The best golf watches to help you track yardages, avoid hazards, and improve shot selection
With the best golf watch strapped to your wrist, you’ll have a virtual caddy to give you all the info you’ll need to improve your course management. Of course, they can do the obvious – make sure you turn up on time for tee off – but there’s so much more hiding behind that watch face.
Gone are the days when you needed a laser rangefinder to give you distance to the pin. Today a golf GPS watch can do this and much more. You can get hazard alerts so you can avoid the sand. You can get pinpoint accuracy on where you want to land the ball. You can even get a little advice on what club you should select.
Make no mistake, the golf GPS watch market is a very competitive place. There’s a lot to choose from, so making the right choice can be a tricky task. But don’t panic, we have put together a selection of watches for all budgets, playing levels and tastes to help you make the right decision.
Best golf GPS watch: At a glance
|Best for beginners||Garmin Approach S12 (~£130)||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best for serious players||Garmin Approach S62 (~£400)||Check price at American Golf|
|Best-looking||Shot Scope V3 (~£172)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best for comfort||Bushnell ION Elite (~£219)||Check price at American Golf|
How to choose the best golf GPS watch for you
What features do I need to look out for?
Satellites will help you navigate your way around whatever course you’re on, with all the watches on this list preloaded with at least 35,000 courses. Naturally, you should try and look for one that has as many preloaded courses as possible.
As well as basic information such as yards to the centre, front, and back of the green, more advanced models will let you know when a hazard is coming up and will show you a map of the hole you’re on. Some of these more advanced watches will also offer a touch targeting feature, allowing you to tap the screen and see your distance to different points on the course.
If you want to be really nerdy, you may also want to look for one that comes with a smartphone app. You can then sync your watch to the app and it will go really granular about your last round – giving you total shots, fairways hit and total putts.
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How much battery life do I need?
Golf GPS watches have come a long way in a short time. The issue with earlier models was their short lifespan, with some cutting out at the very worst moment on the green. Luckily, all that’s changed in recent times and most golf watches these days should easily see you through three rounds or more.
How accurate are GPS watches?
Each of the watches on our list should be accurate to within three yards and, after using many different manufacturers and models in the real world, we can confirm that to be the case. Comparing measurements on the tee box has always shown the watches to be within a few yards, or fewer, of each other.
How comfortable are they to wear while playing?
These watches are all designed with sport in mind, so they tend to be comfortable enough. However, the design is something you should bear in mind. From our experience with these watches, we suggest going for a device that weighs less than 60g as this will feel almost non-existent when you’re mid-swing.
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The best golf GPS watch you can buy in 2023
1. Garmin Approach S12: Best for beginners
Price when reviewed: £160 | Check price at Garmin If you don’t want to spend big on your first golf GPS watch, then this lightweight, budget-friendly model is one that deserves serious consideration. It’s an ideal choice to ease you into the world of golf GPS watches.
The Approach S12 has automatic course detection, accurate yardage to front, middle and back of the green, and can measure your shot distance to deliver instant info – useful for the next time you get out the same club. There’s digital scoring, so no need to carry around a pencil and notepad, and stat tracking, which includes number of strokes, putts per round, and greens and fairways hit, so you can analyse your game after the 18th to see where you can improve.
The compatible, free Garmin Golf app comes preloaded with more than 42,000 courses and has automatic course view updates. And when new courses become available, they will automatically be added.
Key specs – Size: 4.4 x 4.4 x 1.2cm; Weight: 34.1g; Display size: 3.3 x 3.3cm; Battery life: 30 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 42,000
2. Garmin Approach S62: Best for serious players
Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at American Golf Yet another entry from Garmin, and the most expensive watch in our roundup, the Approach S62 is the best watch for those who are seriously into their golf. Some might baulk at the price, but with the sheer number of features the S62 offers – too many to list here – you can be sure you’re getting more than enough for your money.
With a 1.3in screen, it has more display real estate than the older Approach S60 – all the better to admire the watch’s 41,000 preloaded courses. As well as giving you full-colour maps, Green View, and Autoshot, the S62 has surpassed Garmin’s older models, such as the S20, by offering Pinpointer and PlaysLike Distance features for extra accuracy, as well as additional fitness tracking details such as a heart rate monitor and relaxation reminders. Another standout feature is the virtual caddie, which makes suggestions on which club to use, based on your performance as well as the wind speed and direction.
Casual players might not want to fork out this much, but if you’re serious about improving, you will struggle to find a better option than this. And, since it doubles as a regular smartwatch, complete with a stylish design, you can keep it on when you’re not out on the course.
