Technology has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years. Golf has not been untouched by this tech boom. Golfers now have wearables, advanced data tracking, simulators for advanced training, and—probably the most accessible golf gadget—golf GPS systems.
Whether you’re a casual or a pro golfer, a golf GPS is a popular tool. You’ll see every other golfer using one on the course. Golf carts come with them built in. You can even download the best golf GPS apps onto your phone.
Wondering how they can help you improve your game? Are they as valuable as they seem, or are they just more a gimmick that everyone has… Because everyone else has one? Here’s what we think, plus the GPS systems we like.
How Can Using a Golf GPS System Improve Your Game?
A golf GPS is a little like a pocket caddie. It offers a ton of handy information that can truly help to improve your game… If you use it correctly. You can use it just for keeping an eye on your data, but the key is to really take that info and use it to your advantage. Here’s what a golf GPS can do for your game.
The course markers on golf courses are not always accurate. Which can make it a nightmare trying to accurately estimate your shot distance.
A golf GPS can make a huge difference here. Not only does it give it a more specific view of the distance you’ve covered during your round, but it also helps with our next point.
Better Club Selection
Many golfers—even those who have been playing for a while—struggle with club selection. Each club has a different “standard” distance that you can expect to reach when using it. The problem is twofold—inaccurate distance markers and poor estimation of distance from golfers. Which results in many players choosing the wrong club for each shot.
It can be easy to go wrong with this, because the club distances are quite close. Here’s what you can generally expect for each club. Keep in mind that it’ll be different for everyone, so these are simply ranges, but understanding these and having a GPS will make club selection vastly easier.
- Driver: Men 200 to 600 yards, women 150 to 200 yards
- 3-Wood: Men 180 to 235 yards, women 125 to 180 yards
- 5-Wood: Men 170 to 210 yards, women 105 to 170 yards
- 2-Iron: Men 170 to 210 yards, women 105 to 170 yards
- 3-Iron: Men 160 to 200 yards, women 100 to 160 yards
- 4-Iron: Men 150 to 185 yards, women 90 to 150 yards
- 5-Iron: Men 140 to 170 yards, women 80 to 140 yards
- 6-Iron: Men 130 to 160 yards, women 70 to 130 yards
- 7-Iron: Men 120 to 150 yards, women 65 to 120 yards
- 8-Iron: Men 110 to 140 yards, women 60 to 110 yards
- 9-Iron: Men 95 to 1340 yards, women 55 to 95 yards
- Pitching Wedge: Men 80 to 120 yards, women 50 to 80 yards
- Sand Wedge: Men 60 to 100 yards, women 40 to 60 yards
A golf GPS can also help you map out the course in your mind before you even hit a shot, helping you to know where the hazards are. You’ll still need to evade them when the time comes, but you’ll be able to get a good idea of how to play your game upfront.
The 5 Best Golf GPS Systems
Ready to kit yourself out with one of the best golf GPS systems? Here are the ones we highly recommend buying to boost your game.
Best Overall: Bushnell Phantom Golf GPS
This handy little golf GPS is easy to carry whether you’re using a cart or walking. It comes in 4 colors and features easy-to-press buttons, and it’s a nice size to put in a pocket. Plus, it comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Magnetic mount with increased surface area for better connection.
- Transflective display is visible even in bright sunlight.
- Up to 6 hazard/layup distances for each hole.
- Good green view with a movable pin for more accuracy.
- Play up to 4 rounds on a single charge.
- Loaded with more than 38,000 courses across the world.
Best Handheld: SkyCaddie SX500
The SkyCaddie is roughly the size of a smartphone, which makes it easy to hold and intuitive to use. Apparently, the company walks each golf course to verify their distances, which makes them one of the most accurate out there.
- 5.5″ LCD hi-def color touchscreen with excellent graphics.
- Comes preloaded with over 35,000 course maps, worldwide.
- Dynamic HoleVue™ and IntelliGreen® technology.
- Dynamic RangeVue™ with customizable club distances.
- Accurate shot tracking to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.
- Water-resistant and highly durable.
Best Golf GPS Watch: Garmin Approach S62
If you don’t want a whole separate device for your GPS, having a GPS built into your watch could be the best choice for you. The Garmin Approach S62 is a premium, full-color GPS watch aimed at golfers that also gives you all the usual features of a smartwatch.
- Up to 20 hours of use per charge in GPS mode.
- Virtual Caddie suggests a club based on distance and wind speed.
- Around 42,000 preloaded courses across the globe.
- PLAYLIKE adjustable distance feature.
- Accurate green views right on your wrist.
- Hazard view and PinPointer feature for blind shots.
- Detailed green contour data.
Best Voice GPS: GolfBuddy Voice 2 SE
If you like something with an audio distance prompt, we recommend the GolfBuddy Voice 2 SE. You can check the data on the screen, but it’ll also give you audio information so you don’t need to get distracted from your game.
- Automatic course recognition for over 40,000 courses.
- Multilingual and male/female voice, up to 11 languages.
- Up to 20 hours of battery life per charge.
- Weighs just over an ounce.
- Simple and easy to use.
Best Phone GPS with Club Tracking: Arccos Caddie Smart Sensors
The Arccos Caddie app with club sensors is a phenomenal technological system that’s much more than just a GPS. If you want the most accurate data on your shot distance so you can make better club selection decisions, this is something worth investing in. Keep in mind that it’s a paid subscription.
- 14 super-light, low-profile sensors—one for each club.
- A.I. machine learning for accurate shot tracking.
- Available on both iOs and Android smartphones.
- A.I-powered rangefinder for spot-on distances.
- First year’s membership to Arccos Caddie app for free.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.