Best Golf GPS Devices 2016

Our favourite golf GPS devices on the market to help you play smarter

Andy Roberts's picture
Submitted by Andy Roberts on

Searching for a wearable or handheld golf GPS device? We have tested some of the smartest on the market, just for you.

Golf GPS devices use satellites to pinpoint your exact location and then use this information to give you valuable information such as yardages to the front, middle and back of the green, tricky doglegs and dreaded hazards. 

Some products these days even come packed with self-training aids and analytics to help improve your game. 

We loaded up with what we consider to be the 10 best watches, bands and handhelds currently out there right now, and gave them a thorough workout at Silvermere GC in Surrey.

Each product was considered upon its ease of use, key features, battery life, appearance and value for money.

Here's our verdict:

BUSHNELL NEO ION 
bushnellgolf.com

One of the standout performers in our test. 

Offering superb value for money at £139, Bushnell's new Neo iON is sleek, light, stylish and very comfortable on the wrist. It's a pretty thin watch and there is no restriction in the swing, which is sometimes the case when it comes to wearable devices. 

The Neo iON proved very easy to read in bold front, middle and back yardage numbers to each green, and the hole information moved seamlessly between leaving the green and arriving on the next tee box.

Other neat options include a shot distance calculator to see how far you really hit that drive, and very important hazard layup distances - with up to four per hole. 

The device comes preloaded out the box with 35,000 courses in over 30 countries so it found our course in question with little fuss in the car park. It also charges up nice and quick with its new charging clip, and there are no annoying membership fees to worry about.

Comfortable, light, clear, precise and very simple to operate. A worthy gold award. 

GARMIN APPROACH X40
www.garmin.com

A solid new offering from Garmin with a host of features on top of those essential front, middle and back yardages. 

At £200, the new X40 represents the most expensive watch in our test, but with that, you get some added attributes against the competition. 

Essentially costing an extra £60 against the majority of golf GPS watches out there, you can track improvements in your game using the nifty Garmin Connect tool and analyse your round afterwards - so this is technicaly a game-improvement tool as well as a GPS watch that offers all the typical bells and whistles. 

It's also got a digital scorecard in case you forget your pencil and also keeps track of your heart rate and daily activities if you want. 

One of the neatest touches with this product is from a course management point of view. Its clever Green View Display feature allows you to acquire the true shape of the green as it sits from your angle of approach. You can also manually reposition where the pin lies on the green so you can fire straight at the flag - just remember to pick up a pin postion sheet from the pro shop. 

Another positive is it's battery life - it's one of the strongest out there. 

Slight niggles were that it didn't pick up our course in question quite as quick as some of the others, and it also didn't feel as comfortable on the wrist. There is no denying it's as stylish and eye-catching as they come, though.  

If you crave a golf GPS watch that also offers analytics, then this one should be very much on your radar.

GOLFBUDDY CT2
www.gpsgolfbuddy.eu

The most versatile golf GPS product we have ever tested as it can be attached pretty much anywhere you want.

Compact, light and stylish, the CT2 is the perfect option for the player seeking numbers to the front, middle and back of the dancefloor, or the player who is always blaming something for finding the hazard when laying up.

On top of simple-to-navigate gadgets and a featherweight feel, we find it to be more of a multifaceted product than previous iterations as it can clip on to towel rings, belts, lanyards, bags or even shirt pockets. 

Like most devices these days, it automatically recognised which hole and course we were on with very little fuss - it was almost encouraging us to get a wriggle on out the car. 

Another key aspect of this product is its strong 18-hour battery life in GPS mode to save you faffing around charging the product after every round you play. 

At £130, this compact GPS device offers the best value for money in this test and should be on every dedicated golfer's wish list.

GOLFBUDDY LD2
www.gpsgolfbuddy.eu

While we wouldn't put any of you lads out there trying this one, the brand spanking new GolfBuddy LD2 is designed for you ladies. The stunning Swarovski crystals should make that fairly obvious.

Thankfully nobody was around to judge us while testing the first ladies golf GPS watch of its kind, but through red faces we thought the product was elegant, light and super-accurate. We also thought it brought a touch of fashion to the fairways with not only its glistening crystals but its comfortable rich alligator grain leather strap.

We did get a lady golfer to help us review this one to ensure a fair test in its target market - and our double-digit lady handicapper was brimming with excitement standing on the first tee. 

She felt the combination of the crown button and bezel, clear lens and light sapphire-coloured crystals brought a feminine touch to a GPS device that she had never experienced before, but still gave her all the key features she would crave out of a GPS watch with front, middle and back yardages to the pin. She also liked how it could be used as a health band with its built-in odometer. 

