What's the best Golf GPS to buy in 2018?

Golf GPS devices are available in two different forms, handheld GPS units and GPS watches, they both have their strengths and weaknesses and range from around $50 - $400 in price – depending on the features you’re looking for.

best golf gps 2017

How will a Golf GPS improve my game?

There are several advantages you’ll benefit from, should you decide to purchase a golf GPS.

  • You’ll get accurate distances from where you are to various parts of the course. You’ll receive distances to the front, center and back of the green, distances to hazards (both reach and carry) and length of the hole. Most Golf GPS devices are incredibly accurate (to a couple of meters). You’ll find this both incredibly helpful and time saving.
  • Knowing the true distance of your shots with each club gives you more confidence. You’ll eliminate the guesswork when it comes to club selection, allowing you to relax and concentrate on your swing.
  • Some Golf GPS devices collect statistics on your round allowing you to analyze your performance when you're finished. 

Our Top Picks - Comparison Table

Preview
Our Choice
Garmin Approach S60 GPS golf watch with black silicone band
Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS
GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf GPS Watch, Black
GolfBuddy GB3-PT4 Golf GPS/Rangefinder, Silver, Adjustable
Model
Garmin Approach S60 GPS golf watch with black silicone band
Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS
GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf GPS Watch, Black
GolfBuddy GB3-PT4 Golf GPS/Rangefinder, Silver, Adjustable
Rating
Courses
40,000+
38,000 preloaded
40,000
37,000
Battery Life
10 Hours in golf mode, up to 10 days in watch mode.
15 Hours
8 Hours
8 Hours
Water resistance
Bluetooth
Price
$399.99
$349.99
$125.95
$419.99
Our Choice
Preview
Garmin Approach S60 GPS golf watch with black silicone band
Model
Garmin Approach S60 GPS golf watch with black silicone band
Rating
Courses
40,000+
Battery Life
10 Hours in golf mode, up to 10 days in watch mode.
Water resistance
Bluetooth
Price
$399.99
Preview
Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS
Model
Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS
Rating
Courses
38,000 preloaded
Battery Life
15 Hours
Water resistance
Bluetooth
Price
$349.99
Preview
GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf GPS Watch, Black
Model
GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf GPS Watch, Black
Rating
Courses
40,000
Battery Life
8 Hours
Water resistance
Bluetooth
Price
$125.95
Preview
GolfBuddy GB3-PT4 Golf GPS/Rangefinder, Silver, Adjustable
Model
GolfBuddy GB3-PT4 Golf GPS/Rangefinder, Silver, Adjustable
Rating
Courses
37,000
Battery Life
8 Hours
Water resistance
Bluetooth
Price
$419.99

If you're not a fan of Golf GPS devices - check out these golf laser rangefinders

Things To Consider When Purchasing

  • Ease Of Use - Handheld aren't as convenient as taking a glance at your wrist although they do tend to offer more detail over the watches.

  • Battery Life - The battery life varies between the different types of distance measuring devices. Watches tend to fair worst when it comes to battery life, handhelds will last a few rounds though. Topping the list however are laser rangefinders, which can last up to 12 months making them extremely convenient.

  • Advanced Features - If you're looking for post game analysis, slope features, scorecards etc you'll likely need a higher end golf GPS. Many of these will require a free app to be installed on a compatible smartphone (android, windows and iOS) to get the most out of them.

Golf GPS Watches

Garmin Approach S60

garmin approach s60

This is without doubt the best golf GPS smartwatch we’ve tested so far in 2018. Its feature packed with a hi-resolution color touch screen which displays the course in full color. There are over 40,000 courses pre-loaded so you’ll be ready to go out of the box.

The Garmin Approach S60 is incredibly accurate. Even when compared to a laser rangefinder we found the yardages to be spot on. It provides accurate distances to the front, center and back of the green, including any obstacles.

It’s safe to say Garmin have got this one spot on, it comes away from the traditional “sporty look” common amongst most GPS watches and moves towards a premium look, making it look at home off the course as well as on it.

There are also several tweaks you can do to put your own personal stamp on it. You’ll be able to change the watch straps easily and without tools, download apps and custom watch faces using the Connect IQ app or upload a custom image to use as a watch face using the face it app.

The battery life doesn’t disappoint. You’ll get around 10 hours when in GPS mode and up to 10 days when using it in watch mode, more than enough for a couple of rounds. It also charges quickly for those times you forget to put it on charge, it’ll go from empty to full in around 50 minutes.

If you’re looking for the best golf GPS watch available right now, this is without question the perfect choice. It’s stylish, packed with high-end features and easy to use. The only downside is the price, it doesn’t come cheap, but the best things in life usually don’t. If it falls within your budget, you won’t be disappointed.

