From their very inception, golf courses have always been great places to gaze at luxury accessories, especially watches. This is partly because golf clubs have always been one of the hotspots to see and be seen, but also because the personality required to succeed at golf relies on dependability, precision, and a firm work ethic.
Naturally, the same new technologies that revolutionized the watch industry have opened countless options and tools for gold players. GPS and Smart Watches have been at the forefront of this trend: when smartly implemented, motion sensors, fine location, and internet connectivity can change the way we work and play from the ground up.
The Top-Ranked and Reviewed GPS Golf Watches
Depending on what you’re after, your best bet will definitely be on this list.
Back in the 1990s, Garmin was the first company to make GPS systems mainstream and available for the general population. Their SatNav was one of the first commercially available car navigators and made a previously military-only technology available for all. But now that any decent smartphone can navigate you to the nearest Starbucks, they have managed to stay ahead of the curve with a new range of specialized products and sensors.
Their S60 watch is a great example of this. Fully integrated with their PlayBetter technology, this watch offers slope-adjusted distance readers, shot trackers, swing analysis, and strategy pinpointers. The software suite can calculate and adjust real-time data for over 40,000 golf courses around the world. This database is also being constantly updated to offer new ground to explore as well as course modifications. It will provide easily-readable information and tips that will allow you to track and improve your performance with each swing.
In addition, the model is sleek and comfortable enough to warrant wearing it every day; it won’t look out of place on a night out or in the tennis club either. The soft QuickFit band is easy to adjust and won’t make your wrist sweat or itch. It’s available in both Smooth Steel Bezel and White Silicone versions. The battery life is more than decent, plus easy to recharge while going about your business. The package comes with a wall & car USB charging adapters, plus a tempered glass screen protector.
Initially, this may not look like a specialized Golf watch – and most stores, both online and brick-and-mortar ones, are treating it as a generic sports watch. This is not only unfair to the watch, but it also ignores the decades of work that Callaway has spent building an untarnished reputation in the golfing world.
Make no mistake; this watch was made for and by golfers. Callaway has provided access to a database of 30,000 golf courses, which the watch can auto recognize. As a specialized company, the information provided for each course goes beyond the simple geographical features and provides access to green lay-up, instant alerts for carry distances, hazards, and dog-legs.
Thanks to the addition of an autoscoring option or a step tracker, this model remains useful for everyday use outside the course. The battery is superb, as it can last up to 12 hours under normal brightness conditions. It’s available in both black and white, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for future design updates.
If you are new to the smartwatch scene and are not quite convinced about the impact they can have on your gameplay, then that chances are that you are not quite ready to spend $400 or more on a special golf watch. For this introductory audience, the Golfbuddy WTX is a great starting option; budget-friendly and easy to use, they are perfect to fulfill a need you didn’t know you had.
Despite its relatively small price tag, this model includes the same bells and whistles as the big players on the list. In addition to a remarkably responsive touchscreen, there is a highly-sensitive GPS that provides accurate location and distance to the front, center, and midpoints of the field, as well as to the next hole. It also features automatic course and hole recognition. To do so, it uses a pre-loaded database that spans over 38,000 courses, and updates are available via Bluetooth and adding the GolfBuddy app to your smartphone.
The app deserves its own mention, however, as it provides one of the best available alert systems for weather incidents or potential nearby accidents, so you will never have to cancel your game at the last minute again. Finally—and after so many features, it is almost an afterthought—this watch also works as a watch, and a highly customizable one; the display offers six different layout options, which let you read your data the way you like it.
Compared to Garmin or TomTom, Shot Navi is not yet an instantly recognizable name, at least not outside Japan. We believe that this golf GPS watch deserves to become the product that changes that. This model is pre-loaded with the standard 30,000 courses, and the database includes green and layup targets, inclines, terrain info, and precise distance information. The battery last about 8 hours, which also places it firmly in the upper average section of the golf watch market.
What makes this model remarkable then? First of all, the design. The sleek silver coating and polished dial make it a high-tech smart watch that can nonetheless pass for a dress watch during the week. In addition, the Japanese love of cutting edge tech is evident in the degree of accuracy offered by all sensors’ sure, they may technically be the same as all the other models, but when it comes to accuracy, the difference feels like comparing a scalpel to a steak knife.
This is also one of the few golf watches we found that is fully submergible; it is rated to resist up to 5 ATM. Also, the number display is large and easy to read, even if the light outside is not the best. This helps the watch save energy, as you will be able to get the info you need without increasing the brightness setting. As this watch was originally designed with the Asian market in mind, the interface is available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. We couldn’t find any flaws with the English version.
