Best Golf GPS Watch in 2017 – Reviews and Buying Guide

By Kevin Arnold | Review

Jan 15
best golf gps watch in 2017

Introduction 

Unless you're Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods, it is hard to choose the ideal golf club without the data to back it up. Fortunately, the technology has skyrocketed while the price of golf watches has plummeted during the past few years. The best Golf GPS watch takes the guesswork out of the equation and can help choose the best club to hit with.

The golf watch rangefinders give accurate distances and measurements to the target that can significantly lower your score. Some new models can even keep track of your score, measure your shots, and give recommendations for improvements.

But on the flip, with dozens of brands and hundreds of products, choosing the best golf GPS watch can be a tough row to hoe. This comprehensive guide can solve your problem as it not only has the best golf GPS watch review, but also has invaluable tips and tricks to choosing the best watch and how to get the most out of it.

Reviews of Best Golf GPS Watch in 2017

Product

Main Feature

Courses

Price

Rating

Golf Buddy WT5 Golf GPS Watch

Distances to the green, auto course recognition, auto hole recognition, dynamic green view

38,000+

$$

SkyCaddie Golf GPS Watch

Stylish and functional, big 1.05" diameter screen, TRACKs YOUR MOVEMENTS

30,000+

$$

Garmin Approach S6

Swingstrength, Swingtempo, glove-friendly design, sunlight-readable, color touchscreen display

38,000+

$$$$

Callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch

Distances to green, distances to hazards & doglegs, automatic course recognition

30,000+

$$

Garmin Approach S4

Hi-res touchscreen, long battery life, smart notification

30,000+

$$

Garmin Approach X40 Golf Watch

Heart rate monitor, accurate GPS receiver, activity tracking

40,000+

$$$

Garmin Approach S20

Activity tracking, Autoshot round analyzer show shot distances for individual swings with auto-recording for post-round analysis

40,000+

$$

TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch -Best Golf Starter Watch

Smart shot detection, ultimate round (a virtual replay of your game), automatic scorecard

40,000+

$$$

Garmin Approach S2 - Best Golf GPS Watch

Preloaded worldwide courses with free lifetime updates, battery life up to 3 weeks in standard mode

30,000+

$$

Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch - Best Golf GPS Watch

Legal for tournaments, automatic course recognition, auto hole advance, four hazards or layup distances per hole,

35,000+

$$$

Golf Buddy WT5 Golf GPS Watch

golfbuddy watch

The Golf Buddy WT5 is an affordable GPS watch with a simple interface and black and white screen.

Key features

Easy to read screen under all light conditions and a simple button interface

  • GPS tracking
  • Notifies about up to 11 hazards for each hole
  • Very lightweight and comfortable on the wrist
  • More than 38,000 preloaded courses

The watch has a 4-button interface that is pretty self-explanatory and easy to use. The controls, however, are a little complicated and the watch has a slight learning curve.

The Golf Buddy WT5 offers distance to the front, back, and center of the green. It also helps you map to 11 hazards for every hole, measures the distance of your individual shot, and automatically recognizes the course you’re playing on.

User-friendly interface combined with all these features makes sure that you spend most of your time playing instead of fiddling with your watch.

How to Use Golf Buddy WT5 Watch

Things We Liked

  • Shows pretty accurate distances to the front, back, and center of the green as well as hazards
  • Features the handy pin placement technology that lets you change the yardages where the pin is positioned
  • Comes with a digital scorecard so you know where you are standing in the game
  • Auto course recognition

Things We Didn't Like

  • The black and white display screen is not the best
  • The buttons are rather hard to press
  • Insufficient documentation

Verdict

The Golf Buddy WT5 is a basic golf GPS watch ideal for beginners and amateur players. It’s not the best golf GPS watch, but for the price, it is worth a look.

SkyCaddie Golf GPS Watch

skycaddie golf watch

SkyCaddy is another affordable golf watch that comes with a black and white display and offers real-time information throughout the game.

