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15 Best Golf GPS Watches and Handhelds

15 Best Golf GPS Watches and Handhelds

The day of the caddy is transforming and becoming less necessary in the golfing world. Between the addition of laser rangefinders and golf GPS systems, gone are the days of guess work when it comes to yardage, club choice, and your swing. The best golf GPS watch and/or handheld device can cut out that middle man that is giving you approximate distance. Instead, one of these golf GPS devices can give you precise measurements and ease your decision making process.

Navigate Your Way Through Golf GPS Education

Golf GPS reviews can be all over the map, especially when you start comparing the GPS golf watch to the handheld system. Sometimes the technology can seem exactly the same, and weeding through the features and benefits can get a bit sticky. We’ve done that hunting for you, and compiled information about both the classic device and golf watch versions into one place with golf GPS watch reviews and more.

garmin gps golf watch

First, take a look at why we recommend owning a personal golf GPS watch or handheld device and how it can benefit you. Right now, it might seem like an excess piece of equipment that will distract you from the game. If that’s you, we feel pretty confident you’ll be writing it down on your shopping list by the end of our article.

Then determine what is the best GPS system or best golf GPS watch for your game and interest. We can give you options and advice, but that part is up to you- as well as your decision when it comes to buying. Below, we have simplified the shopping process for you in our golf GPS Reviews section. After that you can read more about Golf GPS and what it can do for your game.

15 Best Golf GPS Devices Comparison Chart

ImageDeviceTypeCoursesSmart PhoneCostPopularity
Garmin Approach S2 GPS Golf WatchWatch30,000+Non-Compatible
Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS WatchWatch35,000+Non-Compatible
Garmin Approach S4 GPS Golf WatchWatch30,000+Compatible
Garmin Approach X40 Golf Course GPSWatch40,000+Compatible
Precision Pro Golf GPS BandWatch35,000+Non-Compatible
Garmin Approach S20 Golf WatchWatch35,000+Compatible
Callaway GPSy Golf GPS WatchWatch30,000+Non-Compatible
TomTom Golfer 2 GPS WatchWatch40,000+Compatible
Apple Smart Watch – SportWatchDepends on AppCompatible
Izzo Swami 4000+ Golf GPSHandheld30,000+Non-Compatible
Garmin Approach G6 Handheld Touchscreen Golf Course GPSHandheld25,000+Compatible
Bushnell Neo Ghost Golf GPSHandheld30,000+Non-Compatible
GolfBuddy Voice GPSHandheld/Watch35,000+Non-Compatible
GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS/RangefinderHandheld/Watch35,000+Non-Compatible
IZZO Swami Sport Golf GPSHandheldUnlistedNon-Compatible

15 Best Golf GPS Devices

Here we have compiled two short lists of the best GPS gear for golfers. We have packed in the details that might matter to you the most, and have only picked the best gear to review for you. Eliminating the fluff is what we do best. First stop: Golf GPS Watch Reviews.

Best Golf GPS Watches

Here they are folks, our top 9 picks for best golf watches that feature GPS and more. There are quite a few Garmin golf watch reviews on our list, because they are the masters. That doesn’t always mean they will be the best pick for you, so you will see many other brands such as TomTom or Precision Pro.

1. Garmin Approach S2 GPS Golf Watch

Garmin Approach S2 GPS Golf Watch
  • Courses: 30,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 8 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 3 Weeks
  • Course Updates: 4x Per Year, Free
  • Display: Low Resolution
  • Smart Phone Compatible: No
  • Extras: Water Resistant up to 10 meters
garmin approach golf gps

Garmin makes our list quite a few times, and the first one is with this Approach S2 model. It comes with free lifetime updates on courses with more than 30k worldwide courses already updated, and no subscription fees. The highly sensitive GPS will even help track you under trees. It is the most basic version of the Approach model watch, but the display is still easy to read. The digital scorecard is easy to track, and it can be stored and printed.

One downside about this watch is it doesn’t track activity, so for the most part you’re getting a basic golf GPS unit that is much more easily portable. This is a great golf GPS watch for beginners, or those that don’t need the extra gadgetry.

2. Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch

Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch
  • Battery GPS Mode: 3 Rounds of Golf
  • Courses: 35,000+, 30 Countries
  • Battery Watch Mode: Unlisted
  • Course Updates: Automatic, No Fees
  • Display: Low Resolution
  • Smart Phone Compatible: No
  • Extras: Up to 4 Hazard/Layup Distance per hole
golf gps watch bushnell

This is another more basic model of Golf GPS Watch, this time produced by Bushnell. The display is simple, but large enough to be easy to read. The course recognition features an auto hole advancement feature so you don’t have to fiddle with it before moving on.