Many serious golfers are not quite ready to show up to their Sunday game with a Fitbit. We can’t say we blame them; their instantly recognizable design is now excessively associated with the uber-fit crowd that sucks the fun of every event by over-counting every step they make. Shouldn’t there be a GPS golf watch that still lets you enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played?
As it turns out there is. and that would be the Bushnell Neo Ion. This is perhaps the only model on this list to offer all the necessary golfing functions without encroaching into smartwatch territory. Its old-school look will instantly bring you back to the early millennium. It offers all the old comforts of this trend, from a sturdy construction to a soft and comfortable wrist band.
The internal database provides information and instant readings on over 36,000 golf courses located all around the world. The display is large enough to communicate up to 4 potential hazards per hole. It also includes a step counter, in case you want to indulge in the guilty pleasure of improving your fitness while having a good time. This model is also fully Bluetooth compatible and is available in two bold color combinations: black on blue and silver on green.
Can a brand compete with itself? Its executives may sometimes disagree, but Garmin’s designers are clearly eager to outdo themselves every year. This is exactly what the Approach S20 has been after, providing the largest battery life on this entire list, plus a plethora of additional golfing gadgets and full smartphone capabilities.
The battery life itself deserves extra crowns; for such a large, bright display, achieving 15 hours of continuous operation while in GPS mode is a feat of engineering. The 15-hour benchmark works even when actively using the whole range of functions offered by the Approach S2: from the gigantic database to the activity and score trackers, shot readers, and answering the occasional phone call.
The next remarkable feature offered is the Autoshot system, which will allow you to analyze each one of your shots, the distances achieved, and their power; the opportunities to improve your game should not end as soon as the game is over, after all. The Autoshot, when used correctly, can provide a significant difference for your next session.
Design-wise, there was undoubtedly a price to pay for high tech; the model is a bit too bulky to be comfortably worn on a daily basis. The model also looks like it should have a heart rate monitor but doesn’t, which may cause you to be disappointed for about two minutes; this is a golf watch, not a running gadget, after all. It is available in white, charcoal, and blue, and so it should be easy enough to hide as long as the dress code remains casual.
TomTom is the kind of great brand that we can always defend its spot without fearing anyone will want to fight us too much over it. A long-standing expert in the GPS field, they have scored a clear hit with their Golfer 2. This is a beautiful and slim golfer watch that comes with a very comfortable tri-fold clasp wrist band, an easy to read screen, and a very intuitive interface.
This makes the Golfer 2 a pleasure to wear and quick to master, and the sharply reduced learning curve means that you will be able to notice its effects on your game very quickly. The internal memory includes over 40,000 maps and golf courses, which the watch is able to recognize on its own without any input from you. The scorecard screen is practical and updates nearly instantly, and the hazard and green distance alerts are always opportune.
The data collection capabilities of the Golfer 2 are remarkable as well. Clearly, they have recruited a group of engineers who love golf when deciding what gets stored. You can receive instant feedback on your latest round, your strike, and the number of putts per round. After the game, you can always revisit the game stats to get a more thorough report that highlights the strong and weak spots of your game. This information is thorough enough to continue providing valuable feedback even if you have been golfing for decades. Just do your homework as soon as you get home, and you should be all set to see your ranking improve next game.
If you love Bushnell but feel the Neo Ion is not offering everything you need, then the Golf 2017 Excel is the watch that was made with your needs in mind. This watch offers several improvements over the Neo Ion, which helps it become a full-fledged smartwatch. Its brighter display, increased internal memory, and smartphone connectivity capabilities are compounded by the possibility to watch your flyovers in 3D.
Although this watch entails a relatively large initial investment, the quality is certainly worth it. The battery can last for up to 12 hours, and the sensors are sensitive enough to read back and center distances quickly, while the display offers you up to 4 hazards per hole. As it connects instantly with your smartphone, you have the option of reading additional information on each hazard on your phone’s larger screen if you install the dedicated app – and if your game buddies will allow you, naturally.
There is also a full step and activity tracker, which can be synced with a wide range of fitness apps. The screen is highly resistant and adaptive, and so will remain easy to read even if the day is brightly sunny (Here’s 35 great sunglasses for eye protection) and scorching hot. On rainy days, the fun stays and so will the watch, as the case as completely rainproof (although it shouldn’t be submerged). The resettable timer will help you calculate your pace, and the way you use it will be taken into account on your after-game reports. The watch comes with a belt clip, a storage pouch, and a charging adaptor set.
