The 9 Best Golf GPS Watches of 2021

The coolest wrist-worn tech to elevate your game

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TRIPSAVVY-best-gps-watches

Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy

The Rundown

Best Overall: Garmin Approach S62 at Amazon

"The Garmin Approach S62 is loaded with all the tech a golfer needs."

Best Budget: Golf Buddy AIM W10 at Amazon

"This affordable pick detects the course and hole you are playing and allows you to place pins for more accurate numbers."

Best for Shot Tracking: Apple Watch Series 6 40mm and Arccos at Best Buy

"Pair the Apple Watch with Arccos’s Caddie app and Smart Sensors, and you have a powerful tool for calculating distances."

Best Splurge: TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition at selfridges.com

"The 45-millimeter titanium case is both rugged and waterproof, making it a brilliant bit of tech wrapped in a handsome package."

Best for Green Reading Assistance: SkyCaddie LX5 at Amazon

"The company also gives users IntelliGreen imagery that shows the shape of the green and major slopes on the putting surfaces."

Best Lightweight: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (44mm), (Golf Edition) at Amazon

"This watch clocks in at just a hair over a single ounce."

Best Easy to Read: Bushnell iON2 GPS Watch at Amazon

"This watch shows yardages to the front, middle, and back in a large block font."

Best Sport Tracker: Garmin Approach S40 at Amazon

"You can pair this watch with your smartphone, and it triggers a fitness tracker that registers movement, calories, and steps."

Best No-Frills: Shot Scope V3 at shotscope.com

"It’s comfortable, has 35,000 pre-loaded courses, offers shot tracking, generates stats, and is easy to use."

A golf GPS watch is a powerful tool that can help players navigate the course. Knowing yardages to the front middle and backs of greens, rather than just guessing, can help ball strikers on approach shots. Plus, illuminating distances to bunkers and penalty areas can save shots through better course management.

While the GPS watches of yesterday were rather basic in the way they functioned and presented information, today’s models are typically much more complex, offering suites of features beyond solely GPS, including shot tracking, fitness metrics, and club recommendations. 

“GPS watches have many different graphics and features such as shot tracking data, green undulation views, a variety of preloaded courses, and even fitness trackers,” says Gregory R. Bisconti, head golf professional at The Saint Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. His advice when choosing one is, “Make sure you research multiple brands to find the watch that fits both your golf needs as well as your lifestyle.”

If you’re in the market for a golf GPS watch don’t solely consider the tech inside. “Outside of looking for a watch that provides an accurate yardage, the number one thing to look for, in my opinion at least, is comfort,” says Matt McQueary, assistant director of golf at Big Cedar Lodge. “Having a watch that is too bulky or one that doesn’t fit your wrist right can be distracting from your game.” 

Another factor that bears consideration—what’s going to gel with your pre-shot routine? “You’ll want a watch that is easy and intuitive to use,” McQueary says. “If you have a watch that you have to fiddle and mess with on the course, it can be more distracting to your game than helpful. The best sort of watch is one that you pull out of the box and can easily navigate and also one that you feel like you can trust.”

Here are the best golf GPS watches you can buy today.

Best Overall: Garmin Approach S62

Garmin Approach S62

Courtesy of Garmin

What We Like
  • Works for more than 41,000 courses worldwide

  • Includes fitness data

  • Can be worn for other sports

What We Don't Like
  • Some users report loss of connection during play

The Garmin Approach S62 is absolutely loaded with all the tech a golfer needs. A large Gorilla Glass, 1.3-inch color touchscreen allows players to easily consume data and scroll up and down fairway flyovers to find hazards. The watch can also adjust for elevation changes and provides a “virtual caddie” that calculates wind direction and speed to help you pull the right club, and the GPS works on over 41,000 courses worldwide. For players interested in data analytics, they can pair the watch with the Garmin golf app for a strokes gained evaluation. Health and fitness tools work both on and off the course, measuring heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels during a round or running, cycling, and swimming.

Weight: 2.2 ounces | Battery Life: 14 days in Smart Watch Mode and 20 hours in GPS | Waterproof: 5 ATM

Best Budget: Golf Buddy AIM W10

What We Like
  • Nice color touch screen

  • Automatic course detection

What We Don't Like
  • Distances can be slightly inaccurate

Players who choose the Golf Buddy AIM W10 get distances to greens, targets, and hazards displayed on a 1.3-inch TFT-LCD full-color touch screen with the ability to zoom in and out. The watch automatically detects the course and hole they are playing, and users can manually place pins around the green for more accurate numbers. The Golf Buddy also displays green undulations, which helps players know which way approach shots and putts will roll.

