Golf GPS devices whether that be a watch or a handheld device are a great idea to take your golf game to the next level. Having a reliable and accurate GPS means you are going to be leagues ahead of your partners in terms of choosing the right club for the stroke.
GPS devices, although all different with different features they will provide distances as well as any hazard information and overhead maps of the hole. This can be particularly useful for blind holes and golf courses which you have never played at.
Whether you choose a handheld device or a GPS watch, in the following post I will break down the key considerations, features as well as detailed comparisons of the best Golf GPS.
Golf GPS Watch or Golf GPS Handheld Device?
The golden question, which is better- a handheld or watch GPS? While I can’t answer this question for you I can do my best to share a little more about each one.
Handheld devices are popular because they can be stored easily and brought out whenever you need to use it. Generally, they have touch screens, are easy to use and relatively small in design. When I say relatively small they can fit within the palm of your hand as well as in your pocket.
Watches are also very easy to use, a very small and compact, easily fitting onto your arm which may even go unnoticed. If you don’t like the idea of adding a small unit to your golf bag then a watch is a great choice. Practically speaking a GPS watch is often the more popular choice as with just the turn of your wrist all the information you need is displayed.
9 Best Golf GPS Reviews Available Online!
Skycaddie Touch GPS Unit
- SkyCaddie Touch features a 3 inch color display with 35000 preloaded high definition maps over is competition
- Bluetooth wireless capabilities provides easy access to the most reliable accurate course maps without hooking up a cable to your computer
- Interactive holes with patented auto zoom gives an eagle's view of the entire hole and gives distances you need to avoid hazards from tee to green
- Digital scorecard and statistical tracking Syncs to the free skygolf 360 mobile app to upload instantly to the skygolf cloud for analysis of your game
- Trueground target list displays distances to hazards, bunkers, water, and layup areas
The SkyGolf SkyCaddie Touch is a handheld GPS unit that is glove friendly, easy to use and read. With bluetooth connectivity, user experience is greatly improved through a free smartphone app.
The screen itself is a high resolution, color display that can easily be read in the sunlight. With the preloaded maps this device has a patented auto zoom feature for enhanced accuracy.
A unique feature is the display of multiple yardage arcs which can make selecting the right club easier and faster. Using intelligent green technology the device also displays the shape of the green from your angle of approach.
Front carry and back distances can also be displayed along with the depth of green and distances to any other points on the green. The target list can display up to 40 points per hole including hazards, bunkers, water, carries and lay ups.
Unlimited access to 40,000+ SkyGolfa maps this gives pretty thorough coverage of worldwide courses.
A digital scorecard as well as statistical tracking is included in the device to help keep track of everything for you. Running off a lithium-ion polymer battery that lasts up to 12 hours of play.
Dimensions are 4″ H x 2.3″ W x 0.7″ D and a total weight of 3.8 ounces. The device is also IXP7 water resistant meaning it is protected against splashes and rain.
- Easy to use and read
- Full graphic display of each home
- Lightweight and compact
Preloaded with over 40,000 golf courses the SkyGolf SkyCaddie Touch displays all the vital information as well as tracks your game play. Syncing via bluetooth to a free smartphone app makes it easy to gather and analyse your golf statistics.
Bushnell 368220 NEO Ghost Golf GPS/Rangefinder, Black
- Tournament legal pocket-sized easy to use golf GPS pre-loaded with 30,000+ courses
- Long battery life means you can play three rounds before charging
- Auto course recognition and auto hole advance
- Easy to read distances to front center and back of greens
- Up to four custom hazard and layup distances per hole.Please refer user manual attached below for instructions and troubleshooting steps.
The Bushnell NEO Ghost GPS is a tournament legal, pocket sized GPS unit that comes with a over 35,000 preloaded golf courses.
Easy to read this device shows front, centre and back distances as well as four hazard distances per hole.
The great thing with this device is that there are no downloads necessary and no membership fees. With automatic course recognition as well as auto hole advance.
A long battery life of 16 hours means you can play three rounds of golf before it needs to be recharged. Recharging is simple through the supplied micro USB cable, covering the port is a rubberized cover which is great for out on the course.
Once turned on, it can take a few seconds to a few minutes to search for your location and course. Although not the fastest on the market it has a very easy operating system that works effectively and efficiently.
Accurate and compact, this device measures 2.2 inches x 2.2 inches x 0.7 inches and weighs 3.52 ounces. Included in a plastic clip for easy attachment to your bag or belt-whichever you prefer.
- Ready to go straight out of the package
- Very easy to use
- Simple display
- Only 4 hazards identified per hole
Available in black, charcoal, orange, neon green and white, the Bushnell NEO Ghost GPS is a well priced and nifty gadget to add your golf accessory repertoire.