Key features

  • Big, easy to read screen
  • Digital scoreboard and round timer
  • Auto course recognition and auto hole advance
  • Alarm clock, stopwatch, date, and clock

Just like the Golf Buddy, it shows you front, center, and back distances to the green on the backlight screen. What sets the watch apart is the constantly updated distances as you move around the course that provides accurate information in real time.

The 1.05-inch screen is big, and easy to read, though we weren’t really impressed by the black and white display. Some other features of the watch include alarm, digital scoreboard, and stopwatch. Not to mention, the watch can measure your shots, and is also water resistant up to 30 meters.

Another amazing feature of the SkyCaddie Golf GPS Watch is that it comes with more than 30,000 preloaded courses and you don't have to pay any fee or subscription charges.

When you are not playing on the green, unlike most other watches it does not become a paperweight. It turns into a basic activity tracker and acts as an odometer to measure your distance, speed, time, and calories burned when you drive, run, walk, or ride a bike.

How to Use SkyCaddie Golf GPS Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Highly functional
  • No subscription or fees
  • When off the green, it can track location, distance, time, laps, speed, pace calories burned and more
  • Water resistant

Things We Didn't Like

  • The overall build quality isn’t great
  • The black and white display is not the best
  • Not very durable

Verdict

Despite a lot of features, the watch isn’t very elegant or durable. Although a decent watch for the price, we wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a limited budget and just want to test the waters.

Garmin Approach S6

Garmin Approach S6

Approach 6 is one of the most popular golf watches by Garmin, a company known for making top notch GPS devices. It comes with a high-resolution color display that shows accurate yardage to the pin. What’s more, you can also have an aerial view of the hole for more than 38,000 international courses.

Key features

  • Touchscreen interface and high-res color screen
  • SwingTempo, SwingStrength, and TempoTraining combine to offer swing metrics – an amazing feature that can help improve your swing
  • Manual pin positioning
  • Blind shot assistance through PinPointer when pin is not visible
  • 38,000+ preloaded international courses, without any subscription fee

We liked how the screen shows the entire course layout, allows you to drop pins manually, helps with blind shots, and a lot more. You can view the courses from different angles based on your preferences and even get an aerial view of the course during the game.

Garmin Approach S6 can also connect with your smartphone to save your scores and show notifications to help you stay on top of your game.

How to use Garmin Approach S6 Watch

Things We Liked

  • Packed with amazing features
  • Slim, lightweight and comfortable on the wrist
  • Elegant design
  • Saves and syncs your score to Garmin Connect for long-term improvement
  • Very accurate course coverage

Things We Didn't Like

  • You can only see the scoreboard or stats on your smartphone; the watch doesn’t show them. While it does make some sense considering the watch’s small screen, but it can be a nuisance when you don't want to carry your phone in your pocket on the green.
  • The biggest issue with Garmin Approach S6 is that it doesn’t show distances to the hazards

Verdict

The Approach S6 is a high-quality golf watch for people really serious about their game. This is one of the most impressive watches we have seen, but it’s also one of the most expensive ones. So, if the price isn’t a big issue, this can be best golf GPS watch for you.

Callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch

Callaway GPSy Golf Watch

Callaway GPSy golf watch shows you pretty accurate distances to the green, hazards, and doglegs on its black and white screen. Fortunately, this feature-packed watch isn’t too expensive and still gets the job done.

Key features

  • Comes with more than 30,000 preloaded worldwide courses and doesn’t require any subscription fees or downloads
  • Shows fairly accurate front, center, and back distances to green and hazards
  • Automatically recognizes the course you're playing on and has auto hole advance as well as auto shot measurement
  • Can work as an odometer when you’re off the green
  • The scorekeeper function keeps all your stats and data organized in one place so you can track your progress
  • Alarm, date, time, unit, language, backlight, sound, daylight savings, shot distance and more

The Callaway GPSy offers all the handy information you need while you’re on the green, right from the comfort of your wrist. We also liked its sleek design, so you can even wear it to your work. The watch has more than 30,000-course maps preloaded and doesn’t require any updates or subscription fees.

