FROM THE DEPT. OF THINGS TO BUY

Best Golf GPS Watches in 2022

Lower your handicap.

May 5 by Tony Carrick
SkyCaddie
Image by SkyCaddie

While we may not be able to afford our own caddy, we can attach a virtual one to our wrist with the best GPS golf watches. The timepieces can improve your golf game by providing accurate distances to hazards, doglegs, and the front, middle, and back of the green. 

These devices use GPS satellites coupled with a database of tens of thousands of golf courses from around the world to provide distances to hazards and greens within a few meters of accuracy. These watches come at a variety of price points and include models with digital displays that provide essential distance information to premium watches with high-definition full-color touch screens that will tell you what club to use based on your personal stats and current wind speed and direction. If you’re looking to lower your handicap, read on to learn about the best golf GPS watches. 

Best Overall: Garmin Approach S40
Best Shot Tracker: Shot Scope V3
Best Premium: Garmin Approach 62
Best Budget: Garmin Approach S10
Best Display: SkyCaddie LX5
Best Simplicity: Golf Buddy Voice 2 GPS with Wristband

How We Picked the Best Golf GPS Watches

In narrowing our selection of the best golf GPS watches down to the top models, we used a variety of criteria. Golf GPS watches come in a broad price range of $100 to $500. To suit the demands and budgets of various users, we included watches that run the gamut, including affordable models that offer the bare essentials to top-of-the-line golf GPS watches with full-color touchscreens and additional features such as club recommendations and fitness tracking capabilities. A good golf GPS watch should also be able to last for as long as you want to play, so we stuck with models that offer at least 10 hours of battery life, which is enough for two rounds. A GPS watch should allow you to get distance measurements by glancing quickly at the watch, so we chose models with bright displays that are easily visible even in full sunlight. A good golf GPS watch shouldn’t hinder your play either, so we chose models that are small enough that one can wear it comfortably. 

Best Golf GPS Watches: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Garmin Approach S40

On the Course and Off. Garmin

Why It Made The Cut: With its high-resolution full-color touchscreen display, useful Green View, and dual function as a fitness tracker, this sporty watch is the best all-around option on the market. 

Specs:
Screen Size: 1.3 inches
Battery Life: 15 hours
Courses: 41,000 

Pros:
— Full-color display is easy to read
— Provides closeup Green View
— Also functions as a fitness tracker
— Sporty look

Cons:
— Doesn’t offer a virtual caddie option.

The Garmin Approach S40 does everything you need a golf watch to do and looks good doing it. Its full-color display, which is bright enough to view in bright sunlight, provides a high-resolution overhead view of the hole. It gives you accurate readings for distances to bunkers, doglegs, and the green for some 41,000 courses and will measure and auto record shot distances for you.

We also love the Green View feature that allows you to select distances to specific parts of the green, ideal for zoning in on various pin placements.

What’s more, the S40 is one of the better-looking golf GPS watches on the market, with a sporty shape and wristband that you’ll feel comfortable wearing whether on or off the golf course. Given that the S40 also allows you to track other activities, such as sleep, steps, and other sports activities, you’ll want to do just that. 

It has ample battery life of up to 15 hours in GPS mode and ten days when in smartwatch mode. While the S40 is not the cheapest golf GPS watch on the market, it is reasonably priced given its dual role as a fitness tracker. 

Best Shot Tracker: Shot Scope V3

By the Numbers. Shot Scope Technologies

Why It Made The Cut: The Scope goes beyond simply providing you distances to hazards and greens by also tracking each shot by club, giving you a wealth of data you can use to improve your game. 

Specs:
Screen Size: 1.4 inches
Battery Life: 15 hours
Courses: 36,000 

Pros:
— Tracks each shot by club
— Includes 16 tracking tags
— Reasonable price

Cons:
— Does not provide a bird’s eye view of the hole

While any golf GPS watch will give you distances to the dogleg, hazards, and greens, that data alone is not going to help you track your performance and ultimately improve. Shot Scope does. In addition to providing you with all the distance information you desire, it also tracks your performance with each club, a feat it accomplishes with 16 sensors that you fit into the grip of each of your clubs. These sensors connect to the watch, allowing it to track every club you’re using while recording every short you make. This gives you access to a wealth of data, including how often you hit fairways and greens and your average distance and accuracy with each club. 

The Shot Scope V3 comes preloaded with more than 36,000 courses and has 10 hours of battery life, which is about enough for two rounds. That said, Shot Scope’s display is limited. It doesn’t give you the bird’s eye hole layout you’ll get with other golf GPS watches; however, it is among the more affordable watches you can buy.

Best Premium: Garmin Approach 62

Fitness Tracker Built In. PlayBetter

Why It Made The Cut: Not only is the Approach 62 an impressive golf GPS watch, but it’s also a great fitness tracker and smartwatch.

