Garmin Approach G12 GPS Review

Check out our full review of the compact, wallet-friendly Garmin Approach G12 GPS unit

Garmin Approach G12 GPS Review
(Image credit: Future)
Golf Monthly Verdict

The handy Approach G12 is a small and simple solution to getting accurate distances at your fingertips. Its compact size allows you to clip it anywhere on your golf bag, trolley or hat. It's very easy to operate and also pairs with the excellent Garmin app to give you a hole-by-hole overview. Ideal for golfers on a budget that want simple but accurate distances to various points of interest.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Affordable and accurate

  • +

    Simple to use and navigate

  • +

    Suitable for different abilities

  • +

    Can be housed in multiple locations including your bag, belt, hat or pocket

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Small side buttons are fiddly at first

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    Basic functionality

Garmin Approach G12 GPS Review

The best golf GPS devices come in all shapes and sizes and the Garmin Approach G12 is certainly one of the most compact units on the market. Despite it being only a little larger than a poker chip, it's packed with features and yet remains simple to use. We took it out for a full round Essendon Golf & Country Club and with a quick read of the included instruction booklet we were able to pick up the simple functions and see the distances to the front, middle and back of the green on the first hole straight away.

(Image credit: Future)

There are a host of display options - we love the 'big numbers mode' where the middle distance is displayed bigger than the others and despite the screen's modest size it is clear and easy to read in different light conditions. There are other view modes that include the number and par of the hole plus the flag distance and then by pressing the up and down buttons on the left hand side you get access to hazard information and suggested lay up distances. 

Garmin Approach G12 'big numbers mode'

(Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Approach G12 is very lightweight (25g), small and has been cleverly designed to be clipped to your golf bag, hat or clothes. It's also the perfect size to pop into your trouser pocket but be careful not to accidentally drop and lose it if you do!

The small buttons on the side of the GPS take a little practice to get used to pressing. There are four to click, allowing you to toggle between holes, get your distance to hazards and much more. If you are a bit clumsy with your fingers you might find yourself accidentally clicking through too many times. Thankfully it's easy to go back but if you prefer larger buttons or a more sizeable screen then you might prefer the Garmin Approach G80 GPS, which also doubles as a portable launch monitor

Garmin Approach G12 buttons in action

(Image credit: Future)

You'll get up to 30 hours of usage on a single charge which is impressive. That means if you're on holiday playing golf every day for a week it should last until you get home. With 42,000 courses uploaded to the device globally Garmin's network is certainly extensive.

What sets the Garmin Approach G12 apart from other small units is that you can pair it with your smartphone. Download the Garmin Golf app for free and you'll be able to keep your scores, stats and compete with other users in the virtual golf world while also gaining access to full color hole maps. 

Garmin Approach G12 GPS

(Image credit: Future)

What's more, for a little added investment, you can buy Garmin CT10 club trackers, which will then pair to your Garmin Approach G12 unit to track your shots, giving you accurate yardages. That's mighty impressive for a little unit. At just under £130/$150 we think the Garmin Approach G12 punches way above its price point given the level of features on offer and versatility. It would make a perfect golf gift too.

Carly Frost
Carly Frost

Carly Frost is one of the golf industry’s best-known female writers, having worked for golf magazines for over 20 years. As a consistent three-handicapper who plays competitive club golf at Parkstone and the Isle of Purbeck courses in Dorset every week, Carly is well-versed in what lady golfers love. Her passion for golf and skill at writing combine to give her an unbeatable insight into the ladies game.  

Carly’s role at Golf Monthly is to help deliver thorough and accurate ladies equipment reviews, buying advice and comparisons to help you find exactly what you are looking for. So whether it’s the latest driver, set of irons, golf ball, pair of shoes or even an outfit, Carly will help you decide what to buy.
Over the years Carly has been fortunate to play some of the greatest courses in the world. Her view ‘from the ladies tee’ is invaluable. She ranks Sea Island, Georgia, USA, where she met her husband, world-renowned golf coach Dan Frost, among her favourite golf resorts. Their aptly-named eight-year-old son Hogan is already hitting the ball as far as Mum and will undoubtedly be a name to watch out for in the future.
Carly is a keen competitor and her list of golfing achievements are vast. She is a former winner of the South West of England Ladies Intermediate Championship, a three-time winner of the European Media Masters and she once beat an entire start-sheet of men to the title of Times Corporate World Golf Champion. She has played for both the Dorset and Surrey County Ladies first teams and is known for her excellent track record at matchplay.

Carly holds the ladies course record (68) at her home club Parkstone and her lowest competition round (seven-under-par 65) was carded in the pro-am of the Irish Ladies Open at Killeen Castle, playing alongside Solheim Cup superstar Anna Nordqvist. Although her current handicap index has crept up to 3.7 since Covid she has her sights firmly set on achieving that elusive scratch handicap and hopefully playing for her country when she’s 50.


Carly’s current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Callaway Epic Max, 10.5° 

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM2, 15° 

Hybrids: Titleist TS2, 19°, 21°, 24° 

Irons: Mizuno JPX900, 5-PW 

Wedges: Cleveland RTX, 52°, 56° and 58° 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5

Ball: 2021 Callaway Ladies SuperSoft