Best Golf GPS 2020

Last Updated on August 30, 2020 by Editorial Staff

A golf GPS is a great tool to have when trying to calculate yardages and what club you should hit. Instead of using an app on your phone and having to pull it out of your pocket, unlock it, then open the app, a golf GPS can give you an instant yardage in simpler fashion. This article will highlight the best golf GPS’s currently available.

Best Golf GPS

Short on Time? Here's A Quick Product Synopsis

PRODUCT

Garmin S20 Watch

DETAILS

OUR RATING

Editors Choice

5/5

5 out of 5

Pick #2

Best Budget GPS

4.5/5

4.5 out of 5

Pick #3

Garmin S62

Best premium GPS for experienced golfers

4.7/5

4.7 out of 5

Pick #4

Bushnell Phantom

Best handheld golf GPS

4.7/5

4.7 out of 5

Pick #5

Garmin Approach G80

Best Advanced Handheld Golf GPS

4.9/5

4.9 out of 5

Pick #6

GolfBuddy Voice 2

Best small GPS

4.4/5

4.4 out of 5

Are Golf GPS’s Legal?

 According to rule 4.3 of the USGA, distance measuring devices such as GPS’s or rangefinders are legal for tournament play.

The USGA stated that they decided to allow distance measuring devices for the following two reasons:

“Figuring out the distance to the hole or to another location on the course is not one of the decisions that the rules expect players to make using only their own skill and judgment or only with a caddie’s advice.”

The second reason is:

“Distance is public information a player may get from anyone; and on most courses, this information is found on sprinkler heads, markers, posts, etc.”

A local committee at a course can outlaw a rangefinder or GPS so be sure to double check and ask before entering a tournament or competitive match.

Do golf GPS watches work and how?

Golf GPS watches work by having satellites track your exact location on the course. By sending signals from the GPS to the satellites, the distance between a green and player can easily be given in terms of yardages or meters.

Key Features To Consider

 Accuracy (H3)

One of the most important features to look for in a golf GPS is how accurate it is. Golfers need to know the correct yardages when trying to score low or enjoy their round. If a GPS is 5-10 yards off, a player’s score can definitely be affected negatively.

Some GPS’s will be accurate to plus or minus one yard. Others will be plus or minus two yards. Having a GPS that is less accurate than two yards could become problematic and you won’t always be getting a near exact yardage.

For GPS’s that show a map of the hole, it’s also important that it shows the correct details such as the shape of the green and where the bunkers or hazards are at. Knowing these details is crucial to playing the correct shot.

Display Quality

It’s important for a golf GPS to clearly display the information and picture. Most put the main yardage in the center in large letters. The back and front of the green yardages usually appear in small letters above and below the main yardage.

If the number is too small it might be difficult to read. You want to be able to gather the yardage quickly.

When displaying a green some GPS’s just have an outline of it. Others show it in depth with a more realistic look. This comes down to preference, but if you want to weigh your options be sure to check one out online, read golf gps reviews, or see one in person at your local golf store before purchasing.

Most high-end GPS’s feature displays that are clear and not blurry but that is another important factor to look for. Making sure the clarity of the display is easy to read makes a difference. 

Courses Available

Many GPS’s are preloaded with 30-50,000 courses on them. If you play a small local course that is not well-known or could be new, make sure to see if it is on the GPS before buying it. You can also call the company and ask them.

Updates Available

A lot of GPS’s offer updates to load new courses or make yardage changes to existing ones. Some update on their own and others you have to plug into the computer. It is definitely good to make sure you’re buying a GPS that allows course updates so you don’t miss a beat when on the links.

Durability

Having a durable golf GPS is key. The GPS should surely be ready to handle drops in the parking lot, on the cart path, or be ready to bump around while the golf cart is moving. Many have thick plastic surrounding them for protection.

Golfers who wear them as watches will surely knock them a few times while sticking their hand in the bag reaching for a club.

It’s important to see if they are water resistant or dust resistant as well. Playing a round during a rainy day shouldn’t deter someone from pulling out their GPS or wearing it on their wrist. Not letting dust particles into the screen is also important so the screen can be clearly seen at all times.

Be sure to check out the specs before you buy a GPS if you prefer to have a durable GPS that will last for years. It is also good to check out customer reviews to find out which GPS’s broke from minor accidents.

Ease of Use

Different GPS’s have different ways of navigating them such as touch screens or buttons on the sides. Scrolling through a bunch of different menus when trying to simply get a distance can be a hassle.

Some of the more technical DMDs (distance measuring devices) will have a lot more options and provide more information such as swing speed. Be sure to read the instructions or look up a YouTube video on how to use these before heading out to the range or course.

Battery Life

There is nothing worse than having your GPS die midround. There are many different battery lives for the devices available on the market. Some will say they last 2.5 rounds and others will say up to 15 hours battery life.

