Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+
The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ has a good form factor and is quite light, with solid buttons, an intuitive menu and a color screen that works fine in different lighting conditions. We were disappointed, however, in how the hole maps are implemented – the device will move the target point you have selected on a whim, which creates a maddening experience. In addition, the lack of information on the map screen for distance to the hole, or pre-mapped targets, make the device fall short of the competition. One last quibble – the marketing materials lead one to believe that no course downloads are necessary, but the truth is that only distances to the green and selected pre-mapped targets come built-in to the device. If you want the overhead hole maps, you’ll have to download the specific courses that you play.
- Small and light
- Pre-mapped targets
- Hole maps
- Course maps are not pre-installed on the device
- Device can override player positioning of the targeting cursor on the hole maps (see “Course Detail and Mapping” below)
- Yearly fees to access the course database after the first year
- Questionable decisions around accessing device features (such as needing to exit your round of golf to see the time)
Retail price: $299.99
Three-year total cost: $369.97
Availability: Discontinued. No handheld replacement, next nearest replacement is Bushnell NEO-X Watch
The Good: If you just need distances to front, center and back of the green, along with a small selection of pre-mapped targets, you can charge up the device and hit the course.
The Bad: The device is marketed as “ready to use out of the box” and “no course downloads necessary,” but this is only true if you just want pre-mapped distances and don’t care about course maps. If you want course maps, you’ll need to walk through the iGolf registration and syncing process to get up and running. We found it odd that course maps are not pre-loaded on the device, particularly since they are included at no extra cost for the first year.
- Required Steps. While you can use the Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ right out of the box, you’ll want to set up set up an account at iGolf.com, Bushnell’s provider of course data, to download overhead course maps to the device. Setting up an account is reasonably straightforward. The only hiccup we encountered arose due to the fact that we owned another Bushnell GPS device in the past, and it turns out that the iGolf site requires separate accounts (and email addresses) for each device.
What’s in the Box: The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ comes packaged with:
- Wall charger
- Power cord
- USB cable
- Belt clip
- Soft carry pouch
- Quick Start Guide
Required Downloads: None for initial use. And just a small applet to sync the latest course data (see below).
Syncing: To sync the device (and download course maps), you will need to register for an iGolf account, which is free for the first year. Curiously, the iGolf site will indicate that the user has a number of “GPS Credits” after registering (it starts at 50), which leads us to believe that if you want to download more than 50 courses in the first year, you’ll have to pay an additional fee. Admittedly, we did not take the time to try to download that many courses. We do know, however, that if you want to download additional courses after the first year, you’ll need to cough up $34.99 annually.
Ensuring that your Yardage Pro XGC+ has the latest information requires logging in to your iGolf.com account, going to the “GPS Courses” tab (do not go to “Golf Courses”, which simply has reviews of golf courses), and search for the course that you would like to download and/or update. The search functionality works fine, and once you find and select the desired course you will need to select “Download GPS & Scorecard” (do NOT select “Download Scorecard”, which generates an error saying that it is not compatible with the XGC+, irritating one of our staff members to no end and prompting a rant best summarized as “If a button is going to generate an error every time I press it, it probably simply shouldn’t appear on the page”). You’ll need to allow an applet to access your computer and device, and thereafter the latest course data is loaded in 10-15 minutes.
Unfortunately, there is no way to sync more than one course at a time. You need to search and find the course, download it to your XGC+, search for the next course, and repeat – and this holds true even if there are resorts with multiple courses or combinations of 9-hole courses. We were left scratching our heads over why there isn’t the ability to sync all courses in a state, or even select multiple courses at once for a city or region and then load those with one button push. In addition, every 6 courses or so (if you want to download a bunch at once) you will have to enter a CAPTCHA code. Seriously?!?
And while we’re piling on, we note that the iGolf site doesn’t have the intelligence to know which courses are currently loaded on the device, and it will let you re-load the same course (even if you just loaded it), though fortunately it won’t deduct any credits for that already-downloaded course. “But Critical Golf,” you may ask, “surely you can just look on the device to see which maps have been downloaded?” Nope – the XGC+ doesn’t indicate which courses have maps loaded to the device either (and stop calling me Shirley). So if you ever forget what courses you have downloaded, you’ll just have to (re)download them. Also, the iGolf site will not automatically update your downloaded courses if there is a course update available, nor will it indicate there is a newer version of the course. The only way around this is to simply re-download all courses on occasion.
If you hadn’t guessed, we aren’t fans of the iGolf interface, and generally find the site caught between trying to be a golf portal and a site that supports Bushnell GPS devices and mobile iGolf applications. The end result is that it doesn’t do either very well, with site glitches ranging from incorrect course detail information, including websites and email addresses listed, to random text where the tech team at iGolf seemed to be testing website functionality.
