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Master the Course With Golf GPS

Latest Golf GPS Models and Features

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Without an expert caddie along, there's a lot of guesswork involved in determining distance to the hole, and various course targets, such as bunker or stream carries. The latest generation of golf GPS units give you quick and accurate guidance from anywhere on the course. Beyond basic distance-to-the-hole data, many devices tell you the length of your last shot (and store the info for future reference); distance to, and location of targets and hazards; distance to the front, middle, and back of the green, and more. Here are the latest and greatest golf GPS units. (Click on photos to enlarge).

Garmin Approach G8 ($399)

Garmin Approach G8 Golf GPS
Garmin

The $399 G8 becomes the new top of the line from Garmin. It boasts an all-new chassis that is slimmer and lighter than its predecessors. It also has Garmin's largest golf GPS screen, at 240 x 400 pixels and 1.5 x 2.6 inches. As you might expect, the G8 has every feature you can imagine and some you may not have thought of. Like other Garmins, it comes with a free, and free-to-update database of 30,000+ courses world-wide. It also has Smart Notification technology, which communicates with your smartphone to receive emails, texts, and call alerts (I won't be using those on the course!). 

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Garmin Approach G6 Golf GPS ($299)

Garmin Approach G6 golf gps review
Garmin

I'm impressed with the compact size (about 2 x 4 inches), long battery life (15 hours), and on-the-course and scoring features of the new-for-2012 Garmin Approach G6. For example, the course maps, which come from an included free and updatable database of 26,500 courses, now include shot layup arcs, which show at-a-glance arc lines on the maps for 100, 150, and 200-yard layups.

Other features include a nice digital scorecard for a foursome, including stroke play, stableford, skins and match play with adjustable handicaps. You may also track your stats, determine average distances for the clubs you hit, and course customization.

Despite its smaller overall form, the screen of the G6 is nearly the same size as that of the Garmin G5 (shown below).

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SkyCaddie Watch ($150)

SkyCaddie GPS Golf Watch
SkyCaddie
SkyCaddie enters the GPS golf watch fray with its SkyCaddie Watch model. This nicely styled, lightweight, low-profile watch looks and feels like a second-generation product. Its feature list includes easy to read distances to the front, back, and center of the green, precise, error-corrected course maps, 30,000 updatable, preloaded course maps, shot distance measurement, odometer to document your walking distance, plus water resistance to 30 meters. Skygolf walks every course to provide accurate course layouts and distances.
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Callaway uPro MX Golf GPS ($208 - $217)

uPro MX Golf GPS
Callaway

Callaway's latest golf GPS handheld, the uPro MX, is slimmed down to 2 inches by 4 inches, with a thickness of just 0.7 inch. This gives it a noticeably lighter feel, and it fits into a pocket. It has a high-resolution, multi-gesture touchscreen that remains visible in full sunlight. There are no annual fees, and the 25,000-course database is free to download and update. Callaway's "AnyPoint" lets you measure to any point, anywhere on the hole. "GreenView" gives you distances to the front, center, and back of every green. "HazardView" shows you distances to hazards, as well as the type and shape of the hazard. The uPro MX scoring and stats features work with Callaway's uxplore website to record and analyze your rounds in detail.

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Garmin Approach G5 Golf GPS ($262 - $269)

Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS
Garmin

The Garmin Approach G5 is rugged, waterproof, and features a large, bright, color touchscreen. All of the G5's features are driven by easy-to-follow menus on the touchscreen. In a move that has shaken up the golf GPS market, Garmin preloads a database of 14,000+ courses for free, and adds courses and updates for free via its Web site. I was able to find most, but not all of my local courses, so check the course database. I really like the G5's ability to show distances to and from anywhere on the course just by touching and dragging. Touch your target for a distance, or touch and move the flag for precision distance. The G5 also has a good score-keeping utility. See the link to my review below.

SkyCaddie SGX Golf GPS ($299)

SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS
SkyCaddie

The SGX is SkyCaddie's newest, top-of-the-line model. It has a slimmer, more rectangular shape than previous models, and a bulbous, thumbstick navigation device below the 3-inch (diagonal) TFT screen. Like other SkyCaddie models, the SGX accesses a 26,000-plus course database that is verified by on-the-ground course walkers. SkyCaddie pre-loads basic information for all of the courses, and membership plans (for full-featured course database access) range in price from $29.95 per year (for a single state) to $59.95 per year (global). Other SGX features include:

  • Distances to hazards, carries, and layups.
  • Hole view with zoom.
  • IntelliGreen Pro, showing major green contours.
  • Shot distance.
  • Digital scorecard.