Weight: 1.94 ounces | Battery Life: 13 hours in GPS mode | Waterproof: Heavy rainproof

Best for Shot Tracking: Apple Watch Series 6 40mm and Arccos

Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Provides a lot of real-time data

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Requires two tools: the watch and an app

There are numerous golf GPS apps one can use on the Apple Watch but Arccos’s Caddie app paired with the brand’s Smart Sensors is a powerful tool, not just for calculating distances but also for elevating a player’s total game. Arccos’ GPS rangefinder GPS gives the player distances calculating slope, altitude, temperature, humidity, and wind in real-time, including gusts. The sensors allow the app to track a golfer’s shots as they play, and then it uses strokes gained analytics to evaluate their game and highlight areas for improvement. Plus, after five rounds, players unlock the caddie advice feature that uses previous shots coupled with AI to produce a game plan for getting down in the fewest shots.

Weight: 1.66 ounces | Battery Life: 18 hours | Waterproof: 50 meters

Best Splurge: TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition

TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition

Courtesy of Mayor

What We Like
  • Looks stylish both on and off the course

  • GPS for more than 40,000 courses

What We Don't Like
  • A bit heavy

For those who want a curated look both on the golf course and off, the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition offers players a plethora of face options to choose from, including a slick skeletonized chronograph design. The GPS works on over 40,000 courses around the world and gives players not just yardages but elaborate hole flyovers, weather data, and the ability to track shots for review using TAG’s smartphone app. Players can keep score for up to four. The 45-millimeter titanium case is both rugged and waterproof, making it a brilliant bit of tech wrapped in a handsome package.

Weight: 2.2 ounces | Battery Life: 25 hours | Waterproof: 50 meters

Best for Green Reading Assistance: SkyCaddie LX5

SkyCaddie LX5

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Works for 35,000 courses

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Must resubscribe after three years

The SkyCaddie LX5 is a popular option thanks to its large 1.39-inch color touchscreen that projects full HD graphics as you play any of SkyGolf's 35,000 ground-verified, error-corrected courses loaded on the watch. The company also gives users IntelliGreen imagery that shows the shape of the green and major slopes on the putting surfaces. A heart rate monitor and step counter calculate distance walked, and the watch comes with a three-year worldwide membership, after which players need to resubscribe or participate in the SkyCaddie trade-in program.

Weight: 2.3 ounces | Battery Life: 2 rounds | Waterproof: 30 ATM

Best Lightweight: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (44mm), (Golf Edition)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Golf Edition

Courtesy of Samsung

What We Like
  • Health and fitness tracking

  • Compatible with 40,000 courses

What We Don't Like
  • Limitations for iPhone users

For golfers who aren’t used to wearing a watch or who don’t like the feeling of extra weight on their wrist during their swing, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (44mm), (Golf Edition) clocks in at just a hair over a single ounce. But despite its svelte build, the Galaxy still offers players 40,000 course maps, shot tracking, auto hole detection, course view, and green mapping. For those keeping tabs on their health, the fitness features on the Galaxy monitor heart rate as well as oxygen levels and can record an ECG (Electro Cardio Gram) for 30 seconds. If a user takes a spill during a workout or on the course, the watch can send for help, a feature we hope you never need.

Weight: 1.05 ounces | Battery Life: 3 to 4 days | Waterproof: 5 ATM

Best Easy to Read: Bushnell iON2 GPS Watch

Bushnell iON 2

Courtesy of Bushnell

What We Like
  • Lasts for 3 rounds of golf

What We Don't Like
  • The watch doesn’t give hole flyovers

For golfers who need an easy-to-read display, Bushnell's iON2 GPS Watch shows yardages to the front, middle, and back in a large block font. Users get over 36,000 courses mapped in over 30 countries, auto course recognition, auto hole advance, and a step counter that converts your round into miles walked.  A bonus for those golfers who play frequently: the battery lasts three full rounds between charges.

