The hand-held golf GPS has made a huge impact on the golf industry since it first arrived on the market and is definitely 2009’s must-have gadget. This distance-measuring device (DMD) may not be allowed in any of the R&A’s 2009 events, and you’re not likely to see Tiger Woods with one on the fairway during the US Masters, but we can all use them subject to the approval of the golf clubs’ individual committee.

So how do they work and what can they offer? Yes these gadgets are mainly about yardages, but there are plenty of other features to help you with course management. For your no-nonsense golfer you have the Caddy Lite where the display will give yardages to the front of the green and shows how far it is to carry up to three primary hazards on each hole. Similarly, the Bushnell Yardage Pro will provide yardages to the front, middle and back of the green.

For the travelling golfer who might be worried about how many courses their device can store, there’s the Snooper S280 Shotsaver, which can hold over 100 tracks at a time. There’s also the advantage of a free subscription to the 2,000-strong course database. Then there’s your device for the golfer concerned with their statistics. The Sureshot 8800 allows you to store your fairways hit, greens in regulation, sand saves and driving distances.  

Moving up the price ladder and you can purchase the waterproof and impact-resistant Golf Logix GPS-8, which will provide lay-up distances as well as carry over hazards. The Sonocaddie V300 provides an overhead map of the course so you know exactly where you are and you can review your full round. Ideal for the post-match analysis.

Heading into the top-of-the-range bracket and you’re spoilt for features. The SkyCaddie SG5, Caddy Aid and Golf Buddy Tour all currently retail at around £300. The SkyCaddie SG5 will help you read the greens, and the Caddy Aid provides overhead photographs allowing users to calculate distances from anywhere on the course. The Golf Buddy Tour can be used straight out of the box as courses are already preloaded and you can even customise your own targets. There’s plenty more on offer.

Whether the GPS devices are a good thing is open to debate, which is discussed in our April issue and on the Golf Monthly Forum. Do GPS devices speed up play? Do they actually slow play down? Do they take an element of fun away from the game? Would you rather spend your money of another piece of gear? Make sure you make your vote count on our online poll.

If the GPS device is for you then we recommend you review the nine featured devices above, which can all be viewed in our equipment blogs. Feel free to tell us what you think in the Golf Monthly Forum or post your reviews underneath our blogs.  

Where next?

More equipment guides:

Irons under £400
Wedges
Modern putters
Fairway woods £100 or less
Hybrids under £100