In typical GolfBuddy fashion, the device also comes with clear distances to hazards on any given hole, and it also picked up our course in question with the minimum of fuss, as one of 38,000 preloaded courses. 

By no means cheap at £200 but it does scream sexy, style and Swarovski. Without question, the go-to GPS watch for the passionate lady golfer. 

GOLFBUDDY WT5
www.gpsgolfbuddy.eu

This product may have been out more than 12 months now but we still can't get enough of the sporty GolfBuddy WT5.

The main feature of the WT5 is the precise yardages to the front, middle and back of the green from the golfer's angle of approach. All the information is there at the glance of a wrist. 

It also allows you to scroll through the hazards by pressing the bottom right button, to make sure you stay safe of the water and the beach. 

Other neat features include its "Shot Tracking" tool, allowing you to impress your playing partners when they ask how far your drive really went, and its "Pin Placement" tool, especially if you've been given a pin sheet before the start of your round. Essentially, this product acts similar to a more expensive handheld device, but all at a glance in clear display on your wrist. 

Charging up the device is quick and easy, and it comes with a rechargeable battery that has eight hours of battery life in full GPS mode and 35 days in watch mode.

If you seek a simple, secure, snug, stylish, sporty golf GPS watch, you'll certainly want to consider handing over £160 for a WT5. 

MICROSOFT BAND - GOLF TILE / TAYLORMADE MYROUNDPRO
microsoft.com/band / www.myroundpro.com

The Golf Tile, which comes available on the Microsoft Band, combines a GPS with analytics. 

Once you've logged the device to your phone and have read up on all the instructions - there are quite a few! - you will be reaping the rewards of this very clever gadget. 

Wearing the product on your glove hand to work, the Golf Tile provides clear front, middle and back of the green yardages at the touch of a button, as well as shot tracking and a digital scorecard. It also features biometrics such as calories burned, steps taken, heart rate and duration of the round if that sort of stuff floats your boat.

The clever part of this golfing gizmo lies in TaylorMade's standalone analytics platform called myRoundPro. This feature analyses your statistics in further detail and includes data such as strokes gained, proximity to the hole and other classic stats such as fairways hit and greens in regulation.

As you play your shots around the course, the device will track all your shots on the band, even your putts. It can be a bit fiddly at first to make sure you're logged in when standing over the ball and taking a shot, but you will quickly get used to it.

After the round, you can then bring all your data up on your laptop to view everything in full. The beauty is you can visually see where you are losing your shots on the course. It's exactly like watching the Shot Tracker feature on the PGA Tour website. 

An added benefit of myRoundPro on the Golf Tile is ‘Tournament Mode’. This option can be activated before the round and allows the app to be used during competition play as regulated by golf’s governing bodies.

The only slight niggles for us were the device took some time to setup and download, and the band appeared a little too big for our wrist - causing an element of restriction in the swing.

Nevertheless, extremely good value at £170 given everything you get out of this product and we believe it's well worth a look. 

SKYCADDIE LINX GT
skygolf.com

SkyCaddie's latest LINX GT GPS watch boasts a new game-tracking element and pin-point GPS accuracy. 

Billed as the “world’s most powerful wrist-mounted golf information system”, the LINX GT features Skycaddie’s "TrueGound" course maps – each exclusively created and regularly updated on foot by trained golf course mappers using professional surveying equipment.

It's preloaded as always with 35,000 courses and it thankfully didn't disappoint when we arrived at our venue. 

The LINX GT paired wirelessly and effortlessly with the app on our smart phone - all thanks to SkyCaddie's "Trupoint" GPS engine. The app's functionality provides an HD eagle-eyed view of every hole and gives you distance information for layups and hazards. A simple pinch action activates the "HoleVue" system and reveals up to 40 geo-referenced targets.

On top of distances from wherever the ball lies to the front, centre and back of each green, the LINX GT includes a built-in shot tracking system that when combined with additional "SmartTag" club tags, allows you to track club, location and distance of each shot.

One big advantage of using SkyCaddie's SkyGolf 360 Cloud is that each shot you play gets synchronised automatically in real time - so this means no faffing around and connecting the device to a computer to obtain your data. Everything is immediately available for you to view as soon as you're sipping your pint in the 19th. 

Other impressive features include the brand's "IntelliGreen" feature that displays the true shape of the green from your angle of approach, and you've also got a number of fitness features such as a multi-sport odometer that tracks distance, pace and speed whether you are golfing, walking, running or cycling.