It’s crucial to understand how long the battery will last on the device you buy. It all comes down to preference and if the device has “must have” features and a shorter battery life it’s up to the golfer to decide among the pros and cons.

A good thing to do is carry a small electronic rechargeable port in your golf bag with multiple USB ports that can charge your device and phone.

Watch vs. Handheld: What Will Suit You

Wearing a watch GPS versus having a handheld one brings pros and cons.

Pros for a watch:

  • More portable since it is on your wrist.
  • Easier and quicker to access a yardage.
  • Can match clothing and be worn as a fashion accessory.
  • Harder to misplace.

Cons for a watch:

  • Can get in the way at times and bothers some golfers who don’t like anything on their wrist while they swing.
  • Has a smaller screen so it can be harder to read course details.
  • Adds extra weight to your arm during your swing.
  • If the watch is loose it can hurt when making impact if the metal bounces off against your wrist.

Pros for a handheld GPS:

  • Handheld GPS’s usually have larger screens than watches so some display the entire layout of the hole.
  • Won’t get in the way of your swing on your wrist.
  • Some have integrated launch monitors that allow you to see your swing speed and distance of your shot.

Cons for a handheld GPS:

  • Easier to lose than a watch.
  • Most are larger and clunkier.
  • Larger ones are not as portable compared to a watch.
  • Takes longer to get the yardage of a shot since you have to reach in your pocket or walk back to the cart to get it.

The type of golfer who wants an immediate yardage and who likes wearing a watch or bracelet during a round should consider buying a watch GPS.

The kind of player who doesn’t mind carrying one in their pocket and likes to get a more visual view of the layout should consider purchasing a handheld gps.

Which is Better: Rangefinder or golf GPS

Both rangefinders and golf GPS’s are handy tools to figure out yardages on the golf course. It comes down to player preference at the end of the day. Below is a list of pros and cons between rangefinders and golf GPS’s. Both are usually accurate to within a yard or two of exact yardage.

Rangefinder pros:

  • It’s easy to point and shoot at a location and get the yardage.
  • Many pins have a reflector that allows you to shoot at and get the exact distance to the pin.
  • Rangefinders usually have better battery lives than GPS’s.

Rangefinder cons:

  • Sometimes it is hard to focus on a target.
  • If you focus on the target but accidentally lock in on something before you’ll get a wrong measurement.
  • Some rangefinders do not measure beyond 250-300 yards.
  • It’s difficult to get a good reading when shooting at a target far away.
  •  If you’re behind a hill you won’t be able to see everything in front of you. If you have a golf GPS with a display of the entire hole you can know if there are bunkers in the front or a hazard in the back.

Golf GPS pros:

  • You can view the entire layout of the hole on many unlike a rangefinder.
  • You can wear one as a watch and they are usually smaller and less bulky than rangefinders.
  • Instead of pointing at the front, center and back of the green with a rangefinder, the GPS will tell you all three distances immediately.

Golf GPS cons:

  • Most golf GPS’s tell you the distance to the center, back and front of the green rather than the exact pin location like a rangefinder.
  • Golf GPS’s usually have shorter battery lives than rangefinders.
  • Golf GPS’s can have their yardages affected by weather and trees.

How far off can a Golf GPS be?

 A golf GPS can be over a couple yards off depending on the model. Since it isn’t using a laser, factors like weather, course maps and trees can play a role in affecting the correct yardage. 

Why does my Golf GPS give false reading?

 As stated in the previous section, one of the major reasons golf GPS’s give false readings are due to course maps. If a course lengthens a hole by moving tee boxes or adding to the green you will need to update your course maps on the GPS.

Can Golf Pros Use GPS?

The PGA Tour does not allow its professional players to use a golf GPS or rangefinder during competitive rounds. They are permitted to use them during practice rounds to help create a yardage book though.

Garmin S20 Watch

Editor’s Choice

5/5
4.9/5
5/5

The Garmin S20 was our selection for editor’s choice thanks to its many enhanced features that lets you enjoy it during your round and after.

The GPS features an autoshot round analyzer that measures your shot distances. It records them so after your round you can go look at the layout of the hole and see where you hit each of your shots on your Garmin Connect account.

The S20 features a TruSwing golf swing sensor that gives metrics to help you improve your swing consistency.

Stat tracking is another great addition to the GPS. It keeps records of greens in regulation, fairways hit and putts per round.

Keeping you healthy is another attribute included with the S20. It has alerts to remind you to stay active both on and off the course. The GPS does this by monitoring how long you sleep, telling you how many steps you had and the number of calories you burned.

It also comes with a comfortable adjustable silicone watch band.

On the display it shows three yardages to the front, back and center of the green. There is also a drawing of how the green looks. It also can provide recommendations for what club to hit based on the yardage.

PROS

CONS

TecTecTec

Best Budget GPS

4.2/5
5/5
4.5/5

We picked the TecTecTec ULT-G golf gps as our best budget choice due to its many capabilities with its affordable price tag.

