Need To Know
GolfBuddy, the pioneer of voice golf GPS in Europe, has recently launched the new VS4 and we’ve taken a first look review at it.
If you’re in the market for a small, light and easy-to-use golf GPS that can be worn and used any way you like, you might just want to stick the VS4 down on your list to Santa (or just enter our exclusive Golfmagic competition… but more on that at the end of this review).
GolfBuddy has tweaked the design of golf's first ever talking GPS back from 2012, the GolfBuddy Voice, by offering it to customers in either white/gold or black/red. It also features a brand new screen.
After taking the product out its neat packaging and charging it up – it comes with a rechargeable 10-hour battery, ideal for 18 or 36 holes – you’ll notice VS4 is incredibly light. Taking a look at the press release, it’s 28g light.
Packed with a bespoke designed wrist strap - turning it instantly into a ‘watch’ GPS - the VS4 clicks simply into place, leaving the user to either view distances on screen or press the facia button to hear it talk.
To make things a little easier on the audio side of things, VS4 comes supplied with a hard clip-on case meaning it can be attached easily to your belt, shirt pocket, cap, sock, Calvins etc. Okay those last two probably aren’t advisable.
And in a new development, two additional accessories are available.
Firstly, a retractable cord and mount (£19.95) allows the golfer to clip the unit to a belt loop, or golf bag karabina and pull it closer whenever they need a distance reading.
Then there’s also the option of an innovative flip-up leather case (£15.95) that lets the golfer lift up the unit to see the screen when it's clipped to a belt (GolfBuddy VS4 has a flip-screen mode which turns the display 180 degrees to make the most of the new leather case).
In terms of technology, there’s plenty to get excited about but the key feature for me is the accuracy of the front, middle and back yardages.
When it comes to a GPS unit, as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, front, middle and back yardages are pretty much all I’m after. As an 8-handicapper, I can’t and won’t ever be able to hit ‘exactly’ to the yardage like a scratch player or Tour Pro.
The benefit using GolfBuddy VS4’s technology, however, unlike other branded GPS units who simply display static front, middle and back of the green distances in a line from the centre of the fairway - is that VS4’s distances are displayed directly from the golfer’s angle of approach, perfect for some particularly errant tee shots I found!
You've also got the option to check out the green from way back in the fairway with the new Dynamic Green View with green shape display.
While I was in no real need of using the facia button to hear the VS4 talk to me, I thought it would be nice to speak to someone given I was playing on my own. Yes my job is fun but it can be a lonely one at times, folks.
To activate audio, which if you care I attached to the side of my belt, simply click and hold the circular button on the front of the VS4 to be given yardage to the front of the green. Do the same again to receive a yardage to the middle and once more to get one to the back. By the third click, I was very much visualising myself on Sky Sports with Wayne Riley dialling me in.
The audio option is a nice touch but just make sure you’re well away from your playing partner(s) when clicking and holding the button down. While the voice is quiet enough, you don’t want any Colin Montgomerie stares coming your way.
Of the visual and audio distances, I prefer the former mainly because it gives me everything I want at a glance. Nevertheless, audio was something different and fun to use.
Another nice touch with VS4 is that with the click of one button you can also start/stop a function to measure the distance of a particular shot.
Playing abroad and everything is in metres? Fear not, VS4 will translate everything into your normal yardage format.
Talking of translation, the device is also perfect if you’re learning a foreign language. VS4 is loaded with eight different languages. I had a go at Japanese on the ninth but when taking 6-iron instead of 9-iron I quickly went back to my mother tongue.
It’s fair to say, GolfBuddy’s accuracy is very much unrivalled. Around the world, GolfBuddy uses teams of expert mappers to walk courses - one of only two brands to do that - and create ground-verified data maps that give supreme accuracy.
Another plus is that VS4 is ready to go straight out the box with access to over 8,000 courses in Europe and North Africa and over 37,000 globally in more than 130 countries. And as with all GolfBuddy products, there are no expensive annual membership fees and no hidden costs to download courses or access premium features - which can cost up to £45 a year extra with other brands.
The most versatile GPS of its kind given GolfBuddy VS4 can be used as a visual or audio aid.
I love the Dynamic Green View with green shape display and how the device gives you incredibly accurate front, middle and back yardages directly from your angle of approach rather than the centre of the fairway.
The numbers displayed are particularly large which is also pleasing to the eye, despite not yet losing my sight.
Two fresh new colour designs are also a plus against the previous standard white GolfBuddy Voice and Voice+, and the product is as light as it gets for a golf GPS device.
VS4 offers superb value for money and is the perfect stocking filler this Christmas. If you can’t wait until the big day, however, you might want to enter our exclusive competition. Click this link to win one of two new GolfBuddy VS4 devices in black/red.