Best Golf GPS 2017 – Reviews and Buying Guide - Hitting The Golf Ball
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Best Golf GPS 2017 – Reviews and Buying Guide

As a casual golfer, you probably don’t have a personal caddy.

Finding distances and selecting the right clubs can be an adventure itself.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t play like the pros.

Having a golf GPS is like having your own trusted caddy:

It gives you tips to shave off a few strokes, but more importantly, it helps you navigate the course well.

Whether you golf alone or with your buddies, the best golf GPS device will surely help you improve your game and impress your friends.

Our Top Pick for Best Golf GPS: Garmin Approach S6

golf gps reviews

The Garmin Approach S6 is the best overall golf GPS we've tested and research, in terms of price, features, design, quality and ease of use. It not only serves its purpose well as a GPS device, it also doubles up as a golf training aid; providing your swing statistics for analysis. Accurate, elegant and features-packed, the Garmin S6 is undoubtedly the best choice for a GPS watch.

NameEditor's CommentProduct 
Garmin S6Best Overall Golf GPS
golf gps watch reviewsView More
Garmin G8Best Handheld Golf GPS

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Bushenell Neo XSBest Affordable Golf GPSgolf gps reviewsView More

Before we get into our Top 3 Golf GPS reviews, here are the factors to consider before getting a golf GPS.

Golf GPS Buyer’s Guide


Types of Golf GPS

  • GPS Handheld

Favored by the more serious golfers, handheld GPS units have big and colorful screens that are not available in smaller GPS watches.

As a result, they provide more precise details for readings and analysis of the course and your shots.

They allow golfers to see the hole view from above and to find the center of the green with their approaches.

They are also useful for blind spots and pack a bunch of features like scorecards and advance stat tracking.

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  • GPS Watch

GPS watches are smaller, lighter and easier to carry around.

Even when not on your wrist, they can be attached to belts, pockets or other apparels with clips.

Because they do not have a big screen, GPS watches provide more barebones data.

However, with advancements in technology, GPS watches now come with many features dog-legs, hazards, shot tracking and statistics.

On top of that, the newest GPS watches look seriously slick and cool, best for showing off to your friends.

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  • GPS Smartphone App

These are much cheaper than GPS watches or handheld devices and provide an alternative if you prefer to stick to your phone.

They provide hole views and basically does what a GPS should do, but they can be less accurate than the other golf GPS devices.

Additionally, they drain your smartphone battery life fast.


Advantages and Disadvantages of a Golf GPS

Golf GPS provide many benefits on the course, but there are inherent limitations, especially when compared to Laser Rangefinders.

Advantages

  • Provides accurate distances within inches to target
  • Doesn’t need to be in sight with target
  • Quick and easy distance readings
  • Readings not affected by light conditions
  • ​Ability to sync with other devices to update course information and notifications
  • Assists players on unfamiliar courses
  • ​Score and statistics tracking (some models)
  • Club recommendation (some models)
  • Stroke execution recommendation (some models)

Disadvantages

  • Accuracy of device and number of distances is dependent on manufacturers
  • Not as accurate as laser rangefinders for clear line-of-sight measurements
  • Possible additional membership or subscription fees

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Golf GPS

There are numerous options in the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing one:

​Accuracy

Perhaps the most important aspect of a GPS device is its accuracy. Otherwise, what’s the point of getting one?

There are 2 types of accuracy – device and mapping.

Device accuracy is the device ability to pick up satellites information and determine its current location.

Mapping accuracy ensures information on the course is properly mapped.

Accuracy really depends on the manufacturer, hence go for a trusted brand.

​Display

Is the screen big and bright enough for you?

Are the colors vibrant? Do the figures contrast with the background?

Is it easy to read under the sunlight?

​Size

Is the device small and light for you to easily carry around?

Having a GPS watch definitely ticks this criteria. What about handheld devices?

Is it small enough to fit into your pocket (like a smartphone)?

Can the device be clipped onto your belt or hat?

Is it light enough to not affect your swing?

golf gps reviews

Ease of Use

Sure, having multiple features is really great but what use is it if you have to fiddle through multiple buttons and menus to get what you want?

It should be simple to start and navigate especially on new courses.

You do not want a device that is so hard to use, you give up and leave it to dust.

Features

Besides basic distance measurement, what other features does the device provide?

How does it distinguish itself from the other GPS devices?

Some to consider: stats tracking, score keeping, rotating greens, aerial flyovers, green points mapped, club recommendation and waterproof capability.

Course Availability

Most manufacturers claim there are thousands of courses loaded into their GPS device, but how many of these courses are ones you actually play?

Of all these courses, do they include the features that were advertised?

Course Detail and Mapping

How much information about the course you’re playing does the device provide you?

How many hazards and bunkers are displayed?

What about views, distances to various marked points, including trees, creeks, bunkers, the end of the fairway on a dogleg, and even lay-up points?

Can you add additional hazards to the course you’re playing?

Can you map your own course if it’s not available?

Set-Up

How quickly can you get up and running with the device?

Does it require software installation or updates?

Do you need to connect it to your computer?

Can a non-technical person do it without pulling his hair out?

golf gps reviews

Battery Life

If you’re using a GPS watch, it can run out of battery quickly depending on how long you use it.

Do you have to bring a charger or additional batteries along?

What are the manufacturer’s claimed operating time and how much buffer should you include?

Cost/Value

Golf GPS devices range from $100 to $400. What is your budget?

Do you require all the features or just some of it?