Key specs – Size: 4.7 x 4.7 x 1.48cm; Weight: 61g; Display size: 3.3 x 3.3cm; Battery life: 20 hours (GPS mode), 14 days (smartwatch mode); Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 41,000
3. Shot Scope V3: Best-looking golf watch
Price when reviewed: From £172 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re after a serviceable alternative to the Garmin watches above, the Shot Scope V3 is well worth consideration. This affordable model has all the features you would expect from a modern golf GPS watch, and more.
The V3 comes with 16 sensors, allowing you to screw one into the end of each of your clubs and benefit from what Shot Scope claims is an industry-leading golf GPS system. Other features include the ability to track a huge number of statistics – including drive distance, fairways hit, and putts per round – as well as built-in Bluetooth and an accompanying app that allows you to examine your round in greater detail.
We also think that the Shot Scope V3, with its minimalist design, is one of the best-looking golf GPS watches on the market, and, weighing just 40g, you barely notice you’re wearing it when out on the course.
If the V3 is a touch expensive for your taste, consider its younger sibling the G3.
Key specs – Size: 3.9 x 3.4 x 1cm; Weight: 41g; Display size: 3.4 x 3.4cm; Battery life: 10 hours (GPS mode), 10 days (smartwatch mode); Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 36,000
4. Bushnell ION Elite: Best for comfort
Price when reviewed: £219 | Check price at American Golf
It comes with a colour touchscreen, which is an upgrade compared with previous Bushnell ION models we’ve looked at before. While it doesn’t have the screen quality of some more expensive watches, it’s perfectly adequate for most needs and, perhaps more importantly, it’s simple to use.
With access to more than 38,000 courses, you can check out all the usual features you would want in a golf watch. There’s a HoleView screen for shot planning, green maps with movable pin placement for better accuracy, and the standard score keeping. Plus, it includes Bushnell Golf’s patented Slope technology which allows you to get better accuracy on distances.
While it may not be a headline feature, we did like the auto course recognition feature which automatically finds courses near you, so you don’t have to search if needed.
Key specs – Size: 4.6 x 5.3 x 1.5cm; Weight: 38g; Display size: 3.5cm diameter; Battery life: 12 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 38,000+
5. SkyCaddie LX5: Best large-screen golf watch
Price when reviewed: £310 | Check price at Amazon
The LX5 has a screen that’s difficult to beat for size. It measures an impressive 3.5cm and comes with Full HD graphics, which are neatly arranged to get the best from the display.
Zoom and pan features, along with arc lines, help deliver more detail on your next shot. Plus, it provides an accurate shape of an approaching green with distances to the front and back from wherever you’re standing.
As you would expect, digital scoring offers plenty of stats including total score, total putts, fairway hit or miss, all of which can be analysed via the SkyGolf 360 Cloud. In addition, the model comes with 35,000 ground-verified, error-corrected maps preloaded.
Key specs – Size: 5.15 x 71.12 x 1.60cm; Weight: 65.2g; Display size: 3.5 x 3.5cm; Battery life: Up to two rounds; Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 35,000
6. Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Golf Edition: Best lightweight golf watch
Price when reviewed: £319 | Check price at Very
It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Golf Edition is a gorgeous looking watch. And Samsung keeps it simple on the colour front with black and white as your choices. This means that it will look good with pretty much any golf gear that you own. But it’s not just its looks that make this watch a winner. It weighs a paltry 28g, making it the lightest in this guide by some way. Once on your wrist, you will hardly notice it until you want to know the time or the info on your next shot. Of course, if you’re an iPhone owner you definitely won’t notice it on your wrist, as it is only compatible with Android.
As you might expect, the UI is clean and intuitive, and there’s a host of features, thanks to the pre-installed Smart Caddie app. This allows you access to over 40,000 courses worldwide, and you can use the voice guide if you want. It has all the basic features such as hole maps, distances, scoring and more. There’s features giving club selection suggestions, a compass feature for pin alignment, shot tracking, and there is even a green undulation map for some courses. Though we still use our eye for putts, it can help you decide where to try and land, if your game is up to that level.
If you want a bigger screen than the intro 40mm model here, you will have to pay for the pleasure. There’s a 44mm model which is just a short step up in price, but if you want the 45mm pro version then expect to pay at least three figures for the upgrade.
Key specs – Size: 3.93 x 4.04 x 0.98cm; Weight: 28.7g; Display size: 39.6 x 39.6mm; Battery life: 50 hours; Waterproof: Yes; Course capacity: 40,000+