Golf tech! Before we dive into our pick for the best smartwatch for golf, ask yourself: why are you looking to buy a golf smartwatch in the first place?
Is it because...
1. These devices are the new craze among golfers at your club. It's time you caught up and got yourself an edge on the course.
2. You've seen someone else using theirs and you're impressed with what these devices can do. Basically, you don't want to fall behind your buddy on the course. Their smartwatch is buying them some shots.
3. Carrying a rangefinder or an extra device is something that you want to leave behind. If a watch can do all of this, why use something else?
There have been untold innovations in the golf smartwatch market over the last few years.
No one likes the idea of having to carry all sorts of devices that do various things with you on the golf course.
Let's face it, most of us just want to keep tech simple, and importantly...effective!
It's incredible to see all the functionality a watch sitting on your wrist out on the golf course can handle. Most of which was unimaginable just a few years ago.
Today, this incredibly useful tech is a reality and that's why we think you should embrace it wholeheartedly, and reap the rewards out on the course!
In A Hurry?
Perhaps now is not the time for you to be reading about golf watches. You came to Honest Golfer to get an honest recommendation. Rest easy, we are more than happy to oblige.
Out of our top 5 pick, we chose one that we think is the ultimate smart watch for golf.
In this case, we chose the Garmin Approach S20.
It's a fantastic watch that's PACKED with features.
There are upwards of 30,000 maps on the device and you can find much more about this watch below in our more detailed review...
Our Test Winner After 40 + Hours Of Research:
Our Honest Star Rating
Why is it the BEST?
Picking the right watch can be very difficult.
Most people have either never used these devices or are just overwhelmed by the number of devices that there are to choose from.
How do you know which one to choose?
Well, you do not have to. We spent hours doing the work for you. We scoured the web; from golf forums, social networks, marketplaces and manufacturers’ websites.
Our goal was to see what products were making noise among golfers from across the globe.
This would also help us find the ones that were to be avoided.
This information allowed us to them test the products that were doing well for others. Some were ridiculously poor that you’d be left wondering how anyone could have had anything good to say about them.
Others had a lot of promise, but fell short.
There were a few that excelled. Of these few, we ended up with 5 picks that we would recommend. You will find more detail about them in their reviews.
Our top 5 Best Smartwatch For Golf (Comparison Table)
1. Garmin Approach S20
Our Honest Star Rating
The Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch is designed to be a worthy companion on the golf course.
In many ways, one can say that the manufacturers wanted to create a device that would be the only electronic device that you would need on the course.
To start you off they loaded over 30 thousands golf courses onto the watch. This means that it is highly unlikely that you would play at a course that is not already saved on it.
When you play on a course that is loaded on the watch, it assists you with data that is essential for decision making. You will be presented with data that regards to the distance between your location and the front, centre as well as the back of the green.
This will help you evade hazards along the way.
To do away with the pen and pad, you also get a Scorekeeper on the watch. This is a feature that allows you to keep track of your shots. When you arrive on a course that is loaded on the device, it will instantly recognise and load the relevant data for you.
As you advance through the course, it will also recognise the hole that you are playing on. You will also be able to use it to measure how far your shots have travelled each time.
There are no subscription fees to be paid to access the maps that come on the device. The average battery life of the device is between 10 and 12 hours in use. This will mean that while you are using the GPS with the map, you can last up to half the day.
This can be stretched up to 3 months is you are only checking the time. Time is displayed in both analogue and digital. You can choose which of the two you prefer.
This is a watch that is designed to work in all areas of your life. The straps are comfortable and can be kept on all day.
The display is 1.28-Inch. It has dimensions of 10.25 x 1.5 x 0.5-inches and a weight of 2.24 oz.
2. GolfBuddy GB9 WTX+ Smartwatch Golf GPS
Our Honest Star Rating
The GB9 is one incredible golf watch designed by GolfBuddy.
One of the things that you will find as soon as you start using it is how incredibly easy to use their system ease.
There was a deliberate effort by the manufacturer to deliver a product that ran on an operating system that would be user-friendly. This is a goal that was achieved through its responsive touch interface.
The watch is lightweight. It comes in a 2.2oz which is about 62 grams. No one needs to carry unnecessary baggage onto the golf course. It comes with over 38 000 golf courses already on it.
There is also a smartphone application that you can use to load new maps as well as update existing ones. There is seamless integration with your phone. You will not need to pay for updates or for the initial maps that are on the device.
The application provides Bluetooth notifications. You can also use the watch to locate your phone if the need arises.
When you arrive on any of the courses that are already on the device, it will automatically pick this up. This is the same feature that will recognise what hole on the course you are playing. It will use your location to highlight the surrounding hazards.
