Precision is key in the game of golf. For the most reliable course companion you can find, why not turn to a company with a reputation for accuracy? These devices from Garmin are the best golf GPS watches you can buy to start improving your game.
What is a golf GPS watch?
A golf GPS watch is a device that uses global positioning to help players navigate the course. Most importantly, golf watches tell golfers how far they have to the green. They also locate and measure water hazards, sand bunkers, and other features at each hole.
Many golf GPS watches also provide a range of pre-loaded golf courses and other course-related data points. More advanced golf watches offer tools to help players improve their game, like swing analysis and shot tracking. In general, you can think of a golf watch as a caddy on your wrist. You’ll just have to carry your own clubs.
Golf GPS watches vs smartwatches: Do they coexist?
Dedicated golf watches offer the most features for tracking specific golf-related data. If you are looking for an advanced tool to take to the course, these wearables will be your best bet. Some golf GPS watches feature smart features such as mobile notifications, but these offerings are typically limited.
On the other hand, you can also use a number of existing golf apps on more general smartwatches. Browse the app library compatible with your device to see what tools may be available. Just make sure you wear a device with GPS capabilities.
Don’t miss: The best golf apps, golf GPS apps, and golf rangefinder apps
What to look for in golf GPS watches
Golf is a great game for players of all ages, as we as all competence levels. Depending on your skill with a club, you may be looking for more or less out of your device. Regular golfers benefit from tools like auto-course recognition, green mapping, and scorekeeping. New players might start with basic distance information and fitness tracking. No matter your level, consider the additional factors below when shopping for a golf GPS watch.
- Course-friendly, durability: To start, you’ll want a device that is comfortable for all-day use, and lightweight enough not to disrupt your swing. You will also need a display that is easy to read in bright sunlight, a long-lasting battery life, and water resistance to surprise sprinkles.
- Pre-loaded courses: Many golf GPS watches come with tens of thousands of preloaded course maps. Higher-end devices can even auto-detect when you arrive at a known course. These maps help players navigate new greens and offer advanced notice about upcoming hazards. Additional features like multiple view options and contour mapping help players select the best club.
- Shot distance tracking and shot analysis: Most golf GPS watches auto-track players’ shots and record their distances. The best watch on this list, the Garmin Approach S62 even offers Garmin’s Virtual Caddie. This feature uses shot data from previous rounds, along with your elevation, wind conditions, and the hole’s layout to suggest which club you should use and where you should aim.
- Weather and condition reading: Wind can play a major role in your golf game. Some watches provide live data about wind speed and direction. Others provide basic weather information so you can prep for conditions before unpacking your bag. The most advanced devices even analyze the conditions of the green, adjusting yardage to account for uphill or downhill slopes.
- Additional health and fitness tracking: Golf can also play a role in your overall health and wellness. Accordingly, many golf GPS watches provide basic fitness tracking as well as more advanced monitoring.
The best golf GPS watches
- Garmin Approach S62: The Garmin Approach S62 is the best golf watch you can buy. It’s filled to the brim with all the tools you need to elevate your game.
- Garmin Approach S42: The Approach S42 drops a few features as well as a few bucks. Still a highly capable device, it’s our goldilocks pick for the best balance of price and offerings.
- Garmin Approach S12: Even more affordable than the S42, the Garmin Approach S12 is the best golf GPS watch for beginners. It has plenty of Garmin’s course navigation tools but won’t leave you overly invested in the sport.
- Garmin Epix 2: For a well-rounded multi-sport device, the Garmin Epix 2 features a few key golf tools plus many of Garmin’s top health and fitness tracking features.
- Garmin Marq Golfer: The Garmin Marq Golfer is the best high-end wearable for golfers with a big budget. It’s beautiful, feature-packed, and significantly more expensive than the rest of our picks.