Critical Golf Test: The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ (well, actually its partner iGolf, who provides the course data), has a respectable 92% coverage across a representative group of 100 courses. When looking at coverage for the XGC+, we only count a course as “covered” if the following are available: distances to the front, center and back of the green, additional pre-mapped hazards/targets (aka “custom” points), and an overhead course map. We find it odd that iGolf/Bushnell only allows an XGC+ owner to request mapping of one course that isn’t already covered…that doesn’t strike us as consumer-friendly!
Manufacturer’s Claims: iGolf claims to have more than 25,000 courses in their GPS database worldwide, which puts it in the bottom half among the devices we’ve tested.
For greater detail, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS course availability.
EASE OF USE
The Good: The device is intuitive to use, and the buttons easy to press – even manually typing in course names goes quickly. The device is one of the lighter devices that we’ve tested.
The Bad: Certain settings are only accessible after quitting your round (such as modifying the brightness setting).
- Buttons. There is a five-way navigation button, dedicated power and menu buttons, and two function buttons defined by what is on the screen. We liked all of the buttons, which are easy to press and work well with the device.
- Screen. The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ has a relatively small screen for a device that include hole maps, though we didn’t find this to impact usability during our tests. Brightness was never a problem, as the screen was clearly visible in all lighting conditions (there is the option to turn the backlight on/off as desired).
- Form Factor. The XGC+ is one of the smaller devices tested, and at under 4 ounces, is the lightest device tested that provides overhead course maps. The front of the device, including the buttons, is a hard glossy plastic exterior (unlike many others that have rubber or other exterior coatings), and the back battery cover has a slightly rubberized surface.
- Starting a Round. Getting started on a round just requires turning the device on, waiting until the satellites are acquired (bars will appear in the top right of the screen – this can take up to 5 minutes), and then selecting “Play Golf” from the menu. Users can then select from a list of 10 courses ordered by proximity to their location, or choose to manually search for a course. If you select “Play Golf” before satellites are acquired, you will only have the option to manually search. The device won’t prompt the user for a starting hole, but rather defaults to the 1st hole. Given how quickly you can advance between holes, this is a nonissue if you’re playing the back nine or in a shotgun tournament.
- Battery Life. Bushnell claims up to 16 hours of battery life, and we were able to play three rounds of golf on a single charge (our rounds generally average 4-4.5 hours).
Check out the Critical Golf comparison of ease of use.
COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING
The Good: Distances to the front, center and back of the green, along with additional pre-mapped targets, the ability to add your own custom targets, and overhead hole maps with 5 levels of zoom.
The Bad: A frustrating and awkward interface led us to often give up on the overhead course maps and simply use screen with text distances only.
- Views. The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ provides two different types of hole views – one view provides distance information to the green (the “Main” view) as well as access to a handful of targets, and the other shows the full hole graphic (“Map” view). Players can quickly toggle between these by using the left function key. Neither view shows the battery life, satellite strength, time, nor unit of measurement (yards or meters).
- Main View (2 screens): Initially displays distance to the front, middle and back of the green. Keep in mind these are not distances to the near, center and far points of the green relative to the player’s position, but rather are fixed points, which is a bummer. This view also indicates the hole number and par. By pressing the toggle pad up or down, the player can easily access the additional targets mapped on the hole (either pre-mapped by iGolf or custom mapped by the player).
- Map View: This view simply has a graphic of the hole, which will update (rotate and zoom) based on player position. The graphic is very simple in look and feel compared to competing devices. Distances to pre-mapped or custom targets are not displayed in the map view. The Map view has several serious issues:
- The default location of the targeting cursor, regardless of the total yardage or shape of the hole, will be halfway between the player and the center of the green. It doesn’t matter if that point is in the middle of the fairway, or in the woods, out of bounds, or in the middle of a lake. There is no intelligence applied as to how the player would want to play the hole.
- The Map view does not show any information other then the distance from the player to the target, and target to the green. There is no indication of hole or par, or more importantly, total remaining hole distance. You can try to move the cursor to the green to get the distance remaining while in Map view, but this is more difficult than it should be, and it winds up being easier to switch back to the Main view for the pre-mapped distance to the center of the green.
- While the user can quickly select a target by moving the cursor with the 5-way navigation button, we found that quite often after locating a target if the XGC+ decided that we moved (and this could be while we were standing still – and yes, we experienced this even when the stabilizer is “ON”, which means that distances should not refresh GPS readings when you stop moving), the device overrode our positioning of the cursor and moved to the new “halfway” default point. It was absolutely maddening and made for a dreadful experience.
- After you have selected a target location with the cursor, if you zoom in on the hole, the cursor position will reset to halfway between your position and the hole. Ugh!