You will also be shown distances from the centre, front and back of the green. You will be a dynamic one with the information presented from the perspective that a golfer will relate to. The information is made to be easily digestible. Two distances can also be shown at a time.
As you get through the course, you will benefit from the shot distance measurement. GolfBuddy has ensured that this watch complies with all of USGA regulations that make this device tournament compliant.
There is an 8-hour window of use for the watch if you are in GPS mode.
The outer screen of the watch is interchangeable. You can also keep tracks of how far you walk on a cause using the watch’s inbuilt pedometer.
3. Garmin Approach S60
Our Honest Star Rating
The Approach S60 is one of the newer models that Garmin has released.
It is designed to be a watch that can fit into your day to day life. It has been given premium look and feel.
There is a ceramic bezel finish which gives it added durability. The watchband is just 22millimetres. It is surprisingly easy to change the band. There are no tools necessary.
The screen size is 1.2 inches. It is fully touchscreen. There is more versatility as well. You can use it on your Skiiing trip, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Paddleboarding and rowing. This is made easier by the preset profiles.
There are over 40 000 courses that come preloaded on the device. It uses your GPS to locate the golf course that you are on. You are then presented with a wide range of information to guide your game choices. The courses are shown on the device in full colour.
The Autoshot game tracker keeps track of where you are and how your shots are going as you play through the golf course. The yardage of each shot is detected.
You will be able to complete a round of golf without running out of battery. It lasts about 10 hours when in use. You can also use it for up to 10 days as a watch without engaging other features before the battery runs out. You can then use the Garmin app to analyse your game.
This app is the one that you can use to update your watch with new golf courses or changes to the ones that are already on it.
Our favourite feature was the PlaysLike Distance. This is a feature that automatically factors in all uphill and downhill distances in the overall distance that it presents to you. You can interact with the map by touching locations on the screen.
This will give you details of how far you are from that point, as well as things that stand as hazards between you and that location. You will also benefit from the PinPointer. This is a new feature that directs you to the pin when you cannot physically see it.
Interactivity and community are also key things that have since been introduced. This allows you to keep track of your friend’s scores as well. Each course that you play on has a leaderboard that shows you how well your performance stands against that of other golfers.
The scores are added as soon as you finish each round. To ensure that your shots are accurately detected make sure you wear the device on the leading arm.
4. Callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch
Our Honest Star Rating
The Callaway GPSy Golf GPs golf watch delivers great accuracy on the course.
When you arrive at a golf course the auto-course recognition kicks in.
There are over 30 000 golf courses loaded on it. Playing on any of these will trigger this feature. There are no additional fees or subscriptions to be paid to access this material.
Your initial purchase covers the access as well. The maps make use of your GPS to provide you with distances from the front, centre and the back of the green. There is also guidance to assist you in avoiding any hazards on the golf course.
An integrated scorekeeper allows you to keep track of your performance of your get from one hole to the next one. As you finish one hole and move on to the next one, the watch recognises it. The distance of your shots is also measured.
For regular use, you can use it as a day to day timepiece. You can choose between analogue and digital display. The time and date are automatically satellite configured. Battery life is fairly impressive, you’ll get close to half a day of GPS use.
If you are not using the GPS, the battery will last up to 90 days. It is a lightweight watch that is comfortable.
5. Shot Scope V2 Smart Golf Watch
Our Honest Star Rating
Shot Scope is not a brand that we knew a lot about before encountering this product.
It features the GPS distance technology that covers the front, middle and back of the green.
They highlight any hazards that you are likely to come across as you play. Your performance is automatically tracked as you get across the golf course using the Clubsense technology.
You have the added advantage of an iOS, desktop and Android device to view the data. There are no subscriptions to be paid.
This is the second version of the smartwatch. It put together an automated tour-level performance analysis. There is dynamic yardage to take you through the front, middle and back of the green.
This helps you with your decision-making process for things that you may not be able to see. Shot Scope made sure that everything on the device makes things comply with USGA rules.
The GPS is very accurate, in our experience. You will not need to add any tags on the clubs to do this. ClubSense technology automates the swing data collection process for you.
It gives you the option to delete your practice shots. This will make the data more accurate when the plotting of data is done. An aerial map will be plotted on an aerial map that shows you the direction that your shots have been going.
After the game, you can use the Shot Scope dashboard to dig into the details. Up to 100, Tour-level data points are collected. According to the manufacturers, there was elite golfer involved in product development.
Your statistics cover the clubs, tee shots, approaches, your short game as well as putts.
Best Smartwatch For Golf Buyer’s Guide
Now that you know everything that there is to know about our top picks. Well, most things. Let us move on to consider some of the more obscure things. Part of the buying process should always be educational. This is the purpose of the buyer’s guide.
