Today’s golf watches perform as they do because of the magic of GPS and Bluetooth. Smartphone apps add to their versatility. Today’s golf GPS watches often do much more than provide helpful yardages. Many are also fitness trackers outfitted with pedometers and odometers.
GPS golf watches may not be quite as stylish as the fashionable timepieces favored by some. But they will enhance your enjoyment of the game.
There are various ways to get GPS-based information on the course. Use a GPS golf watch if you are comfortable having a wristband on when you swing. If not, consider a clip-on device like the GolfBuddy Voice 2.
Mobitee Golf takes a different approach. Their tracking device clips right onto your golf glove. It gathers data that’s compiled and displayed in the Mobitee app.
GPS watches for golf improve your game in various ways. Many include capabilities that deliver the following:
- More exacting club selection
- Analysis of golf stats and data
- Exercise tracking on and off the course
Recommended GPS Golf Watches
As you compare GPS golf watches, you’ll find that most of them offer the following features:
- Yardage to the front, middle and back of the green
- Distance to various hazards
- Free automatic course updates
- Rechargeable battery good for two or more rounds
The watch market is very competitive. Some models get discontinued while others get upgrades. If you’re looking for a great piece, here are some recommendations.
Garmin Approach S10
The Approach S10 is a lower-cost Garmin golf watch that still gets the job done. It comes pre-loaded with more than 41,000 courses worldwide, the same as Garmin’s more upscale designs. This sleek, lightweight watch is comfortable to wear both on and off the course. The wide, ventilated band accommodates a wider, squarish screen. The high-resolution display is easy to read in the bright sun. The 1.2-oz Approach S10 is water-rated to 50 meters (164 feet).
When you keep your score on the watch, it will compile various statistics for you, including round summary, distance played and total time. Upload scorecards through the Garmin Connect or Garmin Express platforms. Use the free Garmin Golf app to participate in leaderboards. Or, set up a “tournament,” and ask your friends to join in.
There’s a choice of three colors: Granite Blue, Powder Gray and Black. Get 12 hours of use per charge in GPS mode. That will easily get you around an 18-hole course at least twice. In Watch Mode only, you’ll get up to 14 weeks of battery life.
The tournament-legal Bushnell Ion2 is an updated design. It comes pre-loaded with 36,000-plus international courses. The Ion2 delivers automatic course recognition along with automated course updates. There are no download costs or subscription fees.
The reversible, dual-injected silicone band is thin and comfortable. Play three rounds on a single charge. When the battery runs low, it takes about 2.5 hours to fully recharge.
The easy-to-read display gives you distances to the front, center and back of the green. The Ion2 also provides up to four hazard/layup distances for each hole, while the display updates as you move on to the next hole.
The Ion2 is also an activity tracker. The pedometer counts steps on and off the course. Keep track of distance, duration of activity and average speed.
The Bushnell Golf app comes with your purchase. It provides both 2D hole layouts and 3D flyovers. All hole illustrations include distances. You can also keep track of your scores and tee times in the app. The device also comes with a USB charging/sync cable and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The Ion2 Bushnell golf watch comes in two color combinations: silver/green and black/blue.
The Callaway GPSy offers much of what you’d expect in a full-featured GPS golf watch. It comes pre-loaded with more than 30,000 courses in dozens of countries. The 2.24-oz device automatically recognizes the course you’re playing. You get automatic hole advance as well.
The GPSy provides distances to the front, middle and back of each green. It also displays distances to doglegs and to the front and back of hazards. The Scorekeeper app will track your scores, greens in regulation and putts per round.
The 1.28-in display provides both analog and digital time. A fully charged battery will give you 10 hours of use in GPS mode, enough to cover two 18-hole rounds. In Time Mode, you’ll get about 40 days worth of battery life.
The Callaway GPSy Sport Watch is available in white and black.
GolfBuddy Voice 2
The water-resistant Voice 2 is the latest incarnation of the popular GolfBuddy Voice. First of all, the Voice 2 is not a GPS golf watch per se. Simply clip it to your belt, pocket or hat. If you like the idea of a watch, clip it to the wristband (sold separately). Or clip it to other accessories like the retractable clip, universal cart mount and belt clip.
As the name implies, the Voice 2 delivers key information via voice. Choose a male or female voice available through the complimentary GolfBuddy Manager app. Tap the primary button to get the distance to the middle of the green. For the yardage to the front and back of the green, hold the button down. The screen displays the shape of the green and all three yardages. Like most GPS golf watches, the Voice 2 offers automatic course and hole recognition. Green View tech displays pin locations for more precise yardages.
Fourteen hours of battery life will easily cover two or even three rounds. The GolfBuddy Voice 2 is a multilingual device. Eight languages are pre-loaded, and three more are available. Select from four color combinations: rose/white, blue/white, silver/white and black/black.
TomTom Golfer 2
The Golfer 2 SE is slimmer than the original TomTom Golfer. This TomTom golf GPS watch comes with more than 40,000 courses pre-loaded. Enjoy the convenience of the automatic scorecard function. Shot detection is automatic.
The watch features a dedicated button for green view with manual pin position. With green view, you’ll quickly figure out the right approach shot. It displays the layout of the green as well as hazard locations. Use the TomTom Sports app to sync this TomTom GPS golf watch to your phone. It will automatically update golf course information whenever you connect. Gain valuable insights from your post-game analysis.
