Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review

In this Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch review, we put this high-tech piece of equipment to the test to find out how it performs

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)
Golf Monthly Verdict

Contained in a sleek package are a number of extremely useful and easy-to-use features for golfers of all levels. Ideal for wear on and off the course, we would highly recommend the Garmin S42 Approach to anyone.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Extremely clear and easy to use

  • +

    Packed full of useful features

  • +

    Can easily be worn away from the course

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Takes a few rounds to familiarise with all functions

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Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch - Specifications

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Courses preloaded43,000
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 10 days GPS mode: Up to 15 hours
Display size1.2 in (30.4 mm) diameter
Screen resolution240 x 240 pixels
Weight1.5 oz (43 g)
Charging methodGarmin proprietary plug charger
Memory64 MB

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review

If you head to any golf club on a busy day, you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of groups in which there are no GPS watches in use. And most prevalent among them will likely be a Garmin. Unquestionably one of the best golf watches on the market, we recently put the Garmin S42 Approach to the test and weren’t disappointed. 

Set up was refreshingly straightforward. We downloaded the Garmin app and paired it easily with an iPhone allowing us to see the benefits of the shot tracking. The watch is still very usable without the app however. 

Slotting in between the Garmin S12 and the premium S62 options, we tested the S42 watch on a sunny (but cold) day at Essendon Golf Club. Having never played the golf course before, the watch came in extremely handy. At the set-up stage, it offered us the option of course A or B, which confused us initially, but goes to show the level of detail involved. We've since had it out on several other occasions, allowing us to form an opinion based on things like accuracy, functionality, ease of use, style and value.

Garmin approach s42 golf watch

Andy Wright testing the Garmin S42 GPS Watch at Essendon Golf Club

Starting with the usual features, yardages to the front, middle and back of each green were accurate and helpful, particularly at a course we’d never played before. On more than one occasion, the shot we were facing looked significantly shorter than it was in reality, so having that reassurance really was great. Additionally, when off the beaten track, it's great to have such easy access to accurate numbers. This is definitely an advantage when compared to a laser device.

The 1.2-inch color screen is also extremely clear, adding to the ease of use. In fact, just this feature alone we think makes it a worthwhile investment. And what’s more, it actually shows you the true shape of every green, rather than just the generic - a feature that we thought alone was worthy of placing in our 2023 Editor's Choice.

But it doesn’t stop there. As well as more than 43,000 preloaded courses worldwide, there is also the option to pair it with the Approach CT10 club sensors for automatic club tracking. When used in conjunction with the Garmin Golf app, this allows golfers to take advantage of the AutoShot round analyzer that records shot distances and plots your way round the course. Once finished, you can look through your scores and review various performance stats that help to target potential areas of improvement. It is features like this that separate watches from the best golf rangefinders, which purely involve zapping the flag in a matter of seconds. 

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch

The S42 is one of the best looking watches in the golf sector

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Away from the course, it’s a sleek and stylish watch that can easily be worn in social settings and also comes packed with fitness and wellness benefits. For example, the S42 can be used to track steps, sleep productivity and even calories. 

Another important thing to highlight is that we barely noticed we had it on. People can often be reluctant to try a GPS watch because they think it'll interfere with their swing but this is absolutely not the case. Other than checking yardages, you wouldn't know it was there.

One thing we would say is that it takes maybe five or so rounds to really get to grips with all the features and get the most out of what’s on offer. And although it comes in at a loftier price point than more basic models, based on our testing, we would certainly recommend seeing this process through as it’s worth it. It is definitely one of the best Garmin golf watches currently on the market.

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Joe Ferguson
Staff Writer


Joe has worked in the golf industry for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles. After a successful amateur career being involved in England squads at every age group, Joe completed his PGA degree qualification in 2014 as one of the top ten graduates in his training year and subsequently went on to become Head PGA Professional at Ryder Cup venue The Celtic Manor Resort. Equipment has always been a huge passion of Joe’s, and during his time at Celtic Manor, he headed up the National Fitting Centres for both Titleist and Taylormade.  He’s excited to bring his knowledge of hardware to Golf Monthly in the form of equipment reviews and buying advice. 

Joe lives in North Devon and still plays sporadically on the PGA West region circuit. His best round in recent years came earlier in 2023 where he managed a 9 under par 63 at Trevose GC in a Devon & Cornwall PGA Tournament.

Joe's current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Ping G430 Max 10K 9 degree - Fujikura Ventus Red 6X 45.75"

Fairway wood: TaylorMade Qi10 Tour - Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro White shaft 70TX 43.25"

Irons: Callaway Apex CB 24'  3-11 - Project X LS 6.5 shafts

Wedges: PXG Sugar Daddy 54 and 60 degree - Project X LS 6.0 shafts

Putter: Odyssey Toe Up #9

Ball: TaylorMade 2024 TP5x