How to use Callaway GPSy Golf Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Waterproof up to 1 ATM, so you can play while it's raining but don't submerge the watch into water or any liquids
  • Has a very polished design
  • So lightweight that you will barely know it's on your wrist
  • Offers accurate front, back, and center yardage
  • The battery life is extremely impressive

Things We Didn't Like

  • The manufacturer claims that the watch comes with the scorekeeper feature, however, in some units this is not available out of the box. You will have to contact the customer service, and they will send you a link along with instructions to update your watch’s firmware to enable this function. The whole process is pretty much a hassle.

Verdict

The Callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch is easy to use, has an amazing array of features, and a decent battery life. On top of that, the price isn’t too high, and the watch offers good value for money. We can’t say it is the very best golf GPS watch, but for some golfers, it can help improve their technique big time.

Garmin Approach S4

Garmin Approach S4

This is another great watch by Garmin that is in the same line as the Approach S6 and also offers nearly the same features but is available at a much better price.

Key Features

  • Interactive touchscreen user interface
  • Comes with more than 40,000 courses around the world without any subscription charges or fees
  • Has a long battery life and can last for up to 9 hours in GPS mode and 40 days in watch mode
  • In addition to being a handy golf watch, it can also receive emails, text messages, and other notifications from your smartphone
  • You can manually mark hazards and pins on the course

We didn’t like the black and white screen of the watch much, which looks pretty bland, however, it’s very easy to read in the harshest sunlight.

The S4 offers you precise and accurate measurements to the green, and you can view a map of the entire course. We were also impressed by the highly responsive touchscreen.

The smart device keeps tracking all the individual shots during the game and will give you useful information to improve your swing. When you are not playing, the Garmin S4 can become a personal assistant and retrieve notifications from your smartphone.

How to use Garmin Approach S4 Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Shows very accurate shape and layout of the green
  • Very accurate yardages to the front, back, and middle of the green
  • Very easy to read screen
  • Very user-friendly and easy to use
  • Responsive touchscreen

Things We Didn't Like

  • Does not show any information regarding distance to the hazard
  • It might not be tournament legal under the local rules depending on where you play

Verdict

Priced less than and the Approach S6 yet offering nearly the same features, this is a much better option by Garmin for the golf enthusiast. If you are willing to shell out a pretty penny to improve your swing, the Approach S4 is a very decent choice.

Garmin Approach X40 Golf Watch

garmin approach x40

Yet another product by Garmin, though it looks unlike anything else on our list. In fact, the Approach X40 looks pretty similar to the popular activity tracker, the Fitbit. It is amazing how Garmin has packed all the functionality and features in such a small gadget, and despite the awkward orientation of the screen, you can easily read the information on it.

Key features

  • Can connect to your phone and offers advanced activity tracking features
  • Features a heart rate monitor
  • Shows all your stats including shot-by-shot recap with the Garmin Connect app
  • Sleek design and high-res display screen
  • Readily available distances to hazards and layups

The Garmin X40 might not be the best golf GPS watch, but it’s not bad for the price. The ergonomic design fits perfectly on any wrist, and when you’re not on the green, the watch doubles as a GPS run tracker and heart rate monitor.

How to use Garmin Approach X40 Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Elegant and convenient design
  • Comes with more than 40,000 preloaded courses
  • Doubles as a heart rate monitor and activity tracker
  • Decent battery life
  • Reasonable price

Things We Didn't Like

  • The orientation of the screen limits the amount of data that can be presented

Verdict

Those, who not only love to play golf but also want to stay fit and keep an eye on their health, will simply love the features of Garmin X40 golf watch. Also, the price is not very high considering all the benefits that it brings to your wrist. We recommend this handy little gadget to our fitness conscious readers.

Garmin Approach S20

The Garmin Approach S20 has been designed so that it can be worn away from the golf course. In addition to the golf functionalities for more than 40,000 courses, the watch also offers fitness tracking and smart notifications from your phone.