The one downside about this watch is the lack of information about the battery. It’s advertised as a high quality lithium battery that lasts 3 rounds of golf without charging. Without specific hours, this can mean a variety of things and is rather vague. However, charging does not take long, so it might be best to plug it in before each use just in case.

3. Garmin Approach S4 GPS Golf Watch

garmin approach 24
  • Courses: 30,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 10 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 6 Week
  • Course Updates: Included, No Fees
  • Display: High Resolution Touchscreen
  • Smart Phone Compatible: Yes
  • Extras: Sunlight readable screen

The Approach S4 is a big step up from the previous model on our list. It 
features a high resolution touchscreen that is easily readable in the sunlight or in lowlight. The battery life is impeccable, and it still advertises as waterproof to 10 meters which is more than great for a golf distance watch.

Garmin makes most of their golf GPS watches to be compatible with iPhones and some other smart phones so that you can stay connected without having to juggle devices.

garmin s4 two watches

You can track a lot with this watch, the scorecard feature is enhanced quite a bit, and there is also a Measure Shot service that will track your drives and hits. Overall you’re getting a lot of upgrades with the S4, without a lot of complications.

4. Garmin Approach X40 Golf Course GPS

garmin approach x40 golf course GPS
  • Courses: 40,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 10 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 5 Days
  • Course Updates: No Fees
  • Display: Low Resolution, Small Screen
  • Smart Phone Compatible: Yes
  • Extras: Activity Tracking

Anyone familiar with activity tracker bands made by Garmin, FitBit, Jawbone and many other brands will be familiar with this style of golf GPS. It is small and sleek, and sits snug on your wrist for little distraction. The X40 is a very small system, but still has a lot of Garmin’s great golf features. Hazard distances, round analyzer, and smart phone connectivity are just a few. The battery life on this particular golf watch is still fairly decent, though not it’s best feature.

garmin approach x40
back view gps watch

The addition of the activity tracker is what takes this unit to a whole new level. It can be worn continuously to monitor heart rate and exercise levels for you. TopDown golf supports making positive health decisions (our favorite excuse to go golfing is that it’s technically exercise… Even if there is a beer involved).
The one negative thing that many golfers might be wary of is the size. The screen is quite small, and not meant to contain a lot of detail, so scrolling to receive info is frequently necessary. Besides that, it’s easily a top rated golf GPS watch.

5. Precision Pro Golf GPS Band

precision pro golf gps band
  • Courses: 35,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 8 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 52 Weeks
  • Course Updates: Included, No Fees
  • Display: Low Resolution, Large Text
  • Smart Phone Compatible: No
  • Extras: Lightweight

This is probably one of the most basic watches on our list, but it might appeal to those who want a smaller size unit without having to pay for things such as an activity tracker. Precision Pro Golf still adds in features such as shot distance measurement, and auto advancement. Plus, it offers the longest battery life whilst in watch mode that we have come across.

precision pro golf map

The golf band is extremely weight, weighing only 1 ounce, but it also means that the screen is a tad smaller. It does exhibit large text, white on a black background, that will be easy to read in any weather.

6. Garmin Approach S20 Golf Watch

garmin approach s20 golf watch
  • Courses: 35,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 15 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 8 Weeks
  • Course Updates: Included, No Fees
  • Display: High Resolution Touch Screen
  • Smart Phone Compatible: Yes
  • Features: Smart Watch Capabilities with Phone Connection

This is our personal vote for best golf GPS watch by far, and it’s no surprise that it’s made by Garmin. Here at Shelf, we understand that not all players are interested in havingmore than what’s needed- but occasionally we really really really do. It’s quite stylish, but don’t let it fool you, the accuracy, battery life, and features are much more impressive. This watch is complete with TruSwing sensor compatibility, to help track your arm movement.

golf gps garmin watch

The Garmin Activity tracker found in the X40 is also a part of the S20 system, as well star tracking that keeps track of your hits, greens in regulation, and putts per round. You’ll know more about your golf game then even before-perhaps even too much for some of you. The connection to a smart phone also gives you the ability to read and reply to texts on your phone, so you will have less interruptions and be able to stay on the go.

garmin s20 map gps watch
text gps golf phone

What’s crazy about this model is the price. For what you’re getting in terms of a smart watch, combined with the GPS expertise of Garmin, it’s simply the best bang for your buck. There’s so much more about this watch that we love, but the one feature that still needs help is some of the autoshot and connect software that can be a little unstable. Luckily, these are all bugs that Garmin can take care of in the updates- so we will keep you posted for when these kinks are worked through.

7. Callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch

callaway GPSy Golf GPS Watch
  • Courses: 30,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery GPS Mode: 10 Hours
  • Battery Watch Mode: 90 Days
  • Course Updates: Included, No Fees
  • Display: Low Resolution, Easy Read in Sunlight
  • Smart Phone Compatible: No
  • Extras: Track Stats

Callaway has to have their toes in the water for all of the best golfing equipment, and they made the cut for this list of best gear easily. The Callaway GPSy Watch is sleek and smart in design. It’s a simple and easy to read screen that displays a lot of important information on the screen at once.

gps features callaway

Hazard mode gives you what you need to get cleanly to the green, and shot distance will even clue you in on angles. The stat tracker is our favorite Callaway feature. On one screen keep track of your score, number of putts, and GIR for each hole. It’s simple and makes summarizing how your day really went a breeze.

8. TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch

tomtom golf gps watch
  • Courses: 40,000+, Worldwide
  • Battery Watch Mode: 2 Weeks
  • Battery GPS Mode: 2 Rounds
  • Course Updates: Free, Receive from Phone
  • Display: Low Resolution, SImple
  • Smart Phone Compatible: Yes
  • Extras: Virtual Summary of your History
tomtom golf gps app

Being one of the biggest names in the GPS industry, TomTom was sure to make our list for best GPS watches. While it has a simple display, connecting to your phone will bring this watch to it’s full potential. It is equipped with
features to easily be able to update the course wirelessly before you begin your round, so you’re guaranteed to have a proper guide.

After each round, you can check out an overview of your game on your phone, with extensive stats and a comparable history of how you’ve done on each hole in past rounds. When you’re practicing, this can be so crucial as it will give you an even accurate depiction of what you’re improving on and what still needs work.

tomtom golf gps style

Our biggest negative about the TomTom Golfer 2 is its size and design. It’s a little bulky for our taste, but if that’s not an issue this might be the pick for you.

9. Apple Smart Watch – Sport

Honorable Mention

sport apple watch golf

Alright so bear with us here: this may not technically be a GPS watch made for golfing. If you have an Apple Watch already, or are hesitant to spend a decent amount on a watch that’s primary uses are telling time and golf- we recommend this for your game. There are a ton of GPS golf apps out there that are made to be compatible with the Apple Watch. It pretty much can do everything you need it to on the course, plus everything you need off of it, too. There’s really not a whole lot else to say. Yes, it’s pricey, but as we mentioned it’s not too far off in price as some of the other watches on our list and the other capabilities get it there. The other downside is it’s likely not legal for tournament play. However, It might be worth at least looking in to!

Best Golf GPS Handhelds

Our list of handhelds is a little shorter, because the technology for golf watches has improved so much that these devices are becoming less popular. However, they have their benefits and there are some that are even more useful then the watches we reviewed. Take a look, and see if anything tickles your fancy.

10. Izzo Swami 4000+ Golf GPS

izzo swami 4000+
  • Courses: 30,000+. Worldwide
  • Battery: 10-12 Hours
  • Display: 1.8 Inch Color Screen
  • Extras: Course Map Edit Function

The Izzo Swami is one of the best GPS golf devices on the market. It’s got a full color screen and access to all of your favorite golf courses with no subscription fees. The large screen will feature easy to read shot distance measurement, and the ability to edit courses if you ever run across an error.

izzo swami golf gps

The battery life is plenty to last you a couple of days on the course, and this newest edition of the Swami includes hazards and doglegs to make life a breeze.

11. Garmin Approach G6 Handheld Touchscreen Golf Course GPS

garmin approach G6 Golf GPS

  • Courses: 25,000, Worldwide
  • Battery: 15 Hours
  • Display: High Resolution, Touch
  • Extras: Glove Friendly Touchscreen

If it made the list for watches as many times as it did, it’s no surprise that Garmin make some of the best handheld golf GPS systems as well. The same Approach technology is supersized in this sleek device. Our favorite feature is the glove friendly touch screen, because we believe that gloves are underrated and should be on every golfer!

garmin g6 handheld

The scorecard feature can fit your whole team on it, and includes adjustable handicaps. The layup feature works at 100, 150, 200 and sometimes 250 yards, indicating how far you’ll need to hit it. Keep track of all of your stats, and have the dependability of the brand with this as your guide.

