Want to know if that approach shot to the 18th green is an easy nine iron or a gutsy 48-degree wedge? As any golfer knows in this situation, a handful of yards could make the difference between a hard won fiver off your playing partner or their gloating throughout the nineteenth hole.
Once upon a time, this was a dilemma that could only be solved by employing a clued-up caddie sweating for tips. Now, a multitude of GPS devices and rangefinders can offer the same advice without the stifled giggles when you shank it onto the neighbouring fairway.
To help your decision, we have tested a number of devices which could help you actually play off the handicap you currently tell work colleagues you have.
And for information on when you can and cannot use the equipment listed here in tournaments, click here.
1. Bushnell Neo Ion Watch: £135, Complete Golfer
Simple, easy to use and trustworthy, this beauty from the market leader in golf tech is remarkably easy to read on the wrist and won’t affect the swing of anyone but the fussiest players. Its battery is long lasting and easily fulfils Bushnell’s promise of lasting three full rounds before it needs recharging. It not only offers the yardage to the pin, front and back of the green – it has the distance to up to four hazards on each hole. You can also use it to measure shot distances. This piece of tech is ideal for those who want reliable and quick results without spending hours sifting through a user manual.
2. Garmin Approach S20 Watch: £159.99, Decathlon
For those who love post-round analysis, this is a great option. By linking the device to a free app on your smartphone, you can record the distance of each shot ready for a locker room debrief – as well as gather information on the number of putts, greens and fairway hits. Not too big and with a look similar to the Apple watch, it passes muster off the course as a timekeeper while also recording your physical activity levels if you so wish.
3. SkyCaddie Touch GPS: £279, American Golf
If you struggle to visualise how a certain dog leg eighth plays out, this provides you with an accurate image of each hole including all hazards. You do have to pay a subscription to keep unlimited access to the company’s library of 34,000 different courses worldwide. As it is navigated using touch, the clumsy among you may find it a tad over sensitive to accidental touching. For the better golfers, using it may feel like cheating but for the rest of us, it’s a welcome assist.
4. Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt Laser Rangefinder: £269.99, Golf Online
This rangefinder is accurate to within a yard over a distance up to 1000 yards after you point and aim its laser. While it does not possess the slope technology of the dearer Tour X model (more information on that below), it allows its user to quickly zoom in and find the distance to any target on a course from a fairway bunker to the front lip of the green. It runs on batteries which is either a positive or negative depending on your relationship with chargers.
5. Izzo Golf Swami Sport GPS: £78.69, Amazon
This is the most affordable option on our list, but the Swami gives you all the essential yardage information (front, centre and back of green). It also has 30,000 pre-loaded golf courses mapped out, with no annual subscription fee. Small enough to fit in your pocket or be clipped to your bag with a carabineer, it also comes in a variety of snazzy colours. An excellent budget choice.
6. Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder: £399.99, Online Golf
From budget to the most expensive, the Tour X is big brother of the Tour V4. It’s heavier with a more visible LED display and more zoom. More importantly, however, it has slope technology which alters the yardage to allow golfers to compensate for gradient when making their club selection. Slope technology can be easily disabled if the owner wishes to use the rangefinder in a local tourney (rules applying that is).
7. Garmin Approach G10 GPS: £99.99, Decathlon
A semi-distant cousin of the S20 watch, the G10 clips to a belt or your bag offering all the standard information (green and hazard distances) along with the shape and layout of each green on more than 40,000 courses. The least obtrusive GPS device on the list, it gives its user all the information without making a statement. It’s easy to use and automatically changes hole with you.
The choice of which device to buy should depend on what you want from the device. Our pick of the bunch is the Bushnell Neo Ion Watch, which you can always rely on to simply and quickly give you the info you need.
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