Key features

  • Automatically saves your shot distances as well as other stats on your Garmin Connect account
  • It has a very sleek and comfortable design with a fully hinged wristband
  • Comes with handy activity tracking features and smart notifications such as daily steps calories burned distance traveled etc.
  • The watch also comes with sleep monitoring, a feature that we haven’t seen in any other golf watch
  • Shows accurate distances to the green, fairways hit, and puts for around

Garmin S20 offers a whole new level of activity tracking all bundled up in one little gadget. You can pull up hazards and lay-ups with distances for virtually any hole on the course and also keep an eye on the scoreboard, right from your wrist.

Despite all the amazing features the watch can last for extended periods of time as a GPS watch and up to eight weeks as a standard watch.

How to use Garmin Approach S20 Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Packed with amazing swing tracking and scorekeeping features
  • Not only tracks activities and shows notifications from your smartphone but also monitors the duration and quality of your sleep
  • Seems to have a good build quality
  • Very easy to use with a long battery life
  • Shows pretty accurate distance to the front, back, and center of the green
  • Reasonably priced

Things We Didn't Like

  • Sometimes it can take a couple of minutes to connect to the satellite which can be annoying when you want to keep the game going.
  • The wristband seems a little hard to adjust

Verdict

If you are looking for a watch that only offers basic distance tracking and gives accurate information about the course you are playing, we recommend you to look for more affordable a watch with basic functionality. However, if you want something that can be worn off the green, and offers a lot in terms of functionality such as activity tracking, smart notifications, and sleep tracking, this can be your watch.

TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch - Best Golf Starter Watch

tomtom golfer 2 GPS watch

This is the only watch by TomTom that made it to our list despite TomTom being one of the most well-known names in the world of GPS devices. The TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch has an elegant design and somewhat looks like the Apple Watch.

Key Features

  • Comes with a handy feature called Ultimate Round that creates a virtual summary of your best holes on the course you played.
  • Automatic digital scoreboard keeps track of your score
  • Smart shot detection feature measures your shot distance and offers handy tips
  • Comes with full data for more than 40,000 courses worldwide
  • Offers precise distances for front, back, and center to both hazards and green

The watch comes with features that you will see in any top-notch golf watch, but the most striking thing about the TomTom Golfer 2 is the extremely modern design. The watch has been designed with convenience and usability for golfers in mind.

The large-screen is easily readable under all sorts of light conditions. The scratch resistant and water resistant body means your watch will stay like new for a long time to come.

You will have all the information about green, hazards, and layups right on your wrist. Moreover, your scores will be tracked and monitored, and you will get good insights into your performance.

How to use TomTom Golfer 2 Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Lightweight, elegant design
  • Simple to use and easy access to course data and distances
  • Affordable, just like its predecessor, but with improved design and functionality
  • Great battery life
  • Water proof and scratch resistant body
  • Continuously updated courses
  • Smart notifications

Things We Didn't Like

  • The watch picks up practice swings and adds to your score – so the final score can be way off if you play a lot of practice shots

Verdict

It’s hard to find such amazing functionality for such an affordable price when it comes to GPS watches. Therefore, we highly recommend this watch to any golfer that wants to improve their game without having to spend a lot of money.

Garmin Approach S2 - Best Golf GPS Watch

Garmin Approach s2 best golf gps watch

The Garmin Approach S2 is a stylish and comfortable wearable that brings more than 40,000 courses from around the world to your wrist. It has nearly the same features as any other Garmin Smartwatch on this list but one particular feature makes it the second best golf GPS watch on our list, and that is its peerless accuracy.

Key features

  • Comes with more than 30,000 courses from around the world with free lifetime updates
  • Very accurate and high sensitivity GPS receiver.
  • Ability to measure individual shot distances
  • A detailed scoreboard that can be stored and even printed

The watch has pretty much the same features as any other Garmin watch but the enhanced accuracy and an affordable price are the two factors that helped the Garmin S2 golf watch become our second best.

It is a stylish yet comfortable wrist wear that has very high-quality GPS receiver to provide you accurate yardages – even when you’re under a tree – to the front, back, and middle of the green.

How to use Garmin Approach S2​ Watch

Things We Liked

  • More accurate than any other watch by Garmin
  • A comprehensive, printable digital scorecard
  • Durable, waterproof body
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Affordable price

Things We Didn't Like

  • A generic, digital watch-like design
  • You can’t save hazards
  • Battery lasts only about 6 hours

Verdict

Because of its utmost accuracy and affordable price, we give the Garmin S2 Golf Watch two thumbs up and recommend it to any golfer, no matter they are a beginner or highly experienced. 

Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch - Best Golf GPS Watch

Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS watch

Ironically this is the only golf watch by Bushnell on our list, but it is the best GPS golf watch you can buy. It might look somewhat like some of the Garmin golf watches, however, it is a little better regarding functionality and is comparatively cheaper.

Key features

  • The watch comes pre-loaded with more than 35,000 courses in more than 30 countries
  • Hole advance and automatic course recognition
  • Has a nice easy-to-read black and white display screen
  • Shows up to four hazards for each hole
  • It is legal for use in tournaments
  • 1-year limited warranty

Just like the laser golf rangefinders by Bushnell, their golf GPS watches are also considered to be of supreme quality. Especially the Neo Ion Golf GPS watch is one of their best golf-focused watches that comes with an impressive battery life and a diverse range of amazing features.

The overall design looks sleek, and the build is pretty durable. The screen is easy to read in all light conditions, and the four-button interface is pretty self-explanatory and convenient.

In addition to offering accurate font, center, and back distances, the watch also comes with several additional features such as hazard and layup distances, auto hole advance, and automatic course recognition. On top of that, there is also a step counter, which you can use off the green when walking, jogging, or running.

How to use Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch​

Things We Liked

  • Impressive battery life
  • Comes with more than 35,000 courses
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a round odometer
  • Measures distances for every shot
  • Perforated wristband allows for ample ventilation to avoid sweating

Things We Didn't Like

  • It only features courses from 30 countries around the globe
  • Shows only up to 4 hazards per hole

Verdict

Ideal for orthodox golfers who want a feature- packed, heavy-duty GPS watch, Bushnell Neo Ion certainly delivers a punch. The affordable price and amazing features make it ideal for any golfer, and it deserves to be our best GPS golf watch.

Top brands that make golf GPS watches

TomTom is a company that founded on the idea of quality. Since the beginning, they’ve boasted about how high quality their products are. Recently they’ve become known for being the main mapping provider for Apple Maps. The best thing about TomTom products is that they are loaded with useful information and smart, predictive routes – and their golf GPS watches are no different.

The company is a pioneer in GPS world, but they have been outpaced by some of their competitors. All TomTom products including their watches are known for their information heavy interfaces. Their watches offer accurate distances to the green as well as hazards, are easy to use, and reasonably priced.

Bushnell is widely known for making binoculars and rangefinders. However, their golf GPS watches are also pretty amazing, though their range isn’t as diverse as their rangefinders. Their products are usually expensive, but there are several reasons for that. From accuracy to top-quality build, their watches have everything you would want to see in your watch to improve your swing.

Garmin is the top brand when it comes to not only GPS products but a number of others. They are in the same market as TomTom but seem to do it better. Their products, especially their golf watches, are modernized and based on the latest technology to offer the latest features.

Not only having better resolution on their watches but where TomTom has a cluttered screen (though it works fine), Garmin has figured out how to offer the same amount of information in a much simpler way, choosing not to take up your screen with information.

Since Garmin specializes in location information, their watches are pretty accurate. Garmin features an easy to use interface that tells you what you need to know for a better, more accurate swing, and nothing else. Overall, Garmin is known for their clear screens and superior location information, and this quality is dominant in their watches too.

Buying Guide

Golf GPS watches are made for people who are looking to not only improve on their golf technique but also look at your stats and analyze what you can get better at. They allow you to analyze your swing and see what you can improve on. When looking for a Golf GPS watch there are many thing to look for and it varies depending on your taste.

The design is a big thing when it comes to most wearable tech because you want it to blend in with your everyday clothing. The battery is yet another important feature as you don’t want to be in the middle of a set of holes and your watch dies.

Garmin is one of the best when it comes to application and design. Now that wearable tech is getting bigger for golfers; you want something that will not only blend in with your everyday routine but also work for you in any situation. The Approach S2 is a perfect example of this. If you want something that can work as a normal watch as well, this is the best for you because it looks similar to most smart watches and has uses outside of golf. When looking for a long lasting battery TomTom is going to be the way to go.

