Quantcast

Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Golf GPS Reviews - Overall Ranking

Spring 2015 –  Reviews, ratings and rankings of the best golf GPS devices and watches. Our editors test and compare the newest golf GPS devices head-to-head to help you determine which golf GPS is best.  Golf GPS devices tested include offerings from Callaway, Garmin, GolfBuddy, Skycaddie, Bushnell, Motorola, Celestron, IZZO, Sonocaddie and Golf Guru.

How We Test

Intro to GPS Devices

Garmin Approach S6 Watch

Garmin Approach S6 Watch

The Garmin Approach S6 is the best golf GPS watch we’ve tested to date, combining overhead hole maps with a touchscreen to determine the distance to any point on the golf course…and it’s all available on your wrist. An excellent set of features, including a swing tempo training aid, make this a versatile and interesting device. Read our detailed Garmin Approach S6 golf watch review.
Retail price: $399.99
Three year total cost: $399.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Score

95

Grade

A


Garmin Approach G6

Garmin Approach G6

The Garmin Approach G6 exemplifies the trend of putting all of the best features of previous devices into progressively more compact designs. We love the sleek form factor and ease of use, great course coverage, and no additional yearly or per-course fees. It’s not perfect – we aren’t fans of the arbitrary nature of when target distances are displayed, and experienced some bugginess when accessing old scorecards on the device. But all in all, a very good device. Check out our detailed Garmin G6 review.
Retail price: $249.99
Three-year total cost: $249.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith.com: Check price now

Score

93

Grade

A-


SkyCaddie LINX Watch

SkyCaddie LINX Watch

The SkyCaddie LINX adds the full richness of SkyGolf’s hazard, layup and target information and its green maps to a watch device. The LINX also adds Bluetooth, enabling you to connect to SkyGolf’s free mobile app to update course maps on the fly. We love all of the distance information – the cost to obtain the good data, the thickness of the watch, and the setup process, not so much. Read more in our detailed SkyCaddie LINX watch review.
Retail price: $224.95
Three year total cost: $354.90
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Score

93

Grade

A-


Bushnell NEO XS Watch

Bushnell NEO XS Watch

The Bushnell NEO XS really is “new and improved”, both better looking and more capable than its older sibling, the Bushnell NEO-X watch (i.e. Matt Dillon to Kevin Dillon). Its feature set is limited, but it comes at a nice entry level price, and does the basic things very well. Read more in our detailed Bushnell NEO XS golf GPS watch review.
Retail price: $199.99
Three year total cost: $199.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Score

90

Grade

A-


Bushnell Hybrid GPS Laser

Bushnell Hybrid GPS Laser

The Bushnell Hybrid features the great idea of combining a laser rangefinder and a GPS device into a single package. Evaluated from the GPS perspective (we have a separate review evaluating it from a laser rangefinder perspective), it’s a bit light on features, is big and bulky, and costs a bundle. A fair attempt for a first generation product, but we’re hoping that new versions will have better integration between the GPS and rangefinder functions. Read our detailed Bushnell Hybrid Golf GPS Device review.
Retail price: $399 (down from $499 at introduction)
Three year total cost: $399
Availability: Though no longer manufactured, the Bushnell Hybrid GPS Laser is still widely available; replaced by the Bushnell NEO XS watch and the Bushnell Tour v3 JOLT
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Score

89

Grade

B+


Garmin Approach S2 Watch

Garmin Approach S2 Watch

The Approach S2 is the awkward middle child in the Garmin family, sitting in between the Garmin Approach S1 and the Garmin Approach S3 watches both in terms of feature set and price. Scoring is available, but we are still disappointed with the lack of hazard data or an online portal to track your scoring over time on the Approach watches. The premium price will be difficult to command in the face of recent less expensive product introductions with similar feature sets, though Garmin has brought down the price since its introduction. Read more in our detailed Garmin Approach S2 golf watch review.
Retail price: $199.99
Three year total cost: $199.99
Availability: No longer manufactured but still available; replaced by the Garmin Approach S3 watch
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Score

89

Grade

B+


Sonocaddie V500

Sonocaddie V500

The Sonocaddie V500 brings you the latest features, including satellite images and video flyovers. But uneven implementation of certain interface elements left us disappointed. Combine that with overall poor image quality of satellite views, lack of ability to zoom, limited mapped points, and buggy software, and you’re left with a device that gets lost in the noise. Oh, and it finished last in our course coverage analysis at a mere 21% of courses available. Not compatible with Macs. Read our detailed Sonocaddie V500 review.
Retail Price: $399
Three year total cost: $428.95
Amazon.com: Check price now

