The company no longer is responding to contacts and rumors are that they are moving out of the hardware business. Until we hear otherwise, we do not recommend purchase of the Golf Guru 4.

OVERALL RATING: 74. GRADE: C. The Golf Guru 4 is follows in the touchscreen footsteps of the Garmin Approach G5 and the OnPar. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have learned from the errors of its predecessors, and falls short of those devices in both user interface, look and feel (awful), and device design.

The Guru 4 is actually a multi-functional device – the golf functionality is just one of the software applications that can be utilized. The Guru 4 also serves as an MP3 player, a video player and, with additional purchased software, can even be used as a road navigation GPS unit. But then again, so can most mobile phones today. The unfortunate part from our standpoint is that if you’re looking for golf GPS functionality, the Guru 4, which comes with one of the highest 3-year total cost of ownership among the devices we tested, is not quite ready for prime time. (And in keeping with the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players”, we’ll use lines from our favorite Saturday Night Live skits to set the mood in each section.)

SCORE
74
GRADE
C
Setup/Syncing
91
Course Availability
81
Ease of Use
79
Course Details
91
Features
93
Accuracy
91
Cost/Value
76

Pros:

  • A wealth of statistics options
  • Simple setup process

Cons:

  • Clunky touchscreen interface makes for a frustrating user experience
  • AerVu course map coverage still lags that of the competition
  • No zooming available on the overhead hole maps
  • Bugs, bugs and more bugs!

Availability: Discontinued. Golf Guru is no longer shipping any of their golf GPS devices. The Golf Guru website in 2012 remained accessible to allow existing customers to download and update course maps. As of 2013, the Better Business Bureau indicates that Golf Guru is no longer in business, and, while available through some resellers, we DO NOT RECOMMEND THE PURCHASE OF THIS DEVICE.
Retail price: $399.95 plus per course fees
Three year total cost: $509.95
Amazon.com: Check price now


91 / A-

SETUP/SYNCING

“Welcome to Coffee Talk I’m your host Linda Richman. On this show we talk about coffee, dawters, dawgs, you know no big whoop just Coffee Talk. You’ll never guess who is in my apartment right now. I’ll give you a hint. I’m mad about her. That’s right it’s Helen Hunt. Come here bubala let me touch that ponnum. It’s like buttah. ” – Linda Richman (Mike Myers)

The Good: Straightforward setup process that takes only a few minutes. (That’s right…it’s like buttah. Talk amongst yourselves.)

The Bad: Mac support would be nice.

Details: Golf Guru has done a nice job of making the setup of the device simple and pain-free. Registering on the web is generally required, although if you purchased the device direct from Golf Guru, the e-mail address and password utilized at the time of purchase is already saved and you can skip the web registration process.

  • Required Steps. Setting up the Guru 4 is a process similar to those for most other devices, involving:
    • registering on their web site to create a free account (as indicated above, for direct buyers from Golf Guru, the creation of the account and password actually happens at the time of the online purchase);
    • installing “desktop manager” software on a PC;
    • searching for desired golf courses through the web interface; and
    • using the desktop manager software to transfer (or “sync”) the courses to the device.
  • Time Required for Setup. The entire setup process took us about 12 minutes, including syncing courses. Golf Guru’s web interface and desktop manager software aren’t particularly flashy or visually interesting, but they work just fine. One thing that wasn’t obvious to us was that after you have selected the course that you would like to download from their website, you also have to go to the “My Guru” section on the web site and select the new course as one of the courses that you would like synced to the device.

What’s in the Box:

  • Wall charger
  • USB cord
  • Quick Start Guide for Guru 4 unit
  • Quick Start Guide for GPS Golf Application

As an introductory promotion, the Guru4 also included:

  • A car charger
  • A screen guard
  • 2 AerVu credits (sufficient for the download of a single “AerVu” overhead map of a golf course

Required Downloads:


81 / B-

COURSE AVAILABILITY

“Guess what? I got a fever…and the only prescription…is more cowbell!” – Bruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken)

Critical Golf Test: While adding a significant number of courses since our initial review in 2009, the Golf Guru 4 still only covers 81 of the available 100 courses we surveyed. Ouch. Note that we only count a course as “covered” if an AerVu map was available. Our thinking is that if you’re paying nearly $400 for a device because it has nifty touchscreen maps available, we shouldn’t count when only basic text yardages are available such as you would find on far less feature-rich golf GPS devices. The Golf Guru 4 is still weak across most course types, most noticeably Best New courses, and geographic regions, particularly the Southwest. (C’mon Golf Guru. As Bruce Dickinson says…”Guys, y’ know…that…that…it doesn’t work for me. I gotta have more cowbell!”)

