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Best Golf GPS Watch 2018

Golf GPS watches have exploded in popularity over the past few years. In this article, we’ll guide you through the features you should look out for (or avoid) and answer the question “what is the best golf GPS watch of 2018?”

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8 BEST Golf GPS Watches of 2018

1. Garmin Approach S20 GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - Garmin Approach S20 GPS

Price: £169

  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Input: Button
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 40,000+

The Garmin Approach S20 GPS is a fantastic golf watch. It has all the features you need, a good battery life and is well-priced too. I’ve been using this watch for over two years and it can’t say enough good things about it. It’s fast to find signal, accurate, comfortable, understated (and stylish) and is easy-to-use. Part of the reason it’s easy to use is that it’s button operated. This means your input is deliberate and accurate. There’s no mistakingly pressing the wrong button and landing on the wrong screen. There are golf watches that do more, yes, but if you want a golf watch that doesn’t distract you from the game itself, is easy to use, and actually helps your game, then this is the best golf GPS watch you can buy.


2. Garmin Approach S60 GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - Garmin Approach S60 GPS

Price: £365

  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Input: Touchscreen and button
  • 1.2″ Sunlight-readable colour touchscreen display
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 40,000+

If you want the very best golf GPS watch in terms of features and performance – while ignoring price and ease of use – then this is it. It has a ridiculously good battery life, enough to last 3-4 rounds – and a large sunlight-readable colour screen. It is a touchscreen though, which we find a bit fiddly to operate, but that’s personal preference. The benefits of the large touchscreen, however, is that the watch has the ability to display more information than its rivals. Its peerless in terms of hole/hazard/green information.


3. Bushnell Neo Excel Golf GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - Bushnell Neo Excel Golf GPS

Price: £174

  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Input: Button
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 33,000+

Bushnell has a pedigree in golfing technology, However, its known for its laser range finders, more than its GPS golf watches. The Bushnell Neo Excel Golf GPS is the brand’s first really good golf watch. And it’s a good one. Matching its rivals, Garmin and TomTom, for performance and key features. It’s button operated, which is a good thing, as touchscreens can be difficult to accurately operate during a round of golf. When we tested the Neo Excel, we were impressed with how easy to use and intuitive it was to use. It’s also one of the most stylish Golf GPS watches you can buy – an area often overlooked in manufacturing. At this price, it’s easy to recommend.


4. Garmin Approach X40 GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - Garmin Approach X40 GPS

Price: £173

  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Input: Touchscreen
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 40,000+

This golf watch is unique. Not only does it provide you with at-a-glance yardage information and a detailed view of the upcoming green/hazards, but it’s also a solid activity tracker too. This watch has a built-in heart rate monitor and pedometer that combine to report on your day’s steps and workout data. Its 10-hour GPS battery life is more than enough to get you through two rounds off golf too – using the watch in non-GPS mode will extend the battery life to five days.


5. Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smart Watch

Best Golf GPS Watches - Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smart Watch

Price: £124

  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Input: Touchscreen and buttons
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 40,000+

The Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smart Watch is way more than just a golf yardage watch. It’s designed to be a one-size-fits-all device that’ll track all your sporting activity (including running, biking, walking, swimming and golf). Which, providing you play other sports, makes is a great option. In terms of golf, it does the basics well, detailing front/back/middle of the green yardage, layup and dogleg info, hazards, shot measurement and you can also use the watch to keep score.


6. TomTom Golfer GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - TomTom Golfer GPS

Price: £149

  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Input: Trackpad
  • Smart notifications: No
  • Courses: 40,000+

The TomTom Golfer has been designed to combat the problems associated with touchscreen watches. The thinking behind the off-screen trackpad is that watches are too small to see where you’re pressing with any accuracy (because your finger blocks your view). The solution here works to a degree. It’s responsive to the touch and accurate too. However, if you’re wearing long sleeves (which any golfer in the UK will be for at least 9 months of the year) the bulbous trackpad can sometimes catch on your cuffs. This will cause it to switch screens away from the one you were last using. Apart from that, it has good battery life and plenty of relevant golf GPS watch features.


