Have you ever spent rounds familiarising yourself with a new golf course? With a golf watch on your wrist, you could take on courses you've never played before, with unruffled confidence.
These smartwatch variants use GPS (Global Positioning System), or similar satellites, to create a map of the turf you're on. It's no wonder then that several pro golfers make use of the device to keep track of their scores and yardages, at a glance. Whether you're an amateur or a serious player, a golf watch can help you strategise a winning game.
What does a golf watch track?
Golf watches are not too different from a smartwatch. Iain Witherspoon, a PGA-certified (Professional Golfers Association) golf coach at Topgolf Dubai, informs us that they tell the time, track steps and display statistics on the watch face.
"Golf watches can be used for everyday use, but they also show you a picture of the hole you're playing with certain yardages, using GPS. The watch tells you how far away you are from the hole, when you're at the tee. It also pinpoints any water hazards and bunkers on the course, and your distance from them," said Witherspoon, adding that having a clear of idea of these penalising obstacles makes it easier for the golfer to navigate the next shot.
If you're playing a new course whilst on holiday, the watch can help you master an unfamiliar turf. Richard Dunsby, founder and head PGA professional at Optimal Golf Performance UAE, Dubai, said: "I went to a golf course abroad just last week, and I had never played there before. We didn't get a guide or a course planner, but the watch helped with tracking the hazards from the tee."
How will a golf watch help me?
As a golf instructor, Dunsby stresses how instrumental it is to know your distances to lower your score or the shots taken. "There's a strategy to golf - the more information you have, the better. For instance, knowing how far each club can go will make it easier to take a shot, rather than just guessing," he explained.
Once the golf watch crunches all the numbers for you, usually through a smartphone app, the reports can become a reference point for improvement. "You could also have a coach review the statistics, who will then put a programme in place to work on your game and reduce your strokes on the course," said Dunsby.
The watches come preloaded with thousands of golf courses from the world over. If you still can't find yours, Witherspoon advises downloading the missing course from the manufacturer's website.
Both golf experts pick Garmin as the best golf watch brand to look for. We list their reasons below, along with other highly rated devices loved by golfers on Amazon. Order your new golf gadget with Prime to get free same- or next-day delivery.
1. Best Overall: Garmin Approach S12 GPS Golf Watch, 2022 Edition, Tidal Blue
- Accurate distance from front, back and centre to the green
- 30-hour battery life with GPS
- Good sun readability
- Keeps score for you
- Doesn't have colour display
This smart wristwatch by Garmin looks like a regular timepiece but is tailored to every golfer's needs. Witherspoon uses a Garmin GPS golf watch to check the distance to the front, back and centre of the green, and calls it a handy gadget. "It's an everyday watch, so it doesn't look strange on the wrist," added Witherspoon. Garmin is quite well-known when it comes to golf tech, says Dunsby. There are more than 42,000 maps of golf courses preloaded on the Approach S12. Each map gives you distances to hazards and bunkers, as well. The clear display shines brightly under the sun for guaranteed legibility. You don't have to keep score, because the watch does it for you, and it provides a battery life of 30 hours, even in GPS mode. Reviewers say it's saved them unnecessary shots since the watch updates the distance to the green instantly. They're satisfied with the long-lasting battery, too.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh59.50 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best for Colour Screen: Garmin Approach S60 GPS Golf Watch
- Clear colour display of the pin, green, hazards and the fairway
- Tap any object to measure distance
- Includes other activities besides golf
- Keeps score
- Shorter battery life than the Approach S12
Shell out a bit more, and you can get yourself a 1.2-inch colour touchscreen display on the Garmin Approach S60. As with the S12 model, the watch comes with more than 41,000 golf courses around the world. With colourful intuitive maps, you'll be able to read the display faster, and with touch targeting, pick an obstacle or the fairway to measure the exact distance. This version of Approach GPS golf watch only offers up to 10 hours of battery. You can also track your cycling, swimming, running and more, from the preloaded activities. Reviewers say it displays accurate yardage and helps them spot blind holes. They do find the battery life slightly disappointing, but they say it lasts them one to two complete rounds.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh125.98 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best for Performance Tracking: Shot Scope V3 GPS Golf Watch
- Tracks your shots using club tags (included)
- Measures distance to the front, back and centre of the green
- Tracks bunkers and water hazards
- Mobile app prepares detailed reports
- Band is uncomfortable for some
The Shot Scope V3 not only measures your distance to the front, back and centre of the green, but it also tracks all your shots. Screw the included 16 Club Identification tags into the end of every club before playing, for the watch to measure your shots automatically. The square colour display doesn't draw full maps like the Garmin Approach S60, however, it still pinpoints the distance to any bunker and water hazards. It carries about 36,000 golf courses worldwide, with free updates. The V3 lasts for 10 hours on the turf, which is sufficient for two rounds. Reviewers say they've made good use of the tracking tags to record their statistics in the app. Thanks to the watch, they've been able to figure out which club works the best for certain shots.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh53.16 for 12 months with select banks.
4. Best for Course Layout: GolfBuddy Aim W11 Golf Watch With GPS
- Large 1.3-inch colour touchscreen
- Rainproof IPX7 rating
- Measures distances to the green, target and hazards
- Tracks the distance of shots taken
- Has a hole layout for easy assessing
- Battery is shorter than stated
- Takes a while to update readings
Another colour display to consider is GolfBuddy's Aim W11 GSP golf watch. Its 1.3-inch touchscreen shows you the distance to the green and nearby hazards, much like its competitors. For a bird's eye view, you can switch to the hole layout to get a map of the pin, green, hazards and the fairway. The green view gives you a closer perspective of the pin. It automatically recognises your course from the 40,000 in its catalogue. Get up to 10 hours of playtime on a single charge, but reviewers point out that this number can be lower. Others say that the accurate distances helped them achieve their personal best.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh78.57 for 12 months with select banks.
5. Best Budget: TecTecTec ULT-G Golf GPS Watch
- Value for money
- Straightforward display with tactile navigation buttons
- Measures the distances to the green, hazards and shots taken
- Comfortable and lightweight at 181 grams
- Charging mechanism needs extra care
If on a budget, try the ULT-G golf watch by TecTecTec. It's a no-nonsense, durable wristwatch with a monochrome LCD display. Without the use of colourful maps, the watch brings you information from 38,000 courses around the world. Tactile buttons on the side of the watch face are enough to navigate the screen. You get the distances to the green and hazards, with automatic course recognition, which can be triggered from the dedicated satellite button on the watch. According to the manufacturer, a full charge should last you two rounds and a half. Golfers leave rave reviews, saying that it works as well as its pricier counterparts. The ULT-G takes it a step further by measuring shot distances, too. Reviewers add that it's so comfortable that they even forget they have the watch on.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
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