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Golfers have likely been wearing watches since the earliest days of the game in Scotland. However, golf watch technology has evolved dramatically since then. Modern golf watches can go so far past telling you the time to showing you a full-color bird’s eye view of your exact hole. A modern golf watch lets you know exactly how far you need to go to to get to the green, and many let you see hazards and doglegs before you get yourself into trouble. And all of them, of course, tell the time. Look at our picks for the best golf watches to buy right now and get yourself the right model for your game.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Garmin Approach S60
Widely regarded as the best GPS golf watch on the market today, the Garmin Approach S60 has become the gold standard of golf tech. This high-quality watch can simply do it all.
The Garmin watch features a full-color 1.2-inch touchscreen display that can be read in bright sun. You can display an elegant wrist watch face on the watch during non-golf hours and switch it to a high-quality picture of one of the more than 40,000 pre-loaded golf courses at tee time. Using GPS, this watch will show you your distance to the pin in vivid color; give you a bird’s eye view of the whole fairway and hazards with front, center and back green readings; or display your score, the hole you are on and the par. The watch sports a 10-hour battery life in golf mode and 10-day battery life as a normal watch. You can get this watch with black or white silicone bands or a black leather band.
Best Value: GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf Watch
Purchasing a golf watch can quickly turn into an expensive endeavor. However, the GolfBuddy WTX Smart Golf Watch is an affordable golf watch that features all of the high-end features of the top of the market golf watches. This full color, touchscreen watch uses GPS to show you your exact location and distance to the front, center and back of the green. It can also display a map of each hole.
The WTX watch includes a pedometer, smartphone notifications, automatic course and hole recognition, as well as more than 38,000 pre-loaded courses. You can update your GolfBuddy watch via Bluetooth with the GolfBuddy app. The black watch includes six face display options, including a simple clock.
Best Sport Tracker: POSMA GT2 Golf Watch
If you are an avid golfer and an active person, you may want to consider the POSMA GT2 golf watch. This watch does all of the responsibilities of any GPS golf watch — tells you the distance to the green, your location, and distance of each strike — but it also tracks your activity the same as a FitBit. The POSMA GT2 shows you the number of steps you take and the calories you’ve burned, whether walking nine holes or going for a jog. This sporty red and black watch is very affordable and weatherproof. Featuring a black and white display, the POSMA watch has a 10-hour battery life in golf mode and 10-day life as a watch.
Best Smartphone-Connected: Bushnell Golf Excel GPS Watch
Small business owners and executives will love the Bushnell Golf Excel GPS Watch. Connected via Bluetooth, the Bushnell smartwatch lets you easily check your messages, calls and calendar right from your wrist while you’re on the course. You can easily hit 18 holes without worrying about missing out on that call you’ve been waiting for all day.
Additionally, Bushnell’s Excel watch has GPS functionality for 36,000 pre-loaded golf courses in 30 countries, telling you your distance to the green and recording up to four hazards for each hole. The watch also allows you to track your activity and has an associated smartphone app that gives you an in-depth look at the golf course, with more data than any smartwatch can provide. You can buy this watch in black, white or charcoal. It has battery life for three rounds of golf.
Best Basic: Garmin Approach S20
The Garmin Approach S20 is a massively popular golf watch option that is short on frills but packed with the data you need for a great golf game. The watch, available with black, white, blue or slate straps, tells you your shot distance and how far you are from the green on a simple, 0.9- x 0.9-inch black and white screen.
Golfers everywhere will love the S20’s sleek design, with handy buttons on each side for navigation. You can pair this watch with the Garmin TruSwing sensor for immediate feedback on your every swing as well. Steps, calories burned, score and round time are just a few of the stats this simple watch can show you right on your wrist with the S20.
Best for Scorekeeping: Callaway GPSy
Many golf watches can keep score, but the Callaway GPSy gives you a bit more. You can easily record your score for each hole, the total score for the course, as well as how many putts it took you during the round and the GIR. It’s a great option for anyone focused on dropping his or her handicap.
However, Callaway’s GPSy does a lot more than just keep the score. The 1.28-inch square, black and white display shows you the distances to the green, the location of hazards and how far you are from doglegs. Pre-loaded with 30,000 courses, the Callaway watch automatically recognizes your course and hole. In golf mode, this watch lasts for up to 12 hours. In normal watch mode, you can go 90 days without recharging.
Best for Data: TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch
The TomTom Golfer 2 GPS watch is pre-loaded with more than 40,000 golf courses. It tells you your distance to the green and measures your shot distances. You can keep your score and see hazard graphics on the watch’s black and white square display.
What sets the TomTom Golfer 2 watch apart, however, is the data that it collects and delivers to you for the round. You can review your round on the associated smartphone app and quickly see you average strike distance, the number of putts per round — how many two-putts, how many three-putts. It gives you a complete post-game report with all of the data you need to see where the weak spots are in your game and where there is room for improvement. It’s a great watch for anyone who loves data and is fixed on improvement.
What to Look for in a Golf GPS Watch
Preloaded courses Top-of-the-line GPS golf watches come pre-loaded with tens of thousands of courses so your game assistance is dialed in and as accurate for your course as possible. Make sure to check if the courses you golf are installed on the watch before you buy it so you can take advantage of this incredibly useful feature.
Non-golf Capabilities Many manufacturers recognize that if you’re spending this much money on a watch, it should do other things besides helping you with your golf game. Some watches can also act like a Fitbit when you’re out on a run or working out off the course. Others have personal-assistant-like capabilities that can check emails and calls while you’re on the driving range.
Battery Life These watches carry—and process—a ton of information, so it’s not surprising that their battery life can be on the short side. Get a watch that has plenty of charge capability to make sure you can make it through your round.