Specs:
Screen Size: 1.2 inches
Battery Life: 15 hours
Courses: 41,000 

Pros:
— Detailed full-color maps you can touch target
— Virtual caddie that suggests clubs
— Includes fitness tracker functions

Cons:
— One of the most expensive golf GPS watches

The Garmin Approach S62 is perhaps the top golf GPS watch you can put on your wrist, though you’ll have to fork over a significant amount of cash to do so. In addition to its beautiful high-resolution display, it uses Garmin’s Virtual Caddie app, which provides club suggestions based on current wind conditions and the average distance you typically hit the club. It also has functionality you won’t find on all touchscreen GPS watches, including the ability to see the distance to any location on the map simply by touching the 1.3-inch screen. 

The S62 also comes with a bigger battery that lasts nearly twice as long as other GPS watches at 20 hours and up to 15 days when functioning as a smartwatch. It also comes with health tracking tools you won’t even find on most fitness trackers, including a pulse oximeter that allows you to track blood oxygen levels. Similar to other smartwatches, you can also use the S62 to send and receive text messages, get weather forecasts, get push notifications for apps, and even make payments. 

Best Budget: Garmin Approach S10

Lightweight and Affordable. Garmin

Why It Made The Cut: The S10 is quite simply the most affordable way to track distances while out on the golf course. 

Specs:
Screen Size: 1.2 inches
Battery Life: 12 hours
Courses: 41,000

Pros:
— Affordable price
— Allows you to keep score
— High-resolution display

Cons:
— Doesn’t provide an overhead hole view

The Garmin Approach S10 may not have all the features of other high-end GPS watches on the market. If you’re looking for a full-color screen with touchpoint distances, a virtual caddy that will tell you which club to pick, or a golf watch that will double as a fitness tracker, the S10 isn’t for you. 

What it does provide are all the essentials one needs at a fraction of the cost of those high-end golf watches. It will tell you the distance to the front, back, and middle of the green as well as distances to doglegs and hazards. You can also keep score with the S10 and upload scorecards using Garmin Express when the round’s over. For those hard-core competitors, you can also enter yourself into tournaments via the Garmin Golf app. As with Garmin’s other gold watches, with the S10 you get access to some 41,000 courses. 

At 1.2 inches and with a high-resolution display, the S10 is easy to read even in bright sunlight, yet it’s small and lightweight enough that it won’t distract you while you’re in your backswing.  While the S10 doesn’t have the longest battery life of a gold GPS watch, you will get 12 hours on a single charge, which is more than enough to play several rounds of golf.  

Best Display: SkyCaddie LX5

Stunning Visuals. SkyCaddie

Why It Made The Cut: The SkyCaddie’s high-resolution full-color display is the best of the bunch. 

Specs:
Screen Size: 1.4 inches
Battery Life: 10 hours
Courses: 35,000

Pros:
— Detailed full-color maps you can touch target
— Virtual caddie that suggests clubs
— Includes fitness tracker functions

Cons:
— Can be difficult to use for those with large fingers

If visualizing your shot is best served by the GPS watch that offers you the best display, then look no further than the SkyCaddie LX5, which features a beautiful high-resolution full-color touchscreen display. At nearly 1.4 inches, it’s the largest display of any golf watch on the market. 

It uses that size to provide a stunning full-color, high-resolution bird’s eye view of the hole. Finding the proper distance requires you to simply touch anywhere on the screen. And for greater detail, you can zoom onto the green to pinpoint the distance to specific points on the green. The SkyCaddie comes preloaded with some 35,000 courses. The watch will even recommend the best driving position to make the best approach shot to the green. 

While the SkyCaddie is lightweight at just 12 ounces, its large screen does make it a bit bulkier than other gold watches. That said, it’s stylish enough that you won’t mind wearing it while off the course. In terms of battery life, it provides enough juice to last about two full rounds. 

Similar to other high-end golf watches, the Skytracker also includes some useful fitness tracker functions, including a step counter and heart rate monitor. You can even choose from five different watch face styles.

Best Simplicity: Golf Buddy Voice 2 GPS with Wristband

Smart Caddy. Golf Buddy

Why It Made The Cut: With its ability to read out distances to you at the push of a button, the Golf Buddy is the easiest way to get distance information. 

Specs:
Screen Size: 1 inch
Battery Life: 14 hours
Courses: 40,000 plus

Pros:
— Hear distances audibly at the push of a button
— Can be worn in multiple ways
— Provides a digital display of the green shape

Cons:
— No bird’s eye hole overview

If you’ve dreamed of having your own personal caddie whisper yardages to you as you survey the pin location from the middle of the fairway like a PGA Pro Tour, then the Golf Buddy might be for you. While it won’t carry your clubs for you, it will audibly deliver the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green at the push of the button. There’s no need to fool with finicky touchscreens or squint to read a display in the bright sunlight. You can get center green yardage by simply pressing the large button or get front and back yardages by pressing and holding the button. You can even change the voice to be male or female and choose between seven different languages depending on your preference.

