2016 In Review: The Best Golf GPS Watches

There are many devices on the market that can track your golfing metrics. But if you're looking to get serious about your golf game, no device is more crucial than one with a built-in GPS. Golf GPS devices come in many different varieties, but recently they are starting to make their appearance in the form of wrist worn units.

Golf GPS watches can also contain features such as dog leg/hazard listings, and the ability to pair your phone to the device and receive text and incoming call notifications. The downside is that they are not as large as a handheld standalone golf GPS. unit.

As a golfer looking to shave some points off of his handicap, a wrist based unit is probably the most convenient, as it offers many more features than just GPS. For this guide, we will be focusing on most gold wearable's, but we have included a few stand alone units as well.

How To Look For The Best GPS Golf Watch

Here's a quick overview product buying guide to help you decide on the best golf watch. Lets look at the various features offered by each unit. 

Preloaded Courses

Most golf GPS units/watches will contain courses that will have the front, center, and back of the green distances as well as custom points for courses throughout the world. Additionally, the higher priced units will often times even provide detailed hole maps, which can be a boon to golfers who travel to many different courses.

However, Golf GPS's have an upper limit to their memory, and can only contain so many pre-loaded courses. The standard is around 25,000, but many GPS watches and handheld units can reach 40,000 and beyond. This can be a consideration if you're looking for a specific golf course as many as many GPS units only contain the most commonly found courses.

Units with high course counts such as the 38,000 and beyond range will tend to be a little more well-rounded than what they carry. In any case, it is wise to its to check the manufacturers website to ensure that it has to course courses you like to play. Often times, manufacturers will charge extra to load or swich out courses.

GPS apps

If you're on a budget consider using a GPS app on your smartphone. While they don't have as many features as a dedicated GPS unit, a standalone application still substitute nicely for an expensive handheld or wrist worn GPS. Many apps offer whole course views and interactive distances but they are not quite as accurate as a dedicated unit. The downside is that GPS apps tend to train your phone's battery very quickly.

Layup & Dogleg Distance Tracking

Many golf GPS watches now have the ability to give you layup and dogleg distances. This can be great for a course with many hazards/turns as you will have an exact measurement (usually in yardage) and be better able to gauge the distance to the green. This will make choosing the right club much easier.

Swings Strengthen Tempo

The great thing about watch based units as they often contain an accelerometer, which will give you real-time information about the various aspects of your swing. For instance, many units will measure your backswing and downswing times and give you a certain ratio to shoot for. And when it comes to swing strength, you will often times be able to compare your current swing and track your average swing strength.

Stat/Score Tracking

Most handheld or watch units will be held the track stats such as input strokes, pots, GIR, and fairways hit. Also, some units will have an on board scorecard that you can print out after a match.

Golf Watch Reviews: Top 10 Golf GPS Devices

Here are our top picks of 2016.​

Garmin Approach S6

No company is more better-known than Garman when it comes to GPS units. And they have been dominating the wearable field for some time now. And their Garman S6 Approach is no less impressive. With the S6, Garman has spared no expense: you get access to over 30,000 national courses, yardage pin/distance views, and an embedded accelerometer that will help you improve your swing tempo and swing strengths. With the Garman approach S6 you will also have access to Garmin Connect IQ, which has over 20,000 independently made apps and is growing each day.

Tom-Tom Golfer

A solid contender to the golf GPS market, the Tom-Tom Golfer comes from another expert in the GPS industry. Although the screen is monochrome only, you'll get all the standard tracking features you've come to expect from a golf smart watch. Things like distance round tracking, green view, and layup are all standard here. We also like the extra large display on this unit (around 1 and a half inches) which is a must when it comes to GPS watches. The watch also contains a calorie counter for all of you fitness nuts out there.

Bushnell Neo XS

The Bushnell golf GPS watch is an affordable device that doesn't skimp on features. You'll get 33,000 pre-loaded courses, yardages and hazard warnings, and detailed information on all the course layups and bunkers. Neil has made some updates to their earlier entry-level GPS watch by increasing the total of hazard listings 1 to 4 for each hole. The only downside to this watch is that it doesn't have an inbuilt score keeping system and it does not sync to your smart phone since it has no clue to support.

Golf Buddy BB5 Band

The golf buddy is an interesting device that that looks like more of a fitness tracker rather than a golf GPS. The front of unit display distances to this different areas of the green and LED display automatically advances through each hole. Since it is a wearable device, it it contains an accelerometer which will measure your shots. The device can also hold around 37,000 courses. The only downside is it's a little on the pricey side - coming in at around $200.

Sky Caddie Golf

the Sky Caddy may not be the most aesthetically pleasing watch on the market, but what it lacks and looks at mixups warned features. The watch comes preloaded with 30,000 ground can corrected courses, and has all the bells and whistles you'd expect in a top-notch smart watch. You'll get digital scoring shot distance, and a water resistance of up to 30 m. And this is another one of those units that also contains an odometer, which will allows it to double as a fitness tracker and to top it all off the watch also contains a stopwatch.

Callaway

Is no doubt about it, the Callaway has a has its competitors be when it comes to features and price. Preloaded with 30,000 international courses and of course you access to all of the usual tracking features, such as distances to green layup and carry distances, and hazards and dog legs. The watch can all do auto course recognition, although old advance and short distance measurements. And of course it is also includes a scorekeeper function. If that weren't enough, is another watch to contains an odometer which is handy for on golf related activities.

Golf buddy PT 4

The PT for is an upgraded unit that has a new capacitive touchscreen and is much slimmer than its pre-predecessor for it. The various modes on the device are well-designed and its large screen allows it to display a lot of information at once. The device comes with 37,000 reloaded international courses We especially liked its fixed labs and allows for pinpoint accuracy and courses you never even played. The battery life is on the low side coming in around 7-8 hours but that should be enough to last you for at least two rounds are so.

Golf Buddy WT 5

When looking at the golf buddy watch the first thing that comes to mind is its incredible sleekness. The unit is also very easy to use and has an incredibly speedy interface especially when updating your yardage. Additionally, the watch can do scorekeeping and distance measurements as an added bonus. And you also get access to the over 37,000 international courses. This watch can easily be worn as a normal watched any social function due to its inherent good looks.

Score Brand Golf

There's no doubt about it, the Score Brand is easily one of the most affordable golf lunches we've ever seen. Unfortunately that comes at the cost of some stripped-down features. You will get access to hazard information, hole view, auto advance, and score keeping functions but little else. Watch also comes pre loaded with 27,000 courses. We found that the watch also asked pretty decent battery life coming in around 10+ hours.

Garmin Vivoactive

The Vivoactive is more of a fitness tracking device than a golf watch, but it does include some interesting golf tracking features nonetheless. You get precise yardages, layup distances and of course GPS maps all of your favorite courses. And indeed the screen seems built for sunlight - we had no trouble reading it in  full direct light. The Visual Active is more of a jack of all trades device rather than a dedicated golf watch but it will fill that role just fine.

Thats a Wrap​

Well that's it for our golf GPS reviews. Hopefully you have found it valuable in your search for the best GPS golf watch. ​If you are looking for something other than golf distance watches, check out our cheap smartwatch guide here.​