Score

88

Grade

B+


TomTom Golfer Watch

TomTom Golfer Watch

Longtime GPS player TomTom enters the golf GPS world with the TomTom Golfer golf GPS watch. There are some nice elements, including an excellent user interface and the ability to update courses via Bluetooth from your mobile device. But the presentation of hazards is seriously flawed, impacting our enthusiasm for the device. TomTom has promised a software update to improve the hazard feature, but until that actually comes to fruition, we can only provide a polite golf clap for the Golfer. Read on for more details about the TomTom Golfer watch.
Retail price: $249.99
Three year total cost: $249.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Score

88

Grade

B+


IZZO Swami 4000

IZZO Swami 4000

IZZO changes things up their past golf GPS device format with the new Swami 4000. More similar in look to competing golf GPS devices, the new Swami 4000 comes with the same set of basic features that we have come to expect from IZZO, which includes distances only to fixed front, center and back of the green points. IZZO retains an aggressive price point with the Swami 4000, and without any recurring fees, currently the Swami 4000 is the lowest price unit in our tests over three-year total cost! Check out our detailed IZZO Swami 4000 review.
Retail price: $119.99
Three-year total price: $119.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Score

80

Grade

B-


Arccos Golf

Arccos Golf

Looking for our review of Arccos Golf? While it does pair with your iPhone to provide course maps and distance information to help you navigate the course, the driving functionality behind the device is the ability to track shots during the round and provide post-round stats and analysis. Therefore, we have filed Arccos Golf in our Training Aids category. So head on over there to check out our Arccos Golf review.
Retail price: $399.99
Three-year cost: $399.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now
Edwin Watts Golf: Check price now


Bushnell NEO Ghost

Bushnell NEO Ghost

Want simple? The Bushnell NEO Ghost is it. The Ghost provides front, center, and back of green distances, with up to four hazard distances per hole – this in addition to the part and hole number. The NEO Ghost comes preloaded with 33,000 courses, with no downloads or annual fees. There are 6 buttons on the device that allow you to move through menus, make selections, and track (but not save) shot distances. The functionality is essentially the same as the Bushnell NEO XS watch. The deciding factor for players will be if they want to spend a bit more for the convenience of a watch instead of pulling the Ghost from their pocked or the attached clip. Read more details in advance of our full Bushnell NEO ghost review.
Retail price: $129.99
Three year total cost: $129.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Callaway ECLIPSE

Callaway ECLIPSE

We have to admit we are struggling to figure out the target market for the Callaway (/IZZO) ECLIPSE. You can clip the device to your belt or bag, and then quickly detach it and carry it in your pocket. Um, or you could simply get a dedicated handheld or a watch. The ECLIPSE provides front, center and back or green, as well as distances to hazards and doglegs. There are scoring features as well, including putts and GIR. We just aren’t quite sure what the versatility gains us. Read more about the Callaway ECLIPSE.
Retail price: $199.99
Three year cost: $199.99
Amazon.com:
Check price now (available for pre-order)

GAME GOLF

GAME GOLF

Some might file GAME GOLF under the category of GPS Devices, but as the unit tracks shots to help players learn more about their game after the round, and doesn’t provide distances to holes or hazards during play, we have filed GAME GOLF under our Training Aids category. So head on over there to check out our GAME GOLF review.
Retail price: $199
Three-year cost: $199
Amazon.com: Check price now

Garmin Approach G8

Garmin Approach G8

Garmin ups the ante in 2014 with their new top-of-the-line Garmin Approach G8. The G8 retains the sleek design of the old Garmin G6, provides distances to front/center/back and doglegs, and the ability to pinpoint any target on the course via touchscreen. The Approach G8 has a 3″ display, offers slope-adjusted distances (though cool, remember this is a no-no for tournament play), club recommendations (based on tracking of prior shot distances), and the ability to receive email, text and call alerts (we’ll pass – we are at out of the office for a reason). And that’s not all, if you have a blind shot and left your compass at home, the G8 can point you in the right direction. The Garmin Approach G8 also stands out with Wi-Fi functionality so you can download course updates without plugging in. No annual fees and an online portal to upload scores and track progress over time are a plus. Read on for more about the Garmin G8.
Retail price: $399.99
Three-year total cost: $399.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Garmin Approach G7

Garmin Approach G7

The Garmin Approach G7 updates the Garmin G6 with slope-adjusted distances (whoa!), club recommendations, and the ability to receive email, text and call alerts. The G7 shares the same form factor as the G6, distance information to front/center/back of green and doglegs, and users can pinpoint any target on the course via touchscreen. For those deciding between the G7 and the Garmin Approach G8: the G7 has a slightly smaller screen (2.6″ diagonal), lacks the ability to point in the direction of the center of the green for blind shots, and does not have Wi-Fi. But then again, it’s $100 cheaper. As with other Garmin Approach devices, there are no annual fees. The G7 also connects to the new Garmin portal to upload scores and track progress over time. Check out more info in advance of our Garmin G7 review.
Retail price: $299.99
Three-year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Garmin Approach S5 Watch