It will present you with some of the things that we considered when looking for the best smartwatch for golf. You will also be presented with general information pertaining to golf watches.
The aim of this is to equip you with enough information such that your decision would come from a data-driven point of view. This is certainly one way to avoid buyer’s remorse.
If you going into this knowing as much as you possibly could, there is much less room for nasty surprises.
Can Garmin golf watch be used for running?
Garmin has various golf watches on the market. We cannot speak for all of them. For the purpose of this article, we will only consider the Garmin S20 and S60.
Both of these watches were made with golf at their core. They can both keep track of your movement using GPS. I guess it would come down to what it is that you would want your running watch to do.
If you have expectations such as the tracking of heart rate and speed specific to your running, I am afraid these are not the ones for you. If you just want a watch that can tell you where you have been on your run, this is something that you can do with both watches.
They keep track of GPS points, which you can then refer back to using the map. For some, this would suffice. Perhaps not entirely, but as something of a tradeoff. If you are after a running watch, consider other options.
What golf watch should I buy?
Beyond the ones that we have already recommended?
You can scroll back up to find them. Otherwise, you can look at this search from 2 places. The first one would be the features that you want the watch to have.
Strictly speaking, there are two key sides of this coin.
One would be the watches that have an accompanying application that provides additional features and data. The other side is those that only present the data on the watch’s screen.
Naturally, we all want the one that gives us as much data as possible. This is when you ought to have an honest conversation with yourself. As I write this, I have a watch that provides all sorts of data points through an app on my iPhone.
I cannot recall the last time that I actually opened that application to look at the data. Had I spent more money just to get this data, it would have been a foolish purchase. If you do not see why or how you will use the data, you probably do not need it.
In which case you should give equal consideration to the watches that do not come with an application.
The other aspect that you should consider is the additional features that you would want your watch to be able to perform. I am not a multiple watch sort of person. The idea of having a watch just for the golf course would not appeal to me.
For a golf watch to be sufficient for my needs, it would need to also provide features that my regular watch does.
A weather app and so own would be appreciated. What are the things that you think your watch must have if it is to become the only one? This, of course, would not apply to you if you will only be using this one on the golf course.
How do golf watches work?
There are various things that golf watches do. These features will differ from one watch to another. If we had to boil the core functions down it would come down to keeping track of your game, and help you with key data that will guide your decisions.
All of the ones that we have on this list have the ability to recognise the golf course that you are playing on. This will then allow the watch to warn you of hazards that may be ahead of you.
It would also be able to tell you what hole you are playing on and automatically move to the next one when you are done there. Beyond this, the rest of the functions are the proverbial “bells and whistles”. We will list them below:
- The provision of an electronic scorecard to record as you play.
- An online community to compete with on a leaderboard.
- Providing notifications from your phone.
- Allowing to take calls while your phone is stored away.
- An application that you can use for data analysis.
Do golf pros use rangefinders?
While we are on the subject of smartwatches for golf, many people wonder if the professionals make use of the same devices that we as mere mortals do.
The answer is yes.
We do not see this when they play in tournaments because some tournament forbid the use of rangefinders. The other factor that you may not have considered is the fact that there is a lot more preparation that goes into the game before they actually come onto the course.
The caddy is the one who deals with all the key details and advises the golfer one what to do and how to execute it.
Can you use rangefinders in golf competitions?
According to USGA rules, you can use certain rangefinders in most golf competitions. The limitation is that you are not allowed to use the slope function on them.
You will find that some tournaments will permit you to use rangefinders that have a slope function, as long as it is switched off. Others will not allow this. This is down to the perception that the slope function gives a massive advantage to the golfers.
One could argue that if they all used the same one then the playing field would be levelled. I think the USGA wants to keep as little electronic use as possible in the game.
The more interference comes in the hard it would become to police these things. There is no telling what would be introduced next. Most golfers will use their rangefinders during preparations, and make sure that they have learned enough to make educated guesses once they get onto the course for the tournament.
Is the Garmin s20 waterproof?
Yes, the Garmin s20 is waterproof up to a depth of 50 metres. This will mean that under the normal use that you would put it through when playing golf, you would never have to worry about water damage. Rain is the most that it would come across. I would strongly advise against taking it with you for a swim.
Now that you have read our reviews as well as the buyer’s guide, which one will it be?
You are assured that each of our picks has earned its place. What that means for you is that getting any of them is a safe bet.
Our buyer’s guide is packed with information that will also be invaluable in the decision-making process. We encourage you to read all the product reviews that we have done. Compare the products that we have listed. Consider the pros and cons as well.
Our reviews make them as clear as day. Happy Golfing!