The TomTom Golfer 2 is a multi-function GPS golf watch. However, it is not an activity tracker, and there are no smartphone notifications.
In GPS mode, it’s possible to play two 18-hole rounds on a single charge. The wristband (gray or black) comes in two sizes.
The slim, lightweight GolfBuddy WTX+ is a feature-laden golf GPS watch and activity tracker. It comes pre-loaded with more than 38,000 international courses. Use the free GolfBuddy smartphone app to get no-cost updates via Bluetooth. As with most medium-to-higher priced golf GPS watches, you’ll get automatic course and hole correction. You’ll also get distances to the front, middle and back of the green along with distances to hazards. With green view, get yardages measured from the player’s position.
Notifications are automatically sent to your GolfBuddy watch from your smartphone. The built-in pedometer tracks your activity on and off the course. The WTX+ is both USGA and R&A compliant. Use it for both handicap and tournament play.
The WTX+ comes with a crisp 1.2-in color LCD display. The outer screen is interchangeable. In GPS mode, you’ll get eight hours of battery life, somewhat less than that delivered by some competing models.
Garmin Approach X40
The Garmin Approach X40 is an all-in-one golf and fitness tracking device offering smart connectivity. The Approach X40 comes preloaded with more than 41,000 courses worldwide. New courses and updates are automatically added via Garmin Express. It is an app for managing all your Garmin devices. There are no setup fees or subscription costs with the Approach X40.
This Garmin golf watch displays the yardage to the front, middle and back of the green. Distances are accurate even if you find yourself under a tree. It also displays the distance to hazards. AutoShot tracking calculates shot distances. Access the data for further analysis after your round.
Wear it on and off the course. The slim, low-profile wristband is both comfortable and durable.
Vibrating smart notifications let you know about incoming calls, texts and emails. Stay connected both on and off the course. Your watch connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can read those important messages when you’re on the go. It displays the current time/date. There’s also an alarm setting.
“Elevate” wrist heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7. Start your workout without adding a heart rate strap. The Approach X40 uses heart rate data to calculate the intensity of your physical activities and calories burned.
From the moment you tee off, the highly sensitive GPS receiver knows your distance to the pin. The versatile Green View accurately displays each green’s shape and layout. You’ll get accurate information even when you’re behind a green. Manually reposition the pin for the best shot selection.
The Approach X40 is compatible with Garmin’s TruSwing club sensor. Get 3D animations of your swing on your smartphone or tablet. You’ll better understand how swing mechanics impact ball flight. Use the Garmin Connect golf app to analyze your swing speed, club angles and more.
More features often mean greater battery drain in GPS golf watches. However, you can still play two full rounds per charge. In regular watch mode, a single charge will last five days. The Approach X40 is water-rated to depths of 50 meters (164 feet).
There is a good choice of colors. Select black/gray, white/black, frost blue/midnight blue or limelight/midnight blue. The wristband comes in two sizes. Use the Small/medium if your wrist circumference is between 5.4 and 7.6 inches. Use the Large if your wrist circumference is between 7.1 and 8.8 inches.
Precision Pro GPS Golf Band
Precision Pro is known as a leader in golf rangefinders. It brings that expertise to its GPS Golf Band. The design offers an appealing combination of features. It is lightweight, and it costs less than many GPS golf watches. The waterproof silicone band weighs a single ounce, while the display is long and narrow. The Precision Pro design is an interesting option for players who value both comfort and simplicity. It’s ready to use right out of the box.
This Precision Pro golf watch comes pre-loaded with thousands of courses – more than 35,000, in fact. There are no monthly fees or download charges. The device automatically detects the course you’re playing. It automatically advances to the next hole as well. When fully charged, the battery delivers 10 hours of service in GPS mode.
You’ll get distances to the front, middle and back of greens. You’ll also learn the distance to up to four hazards that can come into play. The shot distance calculator allows you to determine how far you hit each shot.
The GPS band is also a fitness tracker that includes a pedometer and an odometer. The Precision Pro GPS Golf Band comes with a USB charger and a one-year warranty. It is available white and midnight blue.
SkyCaddie LINX GT
Sky Golf’s SkyCaddie LINX GT from Sky Golf is part of an integrated system. The rangefinder, game tracker, SkyGolf 360 Cloud service and SkyCaddie Mobile GPS work together. SkyCaddie Mobile delivers vivid, HD renderings of every hole. Get the information you need to choose clubs and plane with precision. Get distances to every hazard, and to all parts of the green.
Sky Golf offers a proprietary TruePoint GPS engine. The company asserts that it is up to three times more accurate than the GPS used in certain competing models. Access information you can trust on both your watch and your smartphone.
The SkyCaddie LINX GT is the first golf watch to come with a built-in SmartTag reader. Sky Golf’s innovative Smart Tags take data analysis to another level. When you add SmartTags to the end of each of your clubs, you get club-specific data. Each shot is “tagged” with the club name, distance and location. One-touch editing simplifies analysis after your round. Thanks to SkyCloud 360, it is even possible for friends, family and golf buddies to follow your round in real-time. It’s a nifty feature if you find yourself competing for the club championship.
The LINX GT’s advanced services come at a price. You’ll need to sign up for a SkyGolf membership. Choose from SkyGolf 360 Premium ($29.95/yr) or SkyGolf 360 Pro ($49.95/yr). Both plans include the SkyCaddie Mobile GPS app and SmartTag integration.