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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

How We Test Free iPhone Golf GPS Apps

The iPhone’s immense popularity has led to the release of a growing number of iPhone golf GPS applications. To determine our overall iPhone golf GPS ratings, we looked at course availability for each application and the cost, both for the initial download and over a three-year period.


How We Test: iPhone Course Availability

We researched both how many golf courses are available in each application’s database (see Table 1) and did a sampling over 100 representative courses to see if their databases contain courses that you actually play (see Table 2).

Table 1. Manufacturer Claim of Courses Available

iPhone Golf GPS Application Courses Available
Golfshot 33,000
GolfLogix 24,000
ViewTi/ViewTi 2010 23,000
AirVue 18,000
GolfLink 18,000
FlyCaddie 4,000

* Source for “Courses Available” data was each company’s website or marketing literature.

For reference, the National Golf Foundation estimated that there were 15,970 golf courses in the United States as of December 31, 2007 and Golf Digest estimated the number worldwide at over 32,000 as of 2005.

Our Survey

We took a cross-section of 100 public courses across the country and searched to see if the courses were available for each device. In order to avoid having a skewed result, we tried to utilize as broad and representative a sample as possible.

To test if there were specific areas lacking in course coverage:

  • 20 courses were selected in each of 5 geographical regions of the United States – the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West.
  • Courses from 48 states were represented in our survey.

Selections were also evenly dispersed among 5 different types of courses:

  • Top 100: The best of the best, these 20 courses are listed among the top 100 public courses in the country as determined by various publications.
  • Destination: This group consisted of 20 resort courses that didn’t quite make the grade for Top 100 awards.
  • Best New: As a test of how quickly companies make new courses available, we selected 20 courses recognized by various publications as among the best new courses of 2007 or 2008.
  • Best Value: We decided to test whether companies would map courses for the frugal golfer, and found 20 courses recognized by various publications for their value for the money (”Best Public Courses Under $50″, et al).
  • Tolerable 20: Finally, to see if course coverage extended to the average golfer, we selected 20 public golf courses that received absolutely no accolades – the type of munis and other local courses that the average duffer plays every weekend.

The Results

Overall Coverage

As shown in Table 2, GolfLogix and Golfshot led the pack with a perfect 100. ViewTi was the next applications within striking distance, with FlyCaddie embarrassingly far behind. Scores were out of a possible 100. The complete list of courses tested may be found here.

Table 2. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage

iPhone Golf GPS Application Course Coverage
GolfLogix 100
Golfshot 100
ViewTi/ViewTi 2010 84
AirVue 75
GolfLink 70
FlyCaddie 37

Coverage by Course Type

When it came to course type (see Table 3 below), it was clear that coverage of “Best New” courses is the differentiator between the upper echelon and also-ran competitors in this category. That wasn’t too surprising as we would presume that the primary challenge for the application developers makers of these units will always be keeping up with new courses that open). Scores were out of 20 for each course type.

Table 3. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage by Course Type

iPhone Golf GPS Application Top 100 Destination Best New Best Value Tolerable 20
GolfLogix 20 20 20 20 20
Golfshot 20 20 20 20 20
ViewTi/ViewTi 2010 20 18 9 19 18
AirVue 19 17 7 17 15
GolfLink 18 15 6 16 15
FlyCaddie 8 8 4 10 7

See our list of golf courses tested for full details.

Coverage by Geography

The breakout by geography in Table 4 shows equal relative strength across regions from ViewTi, with AirVue and GolfLink trailing, and FlyCaddie with a long way to go (who in the Midwest ticked them off we wonder?). Scores were out of 20 for each region.

Table 4. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage by Geography

iPhone Golf GPS Application West Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast
GolfLogix 20 20 20 20 20
Golfshot 20 20 20 20 20
ViewTi/ViewTi 2010 17 15 15 19 18
AirVue 13 16 14 18 14
GolfLink 17 13 12 14 14
FlyCaddie 11 8 3 8 7

See our list of golf courses tested for full details.


How We Test: Cost/Value

iPhone golf GPS applications range in cost from $10 to $35 for the initial download, and some charge a yearly subscription fee for continued access to the course database. Our staff examined both the retail price for the application as well as the total cost of ownership over a three-year period (which includes any subscription fees or “per course” download fees).

The result is that the AirVue is clearly the low-price leader, both on the cost of the application itself AND the 3-year total cost of ownership. FlyCaddie seems to have not gotten the memo on pricing, as its annual subscription fee makes it more than 3 times the cost of any other application.

Table 1. iPhone Golf GPS Device Costs of Ownership

Golf GPS Device Application Cost Year 2 Fees Year 3 Fees Three-year Total Cost
of Ownership
AirVue $9.99 $0 $0 $9.99
GolfLink $14.99 $0 $0 $14.99
ViewTi $28.99 $0 $0 $28.99
ViewTi 2010 $29.99 $0 $0 $29.99
Golfshot $29.99 $0 $0 $29.99
FlyCaddie $34.99 $34.99 $34.99 $104.97
GolfLogix $39.95 $39.95 $39.95 $119.85