Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Garmin Approach S20 Watch

Boy this watch looks familiar…where have I seen this design before…hmmm. Anywho, the Garmin Approach S20 combines the standard information such as yardages to greens (front-middle-back, along with ability to place flagstick), with hazards and other targets such as layups and doglegs, in an attractively-priced offering. Moving to compete against other devices such as GAME GOLF, Garmin’s new AutoShot feature aims to capture the location and distance of each shot automagically, then uploads data for post-round review, including with map overlay (though more effort is required for detailed analysis, see more below). The S20 can also be paired with the Garmin TruSwing sensor to provide more in-depth swing analysis.

Garmin S20 Golf GPS Watch
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Within the Garmin family, the S20 most closely compares with the aging Garmin S4 in terms of features. And though there are a number of improvements beyond the S4, Garmin curiously hasn’t reduced the price of their S4 from $249 list, even with the release of the sub-$200 S20 (though the S4 is available for less from Amazon). If you can get past the lack of a touchscreen (we can) and ability to save custom targets (not a dealbreaker for us), the new S20 offers a number of benefits lacking in the S4: ability to update courses with their CourseView software, the AutoShot feature mentioned earlier, as well as distances to hazards and other targets. Even better, Garmin markets 50% longer battery life than the Garmin S4 and Garmin S6

Garmin S20
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Let’s talk AutoShot. If you are thinking it has the same functionality as GAME GOLF LIVE, you would be mistaken. While GAME GOLF uses a system of tags on your club to allow you to quickly tag the appropriate club for each shot, Garmin relies on your wrist movement to identify a shot (note that putts won’t be counted, nor may some other shots such as chips around the green (um, or out from under trees mid-hole), and in order to identify the club the user must enter these via Garmin Connect.

So you’re a fan of Garmin watches are still trying to decide which is the right one for you? Maybe you are also considering the Garmin S6? Though the S20 has the new AutoShot functionality, it still lacks a number of features found in the S6: a color touchscreen, course maps (!), and some of the S6 swing/tempo training features. Then again, the Garmin S20 comes in at under $200 in a good looking package, and arguably a more functional screen shape. We note that Garmin is bringing the S20 to market at a more aggressive price point than it did the S4, and as with all other Garmin devices, no yearly fees for course updates.

Garmin S20 Color Choices
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Garmin gives us a few color choices, with black, white and midnight teal options. With a solid set of features, a reasonable price, and Garmin’s continued excellent course coverage, this watch is a good choice for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles, but are looking for a strong performer.

Retail price: $199.99
Three year total cost: $199.99
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