Callaway GPSync Watch
The Callaway GPSync Watch is actually produced by IZZO and marketed under the Callaway brand pursuant to a license agreement. IZZO has apparently discontinued its own line of Swami watches in order to avoid cannibalizing sales of the GPSync.
The availability of hazard information is nice, although it’s often difficult to determine which hazards are actually being presented. The GPSync will tell you that there’s a hazard that is 194 yards to reach and 210 yards to carry, but it doesn’t indicate which side of the fairway the hazard is on, and if there are multiple hazards on the same side, good luck guessing which one the GPSync is identifying. Scoring on the watch is nice, but the statistics that can be tracked are a bit limited, and there’s no aggregation of data (either on the mobile app or on a web site) to show how you’re progressing over time.
After the demise of the Callaway uPro line of devices (which we liked a lot), we were hoping that this new release would represent a resurgence of the chevron brand, but the GPSync, while a functional device, never really excites in any way, and is pricy relative to what you get.
- Strong course coverage
- Hazard distances
- Some statistics tracking (although still limited)
- Fickle charging clip
- No course update support for Macs
- Relatively expensive for what you get
Retail price: $299.99
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
- The charging clip does not fit particularly snugly, and early on, we frequently thought we had it loosely attached to the GPSync and it was not (and thus was not charging). If you find the sweet spot, you can snap the watch firmly into place, but it takes some practice.
- No wall charger is provided, so unless you already have one, the only way to charge the Callaway GPSync is by plugging the USB cable into your computer. (This is not unique to the GPSync – it is the case with almost every watch we test)
- The Callaway GPSync comes with the entire course library pre-loaded on the device. We’re not entirely sure how to obtain course updates on the GPSync – there is a link for an “Update Tool” on the Callaway support web site, but after downloading the file, it wouldn’t open for us, providing an error message informing us that it was a Windows file. That is decidedly suboptimal for those of us who are Mac users.
- The GPSync mobile app is available as a free download, and enables you to pair the watch via Bluetooth to your mobile device. The pairing process was pretty simple, and once paired, the watch and the mobile app will share completed scorecards and you will receive notifications of incoming text messages (the watch will display the entire message, not just the name of the sender), telephone calls and calendar invitations. Note that you have to manually enable the watch’s Bluetooth function (by pushing one of the watch buttons) every time you power the watch back on.
- Once you’ve gone through the setup process, just charge up the battery and you’re good to go.
- Critical Golf Test: Through the relationship with IZZO, the Callaway GPSync utilizes IZZO’s course database. The GPSync scored a strong 98% in our golf course coverage test, where we select a random cross-section of courses across the country and evaluate whether those courses are available within a manufacturer’s database.
- Manufacturer’s Claims: Callaway claims that more than 30,000 worldwide courses are available on the GPSync, which places it near the bottom our course coverage comparison test. As always, we recommend a greater focus on the Critical Golf Test, as the Manufacturer’s Claims are based solely on what is listed on their web sites and in their marketing materials.
EASE OF USE
- Callaway lists the screen size for the GPSync as 1.28”, which is the diagonal measurement. The screen is a square about .875” x .875”, giving it about 0.77 square inches in viewing area – a hair smaller than the 0.8 square inches available on the Garmin watches.
- The Callaway GPSync weighed in at a surprising 2.35 ounces (as tested), which made it the heaviest golf GPS watches we have tested. The watch body is black and the accompanying rubber band is black as well. Two “keeper” loops hold the excess length of the band in place and adjusting them to the correct position is somewhat critical in preventing the band from rubbing against you during your putting stroke.
- Navigating through the functions of the GPSync relies upon four buttons on the sides of the watch, as well as learning the difference between a “press” and a “hold” of a button. There were some elements of the interface that didn’t really click with us (primarily surrounding the press/hold distinction), but nothing that you don’t eventually learn through repetition.
- Callaway claims 10-12 hours of battery life while using GPS. At least that’s what it says on their web site. The manual itself says 9 hours, which is not far from the 8 hours and 45 minutes that our device provided before its battery died on the 15th hole of the second testing round. The battery meter is not to be trusted – after the first round, it showed 75% remaining power…clearly an overstatement since it didn’t make it through a second round on a course in the same resort (i.e. it wasn’t suddenly faced with drawing more power to hang on to satellites in a trickier location).
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device ease of use.
COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING
- The Callaway GPSync provides hazard distances, but it can be a devil determining exactly which hazard is being depicted. All that is presented is an icon identifying the type of hazard (bunkers, water and doglegs) and then two numbers indicating the distances to reach and carry the hazard. If you’re playing a familiar course, this is less of an issue since you can probably figure out which hazard is being called out, but on a new course it can render the hazard data largely useless.