While it all comes at a price at £230 (£270 with "SmartTag" club tags), its stylish design, level of comfort, visual display and general ease of use for a game-improvement gadget means it receives an easy gold award. If you can stomach the price tag, get involved. 

SKYCADDIE SW2
skygolf.com

SkyCaddie's SW2 Watch, featuring Bluetooth Smart technology, is a slimmer and lighter model than its predecessor, the SkyCaddie Watch.

We found the battery life had slightly improved, too, but the appearance of SkyCaddie's aforementioned new LINX GT is much more appealing. 

The SW2 provides at-a-glance distances to the front, middle and back of every green and it also picked up our course in question as soon as the driver was out the bag on the first tee.  

It also has a neat shot distance function in typical SkyCaddie fashion, enabling you to mark and measure how far you've hit the ball.

During your round, you can opt to store personal scorecard data on your SkyCaddie. For a nominal £15 annual membership fee, you can upload the data to the SkyGolf 360 Cloud by pairing the watch via Bluetooth with the complimentary SkyGolf 360 Mobile App.

From there, you can track your scores online and identify your strengths and weaknesses from up to 20 previous rounds of golf with a host of useful web tools.

Other neat attributes include an attractive timepiece, and a host of fitness options that make it a fully-functional, multi-sport watch. 

All in all, superb value for money at £130.

SKYCADDIE TOUCH 
skygolf.com

Despite its hefty price tag and the annual fees required to unlock some of the key features, we cannot be more impressed with the SkyCaddie Touch.

This handheld device - which has been on the market for more than 12 months now - is clear, accurate and beautifully presented from start to finish, particularly when downloading the onDemand HD map. 

If you are purchasing the Touch, then we recommend you go all-out and take full advantage of the additional features by paying the annual fee that starts from £30.

Some of the add-ons will give you "TrueGround" course maps (SkyCaddie mappers have walked the course for you), "IntelliGreen" (shape and distances to green along with major contours), "Target List" (text listing of hazards and carries), "HoleVue" (full hole views), "RangeVue" (shows yardage arcs) and "PinPoint" (add pin positions).

Whilst the SkyCaddie Touch does require a SkyGolf subscription, if you register your device within 30 days of first turning it on, you get your first year's subscription free.

The Touch unquestionably remains our favourite handheld GPS on the market today. Although it will set you back a small fortune at around £250, with annual fees, you cannot put a price on better course management to ultimately shoot lower scores. 

 

TOM TOM GOLFER 2
www.tomtom.com

The brand new Tom Tom Golfer 2 features subtle differences to its predecessor, the Tom Tom Golfer. 

An evolution of its previous design, losing its loud lime green appearance for an all-black look, we noticed how the Tom Tom Golfer 2 sits lightly and snugly on the wrist and causes no restriction in the swing. It's got a very soft but sturdy strap.

The TomTom Golfer 2 GPS uses a hierarchical user interface that’s easy to navigate using the controller and the information is presented in exactly the same manner as before, only this time around you're preloaded with 40,000 courses worldwide as opposed to 34,000. 

Picking up our course on the first tee with minimal fuss, the product presents all the typical GPS markings you'd want for a watch with front, middle and back yardages to each green. You can also check out where all the hazards are like before. 

But the beauty of this product is that you've got post-game analysis thanks to an "Automatic Shot Detection" feature that utilises on-board gyroscope and motion sensors to detect your swing. There's a feedback buzz at the end of the fore swing so you know it's registered and cleverly it will only record one shot within a three-metre area.

To take advantage of checking out your shot data on your smartphone, you simply sync your TomTom account to the MySports system. It's a useful tool as it can help you evaluate your misses and the areas where you can improve your game quickly. Unfortunately for us, where we thought we strong in one area of the game, was reflected very differently when we assessed the round back at home.

The only downside is that putting isn't automatically updated, so you have to manually input the number of putts you take.

By no means cheap at £200, just like before, but a vast improvement on its former design. 

Which golf GPS are you using this season and why? Share your thoughts in the forum below or join us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube

Comments

My course has changed configuration a couple of times in the last few years, whilst we add some new holes and modify some features. Only two manufacturers have them correct at the moment (GolfBuddy came out, so I assume it's correction their systems now ... and Skycaddie) the others still seem to have incorrect details.

This type of test is the only way for me to know whether the info is correct ... shame you can't find a way of testing all the models on your home course though!

The Bushnell Neo XS. I've had it a couple of years now and delighted with it. It's so light you never notice you're wearing it while you're playing. If you think your course is incorrect, you can contact the manufacturer and ask them to remap it. They're usually pretty good.