Visually, this small golf GPS watch is limited to a small black-and-white display, but it’s enough to provide you with the shape of the green and angle of approach if you want more than to simply hear yardages. Since this simple golf GPS watch is designed to use without you actually having to look at it, it gives you a few options for how you choose to wear it. It comes with a neoprene band that allows you to wear it as a watch. You can also wear it on your belt or even bring it closer to your ears by clipping it to the brim of your hat. As for battery life, the Golf Buddy goes longer than other golf GPS devices at 14 hours on a single charge. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Golf GPS Watches

Display

There are two types of GPS watches: touchscreen and non-touchscreen. Non-touchscreen GPS watches use a black-and-white or digital color display. Buttons located on the side of the watch allow you to navigate through its various functions. Touchscreen GPS watches give you full-color maps with true views of the green and allow you to check the distance from any location on the map by simply touching the screen. While touchscreen golf GPS watches may look slicker, they aren’t necessarily easier to use. Given the small size of the screen, touching just the right place can be difficult, especially for those with big fingers. Unsurprisingly, touchscreen displays are also more expensive than non-touchscreen models. 

Accuracy

The whole purpose of a GPS golf watch is to give you accurate distance readings to various locations on the course. A GPS watch that is consistently off is worse than having nothing at all. Since most GPS golf watches use the same satellites, they all generally have the same level of accuracy, which is within a few yards. Heavy tree cover and valleys will impair a golf watch’s ability to connect to satellites, resulting in less accurate readings. 

Battery Life

Like fitness tracker watches, a GPS watch uses a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Good golf GPS watches should last at least 10 hours while in satellite mode, which is enough for two full rounds of golf. GPS watches that also function as fitness trackers can last for up to 10 days when not in GPS mode, making them suitable for everyday wear. 

Look and Feel 

There are golf GPS watches that look like you have a GPS unit strapped to your wrist, and then there are those that look like watches. Most GPS golf watches have a screen size of around 1.3 inches, which is larger than most standard watches, and come in both square and round shapes. If you plan on using your golf watch for more than just golf (many have fitness tracker functions), then consider purchasing one with a sportier look that you’ll feel comfortable wearing off the course. 

Additional Features 

Some golf GPS watches do much more than tell you distances from tee to pin. Many can track your shots, and some even include club sensors that allow you to keep detailed statistics of how far and how accurately you hit each club. These GPS golf watches also function as virtual caddies, giving you recommendations on club selection based on your personal statistics and even environmental factors like wind speed. Higher-end golf GPS devices do more than just measure distance or track shots. They also function as fitness trackers, keeping a log of your steps and even measuring other metrics such as heart rate and oxygen saturation. 

FAQs

Q: How much do golf GPS watches cost? 

GPS golf watches range in price from as little as $100 to as much as $500. The difference comes down to several factors. The most affordable models provide the basics: distances from tee to hazards and doglegs and from fairway to pin. Many will also provide distances for the front, middle, and back of the green. More expensive models have high-resolution full-color touch screens that allow the user to find distances simply by touching a location on the screen. They also will give club recommendations and allow you to keep score on the watch. 

Q: How accurate are golf GPS watches?

Under optimal conditions, when the GPS watch has a good connection with satellites, expect it to have an accuracy of within 3 to 4 yards. Cloudy conditions, heavy tree cover, and locations in valleys can result in less accurate readings. 

Q: Should I use a GPS watch or a rangefinder? 

It depends on what level of accuracy and ease of use you’re looking for. Assuming you’re aiming it properly and locked on target, a range finder is much more accurate than a GPS watch. However, a range finder also requires you to point and shoot with the device for each distance measurement, which slows down the play. In comparison, a GPS watch allows you to check yardage by simply glancing at the watch. A GPS watch can also give you a bird’s eye view of the hole and green, which can help with course management, whereas a rangefinder offers no such display. 

Q: Are GPS golf watches legal?

A golf GPS watch is legal to use for your casual round of golf; however, it may not be legal to use in tournaments. Many tournaments allow the use of golf GPS watches that provide distance information as long as they don’t have advanced features like wind speed information and virtual caddies. 

Q: Do golf watches work on every course?

In order for a golf GPS watch to work on a given golf course, that golf course must be in the watch’s database. While not every golf course in the world has been mapped out for GPS use, most golf watches have a database of some 30,000 to 40,000 courses from around the globe. 

Final Thoughts

With its full-color touchscreen display, ample battery life, and a sporty look you won’t mind wearing after leaving the links, the Garmin Approach S40 is the best all-around golf GPS watch you can buy. Those looking for something more affordable should consider the Garmin Approach S10, which offers all the essentials at a very low price.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
 


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