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 here is it, released at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show, the Garmin Approach S5 watch. So given this crazy set of offerings, which do you get? The best way to think of the S5 is that it is the entry-level Garmin golf watch with full course maps. It lacks the tempo training and pin-pointing features of the Garmin Approach S6, which is just fine with us. It still offers everything else you need – yardages to near-center-far points on the green, layup arcs, scoring and stats, smartphone notifications, and the free Garmin Connect portal. Read more details on the Garmin Approach S5 golf watch.
Retail price: $349.99
Three year total cost: $349.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Garmin Approach S4 Watch

Garmin Approach S4 Watch

The Garmin golf GPS watch lineup continues to expand with the Garmin Approach S4, the new top-of-the-line watch in the family. As with the Garmin Approach S3, the S4 features a touchscreen display, is preloaded with courses (and free lifetime updates…we like!), has distances to front/middle/back of greens along with layup and doglegs. The Approach S4 can also measure shot distances and track scores and statistics. While we are still left longing for pre-mapped hazard data and an online portal, the Approach S4 does add the latest and greatest feature from Garmin – the ability to check your emails and text messages when paired with an Apple iPhone. You might be at the office…who knows?! Read more details in advance of our Garmin Approach S4 golf watch review.
Retail price: $299.99 (dropped by $50 since launch)
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

GolfBuddy PT4

GolfBuddy PT4

GolfBuddy continues their model numbering system we haven’t deciphered yet with the GolfBuddy PT4. This top-of-the-line GolfBuddy replaces the GolfBuddy World and GolfBuddy Platinum. It notably features an extremely large 4″ high-resolution touchscreen and slimmer body design. While players generally think first of SkyCaddie and Garmin, the GolfBuddy PT4 features stats tracking, distances to any point on the course, pin placement capability and customizable targets, and with excellent course coverage and no annual fees, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Read more in advance of our full GolfBuddy PT4 review.
Retail price: $399.99
Three year total cost: $399.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

GolfBuddy VT3 Watch

GolfBuddy VT3 Watch

The GolfBuddy VT3 is the 9th (yup, NINTH) device that GolfBuddy has added to their lineup (which is insane, but we’ll leave that for later comment). The VT3 is an iteration to the GolfBuddy Voice+, adding a touchscreen, ability to place the flagstick on the image of the green to obtain more accurate distances, and the ability to score. The device doesn’t provide distances to hazards. Pricing is significantly higher than the GolfBuddy Voice+, which makes us wonder how it will fare. Read more about the GolfBuddy VT3 watch.
Retail price: $299.99
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

ScoreBand Golf

ScoreBand Golf

Never heard of ScoreBand? We’ll forgive you…they just launched in mid-2012, and they don’t have the marketing horsepower of the major manufacturers. The Scoreband Watch enters the now-crowded golf GPS watch market with all the basics: distances to front, back and center of greens and to hazards, a scorecard, shot measurement, and room to save up to 10 rounds. If that doesn’t do it for you, maybe the price will – they are the lowest-priced golf GPS watch in our cost comparison (oh, and no annual fees). Read on for more about the ScoreBand Golf GPS watch
Retail price: $149.95
Three year total cost: $149.95
Amazon.com: Check price now

SkyCaddie AIRE II

SkyCaddie AIRE II

The SkyCaddie AIRE II is the smallest handheld SkyCaddie handheld device, providing distances to the front, center and back of green only on its black and white screen. And as all SkyCaddie devices, don’t forget to consider the yearly fees for the features you will likely want, in this case distances to hazards, as well as additional green information…for a whopping $49.95 per YEAR. Check out more details on the SkyCaddie Aire II.
Retail price: $169.95
Three year total cost: $319.80
Amazon.com: Check price now

SkyCaddie TOUCH

SkyCaddie TOUCH

SkyCaddie loses the stubby antenna with the SkyCaddie TOUCH. The TOUCH sports a glove-friendly touchscreen, 3″ color screen, “HD” graphics for up to 100 course maps, and links to your SkyGolf (free) mobile app via accompanying Bluetooth. Now, if your handheld GPS is talking to your iPhone on the course…well, that’s one too many devices for us. But you can use it to download course updates without a cable, so its got that going for it. Don’t forget the $49.95 yearly fee for unlimited nationwide courses (we won’t) Read on for more about the SkyCaddie TOUCH.
Retail price: $299.95
Three year total cost: $499.80
Amazon.com: Check price now

Voice Caddie VC300

Voice Caddie VC300

As with their prior voice GPS devices, the Voice Caddie VC300 speaks distances to center, front and back of the green at the push of a button. The device comes with 30,000 worldwide courses preloaded, and course updates can be downloaded (to Windows devices only…bummer) for free via their client software. The device features, as you would expect, automatic course and hole recognition, shot distance measurement, and volume control. The rechargeable battery provides up to 8 hours of continuous use. Read more about the Voice Caddie VC300.
Retail price: $169.00
Three year total cost: $169.00
Amazon.com: Check price now