GolfBuddy Voice GPS Rangefinder
1 used from $ 127.66
- Audio Distance Information (It tells you the distance)
- Pre-Loaded with 35.000+ courses worldwide
- 8 different spoken languages pre-loaded
- Distance to Front / Center / Back
- Shot Distance Measurement
When it come to finding the best entry level GPS the GolfBuddy Voice GPS is one of the best selling handheld GPS devices available. It is compact, has all the features you need with convenient voice readouts of distances.
Roughly the size of a matchbox this device is compact and functions well. It has the ability to store 40,000 courses with 33,000 that are already pre-loaded which are all completely free.
Possibly the easiest GPS device to use, the fact that the device speaks means you don’t need to fumble around with it to get the data you want.
The voice reads the distance to the hole, distance to the front, middle and back of the green, shot distance and it can also provide a view of the green.
This device is also available in eight different languages and all you need to do is press the button to hear the readout of information.
- Exceptional course coverage
- Accurate distances
- Voice readouts
- Limited features
The GolfBuddy Voice GPS is a popular, compact and voice activated handheld GPS device. With accurate distance read outs this unit is well priced if you are looking for a bare basic model.
Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS
3 used from $ 261.99
- Plays like Distance Gives The Golfer Distances To The Target, Adjusted For Uphill Or Downhill Shots
- Smart Notification Receive Email, Texts And Alerts From Your Iphone (4S Or Later) Directly On Your Golf Handheld;Physical dimensions:2.1 x 4.4 x 0.6 inches
- Garmin Connect Online golf community lets you play, then share and compare your round; visit connect.garmin.com to find out more
- Club Advice Remembers how far you hit each club, and provides recommendations on which club to use based on your shot distances PINPOINTER Provides blind shot assistance by pointing you in the right direction when you are unable to see the pin (G8 only)
- Big Numbers Mode For easy viewing on your screen, increase the font size for distances to the front, back and middle of the greens AUTOMATIC COURSE UPDATE Device automatically updates courses with a Wi-Fi connection for no additional charge (G8 only)
The Garmin Approach G8 GPS is a lightweight yet durable device with a 3 inch color and touch screen display. Packed full of features this is a high end device that has excellent customer reviews.
Included is over 30,000 international courses along with free Wi-Fi for course updates. Smart notifications allow you to recieve emails, texts and other alerts from your smartphone to your GPS device. Please not this feature is for iPhone 4s and above.
Smart technology is integrated into the device as well, remembering the distance your clubs hit as well as recommendations for what to use using this statistical data for future shots. There is also an accurate pin pointer which can help you orientate and swing in the right direction in the case of blind shots.
With a big numbers mode, seeing the information on this device is easy. The font can be increased with allows for ease of viewing while in use. Keeping score is also possible with a digital scorecard with scoring options for Stroke Play, Stableford, Skins and Match Play with adjustable handicaps.
Layup arcs at 100, 150, 200 and even 250 yards make it easier to determine how far to hit to get to your desired spot.
Garmin connect also allows you to joint he online golf community to share and compare course results. The data can also be saved and used to track your rounds, improvement and handicap.
- Lightweight and durable
- Loaded with features
- Free Wi-Fi for course and device updates
- Over 30,000 pre loaded golf courses
- Layup arcs
- Pin pointer for blind shots
Lightweight and slim the Garmin Approach G8 is packed full of all the features you could need in a GPS device. With Smart Notification messaging, PinPointer blind shot assistance and a rechargeable 15 hour battery if your budget allows then this is the best handheld GPS unit.
GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS/Rangefinder, White/Blue
- Easy-to-use talking GPS
- Distances to front/center/back of the green
- Dynamic green view Technology with distance readings from the golfer's perspective
- Up to 14-hour battery life (2+ rounds per charge) and water resistant
- Male/female Voice option
The GolfBuddy Voice 2 is the final handheld GPS device to make the review and is the model up from the GolfBuddy Voice.
So what’s the difference between the Voice 2 and the Voice? This device has an increased battery life and also shows the front, center and back of the green. It is also water resistant.
For use as a handheld device, with a retractable clip, belt clip and even wrist strap this device can be used in a variety of ways.
Shot distance, time, distance to front, middle and back of the green as well as the ability to view the green are all featured on the display.
The shape of the green also shows your angle of approach, hole number, par and right/left green where and when available.
- Voice activated
- Water resistant
- Accurate distance measurements
- Limited features compared with other models
More or less the same price as the original model, if the increased battery life and water resistance appeals to you then the GolfBuddy Voice 2 is a great entry level GPS device.
Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch - Black
- AUTOSHOT - Round analyzer measures shot distances with auto-recording for post-round analysis on your Garmin Connect account
- STYLISH COMFORT - Fully-hinged, sleek watchband design with comfortable fit. Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
- TRUSWING COMPATIBLE - When paired, Garmin TruSwing golf swing sensor provides metrics to improve your swing consistency. Display size: 0.9 x 0.9(inches)
- ACTIVITY TRACKING - Reminds you to stay active on or off the course with move bar alerts. Displays steps, calories burned, distance and time of day, plus it monitors hours of sleep
- STAT TRACKING - Enhanced stats keeps track of fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per round
The Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch is the overall winner and has many features included.
Using autoshot technology this analyses your round by shot distances and provides all the data you need on your Garmin Connect account. Great for tracking game improvement and adjustments, this feature stores all the important data.
Comfortable to wear, the watch is a fully-hinged, sleek band that has a 128 x 128 pixel display. This watch can also be paired with a Garmin TruSwing golf sensor to provide metrics regarding your swing consistency and how to improve.
Not only does the watch track your golf it also counts your steps, calories burned, distance as well as how many hours of sleep you are getting.
Smartphone compatible via bluetooth you can receive alerts such as texts and emails to your watch.
Scorecard tracking allows for ease of score keeping on the course as well as the possibility to upload you round to your online account and share with your buddies. Another cool feature is that you can analyse the cumulative stats over time or even by your club as well as swing data.
The green view display highlights the shape and layout of the green and you can manually reposition the pin if you need to. Distances to the front, middle and back of the green are all accurate as well as any hazards.
- Fitness/activity tracker as well
- Well made
- 4 colors available
- Smartphone bluetooth connectivity
- Accurate distance measurements
- Buttons can be difficult to press
The Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch comes with more than 40,000 courses as well as automatic updates. A stylish and sleed design that is much more than a GPS golf watch! Available in black, white, midnight teal and slate the hardest part is deciding on the color you want.
TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch
3 used from $ 121.40
- Smart shot detection. Automatically detects and records your shots to Show your distance potential and gives insights about your game.
- Ultimate round. Creates a virtual summary of your Best holes on a course You've played regularly. See your potential as you look at the Best combination of holes you could have played.
- Automatic scorecard. Track your Score without worrying about the Pencil. Plus, your shots are recorded and categorized for post-game analysis.
- Pre-loaded with full course data of over 40,000 international golf courses.
- View unique green and hazard graphics before you take your shot. See precise distances to the Front and back of individual Hazards along with distances to the Front, center and back of the green.
TomTom Golfer 2 GPS watch is another well made and well designed golf watch. With smart shot detection this will record your shots and show distance potential as well as other game insights.
Another feature while not directly related to game improvement is that it creates a virtual summary of your best holes and puts them together to form your ‘best round’.
Automatic scoring means you don’t need to worry about this, it also creates a post game analysis for you as well.
Included are over 40,000 pre loaded international golf courses as well as highlight unique golf and green hazards before you take your shot.
Distances from hazards as well as the front, center and back of the green are also displayed on this nifty little watch.
The no slide fit and tri fold closure make it quick to secure and comfortable to wear, regardless of your size and gender. Water resistant and lightweight, you’ll barely notice it on.
Automatic shot detection is built into the watch with a vibration after you swing. Walking towards your ball counts the distance on the watch, upon reaching it you’ll be able to see how far the last shot you hit travelled.
- Stylish and sleek design
- Fast to charge
- Accurate distance measurements
- Vibrating after each swing can become annoying
The TomTom Golfer 2 GPS watch is a quality and high performing watch that displays all the key information you need.
Bushnell Neo XS Golf GPS Rangefinder
3 used from $ 189.99
- Lightweight and comfortable golf watch
- Simple to use
- Ready to play right out of the box
- Preloaded with 25,000 courses in U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland and Sweden
The NEO XS Bushnell is an entry level GPS watch that is the improved version of the NEO X watch. Improved in what way? The amount of hazards has been increased to a total of four (previously this was two).
Stylish and sleek this watch looks good and the round face is preferred with some. The screen itself doesn’t take up the whole watch face, more so an area of 0.8 inches x 0.8 inches. This is a fairly small screen in comparison with other models on the market.
The LCD is illuminated upon the push of a button which is good for low level lighting but won’t make a difference in full sunlight. The backlit light stays on for about 10 seconds.
There are five fixed buttons on the watch, golf menu, menu, up and down and select. This is not a touch screen watch although it can easily be navigated with the buttons.
