We take you through the best golf GPS devices of 2016 to help you make a decision on which is right for your game and your bank balance.
Distance measuring devices – or DMDs as they are often known – come in various guises nowadays, including compact GPS units and stylish GPS watches, each of which offer something a little different and at different price points.
The main benefit you’ll get for your investment is quick, accurate distances, which can provide new levels of confidence at address because you’re sure you’ve chosen the right club, which in turn helps you commit to shots much more easily.
With many of the GPS devices you also get hazard information and overhead maps of the hole, which will hopefully guide your strategy and thusly save you shots, especially on blind holes and at courses you’ve never played.
What will I need to consider?
– Your routine A glance at a watch is much quicker than taking a device out of its case, so weigh up if extra detail or less disruption is most important to you.
– Your course If your course has lots of doglegs, blind tee shots, or you play at other clubs in matches or socially, then you might want the extra information a GPS offers over a laser.
– Added extras The larger GPS units often include scorecard and stat tracking capabilities, while some devices measure shots or steps taken, so bear all this in mind.
– Battery power Laser rangefinders run on powerful batteries that are easily replaced every six months to a year, while GPS devices normally need charging via a USB after two to four rounds, so consider which would be easiest for you on a week-to-week basis.
GOLF GPS WATCHES
GM says: While at the pricier end of the watch market, the Approach S5 does feature some top-end technology, like its full colour touchscreen display that lets you manually move the flag’s location for more accurate yardages. Hazard and lay-up numbers also aid your strategy, while you can pair it with your smartphone to discreetly check your texts or emails as you play.
GM says: This traditional looking watch utilises yardages that have been mapped on foot to provide distances to the front, middle and back at over 35,000 pre-loaded courses. The annual membership isn’t ideal at £39.95, but it does add up to 40 hazard and lay-up distances and IntelliGreen – which shows the green’s shape – to the package.
GM says: The ultra-slim upgrade to the TomTom Golfer is designed to help golfers improve their game by detecting tee and approach shots automatically, which can then be analysed after your round using the MySports app. The watch shows distances to reach and carry hazards as well as lay up points, while the auto scorecard tracks your score. The post-game analysis gives insights into shot patterns and greens in regulation. Rounds can be studied hole-by-hole in order to build on your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
GM says: GolfBuddy’s latest watch is slim, lightweight and features Dynamic Green View, a mode that spins the green to match your angle of approach if you have gone offline, for the most accurate front, middle and back numbers. It also has nine pre-set pin positions you can select from, and GPS tracking for use with other outdoor sports.
GM says: This is Bushnell’s lightest and thinnest golf watch to date. It comes pre-loaded with more than 35,000 courses in over 30 countries and boasts a three-round battery life between charges. It builds upon its predecessor, the Bushnell neo XS, by featuring a new integrated step counter. It also has a shot measurement feature, odometer, front/centre/back distances as well as up to four hazard lay-up distances per hole and a new charging clip.
GM says: This is the first GPS watch on the market with a built-in club tag sensor to track the club, location and distance of each shot. The watch wirelessly syncs with SkyCaddie Mobile in real-time, displaying your shots in vivid HD on your smartphone.
Not a GPS device fan? Check out the best laser rangefinders of 2016.
GPS HANDHELD DEVICES
GM says: This premium GPS unit includes a £29.95 a year subscription, but goes a long way to justifying it with HD maps that can be downloaded to give you a crystal clear colour view of every hole. The high-resolution touchscreen is also great for showcasing the 35,000 courses that have been mapped on foot, while the Intelligreen technology gives you adjusted distances for unrivalled accuracy.
GM says: This pocket-sized GPS comes pre-loaded with over 33,000 courses, and as well as the front, centre and back yardages you’d expect, it also offers measurements to hazards and run outs, all for less than £100. Auto-course and hole recognition make it user friendly, while its shot measurement feature and different colour options are other handy extras.
GM says: This is the largest unit in this showcase, but that also means there’s more space on the four-inch LCD screen for extra features, like a pinch and zoom hole view that gives you a closer look at hazards and landing areas, arcs that display clear lay-up points and the option to move the pin around the green. Stat collection and scoring is also easy to input.
GM says: The G8’s large colour touchscreen can give you distances from any position on 38,000 pre-loaded courses, all of which are displayed via some of the best hole graphics on the market. Its stat collection and digital scorecard are also great features, however, the non-legal ‘plays like’ distance function that accounts for slope will put many off as it can’t be disabled.
GM says: The SkyCaddie AIRE II comes loaded with stroke-saving features and is ready-to-play with over 35,000 error-corrected courses. Its intelligent automation (auto-course select, auto-hole advance and auto-distance) keeps your hands free. It is perfect for those looking for green information who don’t want to go to any extra effort to get those yardages. If you have been sceptical of GPS devices in the past then this is a great entry model that will give you the perfect alternative to using yardage markers on the course, and will actually speed up your play compared to the old method.
GM says: TaylorMade and Microsoft have joined to launch the Golf Tile on the Microsoft Band, providing golfers with yardages, shot tracking and statistical analysis. It also boasts shot tracking and detection, GPS yardages to the front, middle and back of the green, a digital scorecard and provides biometrics information, such as how many calories you burn, how many steps you take, your heart rate, and the duration of your round. A summary of all this information will also be available on the Microsoft Health app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) when you’re away from the course.
GM says: The world’s first golf GPS band is slimmer and lighter than a watch and displays its front, middle and back yardages via a tickertape-style LED dot display. Using the BB5, golfers can also measure their shot distances, record the number of steps they take and tell the time.