Why do you need a GPS golf watch?
With golfing maybe more than with any other sport, you need a very good reason to strap a device to your wrist when playing. There are three good reasons why a golfer needs a GPS golf watch:
1) Golf Assistant
Most watches focuses on this: providing you with helpful information to help you play. GPS watches can track and display various distances. You also get information and maps on the golf courses.
GPS watches are much superior to laser rangefinders which are time consuming and cannot give you the information you need with one twist of your wrist.
2) Improve your Game
Just like with any sport, including running, smartwatches can track you and collect precious data on your game and your performance. This in turns helps you identify strengths and weaknesses and improve on them.
Certain watches can even help you train and get better. As far as golfing is concerned, data includes information on your swing (speed, angle, tempo etc.) as well as on your shots. All of your shots are automatically recorded and can be analyzed using the various companion apps. This helps build a history of your performances and personalized game stats.
While most watches are fairly equal when it comes to the first category, Garmin really is the best here (if not the only one) when it comes to assisting you in improving your game.
3) Smartwatch features
While it might seem like a bonus or be taken for granted, it is also nice that these watches double as regular wrist watches and can handle some basic smartwatch features as well. All premium watches in this list can at least connect to your phone to relay like notifications and some can even serve as regular smartwatches on top of a dedicated Golf watch.
When putting this guide together, we only selected the watches that covered the basics to make sure they be a useful and worthy investment. This means a good battery life to get you through a couple rounds, good information on the distance between you and the points on the course, maps of the courses and automatic recording of your score. And of course a good and easy-to-use user interface.
Of course, as you will see, some watches can offer much more than that: such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, leaderboards, or even multisport tracking (more on that in the conclusion of this article). But these are bonus features that might not be useful to everyone.
We ranked them from best to “least best” but that’s a highly subjective least and the right watch for you will certainly depend on your personal preferences and what exactly you are looking for in a GPS Golf watch. What’s certain is that all six of these watches are quality watches which won’t let you down on the course.
Garmin Approach S60
The Garmin Approach S60 is a premium Golf watch made out of premium materials such as Gorilla® Glass 3 for the screen and polymer/ceramic for the bezel. The most noticeable aspect is its big and beautiful color touchscreen which was designed to stay bright and readable outdoors.
It comes preloaded with over 41,000 full-color maps of golf courses world-wide. And it can recognize the course automatically for you. Thanks to its sensors, it gives you your GPS location as well as distance to greens, hazards and doglegs. The S60 also gives you an aerial views of each hole, which is a nice touch when you it is your first time on a course.
Another fundamental feature that this watch excels at is calculating distance information, whether between you and a pinpoint on the map or the distance of your shot. It can automatically detect a shot and will record it for post-game analysis. The Garmin app is a great tool with a nice UI. We love that it supports a swing analyzer with speed, tempo and club angle to train and improve your golf swing.
The S60 also comes with advanced features such as touch targeting and blindshot assistance. You can click anywhere on the course map and the watch will calculate the distance between that point and your GPS location. Blindshot assistance takes advantage of the watch’s compass to tell you which direction the green is when you are making a shot without being able to see it. It also takes the slope (down- and uphill) into account when calculating the distance to help you in your club selection.
The watch offers over 20 different golf features including: precise yardage, digital scorecard, auto hole advance and more.
As you can tell by now, the Garmin S60 is a high-quality watch with advanced golfing features. And all of that comes with a price tag. So it is nice to see that it can also turn into a multisport watch and track other activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and hiking. It also keeps track of your steps, calories and can even be paired with a heart-rate accessory.
Who is it for?
Anyone who wants to golf with a premium and good-looking watch with all the bells and whistles. If you can afford it, this watch can follow you in many more activities than golfing, which is a nice bonus.
Garmin Approach S40
The Garmin Approach S40 is the little brother of the S60. It may not have the same premium material and all of its advanced features, but it is overall only a minor downgrade. It still comes with that big and stylish 1.2” color touchscreen. Aside from materials, S40 is cheaper by not having some advanced features such aerial views of holes, touch targeting, advanced swing training features or blindshot assistance.
The watch also comes with a much smaller memory (64MB compared to 1GB) and less multisport and fitness tracking features. It still can tracks steps and sleep, as well as basic running, swimming and cycling.
The battery lasts 50% longer though, with up to 15 hours in GPS mode (about 3 rounds of golf).
Overall it still benefits from Garmin’s great software features and UI. It can automatically detect, track and record your shots as well as their distance and location. It also automatically tracks your score on over 41,000 pre-loaded courses. You can see not only your score but also your game statistics in real-time. And we love the live scoring so you can compete with your friends.