12. Bushnell Neo Ghost Golf GPS

bushnell neo ghost golf gps
  • Courses: 30,000+
  • Battery: 3 Rounds
  • Display: Low Resolution
  • Extras: Multi-Function Clip
bushnell golf handheld gps colors

This is one of the simplest units in our best of section. An easy-to-read display accompanies auto-course correction, auto-hole advance, and up to 4 hazard distances on each hole. The battery will last you three rounds of golf, and you can clip it almost anywhere for quick access.

13. GolfBuddy Voice GPS

golf buddy voice
  • Courses: 35,000+
  • Battery: 1 Round
  • Display: Low Resolution, Audio Feautre
  • Extras:  Speaks 8 Different Languages

This is our vote for best small Golf GPS Handheld device. But what’s crazy is that it could almost qualify as a watch. It’s very compact, and can be clipped anywhere- even to the visor of your hat.

golf buddy watch accessory

It’s even got an option to be worn with a wrist band as a watch. Its best feature is the audio, it really is a voice GPS and will guide you, hands-free. It’s easy to use, but keep in mind it is compact. And barely qualifies as a handheld, but it’s a great alternative to a watch if you prefer something small but don’t want it on your wrist.

14. GolfBuddy Voice 2 Golf GPS/Rangefinder

golf buddy voice 2
  • Courses: 35,000+
  • Battery: 14 Hours
  • Display: Low Resolution
  • Extras: Green view technology

There is a lot about this version that is the same as the original GolfBuddy Voice, but there is one big difference. This little guy has the power of green view technology, to be able to determine your personal facing to the hole, which is extremely useful. It’s well on its way to becoming as popular as its predecessor.

golf buddy voice 2 options golf gps

15. IZZO Swami Sport Golf GPS

Izzo Swami Handheld golf GPS
  • Courses: Unlisted
  • Battery: Lasts One Round
  • Display: Low Resolution
  • Extras: Course Auto-Detection on Startup

This is the last of our recommendations for GPS handheld devices, and it’s one of the simplest. It comes in four different colors, with a bag clip, and an easy to read design. It has front, center, and back distances to the green, and users have remarked that it contains more courses than some of the most expensive watch models. However, the number of courses is unlisted.

Golf GPS and Why It’s Important

If you’re familiar with golf distance finders that use laser technology, then you might be here to supplement your game with some extra distance support. You might also know that some holes it is just not practical to be using a laser rangefinder, or that they do have a margin of error that can be impacted by too much background targets, low lighting, or weather that golf GPS devices do not suffer with. What you might not be aware of, is that newer models are much more accurate than they once were- but we have a whole other page about these devices.

GPS for golf use satellite locations to determine where you are, and will give your precise distances and location customized to where you are. But they are so much more than a number on a screen. The best golf GPS watches and systems are equipped with tens of thousands of preloaded golf courses, so there’s very little prep-work involved for you as the golfer.

golf map gps

GPS Golf watches add a whole new level to GPS involvement in the game. Wearable tech has intensified in the last few years, and with it the game of golf is changing. Many of the best golf GPS watches can sync up with smart phones, golf apps, and even some handheld devices to provide you more information than just distance.

Some of these watches track and record your swing speeds and accuracy. They compile it with information about each hole so that you can easily analyze data even while on the course. This allows for quick corrections and adjustments, without having to consult your caddy and or golfing partner (which let’s face it, you might not want the advice of either).

The best golf GPS handheld devices will also contain a scorecard option to minimize the juggling that happens in between holes. Some of the higher-tech golf watches we review also have this same feature- just in a more compact form.

What is the Best Golf GPS for Me?

If you’re looking for more than just GPS, and want to see your game start to improve at a higher level with less equipment- we strongly recommend the best golf GPS watch for you. With all of the added features and tracking they now have, the convenience is difficult to pass on. Some of the best technology for golf is found in these wearable options. You do have to be comfortable with the size of the screen, especially if you don’t want to partner a handheld device or smartphone to it. If you aren’t wanting to struggle with smaller buttons/screens, then you might want to consider the classic golf GPS handheld devices.

gps watch golf gps watch

The handhelds are not without their many benefits. They often can give you more details about the hole you are on in a broader picture. They are easier to read, and for those who are less comfortable with wearable tech, you won’t have the same dilemmas with these. The battery lives are often longer too, which can be a big deal on the course. The last thing you want to run into on the back nine is a blinking red light that might mess with your scores!