Looking to bring down your scores in 2018?
Fed up overshooting greens, or leaving yourself short?
Then, you need a way to accurately measure your distance from the flag for each shot.
In this 2 minute guide we’ve picked out the best Golf GPSs for 2018. We’ve got a mix of handheld GPS and watches on our list.
Let’s get started!
Why Should You Buy A Golf GPS?
When you first start playing golf, your main focus will be getting a good strike on the ball, and advancing it towards the hole. But as you improve, you’ll want to start hitting more greens in regulation. And that means selecting the right club for the yardage, and of course, knowing what the actual yardage is.
Most courses will have markers at 200, 150, and 100 yards. But, notwithstanding the fact they can be a little inaccurate, when you’re in between (or within 100 yards) you’re going to be guessing how far you are from the green. And relying on guessing in golf is never a good idea. When it comes to your swing, aiming, or distance, you want to remove as many variables as possible. An accurate yardage takes care of distance.
Most modern golf GPSs (a horrible plural) will give you a distance to the front, middle, and back of the green. Generally I would recommend going with the club that would take you to the back of the green on a pure strike. Because let’s be honest, we don’t always hit our max distances. So if you club for the back of the green and hit it a little short, you should still be on.
Something I should point out:
When working out your yardages for each club, I would recommend doing it on the course with your own balls. Many driving ranges use limited flight balls, so there could be a 10-15 yard distance between your range distance and course distance. That’s a lot.
And on that note, most golf GPSs and watches will give you an accurate yardage for your shot. Just set the device to the correct mode, hit your shot, then walk to your ball. Very handy.
Should You Buy A Handheld GPS, Or A Golf Watch?
Handheld GPS devices generally offer more information (for example hazards) and perhaps an overhead map of the hole, while golf watches have the advantage of convenience. It’s easier to glance at your wrist for a yardage than dig into your bag and pull out your GPS.
Some golf GPS systems also allow you to record (and track) your scores and important stats (like GIR, putts etc).
Personally I use a watch (The Garmin Approach S2, which I’ve reviewed below), but either is going to provide the main function you need: accurate yardage. It’s your call whether you want the extras of a GPS, or the convenience of a golf watch.
So now let’s look at the best golf GPSs and watches around this year. We’ve picked out two GPS systems and 4 watches, and we’ll start with the GPSs.
Best Handheld Golf GPSs
1. Golf Buddy Voice 2
Why is it called voice? Because it talks to you that’s why. Yes, the Golf Buddy Voice 2 will actually tell you your yardage in either a male or female voice (your choice, we won’t judge).
But, if you find that a bit annoying (or your playing partners do), then the good news is that the Voice 2 also has a digital display, giving you the option to turn the feature off. The previous model shipped without a display, so an electronic voice was all you got.
Function wise, it’s incredibly easy to use. Just turn it on and it will figure out which course (and hole) you are on and tell you how far you are from the front, centre, and back of the green. You can also pull up the ‘dynamic green view’ to see the shape of the green on the display.
Yep, you’ll get shot distance measurement, and an impressive 14 hour battery life. So one charge should get you through 3-4 rounds.
And if you decide you want to wear it as a watch, you can just attach it to the included wrist band. You can even clip it onto your bag.
The Golf Buddy Voice 2 is a small, lightweight golf GPS that will give you an accurate measurement with no fuss setup.
Buy it if: you want a compact, affordable handheld golf GPS. And you want it to talk to you.
2. Garmin Approach G10
The Garmin Approach G10 is another handheld golf GPS.
This time it won’t speak to you, but it will do everything else the Golf Buddy does (and more).
You’ll get distances to the front, middle, and back of the green, a green view mode, plus you’ll also be able to see yardages to hazards on each hole. Which if you’re like me and have an uncanny nack of finding bunkers is very useful.
The Approach G10 also takes into account dog legs, so you view yardages for layups if you don’t fancy trying to shape the ball round the corner.
And you can track your stats (fairways, GIR, putts per round etc) to help improve your game.
Again, it’s very portable and can be clipped onto your belt or bag with ease.
Another excellent choice for a handheld golf GPS.
Buy it if: you want the reliability of Garmin in a handheld GPS.
Best Golf GPS Watches
3. Garmin Approach S20
The S20 is considered to be Garmin’s entry level golf GPS watch. But that doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t pack in a ton of great features.
This is the latest version of my personal golf watch, the Garmin Approach S2.
You’ll get the usual yardage information, plus layup/hazard details. The green elevation display also gives you the option to move the flag around, so you can get a more precise yardage to the hole.
Of course you’ll need to know where the flag is to be able to do that. It can be a little dificult to pinpoint if you are over 200 yards out (easy 5 iron right…?).
Any other cool features?
Yep, with the S20 you can actually get specific feedback on your swing. The TruSwing sensor will tell you your swing speed and your tempo, which is useful information to have – particularly if your tempo drifts a little during your round.
