Read our guide to the best golf GPS watches the market has to offer and you’ll have a much clearer idea on which model is the right one for your game
Best Golf GPS Watches
GPS technology in golf has grown massively over the last few years. Getting the right yardages, playing unfamiliar courses, tracking your score – all of these things can be dealt with easily now with one particularly rich vein being the golf GPS watch.
As brands have improved on factors like technology, style and convenience, golf watches have become all the rage with brands like Garmin, Bushnell, Sky Caddie and even Tag Heuer creating high-quality designs for on and off the golf course.
One of the key benefits to a watch is simplicity as you can now just glance at your wrist to get a yardage rather than have to fiddle about with a GPS device or laser rangefinder. But it is important to also mention that some watches offer a whole lot more in terms of features as well.
With so much choice on the market, it can be very difficult to decide which of the best golf GPS watches is for you, and within your budget. That is where this post comes in as we have tried to help narrow your focus below.
In this video, we test our favourite golf GPS watches out on the course
Best Golf GPS Watches – Find The Best Golf GPS Watch For You
Best For Features
Sky Caddie LX5 GPS Watch
+ Large colour screen brings out the finest details
+ Hole maps are ground verified on foot
– Lacks off-course versatility
Featuring the largest colour touchscreen on a golf GPS watch (3.5cm), the LX5 provides clear aerial views of the hole ahead with a moveable pointer telling you the distance to your chosen spot.
Arc lines help improve strategy while you can zoom in on the green and move the pin position for a more precise distance. Over 35,000 courses, which have been ground-verified on foot, come preloaded.
This watch is lightweight (65g) and comfortable to wear as well.
Shot Scope V3 GPS Watch and Tracker
+ Combines GPS distances with performance tracking
+ Compact, streamlined design is very comfortable
– A small number of shots can go undetected
The V3 is 60 per cent smaller than the V2 and also has a new daylight-readable colour screen. In GPS + Performance Tracking mode, the V3 will automatically detect shot locations using tags placed in the tops of your grips.
The PinCollect feature means golfers can input the pin position with the touch of a button to provide enhanced approach and short game statistics, displayed within the free Shot Scope app.
This streamlined, everyday design makes it instantly appealing and the tacky rubber strap is comfortable to wear and stays in position when walking and swinging a club so once it’s on, you really don’t notice you’re wearing it.
Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch
+ Modern, cutting-edge styling
+ Wide ranging features suitable for off-course use
– Hole map graphics look dated
The S62 leads the way in the latest Garmin range of GPS watches and it is not hard to see why.
It’s easy to get the watch set up and the touch screen works well alongside the side buttons to navigate through the various options. With a larger screen compared to the S60, it is easy to navigate around and see hole details more clearly on the colour maps.
In terms of other features, it comes with a built-in virtual caddie function where it can detect where the wind is coming from, gives information on shots from the past in regards to clubbing and therefore suggests to you the strategy on the course.
Once paired with your phone, the watch can also take into account the wind conditions in real time when suggesting a club, which is next-level.
Another huge benefit is the versatility because it works just as well off the golf course as on it. There are also loads of fitness tracking options if you wanted to use it as a more rounded sports watch too. It can also receive email and text notifications.
Samsung Galaxy Active2 Golf Edition
+ Thin and neat strap design
+ Choice of two types of hole map graphics
– Fiddly to access certain features.
Samsung has joined forces with GolfBuddy to create this GPS watch, which features a rotating touch digital bezel to make it even more convenient to navigate while maximising the screen size. It comes pre-loaded with the Smart Caddie app pre-installed and with a lifetime premium subscription worth £76.
You can see if you’re within range of the green with Dual Arc and read how to drain putts with the Green Undulation feature. The partnering app provides real-time information to help users elevate their performance on the course.
Much of the navigation and functionality on this watch is unique to the market, which makes it an appealing prospect to the gadget lover. It also doubles as a versatile fitness watch and you can get incoming emails too.
TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition
+ Offers seamless shot measurement with no need for tags in clubs
+ Bright, detailed display and partnering app
– Very expensive
A no-brainer inclusion in this list of the best golf GPS watches, this premium, luxury watch features an ultra-lightweight 45-mm black titanium case and a matte black ceramic bezel with 18 engraved and lacquered graduations that serve as a reference for the performance at each hole.
The crown is now flanked by two functional pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, to be used alongside the TAG Heuer Golf app to record shots and shot distances with optimal precision in action.
Another thing worth mentioning is the graphics. The hole maps are really clear and, now that you can twist the main dial to scroll, it’s really straightforward to pick out certain points you want to hit to.
One of the most interesting features on this is the ‘driving zone’ feature. Once you’ve connected the watch to the app, this feature will plot all your drives on a certain hole and colour code the positions based on your scores.
Oh and it has to be one of the best looking golf watches out there too.
Best for Simplicity
Garmin Approach S12 GPS Golf Watch
+ Very easy to use right from the get-go
+ Big-Numbers mode a great feature
– Limited off course functionality
While not as stylish as the more feature-packed S42, the S12 comes in at a slightly lower price point that represents excellent value. With more than 40,000 preloaded courses, finding your desired venue is extremely quick and easy.
From there, we found the usability of this watch to be brilliant. Off the tee it provides loads of information on things like distances to bunkers, water hazards and ideal lay-up yardages, while you can also move the flag around to get a more exact number.
Another performance aspect we really liked was the measure-shot feature that does as you’d expect – it tracks how far you’ve struck a given shot. It’s also really easy to input scores and a few stats at the end of each hole, giving golfers an idea of what they’ve done well and perhaps not so well after the round.
Finally, Big-Numbers mode, coupled with the sunlight-readable dial, is great for those whose eyesight maybe isn’t what it once was. All in all, this is a tremendous yet affordable product from Garmin.
Bushnell Excel GPS Watch
+ Simple but accurate distances
+ Provides access to Bushnell app for hole flyovers
– Lacks features some golfers desire
For little over £200 you’ll find a watch that pairs via Bluetooth to the Bushnell Golf App to allow you to book tee times, view 3D course flyovers and receive notifications. The Excel also has improved battery life – lasting three plus rounds before needing a charge. Additional features include a colour display with auto brightness adjustment, pedometer, odometer and the ability to get up to four hazard distances per hole.
Garmin Approach S20
+ Great level of features for the price
+ Moveable flag pointer for greater accuracy
– Buttons are fiddly to press one handed
This Garmin watch features a high-resolution display and covers over 40,000 courses. It accurately measures distances to hazards such as bunkers and water, plus front, middle and back yardages, layups and doglegs. For extra help its Green View feature displays the shape of the green with manual pin placements available. It also caters for activity tracking and receives notifications from your phone.
GolfBuddy Aim W11 GPS Golf Watch
+Packed with shot-saving features
+ Looks at home off the course
– Touchscreen can lag slightly
The Aim W11 has been improved in a number of ways from the popular W10 model.
The first noticeable difference versus the W10 is the new ceramic bezel that adorns the outside of the aim W11. This is an excellent aesthetic improvement and creates an altogether more premium look that is much less distracting on the eye than the previous bezel.
The accuracy of the Aim W11 is excellent. Preloaded with 40,000 courses, the Aim W11 will pinpoint your position and give super-accurate yardages.
In terms of innovation, features include a full-colour touch screen display, plus green undulation and slope-adjusted distance readings (where available) to give the golfer better, real-life views and more control around the course. There are also excellent new zoom in/out functions around the green.
Additionally if you are a fan of GolfBuddy gear, check out our guide on the best Golfbuddy rangerfinders too.