Manufacturer’s Claims: Golf Guru claims 20,000 courses in its database, though as mentioned above, the courses for which AerVu maps are available are somewhat lacking.


79 / C+

EASE OF USE

Great! That’s great. [ sits down at piano ] Well, these are just sort of works in progress, but, you know.. here’s one I call “The Lady I Know”. [ starts to play the piano ]
There’s a lady I know…
If I didn’t know her…
She’d be the lady I didn’t know.
And my lady, she went downtown…
She bought some broccoli…
She brought it home.
She’s chopping broccoli…”
– Derek Stevens (Dana Carvey)

The Good: A large, bright screen that is easily viewable in all types of light conditions. Nice on/off switch!

The Bad: We were extremely disappointed in the user interface. The touchscreen experience is actually worse than a traditional interface. (Like “The Lady I Know/Chopping Broccoli”, it seems to be a work in progress) Most of the navigation was menu based – for example, there was no simple scrolling by dragging a finger on the screen. Instead, the user must touch the menu button to bring up a menu, then press page up/page down. In addition, some of the touch “buttons” on the screen (such as the ones used to record score or statistics) often didn’t register when pressed with a finger. We achieved slightly better results using a tee or the stylus that comes with the device, but if you have to go to that much trouble, you might as well just write it down on your scorecard with a pencil. Oh, the text and images displayed have a terrible look to them.

Details:

  • Buttons. As befits a touchscreen device, there is only one button and one switch on the Guru 4. The button is to put the device to “sleep”, and the switch is for power. If there’s one thing we liked about the Guru 4, it was the use of a simple on/off switch – move it to the left to turn the device on, or to the right to turn it off. The power buttons on most devices drive us mad – we’re always pushing down on the button and worrying that we either didn’t hold it down long enough (in which case it won’t power up) or held it too long (in which case it would power up and then immediately power down again). The touchscreen buttons used for scoring and statistics are another story. Positioned too small and too close together (what’s the point of a big screen if you don’t make use of it?), these buttons gave us fits. We were constantly increasing the number when we wanted to decrease it, or accidentally activating the line below the one we wanted. Thumbs down. [Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the completion of this review, Golf Guru released a software update that purports to improve the user interface in entering statistics.]
  • Screen. The color screen was the second largest among the devices we tested (trailing only the OnPar), and provided excellent brightness.
  • Form Factor. While the Guru 4 isn’t the largest device, its weight (at 6.5 ounces, it was the second heaviest device we tested) makes it a veritable brick to put in your front pocket.
  • Starting a Round. After powering up the Guru 4, because the Guru 4 is a multi-functional device, you first have to select the “Golf” application to launch the Golf Guru software. You then must select the course from a list of the courses that are currently synced on the device. (There is no auto-detection of courses based on your location.)
  • Battery Life. Longevity does not appear to be the strong suit of the Guru 4. We were able to make it through single rounds with no problem, but based on the battery meter at the conclusion of 18 holes, we would not expect to make it through looping another round.

Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


91 / A-

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

“Wookin’ Pa Nub in all da wong paces. Wookin ‘ Pa Nub.” – Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy)

The Good: The Guru 4 provides text displays of distances to a pretty good number of points of interest on courses during the play of a round.

The Bad: The AerVu overhead map (the primary differentiator between the Guru 4 and the prior generation Color Guru) does not allow zooming, leaving the user to play a general guessing game as to whether the point they’ve selected on the screen (let’s call it “the nub”) is actually short of the bunker or in the bunker (that’s right – you’ll be left wookin’ pa nub).

