The first piece of technology I used to improve my game was a Golf GPS watch. I decided to try one because I felt like I could get more out of my game with a little more information. Most of the time without technology it feels like you’re just giving approach shots a rough guess.
After one round, I was hooked on the new information I had right on my wrist, whenever I needed it. I noticed a difference on how it helped me hit more greens and avoid hazards, even after the first use.
Golf GPS watches are easy to use, and are packed with value that you can use to directly improve your golf game. You can use the watch to enhance your knowledge of a course you’ve played many times, or make you feel more comfortable on a course you’re trying for the first time.
Our Top Picks:
The Best Golf GPS Watch Overall: Garmin S40
The Best Value Option: GolfBuddy Aim W10
The Best Budget Option: Garmin Approach S10
Basics that Golf GPS Watches should have
Most Golf GPS Watches on the market have the same basic functions. At the simplest, all of these watches provide yardage information on thousands of courses and give you distance to the green on each hole.
Here are some other basic things to look for in any Golf GPS Watch.
Front Middle Back Green Distances
The Golf GPS should give you a reading on the distance to the front, middle and back of the green. This is actually extremely important as a function. Based on where the pin is, you will have to alter your shot, and the difference between hitting the front of the green vs the back of the green can be 2-3 clubs (ie, 130 yards 9iron to the front vs 165 yards 7 iron to the back. Big difference.)
Having this information will alter your approach to a green. If the flag is in the front of the green, you’ll probably want to choose a shot that will stop on a dime, and not run out on you. If the pin is in the back of the green, you’ll have a lot of room to play with and can use a different club and different shot for the ball to roll up closer.
You should look for a Golf GPS Watch that will give you distance to hazards on the course, not just information on the distance to the green.
Have you ever gone for a shot, only to end up dunking the ball into the water, missing your target by a few yards (or more)? That’s one of the worst feelings in golf. Having more insight on hazard distance can change your approach to make smarter decisions on the golf course, and save you valuable strokes.
Many of the watches that include hazard yardage will also let you know dogleg distance, and can help you make an appropriate decision here too.
Every Golf GPS Watch has preloaded course information. Some brands have information on over 40,000 courses. You’ll want to make sure the one you buy has at least 30,000 preloaded courses. You’ll feel comfortable that the courses you play will be included, and most every golf destination you choose will be featured.
The Best Golf GPS Watch List
The Best Overall: Garmin S40
Garmin is well known as a powerhouse in GPS technology, and this definitely stays true in the world of golf. Of all the models Garmin has on the market for Golf GPS Watches, (and there are many), this one packs the best punch for the price.
The Garmin S40 has several color schemes available, and they make it easy to swap out the band for additional customization. This model has a very comfortable band and a beautiful color display that is really easy to see in the sunlight.
The S40 separates itself from the pack as it has the best battery life on the market, a crisp full color display and has additional features that make this watch wearable on and off the course.
This watch is great for anyone looking for a top of the line GPS Golf Watch with a competitive price tag.
- Provides up to 15 hours of active GPS battery life, some of the best output on the market, and can stay in “watch mode” for up to 10 days
- AutoDetects shots, and keeps track of shot distances (does not track putts or chips around green)
- “Green View” Feature allows you to manually drag and place the pin position for even more accurate readings
- Keep track of your score
- Smartwatch functionality allows you to track steps and calories burned
- Syncs with smartphones to display incoming text messages, calls, alerts etc directly on the watch
- Integrates with Garmin app to compete with friends in a leaderboard format, and allows you to analyze your round in real time
If there is any drawback with the Garmin S40, it’s that there is a lot going on with it. There is a learning curve to use features like hazard distance or Green View, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be on your way.
The Best Value Option: GolfBuddy Aim W10
The GolfBuddy Aim W10 has a lot of functionality you’d find in a premium Golf Watch with a really attractive price tag. GolfBuddy has consistently come out with products that compete with big names like Garmin and Bushnell, and the brand has been around for over 15 years.
This model has a full color screen and allows you to zoom in and out on a hole. Similar to the Garmin S40, you have the ability to place the pin position on the green to get more accurate information. You can also sync your phone with the watch via bluetooth, and cast distances straight to your smartphone. Overall, this watch looks and feels like it is built for golf, and not necessarily to be worn off the course.
- Up to 13 hours of battery life while GPS is active, which translates to about 3 full rounds!
- Green Undulation Display: you can see the way the green slopes and how severely
- Keeps track of your round with a digital scorecard, with over 40,000 courses preloaded
- Built in step-counter to keep track of miles walked
- Integrates with GolfBuddy App on smartphone
The app that works with the watch is arguably the least impressive aspect of the watch, as many users report issues with it.
The Best Budget Option: Garmin Approach S10
The Garmin Approach S10 is distinctly different from the S40. This model is essentially the “no frills” version, and it provides great functionality where it counts. The S10 comes with a very reasonable price tag and boasts an impressive battery life.
The Garmin Approach S10 is a perfect golf watch for a player who is cost conscious, or for anyone who just wants the basics and doesn’t need many additional features.
- Up to 13 hours of battery life while using the GPS, coming close to industry best
- Accurate measurement of Front Middle Back, and hazard distances
- Great display that is clear to read in any lighting conditions
- Easy to use
- The watch allows you to keep score easily, keeps track of how long rounds are, distance travelled and sunrise/sunset times
For a no frills option, this one won’t disappoint.
The Best Premium Option: SkyCaddie Linx GT
This watch comes as an all-in-one package deal to give you the ultimate insight into your game.
The SkyCaddie Linx GT comes with “Smart Tags” to attach to each of your clubs. Using the watch, the Smart Tags and the SkyCaddie App together provides you with more data than any other GPS watch.
As you play more rounds you collect more data on how far you hit each club. Not only does this take the guesswork from the game, but it will give you a clear plan of action on each shot, based off the distance you need to hit. The SkyCaddie App allows you to access as much or as little information as you want. The downside is that it requires a subscription.
The watch itself is a sleek black color, and gives you all the standard green and hazard yardage information. You can drag the pin on the green for additional accuracy.
Ultimately, the real value of this watch is in the data you can collect through the app and smart tags. If you are looking to drill into the statistics and improve your game through actionable data, this will be a great option.
Worth a Look: Garmin Approach X40
I like the Garmin Approach X40 because it gives you a couple functions that other GPS watches do not. This watch will keep you updated on your activity throughout the day, as well as heart rate information.
This watch will last up to 5 days just in activity mode, and roughly 10 hours while the GPS is active. You still get your distance, and the watch will track your round for you.
This option is good for someone who is conscious of keeping up their activity, and would like to access some fitness information between rounds!
The Bottom Line
My choice of the group is the Garmin Approach S40, I definitely like this option the best.
The watch doesn’t have an astronomical price tag, but does have some pretty cool features that are useful to golfers of all levels. I love the battery life it has, and think the display coupled with the Green View drive this one home as a top pick for me.
Thanks for reading! Did you enjoy this article? Check out our review on the best rangefinders!