Just recently, the USGA announced that distance-measuring devices such as laser rangefinders, golf GPS devices, and smartphone golf GPS apps are now ok to use for national amateur championships. While that only fueled the debate as to whether the best golf rangefinder (laser) or golf GPS watch is the better option, we’re just going to assume that you’re reading this because you picked the golf GPS watch option. And that just leads to the obvious question of how to pick the best golf GPS watch.
To do that, you’re going to need to read a lot of golf GPS watch reviews. But what’s good for one because of certain features may not be the most suitable for another. So here are some factors you need to look out for when you read the reviews, but keep in mind that some factors may be more important to you than the others.
It’s not always easy to compare golf GPS watches when they have different attributes, but all of them do come with a price tag. So if you’re limited by your budget, the price determines your remaining options. Some golf GPS watches cost only about $100, while others approach the $500 price level.
Then you’re going to have to check whether you need to pay for some sort of membership. Some companies offer different memberships, and they come with different privileges and different membership fees.
You may want to compute just how much a particular golf GPS watch will cost you over the next three or four years.
But aside from the price, you also need to consider the overall value. Some of the more affordable watches may offer only the barebones services, but just a little bit more money can get you many of the features you want. You will have to calculate yourself whether the price you pay is worth all the other features you get.
This is about how quickly and easily you can use the device. Can you open the box in which it came and then put it on and use it right away? Some other devices need a bit more preparation than that. You may have to download and install software, update your drivers, register in the company website as a member, and load the golf courses.
You’ll also need to check whether the device is compatible with the computer you’re using. Some devices may not work with a Mac, and others may also be picky as to which Windows OS you’re using. You also need to know whether you can use it with your smartphone.
This is about whether you can tolerate the various setup procedures. For some people, a few of the required setup procedures can be truly frustrating, complicated, or tedious.
A lot of the more expensive golf GPS watches brag about the many thousands of golf courses they have in their database. Obviously, you’re not probably going to need the info on all the golf courses they have. However, it does seem more likely that the courses you tend to play on regularly will be featured when the watch comes with a bigger database.
You’ll have to be check to be sure, however. This info may not be featured in the reviews (I haven’t yet seen a review that listed all the thousands of golf courses available from a particular GPS watch), but you can check the info through online golf forums. Maybe you can even call or email the seller to be sure.
If it doesn’t have the course you play on, is it possible for you to map the golf course using Google Earth? Can you then add that map your database?
And if the database does have your course, are the bunkers and hazards displayed for every hole? Can you add missing hazards to the maps, or is this impossible too hard to do? It’s also great if the GPS golf distance watch displays the distance to the layup areas you want to use.
This is about how well the golf GPS watch picks up the satellites so that it can accurately tell where you are. And also it’s about how well the manufacturer was able to map the golf course. It doesn’t really help if what you’re seeing with your own eyes doesn’t correspond to the supposed features of the golf course as displayed by the map on the GPS watch.
Different watches offer different features, and the more features there are the more expensive the golf watch becomes. Perhaps the most basic information gives you the distance to the front, center, and back of the green. That’s ok if you’re always in the middle of the fairway.
Some of the more advanced golf caddy GPS watches who map the edge of the green, so that wherever you may be you get the near, center, and far points of the green. Other watches let you pick a point in the green so you know the distance to that point, and a few even lets you pick any point in the course and not just on the green. Other watches also offer an image of the green that rotates in relation to where you are.
Other features may involve special screen characteristics, the ability to keep score with an analysis of your stats, or even to track the betting. Water resistance may also be important when you play golf while it’s showering lightly, while other watches may be fully waterproof.
While having lots of features is great, you still need to be able to use them easily enough. If you have to press two dozen buttons in sequence to access a particular feature, then it’s basically useless. Since this is a watch, it’s important that you can access most of the features with one hand, assuming that the watch is in your wrist.
You’ll also need to know just how long you the battery will last, and how long it will take to charge it back up fully again.
Some watches are heavy and bulky, so they can be somewhat distracting when you’re trying to play golf. It’s a bonus if it actually looks, but you may have to settle for something that looks inoffensive.
Rank all these factors according to their importance to you, and then look for how they are mentioned in the various reviews. That should give you a fair idea as to which are the best golf GPS watch options for you.