Cheap v Expensive Golf Watch Test
Watch Joel Tadman put both of these golf GPS watches through their paces on the golf course
We found its usability to be a bit of a hindrance and the lack of instructions also made it difficult to get the most out of the features, especially early on. However, for those used to Bushnell's touchscreen or who are able to master it quickly, this will be a very solid and affordable GPS watch.
- Accurate GPS
- Clear to read
- Good array of features
- Usability is less than ideal
- Touchscreen is temperamental
A feature-packed, sporty yet elegant golf watch that provides one of the most cutting-edge experiences in golf. The price tag is somewhat difficult to justify, but this watch is both fun and useful to use - over time it will optimize your strategy by automatically tracking your tee shots.
- Crystal clear display
- Shot tracking enhances strategy
- Exceptional app experience
- Styling limits off course versatility
The popularity of smartwatches and GPS watches has risen over the last 10 years, with athletes around the world utilizing the performance-enhancing features and data these watches can deliver. Golf has been one of the sports that has benefitted the most from GPS watches and thanks to advances in technology, players are able to use these wearable devices to shave a lot of shots off their round through better club selections and strategic decisions.
Some of the features on the best golf watches will not only tell you distances to the front, middle and back of the green but will help you decide which club you should play, how far you’re hitting each shot and even help you analyze your game after your round. For that reason, a GPS watch can be one of the best game-improvement gadgets a golfer can buy. But while there are some very pricey offerings on the market, GPS watches don’t have to be an expensive purchase. In this comparison, Joel Tadman puts the entry level Bushnell iON Edge GPS watch and the super premium TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Golf Edition watch to the test to outline what the key differences are between the two and find out if extra investment is justified.
In terms of price there is a pretty hefty price gap between these two watches. The iON Edge comes in at around $120, making it one of the best value golf watches on the market. Conversely, the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Golf Edition watch is one of the most feature-packed watches around. But it will set you back a pretty penny, costing a whopping $2,650, which is approximately 22-times more expensive than the Bushnell. But which is better for your needs as a golfer?
Ease Of Use
Testing both out side-by-side during a round at Burghley Park Golf Club in Lincolnshire, we were able to see the main differences between each watch. The Bushnell required very little time to set up with the watch ready to go in a matter of seconds. The watch can partner with the Bushnell GPS app, which takes a little more time but provides a variety of 3D hole-by-hole maps that can help you formulate a better strategy off the tee. The one downside of the Bushnell is that its touch screen is less responsive and slightly clunkier than the TAG, but it is still very straightforward and easy-to-use.
Conversely, the TAG Heuer has noticeably more going on and as a result there are a few more steps to take before you can begin to use the watch. You need to pair it with a couple of different apps before you get going in order to get the most out of it. You should also go into the TAG Heuer app and enter your club distances because when you arrive at your ball, the watch will gauge your distance to the flag and give you suggestions on what club you should play. While it may look a little complicated at first, it is ergonomic and easy to use after getting the hang of it. The full color touchscreen is very clear and responsive and the combines well with the two buttons and dial on the side.
For $120, the Bushnell provides a surprising level of features. As well as front, middle and back distances on the green, you can access distances to hazards and lay-up points, measure your shot distances and keep score too. But we really liked the Bushnell’s dynamic green mapping feature, which allowed us to change the pin position on the touch screen to get more precise distances to the hole. If you are looking for something a little more basic to help you get around the course, the functionality in the Bushnell is perfect as long as you don't mind a basic, archaic screen display.
As you might expect, you get a lot more features with the TAG watch, including most of those included in the Bushnell and then some. The TAG Heuer watch can automatically track tee shots and the shot locations of shots hit with other clubs can be easily entered manually. Simply walk up to your ball, select the club you want to use on the watch and hit away.
The app is also very useful after your round as players can use the 3D hole maps on the TAG Heuer app to visually plot where you played each shot and what score you got from that shot. In the driving range mode, it will even color code your tee shots by score so you can see which position and club produces the best result. You can also receive call, text and email notifications. Ultimately its features are much more comprehensive than the Bushnell, providing more insights during play, more data on almost every aspect of your game after your round and more features you can use away from the course.
The TAG Heuer also comes with a more premium look and feel than the Bushnell, and while its strap may not be to everyone’s taste, you do get another strap option in the box, along with a sleeve of TAG engraved Pro V1 golf balls. And if you thought TAG hadn’t already thought of everything, the watch also comes with a nifty magnetic ball marker that clips nicely into its strap. While we thought this marker was quite small, we would recommend also carrying around one of the other markers you'll find in our best ball markers guide.
Which Watch Should You Choose?
The Bushnell iON Edge GPS watch is a simple, easy-to-use GPS watch that can give players trustworthy distances to the flag. It is efficient and, combined with the features available on the Bushnell app, can help players on a low budget improve their game and play more consistent golf.
The TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Golf Edition watch somewhat befits the price tag although much of the price will come down to the brand name over functionality. From its features to its packaging, TAG has put together a luxury piece of kit here that has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium GPS watch that makes it one of the best around. While these are both excellent offerings, it’s worth noting that there are many other models that sit in between these two watches that arguably provide a better blend of features and value, like the Garmin Approach S62, SkyCaddie LX5 and Shot Scope V3.
Choose the Bushnell iON Edge if…
- You're on a tight budget
- You don't want too many bells and whistles
- You're not bothered about wearing a golf watch off the course
Choose the TAG Heuer if...
- You want insights into your play
- You want a cutting edge screen and modern features
- Cost is no object
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Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 86 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 3.2.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: Titleist TSR3, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSR3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: Ping i230 4-UW
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1x
- Ed CarruthersWriter
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