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 GPS Handheldgolf gps reviewsView More
Bushenell Neo XSBest for Valuegolf gps reviewsView More
GolfBuddy Voice GPSBest for EldersGolfBuddy-Voice-GPSView More
Izzo Swami 4000+Best for BeginnersIzzo-Swami-4000+View More

Before we get into our Top 5 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.

golf gps reviews
  • 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.

golf gps reviews
  • 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?


Best Golf GPS Reviews 2017

Garmin Approach S6

When I think of a GPS Watch, thoughts of super-spies not unlike James Bond pop into my head. This is exactly the kind of feeling I get using the Garmin Approach S6.

Featuring a sleek and stylish look, wearing this watch makes you feel as if you are Sean Connery himself in your favorite Bond flick. As cool as it is to look at, what's really important are the features that this watch sports... and boy, does it have a lot.

golf gps reviews

The S6 uses it's patented “CourseView” Technology to give you an accurate readout of over 39,000 of the world's golf courses. In addition to this is the “GreenView” feature, which gives you precise pin location, yardage, and layout of any green you could potentially be playing on.

Going back to the “Bond-Esque” feeling that this watch can give you is the “Touch Targeting” and “PinPointer” features, which allow you to target hazards and the pin, and line up your shots accordingly... not unlike Bond targeting his own enemies.​

To further help you to enhance your game, the S6 also allows you to measure swing and tempo, so as to better measure your swing strength. This is in addition to other features that golfers would love, including stat tracking and a digital scorecard, to make this a true all-in-one tool for golfers to use.​

On top of all of this, the watch even has smartphone capabilities, and a long battery life. With all these features going for it, the Garmin Approach S6 is without question one of the best GPS watches money can buy.

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

Garmin Approach G8

If the Garmin GPS Watch has proven anything, it's that Garmin knows golf GPS devices. So it should come as no surprise that the brand has also made one of the best GPS Handheld Devices you can find.

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

golf gps reviews

Everything about the G8 screams cutting edge, from the devices sleek and futuristic design, to its vibrant LCD display. This display can accurately show readouts of the golfers’ surroundings in pixel-perfect color, and can give accurate yardage information simply by selecting any point on the course with the touch of a finger.

To further enhance your golf game, the G8 introduces a slope-adjusting feature, which its predecessors lacked. This feature lets gives you precise readings of any uphill and downhill lye, allowing you to properly adjust your shot and given you the best possible stroke count.

Having trouble choosing the right club for a certain situation? The G8 has you covered, as it is able to use statistics from your rounds of golf, and provide you with the perfect club choice for whatever situation you may find yourself in.

In addition to everything mentioned above, you get a lot of bonuses that are available in many other handheld GPS, including golf scorecards, smartphone capabilities, and 30,000 pre-loaded courses. If all this wasn't enough to sell you on the G8, maybe the fact that the device is both waterproof and has a long lasting, 15-hour battery life will.

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.

With everything that it is capable of, the Garmin Approach G8 is a handheld GPS like no other, and is one that any golfer needs to have in their inventory.

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)

Bushnell Neo XS Watch

Say that you are a little short on cash, but still wish to add an affordable, yet high-powered, GPS to your inventory. If this is the case, we may have the answer:

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

The Neo XS comes pre-loaded with over 33000 courses. This makes it a breeze to find your local course, as chances are it is probably already loaded on the watch, and start using your GPS.

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, in preparation for game day. When the day comes the watch will automatically load the course info

It’s Auto-Hole Recognition and Advance feature means the watch will automatically progress through the holes as you play, giving you a constantly updated read of the course. This allows you to never have to touch your watch after starting a round and still be able to track your distances and par information.

For the price you pay, the Bushnell Neo has a fantastically long battery life that can be used for over three complete rounds of golf without need of a recharge. You get this, and everything mentioned above, for less than the price of some individual clubs.

The Bushnell Neo XS may not be the fanciest of GPS Watches, but for the price you pay and what you get, it is still a damn fine watch.

Things We Liked

  • Strong course coverage
  • Reasonable Pricing

Things We Didn't Like

  • Lack of scoring and statistics

GolfBuddy Voice GPS

While it doesn't have a colored screen or smartphone capabilities, the GolfBuddy GPS has one important feature that other Golf GPS do not: audio readings of the course.

If you are getting a bit older, sometimes even the best of digital displays can come up a bit blurry and hard to read, due to failing eyesight. The GolfBuddy eliminates that issue almost entirely by literally telling the golfer, through a digital voice, about yardage distances between themselves and various objects on the course.

GolfBuddy-Voice-GPS

This feature alone can make this GPS an invaluable tool to many elderly golfers, as it can help them with their golf game in ways that other GPS cannot. It can help golfers of various backgrounds as well, thanks to the GPS' 8 different language options.

In addition to the voice capabilities for telling you the distance of various objects, the GolfBuddy can do the same for telling you the distance of your own shots, letting you know exactly how far your ball is flying. And it does all this with astounding accuracy, thanks in part to being loaded with information on 35,000 golf courses.​

Sure, there may be fancier devices available for purchase, but just for its major feature, the GolfBuddy Voice GPS is probably one of the greatest golf GPS that you can find, giving every golfer a chance to play better.

Things We Liked

  • Audio readings
  • Readings of golf course AND distance of shots

Things We Didn't Like

  • Basic features

Izzo Swami 4000+

Do you remember those beepers that a lot of people carried back in the 90s, before cell phones were popular? The Izzo Swami is similar in design to a lot of those devices, but in the form of a Golf GPS.

Much like many other golf GPS on the market, the Izzo Swami comes pre-loaded with over 30,000 of the world's golf courses. In contrast to many of these, however, the Swami has a feature that allows the GPS to automatically detect which golf course you are on the second you step onto the tee-box giving golfers a reading of the course from the get-go.

Izzo-Swami-4000+

The Swami also has an incredibly vibrant full color screen. While the screen can, at times, seem cluttered due to its size, you are still able to see all the parts of the course you need to see, and get accurate yardage readings accordingly.

While playing, the Swami is able to automatically update, giving you a precise course reading as you move along the course. If you ever find that something seems a bit off about the reading that the GPS is giving you, the device actually comes built with a course-map editor, which will allow you to tweak the courses map as you see fit.

While it looks like a beeper in design, this device is far and away more useful than those little annoying things ever were. If you are looking for an accurate, and relatively affordable, Golf GPS.

Things We Liked

  • Auto-course recognition at start-up
  • Auto-hole advance

Things We Didn't Like

  • Cluttered design

Quick Summary of the Best Golf GPS

Garmin Approach S6

Best Overall

  • Full of features
  • Doubles as a training aid
  • Sleek looking
Garmin G8

Best GPS Handheld

  • High quality
  • Slope distances
  • Club recommendations
Bushenell Neo XS

Best for Value

  • Wallet friendly GPS watch
  • Automatic functions
GolfBuddy Voice GPS

Best for Elders

  • Audio readings
  • Readings of golf course AND distance of shots
Izzo Swami 4000+

Best for Beginners

  • Auto-course recognition at start-up
  • Auto-hole advance

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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