Boasting a 12 hour battery life this is more or less three rounds of golf. The watch shows information about the hole including the par, hazards and distance to the front, middle and back of the green. As mentioned this watch shows four hazards per hole with 2 appearing on the screen at once. Abbreviations are used to denote hazards so check in with your manual to familiarize yourself.
This watch doesn’t keep score nor track your gameplay statistics which is a let down for some. It does have a distance moved counter as well as your speed and time. There is also an alarm, stopwatch and countdown timer.
- Lightweight and accurate
- Four hazards displayed per hole
- 12 hour battery life
- No statistics or data analysis of your game
- No scorecard
Waterproof this watch can be used in all golf conditions, the Bushnell NEO XS is a good choice.
Bushnell Neo ION Golf GPS Watch, White
- Preloaded with 35,000+ courses in over 30 countries
- Long battery life and comfortable dual injected silicone sports band
- Auto course recognition and auto hole advance with easy-to-read front, back and center distances
- Up to 4 hazard or layup distances per hole and a distance calculator and integrated step counter
- Legal for Tournament play and comes with a One-year limited Warranty
The Bushnell NEO ION is one of the more stylish looking GPS watches availablem with a built in pedometer as well as odometer. This means it can also be used for walking, running and other sporting activities- not just golf.
Lightweight this watch is comfortable to wear with a snug and flexible silicon strap. There are plenty of adjustment options so finding the right width for your wrist is easy.
Charging this GPS watch is easy with the USB cable provided, a full charge takes roughly an hour or two. At full capacity this watch lasts fairly long as in at least 4 rounds of golf.
The LCD display is very easy to read, clear and displays the centre yardage with the front and back yardage below that.
Finding your course is relatively fast and there are over 35,000 courses on the database. There is also an auto hole advance which picks up when you move to the next hole. No score card capabilities and no pairing to your smartphone are really the only drawbacks to this watch.
- Stylish design
- Basic yet has all the features you need
- Accurate distance measurements
- No smartphone connectivity
- No scorecard capabilities
The Bushnell Neo ION is a great entry level GPS watch that has all the basic functions needed. The biggest attraction to this watch is the long battery life as well as tracking sports other than golf.
Choosing the Best GPS Device
With a huge range of features, determining what exactly it is you want the GPS unit to do is key to figuring out which is best for you.
For example, do you want something that is touchscreen? Audio readouts? Compact? For a newcomer or weekend enthusiast a basic watch/handheld device will be fine.
If you are looking to optimize your current golf game then a more upmarket device with a lot more features is a better choice.
Either way, when you are able to determine the exact distance you need to hit, as well as hazards to avoid and the hole layout then your golf will improve.
How Do Golf GPS Devices Work?
Through GPS technology maps of the course you are playing at are loaded onto the device. From here all distances, hazards and layouts are easily identified which helps to prepare you for the game. By calculating where you are on the course, the device can work out the distance between you and the hole.
Some devices come pre-loaded with courses which makes them very accurate and reliable.
Although golf courses have markers for distances from the hole, these do not come close to comparing with the accuracy of a GPS device. If you struggle with gauging distances from the hole then purchasing one of these could be a game changer.
Key Features to Consider
Technology is always evolving and that includes golf GPS products. When choosing the right GPS watch or handheld device there are a few key things to think about including:
- Ease of use and set up
- Are there annual fees
- Course details
The most important feature – how accurately the device can read from your location to the hole. The distance between a few yards may not seem like a lot but it can make all the difference in your play. Professionals and experienced players are experts at gauging these distances but for the vast majority it can be pretty tough.
As a result, this can be great for selecting the right club for the stroke. If you are 100 yards out and know you can hit an iron exactly that far then it makes the decision a whole lot easier and smarter.
Potential hazards on the Course
Loaded with all the details of the hole, this is effective at highlighting potential hazards on the course. If there is a water hazard as well as bunkers then your device will let you know and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Some GPS units will analyse and relay the information back to you after the hole is finished. How far you hit, how hard you swing as well as keeping score are all great added features. It may take some time but your golf will dramatically improve when you have a device giving you the cold hard facts.
A golf GPS watch or a GPS handheld is a great way to improve your golf play. These make perfect gift ideas for the golfer in your life too. There are a few different things to consider before committing to a purchase so be sure to read through the buyer guide as well as the product reviews.
For newcomers and those looking to improve their accuracy, a GPS unit may be the game changing answer you are looking for.
Choosing between a watch or handheld device can be a tough choice and a personal one at that. There are pros and cons to both options so the final decision comes down to your preferences. If you have used any of the above products or think I’ve missed any that deserve a mention please let me know in the comments!