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Choosing Golf GPS Units

Updated on July 13, 2012

Improve Your Game with a Golf GPS Unit

Being able to accurately know the distance between points on the golf course can drastically improve your game. An electronic rangefinder is good for this purpose but they can be difficult to use and aren't always able to measure all of the distances you want to know. Golf GPS units can be a better option in many instances. There are of course applications for your smartphone but many people prefer a full featured standalone device.

On this page you can learn more about the advantages of a golf GPS unit and get tips for finding a good one.

Buying Tips

There are a variety of features and functions that one of these units can have. When shopping for one, you'll need to consider these various attributes to find the one that suits your needs:

  • The Display
    Some golf GPS units have a basic graycale display that shows the user distances, performing as a rangefinder. They provide the critical information about yardage needed to eliminate guessing and improve your game.

    Other devices provide maps which are displayed on a large screen. Some offer a color screen and more detail than others. Some may show yardages as well as hazards/obstacles, elevation changes, and so forth.

    You will want to consider screen size, resolution, and brightness. Adjustable brightness is sometimes an option and can help in viewing under various lighting conditions. Certainly, you will want to be able to view the screen easily in bright sunlight. Personal preference will determine what size screen is acceptable. Large is easier to view but it can also increase the overall size of the device and it's portability.
  • Size
    Look at the dimensions and weight of the device you're considering. If you want it to fit in your pocket, smaller is better. Of course, these devices can also be clipped to the belt or mounted to the golf cart. There are even some units that can be worn like a wrist watch. You can determine what mount options come with the device itself.
  • Durability
    A good golf GPS unit will be durable. It should be shockproof and able to withstand a drop of several feet without breaking. Ideally, it will also be waterproof as well.
  • Compatibility
    You'll want a device that will be compatible with your operating system in order to download course information and so forth.
  • Capacity and Map Availability
    You'll want to know how many courses the device can store, particularly if you travel. You'll want to know how many courses are available through the database and whether access to these course maps is free, a one time fee, or an ongoing fee.

  • Power
    Being battery powered devices, one concern is battery life. You don't want to have to worry about the battery failing in mid-round. Some of these devices have power saving features such as a screen that times out. Of course, one that allows you to adjust this timing is particularly convenient.

    You can also look at how long the manufacturer says the device will operate on a single charge. Longer is of course better.

    Certainly, having a battery that can be replaced is also important. Some allow you to replace the battery yourself, others require that you send the device in to have a new one installed. Some of these devices will also provide an indicator of battery and signal strength on the display.
  • Functions
    Some GPS golf units provide many more functions than others. Of course, price tends to climb as functions increase.

    For instance, a unit may not only tell you yardages between the pin and the hole and so forth, but also give you information about wind force, slope of the green, and obstacles. It may show you the entire fairway or allow you to zoom in for more detail. It may act as an electronic scorecard and may allow you to store your statistics and provide a game analysis. It may even provide the capability of comparing yourself with others.

    Some GPS golf units will automatically advance to the next hole and others require to to page through manually. Some may have a way of skipping holes and others require you to go through hole by hole. Other devices may allow you to do course editing and your own mapping.

    There are even some of these units that can perform other duties entirely such as acting as a music/video player or doubling as a vehicle navigator as well.


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    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Oh my gosh....this is going on my list for grandpa!! The man who has everything...i bet he doesn't have this! This is awesome!! Thanks! :)

    • profile image

      Jessica Manning 7 years ago

      I got one of those and it's improved my golf game quite a bit. Since I have a cover for my golf cart, I can leave the gps in the cart without it getting sun damaged for the next round.

    • Jacob Darkley profile image

      Jacob Darkley 7 years ago from California, USA

      I've thought about getting one of these to improve my golf game. Thanks for the information--this will really help me comparison shop!

    • TnFlash profile image

      TnFlash 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Great Hub! This is very useful information for us really bad golfers.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      An electronic range finder generally requires you to hold the device steady and have it in line of sight...the GPS golf units don't require this precision. The GPS units can also provide other information to assist you. (obstacles, slope, elevation, and so forth)

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 7 years ago

      Now this is truly ingenious and I wonder how does this compare to the golf course range finder?

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      This looks like a must have for golfers.