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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Golf GPS Device Features

Devices vary widely in terms of features – from the bare minimum of displaying distances to the front, middle and back of the green, to pretty amazing stuff like aerial fly-over maps of each hole, digital scorecards with sophisticated analysis of your statistics, and the ability to calculate who owes whom and how much across multiple betting games at the same time.
To provide a quick overview, Table 1 highlights features of the various GPS devices.

  • Screen type: Either color or black and white. Not all screens demand the use of color, and in the cases where a color screen is provided, it is not always fully utilized.
  • Green rotates: Some devices feature a graphic of the green (either computer generated or an actual satellite image) that rotates on the screen in relation to the player. It’s an enormous advantage being able to know the shape of the green and the distances to the near and far points relative to your position, as opposed to only knowing the distance to the edges of the green closest and farthest from the tee box.
  • Green points mapped: most devices provide distances only to the front, center and back (FCB) of the green. This is great if you are in the middle of the fairway, but if you are approaching from any significant angle, this information may not be useful. Fortunately there is a set of manufacturers that have taken the time to map the edges of the entire green and provide the player with distances to the near, center and far (NCF) points on the green based on their position relative to the center of the green.
  • Choose green point: Many of the devices feature the ability to use a joystick or buttons to move a cursor around on a picture of the green to pinpoint the distance to a selected point. Users can use this feature to find the distance to the actual flagstick location (rather than merely the “center” of the green), or a certain targeted area of the green (we only wish we had the discipline to play that kind of smart golf).
  • Choose course point: Similar to the ability to select any point on the green, above, one device allows the user to be able to select any point on the entire course – a big help when planning how to play a hole.
  • Track shot distance: Most devices allow the user to track their shot distances. It’s a great way for players to get to know their club distances more accurately and yes, to impress everyone with a distance measurement for that whopping 300 yard drive.
  • Scorecard: Just under half of the devices have scorecards included. As long as you are carrying a GPS device, it’s a great way to be able to score your round and in some cases, track statistics.
  • Waterproof?: If you like to tough it out in the rain, or throw your bag in the lake after a disastrous round, some devices are waterproof, and all at least are water-resistant.

Below are just some of the basic features of each device. In addition to these are the aerial maps and video flyovers featured in the uPro, and the more advanced statistic tracking offered by the Golf Guru Color Guru (along with more detailed shot tracking) and the Sonocaddie V300.

Table 1. Golf GPS Device Features

Golf GPS Device Screen Type Green Rotates Green Points Mapped Choose
Green
Point
Choose
Course
Point
Track
Shot
Distance
Scorecard Statistics Waterproof?
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS B/W N/A FCB No No Yes No No Resistant
Bushnell NEO XS Watch B/W N/A FCB No No Yes No No Proof
Expresso WR62 B&W N/A FCB No No Yes No No Proof
Garmin Approach G8 Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Proof
Garmin Approach G7 Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Proof
Garmin Approach G6 Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Proof
Garmin Approach S4 Watch B/W No NCF Yes No Yes Yes Yes Proof
Garmin Approach S3 Watch B/W No NCF Yes No Yes Yes No Proof
Garmin Approach S2 Watch B/W N/A NCF No No Yes Yes No Proof
Garmin Approach S1 Watch B/W N/A NCF No No Yes No No Proof
GolfBuddy PT4 Color No NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Resistant
IZZO SWAMI 4000 B/W N/A FCB No No No No No Resistant
Matrix SHOTMATE Voice N/A N/A C No No Yes No No No
SkyCaddie Aire B/W TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
SkyCaddie Breeze Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Resistant
SkyCaddie Gimme Color TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
SkyCaddie SGX Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Resistant
SkyCaddie SGXw Color Yes NCF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Resistant
SkyCaddie Voice N/A TBD TBD No No TBD TBD TBD TBD
SkyCaddie LINX Watch B/W Yes Yes Yes No TBD No No TBD
Sonocaddie V500 Color No FCB No* Yes Yes Yes Yes Proof

*Additional notes:
Sonoacddie V500. While the Sonocaddie V500 does allow the user to select any point on the course to receive distances, it lacks the ability to zoom in on any part of a hole and any green detail. Without either of these capabilities, it makes it essentially impossible to select a specific target location on the green.