- There is no ability to move the location of the flagstick on the green, and trying to place the cursor on the green was a troublesome process, particularly when the device frequently overrides your attempts and moves the cursor back into the fairway. In order to keep our sanity, once we were near the green we switched the device to the Main view.
- On occasion the graphics will update based on the user’s position to have the majority of the hole off the screen. Users can’t pan the image, so they won’t be pleased when this happens!
- Hole Information. The Main view displays the hole number and par information, the Map view does not. Handicap information is only provided when accessing the scorecard summary for the round.
- Custom Mapping. Each hole can hold up to five mapped targets. In most cases we found holes had 1-3 pre-mapped targets, so there are two or more slots open for custom mapped points. You can also override the pre-mapped targets in case they are not accurate, or if you prefer to have different targets listed. If you download the course again (either not remembering you already downloaded it, or just in case you wanted to have the latest version), your mapped targets will be erased.
82 / B-
The Good: Users can track how far they hit their shots. Basic scoring and statistics can be recorded and later reviewed online.
The Bad: Access to some information, such as the time, requires users to exit their round (and thus erase their scorecard). Users can only enter GIR and fairways hit on the iGolf website after syncing their scorecard. So remember to write down on your paper scorecard your GIR and fairways, and keep your score and putts on your XGC+. Yes, that’s a little joke…
- Shot Tracking. The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ allows users to measure the distance of their shots by pressing the toggle pad up when in the Main view. When measuring shot distances, all of the standard information will continue to be displayed, and the shot distance will be saved if the user switches to Map view and then back to the Main view. Shot distance data is not retained by the XGC+ for later review after the round.
- Score and Statistics. The XGC+ allows users to quickly track total score and putts, and see their scorecard for the round. The putting information, however, is not shown on the scorecard display, but rather will only be shown in the Handicap Tracker application on the device, where players can see the total rounds played, average score and average putts, along with the score per round. Number of rounds and average score will be displayed on the player’s profile page on iGolf, and full scorecard detail is available in the “Handicap” section. The Handicap section shows greens and fairways hit along with penalty strokes – none of which can be entered on the device, but rather only on the website. Let’s be honest, that just makes no sense.
- Clock. There is a clock on the XGC+…though to access it you have to quit your round (which erases your recorded scores) and then go the “More Apps” menu on the device, from which you can select the “Clock” application. Whew, quite a bit of work just to see the time. Might be easier to just wear a watch.
- Auto-Advance. The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ can be set to auto-advance to the next hole, or users can choose to manually advance between holes.
- Preferences. XGC+ users can adjust settings for whether the device auto-zooms within a hole as the player progresses, the screen contrast, backlight timer, the basic unit of distance (yards or meters), tee box, the rate at which the device refreshes GPS distances (you can elect to have the device stop refreshing distances once you stop moving, so distances won’t fluctuate when you’re basically standing still), and whether the device turns off after 45 minutes of no user activity. During a round you can only modify the unit of distance and tee box.
- Other stuff (aka the “More Apps” page). The Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ allows players to select, while not playing, additional information regarding the device and owner (satellites and signal strength, clock, battery power, etc.) as well as iGolf information, including the latest golf news and equipment reviews. We really can’t imagine ever accessing this additional information, and it seems to us to have been included just because the content already exists on iGolf, not because any user would access this before or after a round. Plus it REALLY doesn’t make sense that a player would go any place other than Critical Golf for equipment reviews. There is also a driving range option, which we can’t imagine using, mostly because the ranges don’t come pre-mapped, so you’ll need to run around the range and stand next to each flag to mark it. I guess maybe you can work out a deal with the guy who picks up the balls in the Mad Max-like cart to shield you from incoming balls while you mark the target points on the range.
Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.
90 / A-
Distance accuracy was generally within the acceptable range of 4 yards, though we did experience multiple holes with up to 8 yards of variance from marked sprinkler heads (and from another GPS device being tested).
Course maps were accurate with the exception of a missing bunker on one course. The graphics, though somewhat Atari 2600-esque, still provide a reasonable facsimile.
78 / C+COST/VALUE
Retail Price: The retail price of the Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ is $299.99, putting it about average among devices featuring hole maps.
Fees for Access to Course Database: There are no fees to access the iGolf website and download course maps for the first year (we are guessing up to 50 courses, based on the initial “credits” provided). Thereafter the fee is $34.99 per year.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With fees after the initial year, the Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ has a three-year total cost of ownership of nearly $370, which makes it above average in total cost, and more expensive than superior devices.
Value: With a price on par with or higher than those for much more polished devices, the Bushnell Yardage Pro XGC+ just doesn’t match up with respect to value. The clunkiness of the interface for the course maps led us to give up in frustration and just rely on the simple distances to the front/middle/back of the green and pre-mapped hazards/targets. But that basic information is available on the Bushnell Neo+ at a much lower price.
For full cost details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device price and cost of ownership.