It also can connect to your smartphone so you don’t miss your notifications.
Who is it for?
Anyone who knows Garmin’s reputation when it comes to high-quality product but who doesn’t need all the more advanced features of the S60 and prefers to save $100.
GolfBuddy AIM W10
GolfBuddy has been making range finders and watches for a long time now and its previous GPS watch, the GolfBuddy WTX, was a big success. The AIM W10 is a great-looking successor with a name that highlights the company’s dedication when it comes to building high-grade and precise gold accessories: AIM stands for Accuracy, Innovative, Measurable.
It is an attractive and lightweight watch with a 1.3” color touchscreen. It also has a smartly designed interface, purely dedicated to golfing. Not being a multisport watch can be a downside for some, but it is also what makes it so good on a golf course. Of course it still can connect to your smartphone to show your notifications.
Similarly to Garmin watches, the AIM W10 comes preloaded with over 40,000 courses. It covers all the basic features for golfing and more. It gives distance readings adjusted with the slope including to holes and hazards, green undulation, manual pin placement, great zooming functionalities, digital scorecard, automatic course and hole recognition and offers a bird’s eye view of the hole with distance markers.
A neat feature is the “Play mode” of the watch which shows you the distances to the front, center and back of the green.
Who is it for?
Any players who wants a premium watch dedicated to golfing.
Shot Scope V2
This is an easy to use, no-nonsense mid-level watch. While it comes in a rather chunky body and features a black & white non-touch screen, it goes above and beyond when it comes to tracking your game. Many consider it to be the very best GPS watch for tracking and analyzing your golf game, offering exhaustive data and stats. You can access their Performance Dashboard from your phone or computer and access over 100 statistics on your game such as: approaches, short game, tee shots, putting etc.
The black & white LCD screen gives you front, middle and back yardages, and you also get distance to hazards, greensides and bunkers.
They also did a great job jumping on the “gamify” train and support leaderboards (both worldwide and private) so that you can compete against your friends or the whole words. And it doesn’t only use your scoring average but also the putts per round, driving distance and much more.
A major downside is the battery life: with 5-6 hours it will not follow you for more than one round.
Who is it for?
Data addicts who enjoy diving into their performance stats and do not care for the esthetics downsides of this watch (black&white display, chunky…).
Garmin Approach S20
Priced just below $150, the Garmin Approach S20 is an entry-level watch. The most noticeable aspect in that regard is its black and white display (which isn’t a touchscreen).
While it can track some basic fitness parameters such as steps, calories and sleep, it is not a multisport watch.
However, it does offer a solid battery life with up to 15 hours in GPS mode, which is actually longer than the S60. This is equivalent to about 3 rounds of golf. In watch mode, the battery will last for 8 weeks.
The S20 benefits from Garmin’s software knowhow: it works with the same great app as the more premium models, supports 41,000 courses, comes with the AutoShot feature which auto-record your shot distances and helps you analyze them. You can also analyze your swing data. It is compatible with all smartphone notifications such as calls and texts.
Who is it for?
Anyone who wants to benefit from Garmin’s know-how but who doesn’t have the budget for a higher-end model.
Callaway has a quality golf brand, for over 40 years. Come from the golf world rather than the tech world gives them a different perspective. The Callaway GPSy is a popular GPS watch and comes with all the basic features.
The watch is designed to being forgotten while you play, like any good assistant: it automatically recognizes the course you are playing on, it automatically advances to the next hole, and it automatically detects and tracks your game.
Overall, the watch’s design is rather plain, which some will see as a good thing. While the display is black&white, it is big, easy to read and designed to give you all the info you need while playing at a glance.
The GPSy gives you all the basic information: distance to the front, middle and back of greens, as well as to hazards and doglegs. It automatically tracks your score and your steps.
This is not a multisport or activity tracking watch however, and it doesn’t handle smartphone notifications.
The battery life is pretty good with 10-12 hours in GPS mode. With the GPS mode off, it will last around 40 days.
One disappointing aspect is the number of courses it supports: with 30,000 courses, it is well below all the other models on this list.
Who is it for?
Anyone who enjoys an entry-level watch focused on golfing.
If golfing is the primary reason you need a GPS watch, then any of the watches on this list have you covered. But if golfing is only one of the sport you practice and you would like a watch that can track and assist you anywhere, then you might want to consider the S40/S60 which can also be used to monitor runs, swims and bike rides. You might also want to check out our full GPS watch guide as most of the watches we selected are multisport watches that support Golf.