The best golf watch
Modern sports are all about tracking data and analytics. But golfers have known the importance of this data for decades, using the scorecard to track various items beyond score, including driving distance, greens in regulations, and putts required.
To simplify the process of tracking data during a round of golf, you can make use of a golf watch. It provides information about the course you're playing during the round, while tracking your shots.
Peruse our golf watch buying guide to help you choose which watch will best serve your purposes. Our top pick and what we consider the best golf watch for the majority of golfers is the Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch, which has a nice mixture of golf- and fitness-tracking features.
Considerations when choosing golf watches
Golf watches have the ability to perform numerous functions. Figure out which of these are the most important to you and find a model that excels in these areas.
Some golf watches can count your steps and calculate calories burned, just like a fitness watch.
You'll find golf watches in a variety of color options, watch face shapes, and band styles. Find one that you'll like wearing.
If you like to play a variety of golf courses, having tens of thousands of course layouts preloaded on the watch is helpful. Some watch manufacturers will charge you a monthly fee to download new courses, while others give you this data for free.
The GPS hardware inside the watch is extremely important. Weak GPS hardware may lose the signal if you're under large trees. Some GPS hardware will drain the battery too quickly, though.
A typical golf watch will provide a battery life of about one week. However, when you're using the GPS, it will decrease to about 12 hours of battery life.
Some watch faces have a digital screen that is touch-enabled. Others require you to work through buttons to change settings. An anti-glare screen will be appreciated when you're playing golf in bright sunlight.
A golf watch can provide a variety of benefits to your golf game. Here are some of the features to consider.
Measure shot distances
With the data the golf watch tracks, you'll receive accurate distance measurements for each club in your bag. This helps you make the proper club choice for each shot.
Understand the course
A golf watch can give you accurate distances to the green from your current location on the course using its GPS hardware. This allows you to play faster versus searching for a marker on the course that gives distance.
The hazards on the golf course are sometimes difficult to see as you're playing. A golf watch can warn you about sand traps, creeks, and lakes that are on the hole, giving you the distance to the hazard from your current position.
Track progress over time
The golf watch can keep track of your golfing data over multiple rounds. This allows you to study your progress and figure out where you need to make improvements.
Golf watches are comparable in price to fitness-tracking watches. You'll pay between $100 and $150 for a simple golf watch. If you want a touchscreen, advanced course analytics, and strong battery life expect to pay $150 to $300.
Q. If I already own a fitness tracker, do I need a golf watch?
A. If you want golf-specific tracking features, you will need a golf watch. Although it's true that a golf watch can provide some fitness-tracking features, the reverse is not true. Fitness trackers do not track golf data.
Q. Can the golf watch notify me about text messages, like a fitness-tracking watch?
A. Some golf watches do have the ability to connect to your nearby smartphone, and give you notifications. This feature varies from watch to watch, so look for a model that meets your specific needs.
Golf watches we recommend
Best of the best: Garmin's Approach S20 Golf Watch
Our take: One of the most feature-rich golf watches on the market, it delivers the data you need to improve your game.
What we like: Tracks more than your golf-game statistics. It can calculate steps taken, hours slept, and other fitness items.
What we dislike: Software doesn't always run fast. Some battery issues may appear over time.
Best bang for your buck: Bushnell's Neo Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch
Our take: Value-based choice as a golf watch that still has enough features to appeal to those serious about the game.
What we like: Battery life is excellent. Contains 35,000-plus preloaded golf courses, making it easy to use.
What we dislike: Build quality of the watch band is not as good as it should be.
Our take: Has more features than you might expect at this price point, including a strong GPS unit.
What we like: Includes more than 30,000 preloaded courses. Has a printable scorecard feature.
What we dislike: If you use the GPS regularly, the watch's battery life will suffer quite a bit.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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