GolfBuddy WTX

golf buddy wtx golf gps

The WTX is GolfBuddy’s latest GPS Watch and thankfully they’ve decided to make it look the part. Traditionally GolfBuddy tend to make “ugly” looking golf GPS devices, but the WTX has moved on from that. Although the previous models like the WT5 didn’t look great, they were solid performers.

As well as being a great looking watch, the rubber wrist band also makes it comfortable to wear. Like most of the newer golf GPS watches, the WTX has gone down the multi-sport route, you can track other activities such as cycling, running and walking. The screen is quite impressive, it has a full color screen which displays front, center and back of the green and of course hazards. You’ll find 38,000 courses preloaded which can also be expanded using the free GolfBuddy app.

It’s easy to use, all functions can be accessed by swiping the screen and with the single button on the right of the display. Pair it with your smartphone to receive notifications such as text messages. You can also customize the watch face to give it more personal touch when using it away from the course.

Best of all its stylish and affordable. Like the Garmin Approach S60 it’s a GPS watch built to be used both on the course and at home. At around half the price of the S60 it’s great value.

Garmin Approach S20

garmin approach s20

Garmin are well renowned for their excellent quality Golf GPS’s; they’ve been an industry leader for many years. The Garmin Approach S20 is a great entry-level choice.

It has a sleek looking hi-res monochrome screen that’s easy to read in bright sunlight. The screen clearly displays the distances to the front, center and back of the green, you’ll also see an outline of the current hole (although it doesn’t look great).

There is also a 5 ATM rating, meaning the watch is water resistant for those rainy days. Battery life is fairly good for a GPS watch, up to 15 hours on GPS mode and up to 8 weeks in activity mode. Finally, the watch tracks your step count when walking/running, for those who are trying to keep on top of their health. Just download the free Garmin app on IOS or Android and pair it with your watch to sync the data.

For those looking for an entry level GPS watch and not wanting to break the bank on one of the higher end models, this is a great choice. It’s comfortable to wear (thanks to the silicone watch strap) and accurate within a couple of yards which is the most important thing for me. The main downside was the 4 button navigation which I didn’t find very user friendly, although when I learned how to navigate the options, it wasn’t too bad.

TomTom Golfer 2

tomtom golfer 2

The TomTom Golfer 2 is an affordable and feature packed GPS watch that’s priced very competitively.

Like every other golf GPS watch in this list, the TomTom Golfer 2 displays distances to the front, center and back of the green as well as hazards. This helps eliminate the guesswork when it comes to club selection as you’ll know the correct club to use for each shot and over time you’ll notice the improvements in your play.

Like every other watch in our list, it comes pre-loaded with around 40,000 courses which can be updated with the TomTom Golfer app. The screen is black and white and easy to read, and we found no problems when viewing the display in direct sunlight.

If you’re not a great fan of the complicated GPS watches that are difficult to navigate, you’ll like this one. There is only one button that is used to navigate the menus which makes this watch incredibly easy to use.

If post game analysis is your thing, the TomTom Golfer 2 has you covered. With the help of the TomTom MySports app (free on iOS and android) you can analyze your previous round hole by hole and work on improving your strengths and weak points.

Looking for a sleek, comfortable watch packed with features? This is it. It’s comfortable to wear and the one button navigation makes it incredibly easy to use. It’s a no brainer for those looking for golf GPS with premium features at an affordable price.

Bushnell NEO ION

bushnell neo ion

Last in the GPS watch list is the Bushnell NEO ION. This GPS watch isn’t much to look at but it’s a solid performer and comes in at the lowest price. Bushnell are a market leader in distance measuring devices although best known for the laser rangefinders rather than GPS devices. They’ve stepped up their game with the NEO ION.

There are 35,000 courses on the NEO ION, and you’ll get accurate distances to the front, center and back of the green as well as up to 4 hazards per hole displayed on the screen. The screen is black and white and easy to read however; it was a little difficult to read in direct sunlight.

The watch does come partially charged but its recommended to fully charge before use to prolong the battery life. Once fully charged we managed to play 3 full rounds and still had a little battery left.

When you’re ready to play, simply go to the first hole and the auto course recognition will kick in and display the relevant distances. You’ll also find the watch will automatically recognize the start of the next hole which makes things a whole lot easier.

This is a watch that’s main purpose is to be used as a golf GPS, I personally wouldn’t wear it outside of the golf course unlike several of the above options. It’s lightweight and the silicone watch strap is comfortable to wear. If you’re on a budget and want a solid performing GPS watch this is great, although the biggest downside is the lack of a sunlight readable display.

Handheld Golf GPS's

Garmin Approach G8

garmin approach g8

The G8 is Garmin’s most feature packed handheld golf GPS to date, and retains the same design that became popular with its previous models the Garmin Approach G7 and Garmin Approach G6. It’ll display distances to the front, center and back of the green as well hazards for over 41,000 courses on its brilliant color screen.

