The best golf watch can be a real game-changer. Every hole of any course feels like it's your regular, which you know like the back of your golf glove. That's because the best golf GPS watches act like a sort of Google Maps for every course you visit. Big names like Garmin, Bushnell and SkyCaddie have been working for decades on perfecting this tech, which makes it easy to pick the right club for every shot. All you need to do is hit the ball in the right direction – admittedly, easier said than done at times.
Knowledge is power, so they say, and that's certainly true when it comes to golf. If you know exactly how far you are from the pin, no matter where you are, you can make a more informed decision on which club to use and how to swing. Essentially, a golf GPS watch could distinguish between a perfect shot and one that costs you another swing.
Of course, the golf watch also helps take a load off your mind so you can stay relaxed and focused. It does this by counting your strokes for you, in many cases, so there's no need to keep a scorecard. More advanced models will even measure your swing details, and some offer tips on how you can make improvements to your game. If you've already invested in the best golf bag, best golf balls, best driver, and best golf shoes, a good golf GPS watch can be the thing that helps you take your game a step further. Don't forget your best golf waterproofs, either.
The best golf watches to buy right now
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The Garmin Approach S62 is the company's flagship golfing watch, which means it's not cheap but you get a lot for your money. The screen is a large 1.3-inch colour display that's built for outdoors; even in bright sunlight it offers at-a-glance clarity. You'll see all sorts from wind speed and direction to green view previews and blind pinpointing when you can't see your target. The watch will keep going on GPS mode for over 20 hours and is supported by an app for even more in depth data and analysis from your phone during or after your round.
The virtual caddie is a huge feature which offers detailed information to help you best assess how to play your next shot, including the right club to use in the face of wind or inclines, for example. The fact the watch looks good, is rugged and waterproof, is just a nice bonus. It also offers other Garmin features like heart rate tracking, blood oxygen levels, contactless payments and connected smartphone notifications. This really does it all.
Read our full Garmin Approach S62 review (You should also peruse Garmin Approach S62 vs Garmin MARQ Golfer to find out just how upmarket you need to go, in order to get the best golf watch from Garmin.)
Bushnell are best known for rangefinders, but they are becoming major players in the GPS watch market too, and the Ion Elite is their best offering to date.
An impressive colour touch screen gives the golfer easy access to a raft of great features, including scoring, hole maps, green view and hazards/layups. You can also drag the pin around the green to give yourself more accurate yardages if you need more than the standard front, middle and back numbers.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this watch is that it has slope functionality. Usually, this is only found in the more expensive watches such as the Garmin Approach S62 mentioned above, but the Ion Elite has it despite coming in at under the £200 mark. Impressive. To reap all of the benefits from this watch, it is best paired with the Bushnell Golf App, which then gives you access to cool hole flyovers and more statistical analysis of your progress.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of GPS golf watches, Garmin has got the art down to a tee. The Approach S42 is the successor to the immensely popular S40, offering an improved battery life and improved internal functions.
It is crammed with features to help you master your swing, which is why it’s our pick for the best golf GPS in its price range. A combination of cutting-edge GPS technology and a sunlight-readable 1.2-inch colour touchscreen enables you to calculate distances to the front, middle and back of the green, as well as any hazards.
AutoShot game tracking records your every pitch and putt, so that you can learn from your mistakes post-match. And data from 42,000 global courses gives you the opportunity to compare your score with others who’ve played there. Add in Bluetooth, notifications from your smartphone, and accurate sleep and fitness tracking, and the Approach S42 is a true all-rounder when it comes to golf GPS watches.
If you’re the kind of person who loves poring over statistics, the Shot Scope V3 may be the watch for you. This sturdy wearable uses ClubSense technology, along with tags attached to the grips of your clubs, to automatically track your distance from a particular hole and the club you’re using to take your shot. This information is then used to provide incredibly detailed analysis of your game, and enable you to relive your most memorable hits.
The Shot Scope V3 boasts an awesome database of worldwide golf courses, and also features a strap that can be adjusted to fit 11 different wrist sizes – so no chance of getting blisters as you swing for glory. The V2 proved to be one of the most popular watches on the market and was a tough act to follow, but the V3 has taken all of the best features of its predecessor and expanded on them.
Take the superb feature set of the Garmin Approach S62, add a full range of fitness and smartwatch features from Garmin's Fenix and Forerunner ranges, and then swaddle it in a truly exceptional titanium case with ceramic/titanium bezel and fabric or rubber strap and you have the Garmin MARQ Golfer. This is the only watch out of this selection that most people would willingly wear off the golf course; it is a genuinely impressive slab of luxury.
Read our full Garmin MARQ Golfer review
The large colour screen of the Golf Buddy WTX, which is clear even in daylight, as a welcoming way to view data on over 38,000 courses that it has stored. Thanks to a lift-to-view display you can save battery while still having info access one handed. That means distance and hazard tracking plus a flyover view for each hole.
One really nice feature is dynamic green view. This allows you to plan your pitch from the angle of your approach shot. Of course GPS keeps your location accurate throughout and hole progression happens automatically as the watch realises you've moved on. Updates, via the smartphone app, also mean data is kept up to date for your courses.
If you’re just getting into golf and fancy a helping hand, this Bushnell GPS golf watch will provide you with all the information you need to make sure your swing’s on par with the rest of the team. It features auto course recognition and auto hole advance with accurate and easy to read distances. It’ll also clue you in to nearby hazards and counts your steps so you can work out how many calories you’ve burned off round the course, and it won’t cost you the earth, either.
The Tag Heuer Connected is already one of the most stylish – and most expensive – smartwatches you can buy, and now it has a golf specific edition. It's worth noting this is a Tag Heuer Golf app so you can use it on a standard Tag Heuer Connected watch, only using the phone's GPS instead. The watch is comfortable and features a large display which you can tap to control – ideal when scrolling a course map to see how far you have to the pin. Or switch to the connected phone and get everything in clear 3D too – complete with tips on which club to use.
While the watch lasts an impressive 25 hours on GPS, you can let the connected phone's GPS do the work to extend battery life even further. Either way you'll be able to get text and call notifications from the watch while your phone is tucked away. You will need to enter your scores and shots manually as you play, which is less automated than a lot of the competition. But then this also doubles as a luxury smartwatch, which most of the others on this list can't claim.
It struggles a bit in comparison to Garmin's similarly luxe MARQ Golfer when it comes to core functionality, but on the other hand it is more of a 'proper' smartwatch when away from the course, with an OLED screen and full range of Google Wear OS features.
What's the best golf GPS watch right now?
The best golf watches come preloaded with at least 30,000 courses from around the world, and are able to measure course elevation as well as your distance from the pin to help improve each shot. For long days on the green, it’s important to choose a watch that’s comfortable, with ample battery life and a bright screen that’s easy to read even in direct sunlight.
With that in mind, our top pick for golfers is the Garmin Approach S42 golf GPS. Newly launched this year, it’s packed with features to help you master any course. It also comes with a raft of standard smartwatch functions, including notifications from your mobile device and even accurate fitness tracking (steps, calories, distance covered, and so on).