GPS - Watch or handheld?

Started by : SGB |

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Just wondering what TT members think of the "watch" GPS units (Garmin, SkyCaddy,etc)? I have always used a handheld/SkyCaddy model (even with the yearly dues). I like to see what trouble may be ahead on a dogleg or water hazard and from what I have read in reviews, the technology on this type is just not there yet. Appreciate  and welcome all feedback/experiences regarding.


Would also love to hear some feedback. Last two days I've really been trying to decide if I want to try the watch. If it had target info like the handheld Skycaddie I would pull the trigger no question, my subscription is coming up on my SGXw and am thinking about trading it in or selling it and trying a watch style device-


Fred C

The GPS units are excellent for courses you've never played, but lasers are spot on to the flag. GPs units often provide bad yardage.


I actually bought a Bushnell Patriot pack (great support for our brave hero's) and used it for 2-3 rounds (sold it) and went back to my SGX. I had my SGX with me and yardages were actually spot on for both devices. When those Garmin SG's get to the point of having hole layout/overview like the SGX, then I will have to think about a potential purchase. I wonder though what the next iteration of the SGXw line will have for capabilities? Appreciate the reply's from the TT members! 

Tom B

I agree w/Fred as far as courses you don't play vs. your own.  I've got a Upro Gps with the videos of the actual hole that I've found to be the best GPS being small and accurate, with distances to every hazard and point, and anything not measured you can do yourself on the screen.  Skycaddie to me is just too many promises unkept.   Great on paper but the majority of the features don't work most places, and yearly fees instead of one time.  Great for new courses, but my laser, Leupold is best for spot on distances to objects and the flag.  Very happy with it, and locks in on flags or pins with prisms or reflectors.  Only time it's a problem is if you don't have a direct line to the target, (trees in the way etc.), so I keep the Upro on just in case.


I also would like to know specifics on the watch version (weight, accuracy, comfort, etc.)  And I wonder how fast the price range will drop as the technology gets better?


Joe R

I currently use the Garmin approach S3 and love the accuracy, I upgraded from the S1 but I find that the S1 worked just as well. I  don't normally wear a watch but you get used to it quickly, it is very light and you really don't even know that you have it on, I like that i just have to look to my wrist for distances vs pulling out the range finder and viewing the distance. If i could go back, i would just stick with the S1, the price difference doesn't justify the feature differences for me personally...Good luck ...Joe

Kevin O

I have both a skycaddie hand held and a garmin watch.  Love the watch, haven't turned the handheld back on since I got the watch.  Second best purchase of golf equipment I've made behind all my titleist equipment.

Carl T

I know this is an old post but I would like to bring it back. I have used a sky caddie hand held GPS and a Bushnell laser range finder (made for hunting) for the past five years. I have decided that I do not want to pay the yearly fee to use your sky caddie and decided to go with a GPS watch. I bought the Bushnell Neo XS and I can tell you it is wonderful. It is very light weight and you do not even notice it during your golf swing. You can play 3 rounds before you have to charge it and if you just used it as a watch it will run for 2 years before charging. It has up to 4 hazards or layups on every hole. There are over 30,000 courses that are ready to use without ever having to pay a yearly fee. My home course provides a pin location sheet which is very accurate to use with the Neo XS as it gives the front, center and back of the green. I still use the laser on occasion when I get inside 100 yards if need be. You really can play faster with a GPS watch over the hand held, especially for those who mount their GPS on their cart.

Jim A

Great comments and personal information. Since technology continues to change, I would like to know what the best GPS watch is available today without an annual fee attached to it? Jim

Carl T

Jim, I researched the Garmin, Sky Caddie and the Bushnell. The Garmin makes several models and their latest model is pushing close to $400. The Sky Caddie watch still requires a yearly fee but some vendors have advertised it that they will wave the fee if you buy from them. The Bushnell Neo XS has just hit the market. Cost is $200, it is the lightest, thinnest of the above mentioned, has the longest battery life of the above mentioned and has yardage to four hazards or layups on every hole that no other GPS watch offers that I know of. It also has some bell and whistles like you can program a tee time and 7 minutes before that time the watch will go from a regular watch mode to a GPS and start searching for satellites. Default time to go back to a watch mode is 4.5 hours but you can program it to stay in the GPS mode for up to 9 hours. It does not keep score and it only shows the front, middle and back of the green. I use a green pin position card when I walk and all of the carts have them when I ride at my club. I have checked the pin position with the watch and card with a laser and it has always been within plus or minus a yard where I play. There are several internet golf stores that carry several GPS watch brands and will allow you to do a comparison. The Bushnell won hands down in my opinion.

mark w

I like the handheld units better. More information is accessable. The watches would be fine for a limited amount of information. My only concern with the handhelds is the battery life.

