alternative. It’s simple display helps you learn the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green. Plus, it has extra features like:
- 36,000 Pre loaded courses.
- Shot distance calculator. This golf watch will help you track how far your drives and approaches went so you can learn more about your distances.
- Bushnell App. This pairs effortlessly with the Bushnell app to give you hole by hole, 3D flyover views. Plus it makes it easy to connect for wireless updates for your device.
While it probably won’t win any awards for most stylish watch, it’s great for the golf course.
Garmin Approach S40 Golf Watch (Best GPS Watch)
Garmin is a top name in the golf watch industry and has a massive product line of watches. The Garmin Approach S40 is a middle range golf watch that has tons of features for your golf game.
Some of them include:
- Auto course and auto hole recognition.
- Pre loaded with 41,000 golf courses and compatible with smart phones to receive updates and notifications.
- Extremely long battery life. The battery life lasts up to 15 hours in GPS mode and 10 days in regular mode.
- Green view makes it easy to manually place the pin. Plus, you get the normal front middle back of the green distances.
- Auto records your shots to help you learn more about your golf game. This helps you learn more about your average distance per club and pairs with Garmin connect app.
Garmin S62 Golf Watch (Best GPS Watch – Premium)
The Garmin S62 golf GPS watch is one of the more expensive golf watches but it’s worth every penny. It’s an upgrade from the Garmin Approach S60 watch and has everything you need. Some of the features include:
- Auto course recognition and 41,000+ pre loaded courses.
- 1.3″ color screen with a touchscreen display. Thanks to its large display (17% bigger than the Garmin Approach S60) it helps you preview the hole with a full color map. This will help you have a great tee box strategy so you can set yourself up for success.
- Virtual caddie features! This device is like having a PGA Tour caddy on the bag for you. The virtual caddie feature factors in all kinds of conditions like wind, distance, hazards and more.
- Detailed golf course information. This golf watch provides normal distances to the front, middle, and back of the green, plus a lot more. Including doglegs, hazards, and even slope for uphill and downhill shots using the “Playslike” feature.
Want more information about the best golf GPS watches? We created a mega guide to help you get started and understand everything about GPS watches.
Click here to read our full post on the best golf GPS watches.
FAQs About Best Handheld Devices For Golf
Do you have more questions about finding the best golf GPS device? If so, hopefully the questions and answers below can help you make an educated buying decision.
What golf GPS device should I buy?
The best golf GPS is the one that fits your game and budget. Not to mention one that is easy to use so you don’t hold up pace of play.
Instead, choose one that is cheaper as they still provide plenty of information. Conversely, 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. Knowing where to miss and where to hit is good solid course management and will help you shave strokes off your game.
If I had to choose one brand above all else it would be Garmin. They make so many products in the golf GPS world it’s hard not to say they’re the best. From what I’ve used and the countless reviews, people enjoy all products from this brand.
The best part is that they have one for every budget. From around $100 to $400 or more with tons of features, there is a Garmin out there for you!
How accurate are golf GPS devices?
They are extremely accurate! Usually, the more expensive they are, the accuracy goes up. But even the cheaper ones on this list are still 95% or more accurate. They’re usually within a few yards of one another and provide more details than a normal rangefinder.
At the end of the day, they’re a lot more helpful than a sprinkler head that may or not be marked. Not to mention, most golf courses don’t have GPS devices in the carts anymore, so having your own is key to shooting better scores.
Plus, if you’re more of a visual player, they work as an amazing yardage book to help you focus on your swing not the course.
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 some golf apps that you can download. If you’re not ready to get a separate golf GPS yet, make sure to check out these apps:
- Golf GPS app
- Hole19 Golf GPS
Most of these apps are free to download and have available features for purchase once you register and start using. These apps are also available on mobile phones but be careful as they zap your battery so plan accordingly.
If you do choose to go this route instead of a golf GPS device, make sure to bring a portable charger or see if the golf course has charging ports in their carts. Then, all you would need to do is bring your charging cable so it lasts the entire 18 holes.
Should I choose a wristwatch or hand held device?
This is 100% personal preference; one is not necessarily better than the other. Both will work great in helping you navigate the golf course, have more confidence over each shot, and play better golf.
Personally, I can’t imagine wearing a watch while golfing and rarely see anyone on the PGA Tour wear one other than Phil Mickelson. Again this is 100% personal preference as I play with tons of guys who love watches.
The one thing with handheld devices is that you do get a bigger screen and sometimes more data too. Handheld devices tend to give you a bigger screen and more data such as hole overviews, distances to hazards, and more information too.
Regardless of which golf GPS (or golf watch) you choose, make sure it doesn’t slow your pace of play down! The last thing you want is to be that golfer who takes forever to hit a simple shot and make the game even more difficult.
Remember, golf GPS devices are supposed to make the game easier and faster – not the other way around.
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
As you can tell, there are more choices than ever and can’t go wrong with any of these golf GPS units. Remember, more and more courses aren’t even installing GPS devices in their cars as they understand that most players carry a GPS or rangefinder.
While most amateur golfers use a GPS rangefinder, don’t forget the power of a GPS device. Not only will it help you provide distances for each shot but it’ll help you avoid hazards and save strokes at any course you play.
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 and help you not get overwhelmed with data.
However, if you’re a lower handicap golfer and looking to improve your course management, look at some of the higher end ones on this list. While it provides more data it will also help you track stats and analyze your round easier.
Before heading out to the course with your new device, remember two things:
- First, make sure to always charge your golf GPS the day before and download the course. This way it won’t die on you in the middle of the round.
- Second, bring a charging cable in case your cart has a USB connection. Or, a portable battery pack if you plan on playing more than 18 holes or aren’t sure if it’s 100% charged.
- Finally, make sure to keep it in a specific spot so that you don’t leave it in your golf cart. As most of them are small and compact, it’s easy to lose them and also lose out on your investment.
Now, use your GPS handheld device to play your best golf yet!