See the SkyCaddie course database.

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Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS Watch ($179)

Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS watch
Garmin

This year, Garmin introduced a whole new take on golf GPS with its Approach S1 watch. While golf handhelds continue to add ever-more features, the Approach S1 distills golf GPS down to basic simplicity, displaying distances to the front, back, and middle of the green, in simple black-and-white. The Approach S1 will also measure your shot distances from anywhere on the course, and an odometer will tell you how far you walked. Like other Garmin golf products, the Approach S1 comes pre-loaded with 16,500+ courses, and access to the master course database for updates is free. The watch is very sturdy and waterproof. It detects course proximity automatically, so courses are easy to initiate. Having distances on your wrist is very handy!

Garmin Approach S2 ($249)

Motorola MOTOACTV Golf Edition GPS Watch
Motorola
Garmin pioneered wristwatch golf GPS devices, and now offers three models, with the addition of the new Approach S2. The S2 ($249) fits in between the S1 and S3 in price and features. The S2 comes with free product lifetime golf course map updates, and comes preloaded with more than 30,000 courses located around the world (the $179 S1 has memory for a maximum of 18,000 courses). The S2 is controlled by buttons, rather than the S3's ($349) touchscreen. The S2 also comes in additional colors, including white, white-and-purple, and black. Besides distance to the hole, features include touch-targeting, manual pin positioning (for more accurate distance), measured shot distance, stats tracking, and more.
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SkyCaddie SG3.5 Golf GPS ($149 - $199)

SkyCaddie SG3.5
SkyCaddie

The SG3.5 is SkyGolf's lowest-cost model, with most of the features of the higher-end models, but the SG3.5 has a 2.2 screen, as opposed to the 3-inch display found on the SGX. Another difference: the SG3.5 is powered by three AAA batteries, as opposed to the rechargeable lithium batteries used in the SGX and SG5.  Beyond those specs, however, the SG3.5 has much of what golfers look for from SkyCaddie, including:

  • Color screen.
  • IntelliGreen overhead green view.
  • Course databases confirmed by course walkers.
  • Distances to greens and hazards.
  • Digital scorecard (but no stats package).

See the SkyCaddie course database.
 

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Golf Buddy Pro Golf GPS ($227 - $240)

Golf Buddy Pro GPS
Golf Buddy Pro

The Golf Buddy Pro features a dynamic green view that changes the displayed image of the green depending on your angle of approach. Target information is pre-loaded into the Golf Buddy Pro and you may add up to 11 of your own personal targets per hole. The Golf Buddy Pro comes preloaded with all available North American courses, and international courses may be added. The Golf Buddy Pro automatically loads the correct course and hole depending on your location. The Golf Buddy pro has a hi-res black-and-white screen, score-tracking module, driving distance mode, and multilingual capability. A lithium-ion rechargeable battery and backup AAA batteries power the unit.

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Bushnell Yardage Pro Golf GPS ($99 - $135)

Bushnell Yardage Pro GPS
Bushnell

The Bushnell Yardage Pro features three modes: a "play" mode that shows distance to the front, center, and back of the green; a "score card" screen including hole in play, par, handicap, and yardage from a pre-selected tee box; and a "drive distance" screen that also shows distance to the pin. The Bushnell Yardage Pro golf GPS uses the same database and course download membership program ($34.99 per year) as the iGolf units in this review. The Yardage Pro's screen includes a backlight for play in low-light conditions. It uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and comes with charger and a bag/belt clip.

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iGolf Neo Golf GPS ($85 - $99)

iGolf Neo GPS
iGolf

iGolf's Neo is the most compact and lowest-priced unit among this group. It weighs only 2.5 ounces and fits in a pocket. No fancy on-screen maps for the iGolf Neo, just yardage information, including distance to the front, center, and back of the green; distance to the pin, and last shot distance. The Neo golf GPS holds 10 course files at a time, accepts up to four custom points per hole, and uses an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The iGolf website includes downloadable files for more than 33,500 courses world-wide. An annual $34.99 membership entitles users to unlimited course GPS downloads and additional course information.

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