Oliver J

I use both, I wear Bushnell watch and shoot the the hazards with bushnell tour V3.  The only problem I have with the watch, my wrist are fairly small and when I wear the watch on my left hand which I like to do it advanves the hole on me.  So I switched it to my right its okay but wished they had put the controls on the watch on top..

Jim A

Thanks for the feedback Carl. I will do some more research on this as well. Jim

Tom B

I'm a "both" guy too, or should I say I WAS.  Use the laser, Leupold 3xi for most especially at my own course or one I'm very familiar with, but once in a while you're over that knoll or into the trees and can't get a clear "shot".  Have the cally UPRO, which I liked for unfamiliar courses as it had the overhead shots of the entire hole, so you could see everything.  Just got news that they are dropping everything with that, support, website, updates etc. the end of the year, so it becomes pretty much worthless in the not too distant future.  Not surprising I suppose since their update from the original was a disaster from day one, as much as they tried to make good on it.  Not a fan of the watch, so I'll hope to win enough in the shop to get something else that shows the entire hole.  I expect SkyCaddie to end up dumping their handhelds soon, that have pretty much also NEVER lived up to all the promises and hype they could have or should have, even with all the fees.  The search will go on....................


How about the combo of a GPS App for a smart phone & a GPS watch?

I have an iPhone and have been using the "Golf Shot" App since March of 2012. There is only a 1 time fee for the App and it works well. I've compared its yardage values to GPS hand held units & GPS watches. Always very close, within 1-3 yards.

In 2013 the same company that makes the "Golf Shot" app introduced another App called "Tour Caddie". The main difference between the two is the newer App has a Preview feature that shows the entire hole layout with yardages to bunkers, hazards etc. I find this feature useful when I go to courses that I never played before or courses I infrequently play. The 2 or 3 courses that I play all of the time all  I need is the yardage to the F-M-B then just locate where the pin is. 

The problem is it's becoming a pain dealing with digging out / locating my iPhone from my pocket or the cart every time I want to check the yardage. I see the value of just using a GPS watch, it just takes overall less time and less hassle to figure out the yardage. On the other hand it doesn't give enough info. 

I'm thinking of purchasing the new Bushnell Neo XS GPS watch and using that the majority of the time for basic yardage info. Then I can use one of the Apps on my iPhone as another source if I require more info. 

Either way it sure takes less time then trying to locate the yardage on a sprinkler head and then stepping it off to your ball. 


Great comments and I am hoping that eventually there will be a watch that has hole overview, features of some of the current handhelds, but price would most likely be very expensive. The market is certainly there for the taking. I will use my SkyCaddy SGX and keep an eye open for it's replacement.

Paul T

I can only use the handheld. I don't play with watches. It feels weird on my wrist, and feels as if it affects my swing. If it actually does or not, who knows. haha Just another superstition. 

Doug E

After using a Bushnell rangefinder for the first time, a couple seasons back, I realized that NO gps can compare. The accuracy is amazing, to any visible object whether on the course, or the range, which makes it a great practice tool as well. However, I will admit that there are some instances when a gps is more convenient. So, I also have a GPS as a back up that I keep at the ready. I did have a Garmin S5, with all the bells and whistles, but since the battery life is only about two rounds, I found it to be a pain. It rarely gets turned on anymore. Instead, now, I use GolfLogix on my iPhone which works better than most dedicated gps units and will easily stay charged through a round with no problem as long as you turn off the screen between shots. Additionally, if you are like me and keep all your stats, you can track distances on every shot for every club in the bag, call up averages, record Fairways and GIRs, sand shots, up & downs, etc., all of which are quick and easy to do on the fly.

2 guys in my regular foursome wear those bulky gps watches. That's good for me. If I just need a quick distance to the green and don't feel like pulling out my iPhone or rangefinder, I can usually just ask one of them. Between my rangefinder, giving me an accurate distance to virtually anything I can see----be it the back of a bunker, an overhanging tree limb, a cart from the group in front of us, etc.----to my GolfLogix-loaded iPhone, and my buddies' gps watches, I'd have to say, I'm pretty well covered.