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Best Golf GPS - Choosing the Right One

Updated on February 21, 2015
Choosing the Best Golf GPS - Photo Courtesy of Golf Digest
Choosing the Best Golf GPS - Photo Courtesy of Golf Digest

Where to Start

Choosing the best golf GPS is a matter of need and desire. First, you must decide that a golf GPS is right for you. As a weekend golfer, I did not see the value of a laser finder or a golf GPS. I did not feel a golf GPS would improve my golf game. For many years, I would tell myself:

  • I don't play enough golf
  • Golf GPS units are too expensive
  • They are for serious golfers only
  • They are illegal according to the USGA

Fortunately, five years ago I had the opportunity to play at a resort course that had GPS units installed in all their carts. After one round, I was convinced that these units were worth it. The golf GPS made me a better golfer, but I still had overcome my objections.

  1. I don't play enough golf - Whether you golf once a year or every day, a golf GPS will help your game. The best golf GPS units help you understand distances and track your shots. In fact, when I purchased my first unit I found myself playing more golf just so I could use my GPS. And as anyone will tell you, the secret to a better golf game is to play more.
  2. They are too expensive - The early units were expensive and did not offer very advanced features. However, with the rising popularity of golf GPS units, the prices have come down. Your basic models are now about $100, while the best golf GPS units are about $300. Still a very reasonable price considered the advanced features.
  3. They are for serious golfers only - There is no doubt that a serious golfer will benefit more from a golf GPS unit but even weekend golfers will find these units helpful. Three seasons I used a unit that tracks my scores and shots. I discovered which irons I hit the best and which irons needed work. I now knew which clubs to take to the driving range. My score dropped 3 strokes.
  4. The USGA has outlawed GPS units - This is a common misconception. I had it for years. I did a little research and found that the USGA now accepts the use of rangefinder equipment on the golf course. They have some fancy Rule XYZ, Section 5, Article 23 that describes the use of a golf GPS. In short, GPS units are legal.


How Do I Choose the Best Golf GPS

When I made my decision to buy a golf GPS, I thought it would be easy, that I would have to choose from a short list of manufacturers. Boy, was I mistaken. There were eight major competitors and another dozen “knockoff brands” ranging in price from $50 to $450 dollars. Now I had to do research, compare features, read reviews, and look at prices. In the end, you need to make three decisions:

  1. Basic Features versus Advanced Features
    I started with an advanced feature unit. In the case of a golf GPS, I highly recommend buying a unit with many features. Every golfer uses their GPS differently. You cannot predict which feature they will find useful.
  2. Brand Name versus "Knock-off" Brand
    I started with a Brand Name unit. The upside is brand name units are more common. When I needed assistance using my unit, I could easily find help even on the golf course.
  3. What Features You Want.
    Here is a good list to consider:
    -> Ease of Setup – Out of Box operation versus PC download
    -> Reliability – Customer Support and Warranty
    -> Course Availability – The size of their course database
    -> Battery Life – Type of battery and average length of use
    -> Course Detail – Distance to hazards as well as the green
    -> Ease of Use – How well it performs on the course
    -> Shot Tracking – Scorecard and Club Selection
    -> Membership Fees – Cost to update the course information

Best Golf GPS Watches - Photo courtesy of GolfGPS1.com
Best Golf GPS Watches - Photo courtesy of GolfGPS1.com

New Entry in the Golf GPS Market

Golf GPS watches have become very popular. In fact, I purchased an Izzo Swami GPS watch last year. Golf GPS watches do not give the golfer as many golf course details. However, I love the convenience of finding distances quickly without having to pull out the trusty old GPS unit. Just look at my wrist, select a club and hit a beautiful shot. One thought: Many of my golfing friends find wearing a golf GPS watch bothers their “swing pattern”. I grew up wearing a wrist watch on the golf course, so the golf GPS watch was not a troublesome transition.

Best Choice - Garmin G6

The Garmin Approach G6 is our favorite choice and is considered to be the best selling golf GPS of all time. It features a nice 2.6" color touch screen which is readable even in bright sunlight. The high contrast graphics makes the images easy to see for golfers of any age. The Garmin G6 has a perfect balance of features for most golfers needs. Garmin has two newer models (the G7 & G8) but many golfers still rely on their Garmin G6. If you are a first time buyer, this is the model for you! Nicely priced at about $200.

Economical Choice - Izzo Swami 4000

The Izzo Swami 4000 golf GPS has a vibrant 1.8" color display that’s easy to read. With 25,000 preloaded golf courses, a digital scorecard and shot distance features, the Izzo 4000 has all the features most golfers need. Note: This unit does not display the actual hole like more expensive units. However, at an average price of $100, the Izzo Swami 4000 is a perfect choice for the budget-minded golfer.

Conclusion

I won’t pretend to know what your budget is or what features are most important to you. You should do some research and make those decisions for yourself. But I can tell you what I consider are the best golf GPS units on the market: The Golf Buddy World Platinum II and the Garmin Approach G6. Both units have a wealth of features, are ready to use out of the box and perform well on the course. These two units are in a higher price range, but they are worth the extra expense. For golfers who want the convenience, buy the Izzo Swami Golf GPS watch. If I had to choose a less expensive GPS unit, I would look at the IZZO Swami 4000 model.

Conclusion: The golf GPS is the best club in my bag!

Garmin G6 and S2 Review

Researching the Best Golf GPS

Every year I spend many hours on the Internet researching the best golf GPS units. I look at what is new and what the trends are. I look at prices and features. So trust me when I say that I can save you a considerable amount of time. Below is a list of articles that will narrow down your selection quickly.

The Golf GPS - My best club in the bag!
The Golf GPS - My best club in the bag! | Source

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    • chefmancave profile image
      Author

      Robert Loescher 2 years ago from Michigan

      There are many sites and articles out there discussing Golf GPS units. What are some of your conclusions?

    • profile image

      Taiwo Michael Allen 2 years ago

      i wrote a great site on golf gps too it is a great thing

    • chefmancave profile image
      Author

      Robert Loescher 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you. It took me several years before I finally bought a GPS. I love my Garmin G3.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks I play a lot of golf only use the GPS when it is in the cart or one of my partners has one...I will use your Hub to buy one..thanks

    • chefmancave profile image
      Author

      Robert Loescher 4 years ago from Michigan

      Wait til I write an article about Phone App Golf GPS.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Very interesting. Should have known there were things like this available! Seems useful for a wide variety of golfers.

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