Details:

  • Views. The Guru 4 utilizes two types of maps – “standard” maps, which only provide textual descriptions of the hazard/target (such as “To Rt GS Bunker” for the distance to the right greenside bunker) and distances to the hazard/target, and “AerVu” maps, which provide an overhead drawing of the hole and enable the user to touch any point on the map to determine the distance to the point and the distance from that point to the center of the green. Standard maps are free, while AerVu maps cost between $7.00-$9.50 per course (there are slight discounts for buying in bulk). And we’ll say it again…the graphics absolutely pale in comparing to competing devices.
    • Standard/Target View: The target view is text only and shows various hazard/target distances along with the distance to the center of the green. Golf Guru generally maps a large number of points on each hole, so users who like that level of detail will be pleased.
    • Standard/Smart Green View: The smart green view displays a graphic of the approximate shape of the green. Blue and red marks denote the “near” and “far” green points from the user and move according to the player’s position relative to the green. Golf Guru has designed the Guru 4 to allow the user to touch the screen to move the flag and pinpoint the distance to any location on the green. We say they have “designed” it that way for a reason – there was a bug in the version of the software we tested so that no matter where the flag was moved, the displayed distance to the “pin” never changed. [Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the completion of this review, Golf Guru issued a software update that purports to fix this bug].
    • Standard/Big Text View: The big text view displayed the distances to the front/middle/back of the green in very large font.
    • AerVu: AerVu maps provide a drawing of the hole from an overhead view, and plots red dots on the hole to indicate points that are mapped in “Target View” (note that the DISTANCES to those points are not visible on the AerVu map – the user has to go to Target View to see those distances). The user can touch the screen and drag a cursor to any point on the hole to determine the distance to that point and the distance from that point to the center of the green. Users cannot zoom in on the map, which means that on a par 5, expect lots of delicate finger dragging back and forth to try to pick out the distance to carry a bunker. What made matters worse was that the touchscreen was not very responsive to our fingers, so the cursor often didn’t go where we wanted it to go. Those with big fingers will definitely want to use a tee or the stylus included with the device.
  • Hole Information. All of the views display the current hole and par, but there isn’t a notation of hole handicap anywhere.
  • Custom Mapping. As with the earlier generation Color Guru, the Guru 4 features a fairly extensive ability to customize an existing course map or even create their own new course map. Note, of course, that this ability is limited to creating and modifying Standard maps – there is no ability to create an AerVu map. Users can map up to 30 target points per hole and can even map an outline of the green merely by walking around the green during the mapping process. Skeptics will wonder why a user would want to go to all of this trouble on their own, instead of asking the company to map it for them, but to each his own!

93 / A-

FEATURES

“He’ll win you yet
And then he’ll forget
That he’s Mr. Short-Term Memory.”
– Closing jingle for Mr. Short-Term Memory (Tom Hanks)

The Good: The Guru 4 is intended to provide a nice set of features.

The Bad: Unfortunately, many of the features are either buggy or awkwardly designed.

Details:

  • Shot Tracking. Guru 4 users can mark the distance of their shots, but there are a few too many buttons that need to be pressed for our liking. The user hits his shot, and then while standing on that spot, the user hits the menu button, presses the “Mark” button to select the feature, presses the “Mark” button again to begin marking, walks to where the ball came to rest, and finally presses “Mark” again when the ball is reached. Okay, so it’s actually only two extra buttons that need to be pressed, but that’s double what most other devices require. The user can also enter where they were at the beginning of each shot (tee box, fairway, rough, fringe, green, bunker, water hazard, out of bounds or “other”) and the club utilized (Note to Golf Guru: you chose to include a 1-iron as an option but don’t include any hybrids? Is this 1974?). [Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the completion of this review, Golf Guru released a software update that purports to include hybrids among the clubs that can be selected. Consider our snarky comment withdrawn.] The Guru 4 makes make life easier for users by automatically resetting the Mark feature when it advances to the next hole. We couldn’t find a way to export this data – too bad, since it would be nice for a post-round self-flagellation (@#!!@#$ driver OB, &$@#! driver into the rough, !@#@$ 5-iron into the bunker, !@#!@#$ sand wedge into the water hazard, X…).
  • Score and Statistics. The Guru 4 tracks a wealth of information, including score, number of putts, greens in regulation, whether the green is missed left or right, whether the green is missed short or long, fairways hit, whether the fairway is missed left or right, number of chips, number of bunker shots, number of penalty strokes, and our personal favorite, whether there was “poor concentration” (we could probably check that box on EVERY hole). Unfortunately, the execution of this feature set leaves a lot to be desired. First, as mentioned above, the buttons to increase or decrease the value of a statistic (like score) are too close together, so we often accidentally pressed the wrong button, or even sometimes pressed the line above or below and began modifying the wrong statistic. [Editor’s Note: We belatedly read the user manual and discovered that you can actually increase/decrease values if you hit the “Menu” button, then hit either the increase or decrease button that appears. But this is somewhat counterintuitive when there are arrow buttons right next to the number that you are trying to modify.] Secondly, there’s a strange design – the first category that you can modify is the score. But if you enter your score and then proceed to modify certain of the categories below (like whether you hit the fairway or hit the green in regulation), the Guru 4 will erase the score. (It’s like Mr. Short Term Memory!) This is particularly problematic if you just accidentally hit one of these buttons because all of the buttons are squished so close together. This was a huge bummer. Sad, since Golf Guru actually does a nice job of automatically uploading these statistics to the “My Guru” section on their web page whenever you sync the Guru to your PC. These statistics can also be viewed on the device during the round..
  • Clock. The time is handily displayed on all views other than AerVu.
  • Auto-Advance. The device provides the option of automatically advancing the user to the next hole (the device does so once it detects that it is within 40 yards of the green), prompting the user to advance to the next hole (again, once it is within 40 yards of the green), or leaving the user to advance holes manually. The user may choose how long the device waits before either advancing to the next hole or providing a prompt (30, 60 or 90 seconds). A smart design is that if the “scoring” feature is turned on, in “Auto Advance” mode, the scorecard will automatically appear upon completion of a hole, and in “Prompt” mode the scorecard will appear once the user presses “Yes” to proceed to the next hole (in “Manual” mode, the user must manually press the “Score” button to enter a score).
  • AerVu. We’ve mentioned the overhead maps before, and highlight it here again since it is the differentiating factor from the earlier generation Golf Guru devices (though it doesn’t stack up to the competition).
  • Preferences. The Guru 4 allows users to change the standard distance unit from yards to meters, where the touchscreen displays the primary menu bar, and whether the scoring and statistics functions are enabled. The backlight brightness and volume are also adjustable from a different “settings” menu (there are separate settings menus for the device and for the golf application).

Suggestion Box: If Golf Guru does fix the buggy statistics features, it would be nice to be able to view aggregated statistics on the web site, instead of only being able to see the stats for each individual round.
Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


91 / A-

ACCURACY

Well let’s hit up Yahoo Maps to find the dopest route
I prefer Mapquest
That’s a good one too
Google Maps is the best
Tru dat. DOUBLE TRUE!…
The Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia
It’s the Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia
We love that Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia
Pass that Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia (Narnia, Narnia…..)
– Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg (as themselves)

Device Accuracy: Our test of device accuracy found the Guru 4 to be on par with its competitors, with our checks of the Guru 4 against sprinkler heads and a laser rangefinder coming well within the acceptable margin of error of three to four yards.

Mapping Accuracy: We played multiple rounds on a variety of different golf courses and found no glaring problems with mapping accuracy, although we noted that the Guru 4 was off by 2-3 yards (which we usually dismiss as white noise) much more than some of its competitors (so perhaps it won’t show the dopest route). Admittedly, this could be purely random to the courses on which we tested the device (Tru dat. DOUBLE TRUE!) . One improvement over the Color Guru is that the Guru 4 always shows a distance to a reference point no matter how close the user is to that reference point. The Color Guru would not display distances once the user was within 50 yards of a reference point.


76 / C
COST/VALUE

“[Franz:] Hans? Are you sleepy? [Hans:] No, Franz. I was just thinking: if the universe is never-ending, that means, if we took our properly pumped-up muscles and lay them end to end… still they would not reach the end!” – Hans (Dana Carvey) and Franz (Kevin Nealon)

Retail Price: The retail price of the Guru 4 is $399.95 (although it is being offered on Golf Guru’s web site at an “introductory” price of $359.95), right at the median among the devices tested.
Fees for Access to Course Database: Golf Guru provides the Standard maps for free, but AerVu maps cost between $7.00 and $9.50 per course (depending on whether the user buys in bulk).

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: The Guru 4 comes in with a pricey three-year total cost of ownership of $509.95, one of the highest for devices tested. (No, we’re not going to say that the cost is “pumped up”. Too obvious. But we will say that it’s so many dollar bills that if you lay them end to end…still they would not reach the end!)

Value: The bugs we encountered and overall lack of fit and finish, combined with the sky high three-year total cost of ownership, leave us questioning the overall value of the Guru 4. Hear us now, believe us later – there are other devices that provide more bang for the buck.