Initially designed to act as a budget counterpart for the Golfbuddy WTX (which we have reviewed above), the WT6 can nonetheless stand on its own, thanks to its basic but efficient GPS and notification capabilities.
This watch provides seamless alerts regarding hazard presence, distance, and pace. In addition, it has the mandatory automatic course recognition, which scans the major features from within 38,000 different golf courses and provides relevant aid that will maximize your score. The simple but bright display is very easy to read under any light condition. The dial includes a dedicated golf button from where you can set the GPS on or off, and so convert the WT6 into a standard and flexible digital watch as soon as it’s time to get back to business.
Thanks to its resistant but sleek design, the watch can be used in pretty much any social circumstance, as long as it’s not a black tie event. The battery will last for up to 9 hours while in golf mode, which is way more than you will need on each use. As soon as it is sent back to watch mode, performance is adjusted in order for the battery to last up to two months. The watch is also shock and water-resistant; rainy days, showers, and mild immersion are fine, but it should not be used when swimming or diving.
Discreet and light, the IZZO Golf Swami is sure to become the Fitbit of Golfing pretty soon, especially among younger players. It is budget-friendly, easy to use, and quite nice to look at despite its small size. The wrist band is comfortable and resistant, made from high-grade anti-rash silicon.
The readers and sensors included in the IZZO Swami will provide you reliable and near-instant data on green distance (front, mid, and back), as well as swing distance and efficiency. The scorekeeping feature is remarkably intuitive and won’t require you to study the manual before the game starts – or even worse, to risk the wrong input and the subsequent angry playmates. Distances and the number of holes are updated automatically and can be read from the band itself or from your smartphone.
This model strives to remain equally useful both inside and outside the golf course. This is why it has discreetly included several sport band capabilities, such as a highly accurate step counter, that will make you want to wear it all the time. The internal memory includes information on over 38,000 golf courses, which are well-distributed all around the world. We hope to see this model launched in a wider variety of colors; right now, it’s only available in black.
When a GPS golf watch markets itself as a “Sky Caddie,” then you know the manufacturers have chosen to aim high – both in altitude and in capabilities. The price tag attached to this model is quite above average, but so are the features; this is not amateur equipment.
First of all, the Sky Caddie is not just a watch. It is a whole package that includes 15 smart tags that can be attached to your clubs. This means that it provides a true treasure trove of information regarding your swing, strike impact, and general form. Installing the dedicated app will enable to make the most of these readings and will also provide 3D maps, flyovers, and trajectory history, fairways hit, GIRs, putts per round, putts per hole, and historical statistics will help you continuously improve your game and will give your regular reminders regarding your next pending milestone.
The watch itself is light and comfortable to wear, even if slightly reminiscent of G-Shock watches, and so not something you may want to keep on during business hours. The manufacturers were clearly not aiming for this either way, as their purpose was to make a specialized golfing product for data fanatics.
If you choose to get this model, make sure to account for shipping: the tags and trackers mean that the full package will weigh slightly over 2 pounds.
Golfing may be a relaxing activity for most hobbyists, but it should never be forgotten that the higher forms of the game constitute a physically demanding sport. If you are among the thousands of people who want to incorporate golf into their fitness routine, then a GPS watch that provides full golfing and general sports features should be the way to go.
Fully weatherproof, shockproof, and affordable, the POSMA GT2 packs fairly accurate golfing sensors (which include distance to the green, putts-per-hole statistics, and strike power) alongside all the fitness readers that the fitness crowd can’t live without. The watch’s golf mode requires connection to the proprietary app. The burned calories, movement speed, and step counting options, on the other hand, are compatible with a wide range of third-party fitness apps.
The black on white display is clear, sharp, and easy to read. The watch itself is only available in a red and black color scheme, which looks neat and modern but may not be to everybody’s taste.
What’s New in the World of Golf Watches?
Long story short: a whole lot of high tech tools. The way they have all been adapted to better serve the die-hard golfer may vary from model to model; some have chosen to provide live feedback on form, record achievements, or important weather information. A good bunch of them offer two or more of these perks, and a couple of premium-tier luxury models have aimed at providing them all.
Needless to say, GPS watches all fall in the tech gadget category and are subject to the same nuances. Just as no two smartphone cameras take the same kind of selfies, not all gyroscopes are equally accurate. The models we have chosen to include on this list all bring accurate sensors and high-quality materials to the table, yet they all have strengths and weaknesses as well. We have also gone out of our way to showcase the prettiest and most elegant options possible because watches will always be a fashion accessory in our book, and even futuristic models should be pleasant to look at.