- Hole View – shows the hole number, the par for the hole, the distance to the front, middle and back of the green, a battery meter, and the time. Don’t be fooled by the “picture” of the green that is depicted – the GPSync shows the same “picture” for every hole, and it is not indicative of the actual shape of the green.
- Hazard View – displays up to 3 hazards on the screen at once (if there are more plotted for that particular hole, you can scroll down). An icon is displayed identifying the type of hazard, as well as the distances to reach and carry the hazard (in the case of doglegs, the distances are to the front and back of the dogleg). Once you have walked past a hazard, the GPSync will no longer display the distances for that hazard. The Hazard View also shows the time, hole number and the par for the hole
- Scoring View – enables you to enter your score, number of putts and whether you hit the green in regulation. Your total score and your score relative to par (+3, etc.) for the round is displayed, as well as the current hole number and the par for that hole.
- Shot Measurement View – displays the distance of your shot if you have activated shot measuring. While tracking the shot distance, you can toggle to other views and the watch will continue to measure that shot.
- Hole handicap information is not available on the Callaway GPSync.
- Auto-Advance. The Callaway GPSync will automatically advance to the next hole during play. Manually changing holes is easily done through the up/down buttons. There is no way to disable the auto-advance feature.
- Scoring. You can track your own score throughout the round, but not for any of your playing partners.
- Statistics. The Callaway GPSync enables you to track your number of putts and whether you hit the green in regulation (GIR). The latter was an odd choice in our view – why not let users enter whether they hit the fairway or not? If it’s a question of not wanting to force users to scroll to another screen on the Scoring View, why not replace GIR entry with fairways hit, and calculate whether or not the green was hit in regulation based on the par of the hole and the number of putts (which is what a number of other devices do)? A calculated GIR can sometimes be wrong (you could hit the green in regulation, putt it off the green, and then chip back on and two-putt, and the device would think you had not hit the green based on the number of putts), but it seems better than excluding fairway data entirely.
- Scoring and Statistics Evaluation. You can save your rounds to the GPSync, but cannot view previous scorecards and statistics on the watch itself – you must sync the device to the GPSync mobile app. The scorecards (including the saved statistics) are then viewable on the mobile app. There is no aggregation of the data for you to view patterns over multiple rounds – you can only see what you did in a given round. You can delete old scorecards from the mobile app.
- Shot Tracking. You can measure shot distances on the Callaway GPSync. We’re not sure if it’s where the feature is placed within the user interface or not (it’s pretty easily accessible), but for whatever reason we found ourselves using this feature more on the GPSync than we have on other devices.
- Miscellaneous. The GPSync has a basic odometer that displays the distance you’ve traveled. Oddly enough, it does so in yards, rather than miles. This function cannot be activated while you’re in the middle of a round, so it is only useful if you wear the watch day-to-day and want to use it to track your fitness activity while you’re not playing golf.
- Watch Features. You can select whether you want the watch to display time digitally or with a representation of an analog face. Remember the big hand and the little hand? There is also an alarm function that enables you to set up to three different alarm times on the watch.
- Preferences. The Callaway GPSync enables you to adjust: whether the time is determined manually or automatically via GPS; the format in which the date is displayed; the format in which the time is displayed (12 or 24 hour); the unit of measurement (yards or meters) the language for the device (English, German, French or Spanish); how long the backlight remains on; whether the watch emits sounds; whether the time reflects Daylight Savings; and whether the scorecard, shot distance and notification features are on or off.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.
The Callaway GPSync generally returned distances within our standard expected range of variance for GPS devices, usually plus or minus up to 4 yards from actual distances (based on marked sprinkler heads). It was, however, usually somewhat slow in stabilizing on a distance compared to other devices we were testing concurrently, which doesn’t exactly instill confidence that you have the right yardage.
We did encounter one instance of an outdated course map, as a course that has been re-routed for almost two years had not been updated. IZZO (the source of the course database for the GPSync) has to catch up to iGolf and other course database providers!
Retail Price: The Callaway GPSync golf GPS watch retails for $299.99, which puts it a bit above average among the golf GPS watches in our tests.
Fees for Access to Course Database: There are no additional fees for course map updates to the Callaway GPSync (but if you’re a Mac owner, you can’t get them on to the watch).
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With no additional yearly fees to download the latest course information, the three-year total cost for the Callaway GPSync remains $299.99. At this price point, it is right at the average among the golf GPS watches in our tests.
Value: The pricing of the Callaway GPSync seems out of sync (no pun intended) with its feature set. We would lean toward paying slightly more in order to get a better product.
Retail price: $299.99
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now
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