When looking for the best golf GPS devices the first thing to know is that there are basically just two types, Handheld GPS Rangefinders and GPS Golf Watches. Both golf GPS devices have similar features, but the one that suits you best will mostly be a matter of personal preference.
The size of the device will probably be your biggest concern. With the handheld GPS rangefinders you generally have a larger screen to view, which will be more appealing to some golfers, and definitely to golfers with poor vision. The handheld type GPS rangefinders have screen sizes from about 3″ down to 1″, if you want a more compact version. The only major problem with the handheld rangefinder is that you will be constantly getting it out of your pocket to check your distance to the flag, or other information.
GPS golf watches could be a better choice if you like the convenience of wearing it on your wrist, so you can quickly view your distance, instead of fumbling around in your pocket to find it.
Benefits of Having A Golf GPS Device
The benefits of having a golf GPS device can be pretty significant, even for golfers who have a low handicap. If the device helps you to realize the correct distance every time, instead of guessing and being off by a couple yards or more every time, then you will begin to develop a habit of picking the right club for each shot that you make. Once you have made a habit of choosing the correct club consistently you should start to see your scores lower, and isn’t that the goal in the game of golf?
The benefits of a device like this are even greater for a beginner, because it helps you to start picking the right club for the distance early in your learning of the game. Most of the golf GPS devices not only tell you the distances for each shot all the way to the pin, but also tell you the distance to the front and back of the green. They can give you the distance to the hazards too. Another valuable tool is the stored information and score keeping for each round of golf that can be reviewed to help improve your game.
Comparison of Handheld GPS versus GPS Watch
These are some feature comparisons, along with the advantages and disadvantages of both types of GPS devices, so you can decide more easily which device meets your needs out on the golf course. Here are some features of handheld GPS rangefinders: Most handheld GPS rangefinders are similar in size to a cellular phone, or smaller so they fit just fine in your pocket, or in a golf bag storage pocket. They have a big screen to see details more clearly and are made to be waterproof for the rainy conditions you see on the course sometimes.
Here are some features of GPS golf watches: The best feature of the GPS watch is that it is easily worn around the wrist, so there is need for removing it from your pocket every time you need to see your distance. They are made with regular watch features like time and others. Most GPS golf watches store information from all your shot distances and score for each hole and round of golf play, that you can use later to improve your game.
Best Handheld GPS Rangefinders
Here is a list of the best handheld golf GPS rangefinders for 2018: GolfBuddy Voice 2 GPS/Rangefinder – This rangefinder has an easy to use talking GPS and screen readout. Has distances to the front back and center of the green. Has increased battery life over the first generation GolfBuddy Voice Rangefinder and is water resistant. Costs slightly more than the first generation GolfBuddy Voice Rangefinder.
The GolfBuddy Voice GPS Rangefinder is very similar to the Voice 2, but a little cheaper since it is an earlier model. Both are very popular and have great reviews. They are easier to use than some other handheld models because they have a clip on the back, so you can clip it to your hat or belt, the talking GPS also helps for ease of use. Both devices are in the $85-100 range.
The Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS has a lot of good features but is pretty expensive compared to the GolfBuddy Voice Rangefinders. Has distance to the pin for uphill and downhill shots. Notifications of email and texts from your iPhone (4S or later). Remembers how far you hit each club and makes recommendations based on that information, also has blind shot assistance. Large 3″ screen with adjustable font, and automatic course updates.
The Garmin Approach G6 GPS is a similar choice to the G8, but has fewer features and is cheaper in price. The G8 is $350 and the G6 is $250. The Approach G6 still has some good features even though it is cheaper, like a 2.6″ water resistant touchscreen. A hole by hole preview of the course and tracking of all your shots, and you can check your distance anytime with the touchscreen.
The IZZO Golf Swami 5000 and Swami 4000+, are a couple cheaper handheld GPS choices that have a larger color screen like the Garmin models, but cost less. The IZZO Golf Swami 5000 is about $140 and has distance to the front, back and flag stick on the green. Distance to hazards and doglegs, auto course recognition and hole advance feature. Keeps score and has a 2″ color screen and 12 hr. battery time. The IZZO Golf Swami 4000+ has the same features as the 5000 but the screen is slightly smaller (1.8″) and battery life is 10-12 hrs. The price is cheaper at $95.
The Garmin Approach G10 Golf GPS and G10 with Garmin Lanyard Caribiner and Belt Clip are two choices that are similar to the GolfBuddy Voice Rangefinders in size and function except for the actual voice function. They are also more expensive because of the Garmin name and quality of product. The Approach G10 is $130 and the Approach G10 with Lanyard Caribiner and belt clip is $145.
Best GPS Watches
Any of the Garmin golf GPS watches have the best reviews and the most features. This is a list of the best golf GPS watches for 2018: Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch – This watch has a lot of great features like autoshot round analysis and activity tracking that displays steps and calories burned, distance, time of day and hours of sleep. It also tracks the fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per round. TruSwing compatible – provides information to improve your swing consistency when paired with the Garmin TruSwing golf swing sensor. Price: $177-200 for watch, $150 for sensor.
The Garmin Approach S2 GPS watch is available for $210-280 refurbished. It doesn’t have all the features of the Approach S20, but still a decent watch. Garmin’s Approach X40 is similar to the S20, it is more of a wristband than a wristwatch and has a heart rate monitor, but doesn’t have the course view auto updater like the S20, other than that the features are pretty much the same.
The last two watches on the list are reasonably priced with good features. The first one is the Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS watch. This watch has auto course recognition and auto hole advance, front, center, back and hazard distances. It has a shot distance calculator and odometer, also long battery life between charges. Price: $90.
The Lofthouse ProNav X3 GPS golf watch is similar in features to the Bushnell Neo Ion, but doesn’t have the odometer function. It is priced at $120.
Which GPS Device is Right for You?
All the handheld GPS rangefinders and GPS watches listed have a four star or better customer rating, so they are all good choices. Your decision will mostly be a matter of personal preference, like how easy it is to use or how long the battery lasts. The features will be a pretty big concern, but the more features you want, the more you will pay for them.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a balance between the price you want to pay, and the features you really need out on the course.