One of the most useful features (not to be used at tournaments) is the “PlaysLike Distance” feature which compensates distances depending on the slope of the hole. You’ll also receive club advice based on the distances you hit with each club, helping you make the correct decision in regards to club selection. And if your view is impaired the “PinPointer” feature will show you the direction of the green.

Another great feature is the ability to compare your previous rounds when connected with the Garmin Connect app. You’ll also be able to compare your rounds against those of your friends, which is a great feature, especially for the most competitive of us.

With a wide 3-inch color touch screen, all the distances, hazards and hole views are displayed in a cluster-free way, unlike golf GPS watches which tend to look crammed in due to the small amount of screen space.

The Garmin Approach G8 is an impressive device, one we consider to be the best golf GPS. It’s a great choice if you find GPS watches screens too small to read which is a common problem amongst senior golfers. It’s easy to use, packed with some great features and sports a great color screen that’s easy to read. The battery should last for around 15 hours give or take, more than enough for a few rounds. The biggest downside is the price. As it’s the current top-range product the cost is yet to come down, so if your budget can’t accommodate the G8 the Garmin Approach G7 may be a suitable alternative.

SkyCaddie Touch

skycaddie touch

The SkyCaddie Touch is a little different to the other handhelds in this list as you’ll need to pay a yearly subscription cost. The first year is included in the price of the GPS but there’s a good reason why they charge for this and others don’t. SkyCaddie have a team that physically map out the golf courses themselves so they can be as accurate as possible, so you’re essentially paying to help with the costs associated with that. If you’re looking to pay a one off cost for your GPS, the Skycaddie Touch isn’t for you.

The SkyCaddy Touch had a 3-inch color display, and shows distances to the front, center and back of the green as well as hazards, although you’ll need to enable “Target Mode” in the settings first to see this. The green is visible on the display, unfortunately the distances to hazards aren’t displayed on the overview which we feel is a shame.

There are 35,000 courses available, compared to the others on this list the number is a little low. Although you’re unlikely to find yourself playing at a course it hasn’t mapped out.

Although it’s a good GPS, it’s a few changes away from being perfect. If you don’t mind the downsides (yearly cost after the first year, and hazard distances not shown on the green overview) this is a great device. The screen is nice and big, the distances are accurate and its fairly easy to navigate once you’ve become familiar with the controls.

Why a Golf GPS Is Essential In Improving Your Game

how the best golf gps is essential

A golf GPS is an essential part of every golfers game, whether you’re a beginner or pro golfer. Is it your goal to improve your handicap and have a faster game? Because that's exactly what a GPS will do for you.

You’ll be interested to know the 4 main ways that a GPS can improve your game right now.

  • check
    Better Course Management - Your golf GPS will enable you to have a better understanding of the distance from ball to the green or other hazards. You’ll also be better able to discern the shapes of the target and other hazards, even if you’re several meters away. This information isn’t just from the tee to the next hole either, but you’ll also have a graphic overview of the entire golf course. Also having a understanding of the green can better aid you in the best golf club selection.

  • check
    Assistance for when you can't see the hole - A GPS is also great for when you can’t see the complete hole ahead of you. On many courses, part of the hole may not be visible from your tee. If you have a GPS, it will display an accurate distance to the green even if you are aiming towards a green you cannot see. The GPS will help to eliminate some of the guesswork so you aren’t shooting blind.
  • check
    Accurate Measurement of shots - Your GPS will help to measure your shots. You’ll be able to more accurately gauge the distance to the front of the green, the middle of the green, and the back of the green. And some devices also have a feature where you can touch and drag the pin location with your finger, so you can get a more accurate reading. You’ll also be able to determine distance over bunkers, and past water hazards. If you didn’t already have a firm grasp of which club to use for which stroke, together, this information will aid you in choosing the best club.

  • check
    Improve your game - Besides being able to measure your shots, a GPS device will help you to record your scores without having to scribble them onto score pads. A GPS will also store game stats information on the device so that you can access it at any time. Later, you can analyse which parts of your game need improvement. All the technology that is built within the device has been designed to improve your game and provide you better enjoyment.

Final Thoughts

By now you’ll understand how there are many different types of golf GPS devices to choose from. As you can see from the above choices, the features, design, and capabilities can vary quite drastically between models. You’ll need to decide whether a handheld or watch is best for you, then make your choices based on the features of the device and your budget.

By now you have likely narrowed down your choices to one or two. So, what are you waiting for? Click and buy your favorite golf GPS device right now! And remember that no matter which golf GPS you choose, you’re going to experience major improvements in your next game. You never know, you may even beat your golf partner for a change!

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  • Last modified: February 6, 2018
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