The TomTom Golfer 2 features one of the best battery lives in all of Golf GPS watches and boasts a staggering 10 hours of battery life on a full charge. For the price, it is cheaper than most all of the other choices on this list and is a great starter watch.

Bushnell is the watch for you if you want an information packed watch. Preloaded with more than thirty-five thousand preset courses and a pre-loaded shot distance calculator, this will be more useful for more experienced golfers.

The best way to use GPS golf watches is to better yourself and your golf game. If you golf regularly or are looking to start competing and you are looking to improve constantly, a golf watch will be very useful to you.

When comparing these products you have to look at what is going to be best for your situation. For someone who knows that they could drastically improve and don’t want to spend a fortune on your first GPS golf watch, TomTom and more specifically the Golfer 2 is going to be your best bet. It’s at a low enough price point yet high enough quality so that you aren’t paying for an overpriced toy.

For someone who is used to GPS golf watches but still not the best at golf and is still looking to improve, Garmin is going to be a better choice. They offer the best bang for your buck and are easily the top producer in products of these sorts.

Now, if you wanted to use Garmin for the rest of your days you would be set, but if you wanted something more advanced and technical, you could go for Bushnell. Bushnell may not offer the highest quality, but it is certainly the most advanced. It’s not the end all be all, but many upgrade to it because of the way it looks and the products that are associated with it.

Golf Watch FAQs

Q: What is the best golf GPS watch, Garmin or TomTom?

A: This is the most commonly asked question, everyone wants to compare Garmin vs. TomTom golf watches. Each product is good for different reasons.

Garmin has been known to have problems with European Maps and voice recognition software, while TomTom often has problems with their products after an update is pushed out or if you are living in America. Both are good for different reasons and should be looked into more so you can see which fits your needs.

Q: Can you use a Golf Watch for more than just Golf?

A: In most cases, no, but the newer watches are changing this trend.

Big companies are starting to implement more regular smartwatch features into their GPS golf watches. You can usually do with the products are some basic things such as track your steps, calories burned, or act as an odometer, in addition to tracking golfing skills and telling the time. Some modern ones, such as the Approach S20, offer more advanced features such as sleep tracking.

Most golf GPS watches can be compared to is the original Pebbles, they don’t feature a touch screen but instead a normal screen with buttons on the side to scroll back and forth as well as interact with the interface.

Q: Can I download more than the preset courses?

A: Yes, you can go onto each of the products respective websites and download additional courses that they have created.

Q: Are these products waterproof?

A: All of the products listed above are waterproof or at least water-resistant, which means you can play with the watch on your wrist even when it’s pouring down. But if you want to go swimming or scuba diving, make sure you take your golf watch off.

Q: Is battery life an issue in these products? Will I have to charge constantly?

A: In our experience with most of the products, the battery lasts for up to eight weeks as a standard watch, or in golf mode for two rounds of 9 Holes. Some last longer than the others, while some will need to be frequently charged, with the later ones being priced higher.

So, if you play a lot, a unit with a long battery life might be in order, otherwise you might be able to save a few extra bucks.

Q: Are golfing watches allowed in competition?

A: In most cases, yes. The USGA (golf rule 14-3) and R&A have said that devices that gauge and measures distance only are allowed when playing in competition.

Conclusion

If you are serious about improving your golf swing and technique, the best golf GPS watch can be an ideal choice as you don’t have to hold yet another gadget in your hand to know the distance to the green or the hazards. Just a glance at your wrist will give you all the information you need to know.

However, choosing any watch can backfire because they might not have a long enough battery life or might not be accurate enough. Considering the prices of the watches, you can’t afford to buy several watches until you land on the right one.

But to buy the best golf watch, you have to make sure you have some basic knowledge and know your options. The right watch will help you improve your technique and lower your scores, and can be a great investment in the long run.

So, for us it's a tie between those two Golf Watch, ​Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch and Garmin Approach S2.

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