7. Garmin Approach S5 Golf GPS

Best Golf GPS Watches - Garmin Approach S5 Golf GPS

Price: £199

  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Input: Touchscreen and buttons
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 40,000+

This is an excellent golf watch. It’s also arguably the best-looking sports watch on this roundup too. However, during testing, we struggled a little with the sensitivity of the touchscreen. It was sometimes unresponsive to the touch, especially when during wet or humid conditions. Conversely, it would also navigate away from the yardage screen when we were walking between shots when we weren’t using it, and conversely. Which is a shame, as the watch itself rivals any golf GPS watch on this list regarding useful features.


8. Callaway GPSY Golf GPS Watch

Best Golf GPS Watch - Callaway GPSY Golf GPS Watch

Price: £189

  • Battery Life: 10-12 hours
  • Input: Buttons
  • Smart notifications: Yes
  • Courses: 30,000+

Callaway doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with the GPSY golf watch. Instead, it provides a watch that does the basics. And does them well. The watch is really easy to use, with input controlled by large physical buttons located to the right of the screen. The watch’s large screen face is easy to read too. Golfers will be able to get an accurate distance reading to the front, middle and back of a green from just a glance. Wearers can also use the watch to get a more detailed view of the hole they’re playing with info available on hazards and distance of hole dog-legs. For the more advanced user, there’s also a shot tracking mode, allowing you to digitally keep track of your rounds. Like all good golf GPS watches, the Callaway is fully automatic. Just turn the watch on and the watch will search for your location and automatically load up the course, and exact hole, you’re playing. It’s competitively priced too.

 


 

Golf GPS Watches 2018: Buyer’s Guide

 

Courses: The databases of Golf GPS watches are incredibly impressive, detailing yardages to the pin and hazards. The best watches come with tens of thousands preloaded. Meaning you can arrive at any golf course and just turn on your golf GPS watch and the yardages will load automatically (using the GPS to locate which golf club and course you’re at).

You needn’t worry about the database having your local course. It almost certainly will. But, if you still want to put your mind at rest, you can Google the “brand name + golf course GPS database” to manually search for your club. If, for whatever reason, it’s not listed (or accurate), there will be an editor tool you can use to submit your course’s layout and yardage.

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Battery life: Anyone who owns a golf GPS watch will tell you that battery life is the most important feature. The earlier golf GPS watches barely had enough power to last more than a single slow round (about six hours in total).

Modern watches have improved considerably. You should look to buy a new GPS watch that lasts for two to three rounds (eight to 12 hours).

Touchscreen or buttons: Golf GPS watches are one of the few technologies that reverse the touchscreen trend. We recommend you opt for a golf watch that’s button-operated.

Manufacturers trialled touchscreens with second-generation golf GPS watches but generally reverted to buttons on the next models. The Garmin Approach S3, for example, was touchscreen, but navigating around menus took more effort than on previous models – especially when conditions were wet.

Hazards: Most watches come with basic information regarding hazard yardage. However, if you’re willing to invest a little more money in your golf GPS watch, you can pick up devices that display course layouts and detailed maps about upcoming hazards and greens.

Display: All the devices featured below have good screens that an easy to read in bright daylight. Having a colour screen is more of a bonus than a “must-have” feature. You’re going to be glancing at your watch for less than one-second for the majority of times. Colour screens become useful when you’re viewing a hole’s hazards or greens. But still not a necessity.

Extras: Don’t worry too much about any extras. These are often surplus to requirement and serve as a way for manufacturers to sell your this year’s latest model or simply get you to spend more on a golf GPS watch with all the latest features. You’ll see new watches advertising swing training, smartphone notification and pedometers built in. You don’t need these.


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