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Archive for January, 2015

Garmin Approach S5 Watch

You didn’t think Garmin would leave a gap in their naming, already having the S1, S2, S3, S4 and S6, did you? We didn’t. And lo and behold, released at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show, is the Garmin Approach S5 watch.

The Garmin Approach S5 has an incredibly strong feature set, and one that, like the Garmin Approach S6, goes far beyond that of the other Garmin Approach offerings at the lower end, such as the S3 and S4. The S5 is the same form factor as the S6, at 1.8″ x 1.8″ x 0.56″, 1.6 oz and with a 1.0″ color touchscreen that is 180 x 180 pixels. The watch is both smaller and lighter than the S3 and S4, and while adding a color touchscreen, matches its estimated 10 hours of battery life on the course.

Garmin Approach GPS Watch Comparison

Click to enlarge

The S5 lacks the tempo training and pin-pointing features of the Garmin Approach S6, which is OK with us. It still offers everything else you need – 38,000 preloaded courses, yardages to near-center-far points on the green, layup arcs, scoring and stats, smartphone notifications, and the free Garmin Connect portal. This in addition to full course views and the ability to manually select any point on the hole for distance readings, as well as manually place pins for more accurate yardages.

The $350 retail price is a bit lower than the S6, though the lack of yearly fees for course updates or the Connect portal makes it that much more enticing versus competing device with additional costs, such as the SkyCaddie LINX. Plus, who can deny the coolness of a color touchscreen with full course maps? If you are looking for a bit of additional flash, you can also purchase accessory bands to spice up the basic offering, which is available in black with blue bezel accents.

Garmin Approach S5 GPS Watch Views

Click to enlarge

Retail price: $349.99
Three year total cost: $349.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Garmin S20, though units may still be available on Amazon.com (see link below)
Amazon.com: Check price now










Bushnell Tour X

Bushnell fills in some gaps with the Tour X, offering all of Bushnell’s latest technology, lacking only the 7x magnification of the Bushnell Pro X7 JOLT Slope. The device comes with 6x magnification, more than the Bushnell Tour v3 Jolt Slope it ostensibly replaces, but also offers two new key features.

The first is the “Exchange Technology”, which is the marketing term for the cue that Bushnell took from the Leupold GX-4i, a switchable faceplace that allows the device to toggle between a USGA-conforming rangefinder, and one that provides slope-adjusted distance readings.

The second feature is the Tour X’s “Dual Display Technology. This allows the player to manually swap between Bushnell’s Vivid Display Technology (think red text and crosshair in the display) and black text/crosshair, depending on lighting conditions, at the flip of a switch.

In addition to the new features, the Bushnell Tour X offers distances to ½ yard, range from 5 to 1,300 yards, and has a 2 year warranty.

Do we really need all these features? Probably not. We could probably do without the vibrating “jolt” of the device, and the ability to switch between display view is something we won’t frequently if ever use (but having the option allows Bushnell to get players that like one or the other). As we play in tournaments on occasion (or simply on the up-and-up), the switchable faceplate is useful to allow the Tour X to be used as a conforming device. At nearly $500, you’ll likely see this device pull players that would otherwise purchase the Leupold GX-4i2 and Bushnell Pro X7 JOLT Slope, as well as other Bushnell fans that are interesting in stepping up to its 6x magnification.

Retail price: $499.00
Amazon.com: Check price now


Sun Mountain MC3 Micro-Cart

The Micro-Cart gets updated in 2015 with the MC3, the latest offering in Sun Mountain’s patented line. The MC3, like its predecessors, folds in two steps to a mere 26.5″ X 14.5″ X 13.5″ footprint. This plus a marketed weight of 16.9 pounds make it a breeze to get in and out of your car.

As with other Sun Mountain Micro-Carts, the MC3’s handle has the ability to adjust to multiple heights, it has a lightweight aluminum frame, and solid foam tires. In addition, the new larger diameter tires and low Micro-Cart center of gravity make it that much easier to tackle uneven ground on the course (and believe us, some push carts suffer mightily from small wheels and high centers of gravity). If you want even more stability, the extendable front axle will increase the wheel base by two inches.

The Sun Mountain MC3 Micro-Cart also provides all the standards, including valuables tray with a magnetic lid, scorecard holder, swiveling drink holder, and the usual tee and pencil holders to keep everything in order. To spice things up a bit, Sun Mountain offers seven (!) different color combinations: white/orange, silver/red, gunmetal/citron, red/white, cobalt/citron, pink and black/red.

We have been fans of the Micro-Cart line for quite some time, and recommend that this cart be in the lineup of those to consider.

Retail price: $199.99
Amazon.com: Check price now


Sun Mountain Reflex

The Reflex, introduced in 2015, stands out with a…wait for it…four-step folding method. Break out your origami skills, players! But when folded, the Reflex, like the MC, collapses into a relatively small footprint – just 25.0″ X 15.0″ X 11.0″, a hair smaller than the Micro-Cart line. And even with the multi-step process the Reflex still, at a marketed 17.0 pounds, comes in a completely reasonable weight.

Storage is a bit different from other Sun Mountain carts, with the Reflex utilizing two separate padded valuable trays (located in the standard position between handle and clubs), storage for golf balls, scorecard holder, and a spot for your cold ones.

Though the wheels aren’t huge, the wide wheelbase assists with stability on course, and the adjustable handle height, including 180 degree range for the handles, allow for a variety of player choice for arm and shoulder position. The handle mounted brake is mounted just under the top tray.

The Sun Mountain Reflex comes in four color combinations: silver, black, black-lime and charcoal-red.

Retail price: $259.99
Amazon.com: Check price now


IZZO Swami GT

IZZO takes on some serious competition with their Swami GT, a combination GPS and “game tracker” all-in-one that will compete with Arccos and GAME GOLF, companies that offer very strong interfaces and polish.

As with the competition, lightweight tags are screwed into the butt end of each club, which then work via NFC (Near Field Communities) technology and GPS to transmit and track your shot data without the player having to manually input any information. The Swami GT doesn’t only track your game, however, it also has an 2.5″ LCD display that provides you with distances to front, center and back of green (30,000 courses mapped worldwide), distances to targets. and a recommended club based upon your club averages, which makes the device illegal for USGA tournament play. The Swami GT will also track your score, putts and GIR (though curiously, that can be done by tracking all your shots…hmmm). While some information is viewing post-round on the device, by syncing the device to your (free) Swami GT account online, you can review the full stats.

IZZO Swami GT

Click for more images

The big selling point is the cost, which at $200 for a combination GPS and game tracking device, will make players who are interested in more data on their game want to take a look. And, we bet, put some pressure on Arccos and GAME GOLF to lower their prices.

Retail price: $199.99
Three year price: $199.99
Availability: “Coming soon!” (as of June 2015)