How does the manufacturer charge for the courses? Unlimited or pay-per-course?

Is it a trusted brand known for premium quality?

Membership/Subscription Fees

Do you have to pay additional fees for future updates or download additional courses?

Are the fees one-time payment or recurring?

Are you prepared to pay the additional fees?


Top 3 Golf GPS Reviews

Best Golf GPS Watch: Garmin Approach S6

Having first saw the potential of a smart watch in classic movies, I envision one which is able to give you all the information you need in a golf game.

And I found one: The Garmin Approach S6.

The Garmin S6 looks just like a watch from the future.

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Sleek, slim and stylish, it comes in three different colors.

Besides having a long battery life, the Garmin S6 is features-packed:

  • Green View to show the true shape and layout of the green for accurate yardage directly to pin placement
  • Touch targeting for precise yardage point display (front, middle and back of the green)
  • PinPointer directional arrow to the green so you know where to line up your shot
  • ​Lay-up distances to doglegs and course hazards so you can plan in advance
  • Swing Strength and Swing Tempo analysis tracking and club recommendations for better scores
  • ​Digital Scorecard functionality to record, view and save your handicaps and scores for analysis
  • Enhanced Stat Tracking function to keep track of fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts per round
  • Additional functionalities like odometer, round timer and alarm clock to keep track of time

The Garmin S6 is easy to use with its high resolution, sunlight readable, and glove friendly touchscreen interface.

It also receives smartphone notifications so you don’t have to bring your phone around.

The ‘TempoTraining’ and ‘SwingStrength’ acts as a training aid to promote better rhythm and timing in the swing.

Accurate, elegant and features-packed, the Garmin Approach S6 is undoubtedly the best choice for a GPS watch.

Things We Liked

  • Overhead hole maps
  • Loads of statistical analysis available through synching to Garmin Connect
  • Strong course coverage
  • Handicap scoring
  • Many, many features

Things We Didn't Like

  • Can’t see scorecard or statistics on the device (but can sync and view them on a mobile app or web page)
  • No list of distances to hazards – you must use the overhead hole map

Best Golf GPS Handheld: Garmin Approach G8

Another excellent product by Garmin, the Garmin Approach G8 is the latest in its series of golf GPS handheld devices.

Retaining the sleek design of its predecessors (like the wildly popular G6), the G8 exemplifies the trend of retaining all the best features of previous devices, and then enhancing them even more.

golf gps reviews

The brightly colored maps provide a high level of detail that is unmatched on any other golf GPS device.

It includes the stand-out features of the G6 like providing distances simply by pressing on that point and digital scorecard and statistics.

The most prominent enhancement of the G8 is its slope-adjusting distances, which were previously only available on selected rangefinders.

This means you get more accurate distances on uphill and downhill shots.

Another new feature is the ability to overcome blind spots by directing you to the center of the green.

The G8 is able to remember your shots and recommend the ideal club based on your shot distances.

Additionally, the G8 syncs with your smartphone to enable notifications directly to your GPS device and comes with access to an online golf community to share and compare your round.

The Garmin G8 approach is waterproof, has a battery life of 15 hours, and a 3” display for reading easily.

Best of all, there are no annoying annual fees!

Things We Liked

  • Shows slope-adjusted distances for uphill and downhill shots
  • Ability to quickly target any point on the course via touchscreen
  • ​No annual fees for either device or online portal
  • ​Garmin Connect portal can save scores and track progress
  • Club Recommendations

Things We Didn't Like

  • Fewer mapped targets than competing devices
  • A sequence of seven buttons is required to view your scorecard
  • Sensitive screen (can be prevented by locking)

Best Affordable Golf GPS: Bushnell Neo XS Watch

Bushnell - a company known for its excellent rangefinders – joins the GPS game with its flagship GPS watch:

The Bushnell Neo XS.

The best low-priced alternative to the golf GPS watch field, the Neo XS does perfectly what it’s supposed to do, without all the additional bells and whistles.

golf gps reviews

It comes pre-loaded with over 33000 courses, has easy to read front/center/back distances, and up to 4 hazards per hole.

The most interesting function of the Neo XS is the Tee Time mode:

It allows you to set up a tee time one week in advance, and when game day comes and as you approach the golf course, the watch will automatically load the course info, without the hassle of fumbling through the navigations.

It’s Auto-Hole Recognition and Advance feature means the watch will automatically progress through the holes so you can focus on your swing instead of worrying about technical difficulties.

This means you never have to touch your watch after starting a round, yet still able to track your distances and par information.

This GPS watch has a fantastic battery life that can last up to 3 rounds of golf, or over 2 years of normal, everyday use.

With its reasonable pricing, strong course coverage and automatic functions, the Bushnell Neo XS is the best affordable GPS watch in the market.

Things We Liked

  • Strong course coverage
  • Reasonable Pricing

Things We Didn't Like

  • Lack of scoring and statistics

​Other notable brands and editor's ratings


Top 3 Golf GPS Reviews - Summary

Garmin S6

Best Overall Golf GPS

  • Full of features
  • Doubles as a training aid
  • Sleek looking
  • No annual fees

Garmin G8

Best Handheld Golf GPS

  • High quality
  • Slope distances
  • No annual fees

Bushenell Neo XS

Best Affordable Golf GPS

  • Wallet friendly
  • Automatic functions

As we can see from the features and benefits Golf GPS gives us, these little navigation devices have become essential training aids, just like their counterparts in vehicles have become an essential device for bringing us around.

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