The Ultimate Guide to Golf GPS DevicesPublished on 06/16/2023 · 6 min readLooking for the best way to get your yardages? Golf Expert Jorge Arteta details his top 5 picks for the best GPS devices you should consider.
Photo by Pebble Technology
My golf game changed when I bought my first golf rangefinder. I've been improving since that day. As a teaching golf professional, I share with my students that knowledge is power. GPS devices can give you everything you need to know. We’re going to look at some of the best handheld devices, not an app for the cell phone. These are separate units that are made to maximize your golf game. They can do a lot, except swing the club for you.
Today’s golfers enjoy video games. However, the best golf GPS devices or handheld GPS devices are like watching one. They might show hazards, golf courses, yardage, shot-by-shot, scorecards, tempo, accuracy, strokes, stats, putts, back of the green, green distance, the pin, fairways, shot distance, green in regulation, launch, launch angle, exact yardage, and layup distances.
Another beneficial feature is the number of courses available to download. Thousands of courses are available on many handheld golf GPS devices.
Some devices have a compact touchscreen that displays accurate yardage and big numbers mode (technology that increases font size). These devices can be a virtual caddie, a heart rate monitor, and become a digital scorecard. They can be mounted on a golf cart or a golf bag. Golf GPS units have lots of storage and usually have 10-15 hours of battery life.
Are you ready to go high-tech and include some knowledge in your game? It's the next best thing to having your own caddie. Once you learn to trust the information, it’ll be a challenge to play without it. While it won’t increase your pace of play, it will make you a more efficient golfer once you know how to use the information.
Which device can help you get that tap-in putt? Let's take a look at the five best golf GPS devices:
1. SkyCaddie SX550 GPS
Let’s start with what many consider to be the best handheld GPS device, the SkyCaddie SX550. It’s built like a phone with a protective case, and it is water resistant, not fully waterproof, but it’ll get the job done in the rain. What I like most about it is how it fits in my hand. The SkyCaddie is similar in size to a cell phone. It’s comfortable, and the rubber backing is easy to hold. I like having a separate device to play with instead of using a cell phone. I think there are too many distractions when using the phone with a golf app.
The numbers' display and the hole layouts are second to none. The 5.5” color touchscreen is tremendous and easy to read. The Intelligreen technology is very useful for putting. It provides putting information from where you stand; it’s pretty cool. The 35,000 plus available courses have been personally walked by a SkyCaddie staff member, giving you very detailed information about your course. There are several membership plans to choose from that offer various features and prices.
2. Garmin Approach G80 GPS
The Garmin Approach G80 GPS handheld device is a nice option to consider. It has a smaller screen at 3.5”, which might be what some golfers desire. In addition, it offers more than 41,000 courses worldwide and 15 hours of battery life on one charge.
There are a few other features that can be helpful to the golfer that is looking to improve their game. I like the easy-to-read screen, even in the sun. I especially like the launch monitor mode for driving range days. Practice mode, virtual rounds, and tempo training make this fun for a teaching pro like me to use with a student. It’s in the upper price range, but you get a lot for your dollar.
The SkyCaddie SX400 is for those that want a smaller version of the SkyCaddie SX550. The touchscreen is 4” and is more compact. It fits easier in a pocket. It is water resistant, has a bright display, has over 35,000 available courses, and has the Dynamic Holevue technology to see the hole from the golfer's point of view.
I really like the size and how easy it is to use and store. Whether you place it in your pocket or the golf cart, this is an attractive size for golfers who want to get a few numbers and move on. I don’t need to analyze everything data point on the screen. Instead, I will usually use certain key measurements and hit the shot. For $100 less than the big brother SX550, this just might be what you need to get your golf game going without hurting the wallet.
The Garmin Approach G30 is a handheld device with a smaller 2.3” color touchscreen loaded with over 41,000 courses worldwide. You can set pin placements manually for the day, which is a nice feature. Also, once you finish the hole, you can record it in the available digital scorecard and track stats, which is great to share with a coach to help improve your game.
There are 15 hours of battery life, which is a long time between charges. There is also a Garmin app membership available that provides a lot of features and measurements. For example, Garmin’s Green Contour Data tells you which way the slope is going for your putts. You can turn it off for legal tournament play.
I like the smaller size and the numbers' clarity on display. If a golfer wants quick and easy access to course layout and information, this should be a serious contender for your dollar.
This is simple to use and has easy-to-read big numbers. The Bushnell Phantom 2 is a GPS unit with a magnet on the back to use on the golf cart or keep in your pocket with its compact size. It gives you the numbers quickly.
As a golf professional, I love that the Bushnell Phantom 2 gives you the yardage to the middle of the green in a big font. I tell many of my students to just aim for the middle of the green. Most amateur golfers can hit two putts around the green from the middle of the green, no matter where the flag is. Aiming to the middle of the green will help lower your scores.
It’s available in four colors: black, orange, white camo, and blue. The Bushnell also comes with GreenView, allowing the golfer to set the pin placement manually. With over 38,000 courses available worldwide, this GPS device will be ready to go wherever you travel.
There are many handheld devices for golf, and more are coming in the future. As a mini-tour player, I compare these devices with my rangefinder. While I appreciate the technology and all the information available at my fingertips, I prefer the rangefinder that gives me exact yardage, and that’s how I like to play.
I can see why these devices are so popular with the weekend warrior golfer. You’re getting everything you need to make the shot as easy as possible. We looked at five very good GPS devices. They all provide multiple options to the golfer. A larger screen or a small screen is a personal choice. All of these will assist and improve your golf game. They come in all shapes and sizes and prices for your wallet.
Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated for free, personalized advice on what would work best for your game. Learn how to use the information, and we’ll see you on the course. Remember to have fun and smile. You’re golfing!