Best For Versatility
Garmin MARQ Golfer GPS Watch
+ Excellent graphics and display
+ Styling ideal for off-course wear
– A touch bulky on your wrist
One of the best Garmin golf watches in the current range, this MARQ is built with premium materials, including a 46-millimeter titanium case and ceramic bezel with custom etched 1-18 golf hole markings. It provides front, middle and back distance on over 41,000 preloaded golf courses and allows for seamless game-tracking.
Golf-specific features include the PlaysLike Distance that takes into account changes in elevation, a Hazard View that allows golfers to quickly scroll through each hazard on the upcoming shot with critical distance information and a Virtual Caddie to analyse factors like wind speed and even club selection.
Garmin Approach S60 GPS Watch
+ Sleek, modern design
+ Impressive hole graphics and wide variety of information
– Many features may go unused
This feature-packed and stylish offering provides detailed full colour maps for over 40,000 courses on its large sunlight-readable colour touchscreen face.
You can use its drag-and-drop functionality to measure lay-up distances and to move pin positions for added accuracy. It can also be used to monitor runs, swims and bike rides for great additional value.
Garmin Approach S42
+ Stylish watch that can be worn on and off the course
+ A host of features like strokes gained stats and fitness tracking
– Takes a few rounds to get the hang of all its uses
There is so much to like about this watch. First of all, it’s a great size and feels very well made from the moment you put it on your wrist. We also really liked the analogue display that makes it suitable for wearing in social settings, too.
Moving onto the course and this is where the touchscreen comes into its own. One click of the button on the side sparks the S42 into ‘golf mode’ and from there, it’s easy to scroll through the host of features. As always, front, middle and back yardages are available but if you know the pin locations, you can click on the display to move the flag and get an exact yardage.
Other great golf-related features include things like the AutoShot round analyser that tracks and records shot distances, as well as yardages to bunkers, hazards and ideal lay-up zones. But it doesn’t stop there. Once off the course, golfers who have paired their watch to the Garmin app will be able to look through their strokes gained stats, which will highlight areas of their game that could be improved.
One final thing well worth a mention is the fitness aspect. Included in the S42’s repertoire is the ability to show you steps taken, distance covered, calories burned and how well you’ve slept. If you’re willing to invest a little bit of time and money, this is a superb product.
GolfBuddy WTX Golf GPS Watch
+ Clear hole graphics
+ Touch screen assists with strategy decisions
– Time consuming set up process
If you want lots of functionality for under $250, this is a great option. It has a full colour touchscreen that allows you to view complete hole layouts as in the image above. You also get dynamic green view for accurate distances from your approach, as well as moveable pin positions for laser-like accuracy.
How to choose the right golf GPS watch?
When it comes to GPS technology there are several variables and factors to consider, so before you pull the trigger to buy, be sure to have a think about some of the things below.
GPS device v laser v watch
First things first have a think about whether a GPS watch is the way you want to go.
If simplicity and convenience are important to you then a watch will deliver whereas some players may prefer the pinpoint flag accuracy of lasers, or in the case of big devices, the chief bonus is the large screen which gives a lot more detail and the touch screen functionality will be familiar to most users because of modern phones.
When looking to answer which kind of GPS tool is right for you, have a think about the below factors;
- 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, so consider which would be easiest for you on a week-to-week basis.
So then, you have decided you want a GPS watch, now you need to think about what features are important to you.
If you’re looking for your standard front, middle and back GPS yardages then a budget watch will do the trick, however there are some incredible watches out there that offer much more.
Alternatively there are watches which can go into much greater detail when providing yardages, course detail, hazard information and so on. Obviously there are models with larger screens too which can be a particularly useful feature.
Some also can help you record your score, track your shots, and many also have fitness features for off the golf course as well.
Speaking of off the golf course, many brands make models that can be used on and off the golf course because of the range of features, and overall styling. If that is important to you, then several models above will cater to this need.
Finally we should mention budget. If you want a simple model then there are budget-friendly options. However if you want to spend more you can with Garmin and Tag Heuer in particular offering ultra-premium models.
For more buying advice and gear content, check out the Golf Monthly website.