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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Garmin Approach S4 Watch

The Garmin golf GPS watch lineup continues to expand with the Garmin Approach S4, the latest announcement from Garmin and the new top-of-the-line watch in the family, improving on the Garmin Approach S3, with the addition of a dedicated green view button, additional stat tracking (fairways hit/left/right), improved battery life, and what will get the most press…the ability to receive email, texts and alerts (when paired with a compatible Apple iPhone).

In terms of distance features, the Garmin Approach S4 offers distances to front/middle/back of greens along with layup and doglegs. We still don’t quite get why pre-mapped hazards aren’t included, but we’ll keep hoping for this in the future. With the Garmin Approach S5, perhaps? The S4 does let you input custom points, so this can include bunkers or water hazards, but really, who are we kidding…we are so lazy that we will never map them ourselves, and would vastly prefer these were available out-of the-box. Once you are shooting for the green you can utilize the touchscreen to more accurately place the flagstick (or determine distances to contours).

The S4 can also measure shot distances, and in addition, track scores and stats that are reviewable on the watch after the round. Unfortunately, there is no online portal to save and track this information over time – surprising given the range of devices and portals that Garmin has available for other non-golf products.

The Garmin Approach S4 GPS golf watch is marketed as lasting up to 10 hours in GPS mode (don’t we wish that wasn’t about how long it takes to play 2 rounds at our local course) with its rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The watch is 1″ across, has a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels, and is waterproof to 10 meters so go ahead, reach on into that non-potable water to retrieve your ball!

The Garmin Approach S4 GPS golf watch comes with over 30,000 worldwide courses pre-loaded, and free lifetime updates to keep up with both new course and as well as existing course changes. It’s the highest priced golf GPS watch in our tests, but if it keeps you on the course instead of at the office, maybe it’s worth it. And that just leaves you with a 2 questions: which color Garmin Approach S4 do you purchase (white or black), and do you respond to you boss’ email?

Retail price: $249.99 (dropped from $349.99 at launch)
Three year total cost: $249.99
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