The TecTecTec is easy to use thanks to its four buttons used to make selections on the screen.

It measures the yardages to the middle, front and back of the green. The accuracy is plus or minus one yard to the exact location. The GPS also gives distances to hazards on the course such as ponds or creeks.

TecTecTec made sure to make the GPS extremely durable. It is both water and dust resistant. It also comes with a one year warranty if you register the product online through their website.

The battery life for the device lasts around 2.5 rounds before needing to be charged.

The watch can also be used as a clock and gives GPS access to more than 38,000 courses worldwide.

It is available in a sleek black design and is USGA compliant.

PROS

CONS

Garmin S62

Best Premium GPS for experienced golfers

4.9/5
4.1/5
4.7/5

The Garmin S62 is packed with different features including a touchscreen display that is large and simple to read.

The design is fancy and appears as if it is a dressy watch. It is strongly built with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel display. The watch bands are also changeable so buyers can wear the one they prefer.

A virtual caddie feature tells you what club to hit based on how far you hit it and where on the map to hit. The caddie also takes into consideration wind direction and speed when giving a recommendation.

An entire display of the hole is shown on the watch and with a tap you can measure a distance to anywhere including hazards and bunkers. Slope is also accounted for with its “PlaysLike Distance” so if there is an uphill or downhill shot you’ll know the adjusted yardage.

There is a hazard view feature that allows players to quickly see all the hazards on the hole when they’re teeing off or in the fairway.

If you’re facing a blind shot, the pin pointer feature indicates which direction to hit so you don’t end up out of bounds or with an unsatisfactory result.

The watch comes in black or white and has over 41,000 preloaded courses on the gps. Downloadable course updates are available.

PROS

CONS

Bushnell Phantom

Best Handheld Golf GPS

4.7/5
4.9/5
4.7/5

The Bushnell Phantom is a tiny square golf yardage gps that is extremely portable. It can easily fit inside small pockets and not be a nuisance.

Bushnell includes a clip holder so it can be attached to your belt or golf bag. The GPS has a BITE magnetic mount in it that allows it to stick to metal so it won’t be hard to lose. You can attach it to a golf cart to view distances for you or your golf partner.

Features for the Phantom include auto course recognition and it is preloaded with 36,000 courses from all over the world.

The display shows the hole on the top left and indicates what par it is on the right side. In the center in large numbers is the main distance to the center of the green with front and back distances underneath.

The battery lasts up to two rounds on the course.

Course distance updates are done wirelessly by bluetooth so you don’t always have to plug it into your computer and manually update it.

PROS

CONS

Garmin Approach G80

Best Advanced Handheld Golf GPS

4.9/5
4.2/5
4.9/5

The Garmin Approach G80 is one of the top rated golf GPS’s on the market.

Not only does it provide distance, but it also has an integrated launch monitor built in. The launch monitor records ball speed, clubhead speed, swing tempo, smash factor and gives an estimated distance. The clubhead speed accuracy is within plus or minus 5 miles per hour.

Garmin equipped the GPS with a large 3.5 inch screen that doesn’t glare and is easily readable in high sunlight. The yardage is provided in large numbers at the top of the screen with the front and back readings on the side.

In the center of the screen is a colored layout of the entire hole with different distances to the fairway, hazards, bunkers and green.

You can touch anywhere on the hole layout and get an exact distance to a location from where you are.

The G80 also features a PlaysLike distance for yardages that calculate slope. This function can be turned off for tournament play if not allowed.

The battery lasts for 15 hours and the device is preloaded with over 41,000 courses.

PROS

CONS

GolfBuddy Voice 2

Best small GPS

4.1/5
4.7/5
4.4/5

This golf distance device is tiny with dimensions of 1.76″ × 1.78″ × 0.49″. What makes it so unique is it has a voice that tells you the distance you are from the green.

There is a button on the bottom right of the GPS that you click for it to tell you the distance. This saves time and allows you to not have to unclip it from your hat or belt and look at it.

GolfBuddy added the option to the GPS to turn off the voice if you prefer to look at the distances yourself.

It is very versatile since it can easily be clipped onto a hat, belt or worn as a watch.

GolfBuddy added a water resistant feature so if you try and grab your ball from a pond while wearing it nothing will happen.

The display shows the distance to the center of the green in a large number with smaller numbers on the right indicating the yardage to the front and back.

The GPS has a battery life of 14 hours and can speak in both a woman or man’s voice.

It comes in five different colors and is preloaded with eight different languages. The device can speak up to 11 languages if added.

PROS

CONS

Conclusion

 Having a golf yardage GPS can be extremely helpful and aid in lowering scores on the course. The six devices we reviewed all have their perks and can be used in many different ways. Whether it be on your wrist, hat, stick to your cart or sit in your pocket.

Our editor’s choice, the Garmin S20, was our pick for best golf GPS unit thanks to enhanced features that are found in many handheld larger devices such as the swing sensor and shot tracking ability.

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About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.

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