This watch doubles as a fitbit replacement, so you can track you steps, activity etc. And you can also keep track of all your scores and stats by connecting to the free Garmin Connect app (wireless sync via bluetooth).
The navigation can be a little tricky to get your head round at first, so read the manual. But once you’ve got it down, you’ll find the S20 pretty straight forward to use.
Overall, an excellent Golf GPS watch.
Buy it if: you want a great, feature packed golf watch, at a great price.
4. Callaway GPSy
Callaway is one of golf’s biggest brands, so it’s no surprise they have a finger in the golf GPS pie.
And the Callaway GPSy is certainly a great choice for your GPS watch.
The first thing you’ll notice is it looks the part. In fact, I would say it’s probably the most stylish smartwatch at the affordable end of the market.
It’s reasonably no frills in terms of functionality. It focuses on accurate stats for yardages (usual front, middle, back of green), and recording information on your round. And it does that very well.
The GPSy comes loaded with 30,000 courses, which is less than some golf GPS wathches on the market, but still likely to include any course you are likely to play.
Battery life in GPS mode is 10-12 hours, so likely to get you through 2 rounds comfortably, and 3 at a push.
Overall, it’s good, but we still prefer the Garmin.
Buy it if: you want to rock Callaway on your wrist.
5. Bushnell NEO Ion
Bushnell make some pretty decent golf accessories at the affordable end of the market. And the NEO Ion has most of the features you’ll be looking for in a golf watch.
You’ll get stats on yardages, hazard and layup distances, and it also has a built in step counter.
Most impressive is the battery life. You’ll get up to 16 hours on GPS mode, which should get you through about 4 rounds between recharges.
If you are on a budget, the Bushnell is about $50 cheaper than the other watches on our list, so is a pretty good option.
Buy it if: you want a great golf GPS watch on a budget.
6. Garmin Approach S60
At the other end of the price scale we have the Garmin Approach S60. You’ll be looking at around $400 for this watch, so what do you get for the extra cash?
Well, first you’ll get a full colour display, on which you can view full course maps. The display works particularly well in direct sunlight, where other golf watches can be difficult to view. The maps include hazards, doglegs, layup positions etc.
You’ll also get advanced stats on your swing and your round, which you can analyse afterwards on the Garmin Connect app.
The Approach S60 has a slope mode, which means you can get a “plays like” distance, taking into account hills etc. But remember, this functionality is not legal for tournament play, so only use it for practice. Still, a very useful feature to have.
You will of course get the standard yardage stats, with distances to front, middle, and back of green.
Finally, you can sync your S60 with your smartphone to get notifications of incoming calls, texts, emails etc.
All in all, if you have the cash, it’s our pick for the best golf smartwatch on the market in 2018. Otherwise, we’d opt for the Garmin Approach S20 which is less than half the price.
Buy it if: you want the best of the best.
Ready To Buy Your Golf GPS Or Watch?
Below you’ll find up to date pricing for each of the GPSs and watches on our list. If you need more help before buying, then use the comment box at the bottom and we’ll reply within 24 hours.
Last update on 2018-10-17
What I Use: The Garmin Approach S2
Let me start by quickly covering the golf GPS I currently use, the Garmin Approach S2.
It’s a couple of years old now (and the model has been replaced), but it’s still working as well as ever.
Basically all I need to do is click to “Start Round” and the watch will figure out which course I’m on, which hole I’m on, and give me an accurate yardage to the green (front, middle, and back).
Very simple to use.
My house overlooks my local course, and I can actually get a yardage to the green from my back garden (shown in the photo). A 4 iron over my neighbour’s shed should do it!
I haven’t had any problems locating satelites, and as I’m played on some remote courses in the North of Scotland, it’s safe to say that the watch will work pretty much anywhere.
So from personal experience, I can recommend Garmin Approach watches. I’ve included the latest models in my run down above.
Golf GPS FAQs
Which golf gps watch is best?
In terms of value for money and features, the Garmin Approach s60 is the best golf GPS available in 2018.
How accurate are golf gps watches?
Most golf GPS watches are accurate to between 3 and 4 yards under optimal conditions.
Which golf gps is most accurate?
We found the Garmin Approach s60 to be the most accurate golf GPS available in 2018.
Are golf gps devices legal?
Golf GPS systems are legal for tournament play, however, if the GPS has a built in slope mode (which takes into account hills etc) this must be disabled.
golf gps vs rangefinder
Rangefinders are normally slightly more accurate than golf GPS systems. They also have the benefit of being able to target obstacles on the course (such as bunkers or streams) and get an accurate yardage to the hazard.
Thanks for reading our guide to the best golf GPSs and watches in 2018. Check out our guide to the best golf shoes for the 2018 season here.
And for more golf tips and gear guides, check out our golf section.