Weight: 1.69 ounces | Battery Life: 3 rounds | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Best Sport Tracker: Garmin Approach S40

What We Like
  • Easy to read

  • More than 41,000 courses available

What We Don't Like
  • Cannot see time in golf GPS mode

Garmin really set the bar high when they released the Approach S40. This attractive GPS watch comes pre-loaded with more than 41,000 courses, and it runs for up to 15 hours in GPS mode, so you can get in two rounds without recharging. The color touch screen is plenty big and has been configured to be readable even with the sun glaring down. AutoShot detection tracks your shot and where it lands (updating the score automatically), and you can also manually position the pin for better accuracy via the Green View feature. You’ll also appreciate the Go Green display, which gives you a quick reference of the front, middle, and back of the green, so you can better plan your shot strategy. You can pair the device with Approach CT10 club tracking sensors to layer in a host of additional swing data. Of course, it also comes with a cadre of other features, including receiving emails, texts, and alerts after pairing it with your smartphone; triggering a fitness tracker that registers movement, calories, and steps; and can be paired with the Garmin Golf app for deeper game analysis and the ability to play virtual tournaments with other golfers. You can even swap out different bands thanks to a quick-release configuration, selecting from dozens of options, everything from suede to leather to silicone, all in a variety of colors.

Weight: 1.5 ounces | Battery Life: 15 hours | Waterproof: Up to 50 meters

Best No-Frills: Shot Scope V3

Shot Scope V3

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Comfortable

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t track fitness metrics

  • Stats are available via an app rather in real-time

The Shot Scope V3 has numerous virtues. It’s comfortable, has 35,000 pre-loaded courses, offers shot tracking (thanks to tags for your clubs), generates stats, and is easy to use. The V3 lacks fitness tracking functionality and doesn’t have a touch screen, instead users make selections via actual buttons. To access stats, you download the round’s data to a smart phone app after play is complete.

Weight: 1.44 ounces | Battery Life: 10 hours in GPS mode | Waterproof: Rain resistant

Final Verdict 

The Garmin Approach S62 (view at Amazon) is widely regarded as the pinnacle of golf GPS watches on the market today. We also find the wealth of data and caddie assistance of the Apple Watch Series 6 40mm (view at Walmart) working in conjunction with the Arccos sensors to be a worthy game improvement tool.

What to Look for in a Golf GPS Watch

Accuracy

GPS watches are typically accurate to between 3 and 5 yards, which is pretty tight, though not as precise as laser range finders’ plus or minus 1-yard accuracy.

Preloaded Courses

Most GPS watches come loaded with thousands and thousands of courses ready to go. So chances are your local club is already there, but double-check to see that your regular tracks are included before you plunk down your credit card.

Non-Golf Capabilities

Many golf watches come with functions that are nice to have but won’t help them shoot low scores. Fitness tracking is a nice add-on, but if the watch pairs with your phone, we’d opt to turn notifications off so they don’t distract from your game.

Battery Life

GPS functionality feasts on battery power, so we’d choose one with a larger capacity. A watch that dies on the back nine won’t help you win any $5 Nassaus.

Fees

While most don’t, some watches like the SkyCaddie require a subscription that costs an additional fee after an introductory period.

FAQs 

Why should I use a GPS device while golfing?

You don’t need GPS watches to play golf, but if you’re looking to take your game to the next level, then they can be a godsend. The best ones accurately track your shot-by-shot progress in real-time and display overviews of thousands of pre-loaded courses to help you mid-game. Then, after the round, the data can then be used to analyze your strengths and weaknesses to help you improve your game.

Do I need to pay extra fees?

Most GPS watches don’t require additional monthly fees. But some pair with smart apps for more in-depth data and various game-centric features like virtual tournaments, and those apps might have a one-time or monthly fee depending on the level of support.

What are the essential features?

Shot tracking is a must—it lets you understand how well you progress on the course to provide actionable insights into how to improve your game. And you also want a GPS that comes loaded with courses so you can have actional intel as you play. But other nice-to-have features are typical, including things like fitness trackers, sync functionality to club trackers or smart apps, a shot distance calculator, and hazard finders.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Nicholas McClelland is a passionate golfer who has written about the game and its gear for Men’s Journal, Fatherly, and Inside Hook. He takes his clubs with him almost everywhere he goes, and when he’s not playing, he’s likely planning his next round. To decide what options to include on this list, he considered his favorite GPS watches he's used on courses and also interviewed golf experts.

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