Garmin Approach S62: The best golf GPS smartwatch
The Approach S62 is the best golf GPS watch from Garmin. Its 1.3-inch, full-color display makes it easy to read over 41,000 preloaded maps while advanced tools offer players a deep well of data analysis. Access club suggestions, keep score, check for hazards, and so much more on this feature-packed golf companion. It provides all the information you need to take your best swing.
In addition to boasting Garmin’s top golf features, the Approach S62 is a well-rounded device for wearing between rounds as well. On-wrist heart rate measurements, SpO2 monitoring, and various health and fitness tracking features help users keep tabs on their wellness on and off the course. It even offers smart notifications and Garmin pay. You can find the Garmin Approach S62 in black or white for $499.
Garmin Approach S42: An affordable balance of features
The Garmin Approach S42 is a sleek device with many of the s62’s main features. In general, this model drops premium highlights, such as Virtual Caddie and Swing Tempo, as well as off-the-course features like extra sport modes and detailed health tracking.
Advanced players will likely miss some of these top-level tools. Average users will likely enjoy saving some cash. If you don’t need absolutely cutting-edge tech to improve your game, this is a great middle-of-the-road option from the Garmin lineup. The Garmin Approach S42 sells for $299 and is available in Rose Gold, Gunmetal, and Polished Silver.
Garmin Approach S12: The best budget golf GPS watch
The Garmin S12 is the best budget option for a player whose golf game is just teeing off. Its pared-back feature set makes for a more basic device, but it also comes at a notably lower price. Plus, it still packs plenty of tools for new players who want to improve their game. These include preloaded courses, multiple course view options, manual pin positioning, and more.
Unlike Garmin’s pricier offerings, the S12 does not have a touch screen, automatic shot distance measurements, or advanced health and fitness tracking features. Users also won’t find a timer or stopwatch or be able to set an alarm clock for early morning rounds. On the plus side, you can find the Garmin Approach S12 for just $199.
The Garmin Epix 2 is a full-fledged outdoor multi-sport smartwatch with a bright AMOLED touchscreen, various health and fitness tracking tools, and 16 days of battery life. It isn’t a dedicated golf GPS watch, but it does have some useful features for golfers on board.
The Garmin Epix 2 is a worthy investment for anyone with an active lifestyle who enjoys a range of outdoor hobbies. The golf features on the Garmin Epix 2 include a golf activity profile, preloaded maps for more than 42,000 golf courses around the world, touch targeting, and Garmin’s PlaysLike Distance feature for reading the green. The device is available in three colorways, Black Titanium, White Titanium, and Slate Steel, and sells for $899.
Garmin Marq Golfer: The best luxury golf GPS watch
If you pay an exorbitant club membership and invest heavily in your golf course wardrobe, the Garmin Marq Golfer may be the device for you. It not only offers highly sophisticated game-tracking and course data, but it’s also an absolute show stopper. This luxury device features a 46 mm ceramic bezel, flush-mounted hardware, a domed sapphire lens, and a tritone green jacquard-weave nylon strap.
Looking this good, however, comes at a cost. The Garmin Marq Golfer sells for $1,850. For some, that might be a fair price to pay to look this good no matter how well you swing.
Q: Do I need a dedicated golf GPS watch?
A: The need for a golf GPS watch is dependent on personal factors. If your interest level is high and your budget will allow for the purchase, you may enjoy a dedicated device with a large depth of features. As mentioned above, however, many smartwatches support golf GPS apps and golf rangefinder apps. If golf is simply one of many active hobbies you enjoy, you may be better suited with a multi-sport device and a well-rated golf app.
Q: Will a golf GPS watch improve my score?
A: We can’t guarantee that a golf GPS watch will improve your score but the odds are high. Given the insight the device can provide, it is very likely to help your performance.
Q: Does Fitbit make golf watches?
A: Fitbit does not offer a dedicated golf GPS watch. However, there are a number of golf apps available in the Fitbit app library including a golf GPS rangefinder app.