SkyCaddie SX500 GPS Review - We test the latest handheld GPS device from SkyCaddie, said to be its most feature-packed model to date
The Touch was SkyCaddie’s top-of-the-range handheld GPS device for many years but it has now finally been usurped by the SX500.
The SX500 has a host of innovative features too long to list here. They include a 5” full HD colour touch screen, use of in-built WiFi to download the latest, ground-verified courses on foot from more than 35,000 courses, a green view that will dynamically rotate based on your angle of attack, and a built in 13-megapixel camera. You can read the full list here, or check out the more compact SX400 version.
In a time when many golfers are using smartphone apps to access GPS data, many of them for free, the SX500 has to offer an awful lot to compete for our attention and to its credit, it does.
We used it for a full round on a fairly murky day at Burghley Park Golf Club and the first thing that strikes you is not only how easy it is to get going, but how crystal clear the screen is. The course was detected in a matter of seconds and soon enough, you’re greeted with an extremely detailed map of the opening hole.
You can toggle lay-up arcs with a touch of the icon on the screen and adjust the moveable pointer, which shows the distance to the point as well as the distance from there to the middle of the green. You also have the option of a list view, which lists distances to reach and carry all the hazards on your hole, as well as a ‘big numbers’ view, which simply shows front, middle and back distances in an easier to read format.
All these features are accessed via a tap of the various icons on the bottom of the screen. The screen itself is large, bright and glove friendly while the unit’s size and shape is comparable to many modern day smartphones, if a touch (pardon the pun) heavier.
It does have a strong smart-phone feel about it, especially compared to the thicker Touch, with the lock button, pinch-to-zoom feature and in-built camera all contributing to this. Your grip on it is assisted by the textured edges and the lock button ensures you don’t activate certain features when it’s placed in your pocket.
We used the SX500 in conjunction with a Universal Clamp Mount, which allowed us to position it close to our trolley handle, but golf bag carriers could easily store it in their pocket, although the extra weight and size compared to most phones could make it more noticeable than many would like, especially during the swing.
We encountered a slight problem with some of the listed icons, which was suppose to show a ‘to carry’ icon but instead showed a ‘to reach’ icon with the dashed line on the wrong side of the hazard (see below), even though the letters ‘cy’ tell you it is a ‘carry’ distance. We’ve been told this will have been down to a manual error by one of Sky Caddie’s course mappers. Not ideal, but also something you’re not likely to experience all too often. Perhaps a small price to pay for the extra detail you get from courses mapped on foot.
Overall the accuracy and level of detail was superb, tallying on most occasions with our laser to less than a handful of yards. Of course, unless you know the exact pin positions of the day (which many of us won’t), it will be almost impossible to move the pin on the device to exactly where it is in reality. But what is good is seeing how far you have either side of the ‘pin’ to judge which would be the safest side to miss.
The in-built camera was certainly high quality and it was nice to have to option to take images, but as a feature on a golf GPS it seems a little redundant.
The battery life seemed to be impressive too, not even dropping to half full after the round we played using it on every hole.
Once you finish a hole and you can input your score, and even add in whether you hit the fairway or missed it left or right, providing useful stats after the round. Measuring your shot distance is a breeze, as is switching holes manually should you need to.
Given the level of detail, its features and robust design, the SX500 could well be one of the most complete handheld GPS devices ever made but with the annual membership fees after the first year on top of what is already a significant price tag, it represents a serious investment.