Garmin has been the leader in the golf GPS watch market for years. They have continuously enhanced the “in watch” functionality of their product line while maintaining multiple value and feature price points. While the product line continues to evolve, Garmin has two current models that we would recommend based on price and features. The Garmin Approach S20 and Approach S60 both offer:
- Over 41,000 pre-loaded courses
- Sunlight readable faces with the S60 being color and the S20 being monochromatic
- Accurate readings of the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green
- Yardage to layups and doglegs
- Activity tracking such as step counting, distance traveled, and calories burned
- Both are smartphone compatible for additional functionality
But there are significant capability differences between these two watches. Check out some of the main features below:
Garmin Approach S20: The S20 is a step above Garmin’s base S10 model and offers many of the advanced golf features found in Garmin’s most expensive golf GPS watches. In terms of its main features, the Approach S20:
- It offers a great value! For the level of technology, the G20 has a great price
- Provides a .9 x .9 inch, rounded rectangular face
- A green view display, showing the shape and layout of the green
- Measures and auto-records shot distances
- Has an extended battery life: up to 15 hours in GPS mode; up to 8 weeks in activity tracking mode
- Green view with manual pin positions
Garmin Approach S60: The S60 is an evolutionary leap beyond Garmin’s early models. While offering the functionality of prior generations, the S60 offers enhancements in its golf functionality but also as an activity and exercise tracker. The Approach S60 Offers:
- A large, 1.2″ sunlight-readable color display. It is a touchscreen display with 240 * 240 pixels (nearly twice as many as the S20)
- Precise yardages to greens, hazards, and doglegs, on full-color course maps
- Distance calculation to any point on the hole by touching the screen
- Ability to track your swing tempo enabling tempo training
- Up to 10 hours of battery life while golfing — or up to 10 days in watch mode
- In terms of “Smart” capabilities, you can see the weather, your calendar, control your smartphone music, among other functionality
- As a physical training aid, the watch has heart rate tracking and has enhanced GPS, timing, and profile functionality for running, cycling, swimming, skiing, and more.
Summary: Why Buy a Garmin GPS Golf Watch? Garmin is the longstanding leader in golf GPS technology. Its watches cover over 41,000 courses worldwide and are accurate within feet on any of the courses offered. With Garmin, a golfer has a relatively wide range of price points and features to fit any serious golfer’s needs. There is nothing easier than putting a Garmin on, selecting your course, and immediately knowing your distances to target on a course.
Pros and Cons of the Garmin Golf GPS Watch
- No technology is more accessible than an on-your-wrist GPS
- The leader in GPS technology and mapping gives highly accurate distances
- No ongoing subscription costs or fees
- No/low glare screens even in bright light
- The product line offers a progression of function and price. Buy only what you need
- Stylish design
- When on, the notification function can be a bit of an annoyance
- Stat tracking is a little cumbersome
- Some reviewers feel the S60 has too many features of limited value
We would not go to a course without wearing a Garmin Golf GPS watch!
Frequently Asked Questions:
DO GARMIN WATCHES REQUIRE A SIM WITH A SERVICE PROVIDER FOR THE GPS TO WORK?
No Garmin GPS Golf Watches are just charge and go. You do not need a service provider.
IF YOU DON’T START ON HOLE 1, CAN YOU EASILY ADJUST THE WATCH TO YOUR STARTING HOLE?
It is very easy to adjust the S20 or S60 to your starting hole. Just flip through to the hole you started on.
CAN YOU MAKE CALLS AND TEXTS WITH THE GARMIN GOLF watch?
No, you cannot initiate or interact with calls and texts. But the Garmin watch will notify you of an incoming call and will show you part of the text coming in.
DOES THE S60 ALLOW YOU TO MEASURE THE DISTANCE TO A SPOT ON THE COURSE? FOR INSTANCE, CAN YOU DETERMINE THE DISTANCE TO THE FRONT OF THE WATER?
Yes, on the Garmin S60, you can tap on the desired area on the touch screen watch face, and it will show distance.
ARE THE GARMIN S20 AND S60 GPS GOLF WATCHES WATERPROOF?
Garmin claims a 5 ATM rating suitable for splashes, rain or snow, showering, swimming, diving into the water, and snorkeling. Garmin lists unsuitable activities such as scuba diving and high-speed watersports.
A 5 ATM rating is equivalent to a depth of 50 meters or 165 feet.
DO THESE WATCHES HAVE A HEART MONITOR?
There is no heart rate monitor on the S20 or S60.
IS THE YARDAGE INDICATOR ON THE GARMIN WATCH THE DISTANCE TO THE PIN OR IS IT TO THE CENTER OF THE GREEN?
Both watches give the distance to the front, center, and back of the green.
The S60 watch allows you to ‘move’ the pin to get a more accurate distance to a specified spot.
For folks who want an even more robust golf performance analysis system check out our review of Arccos Golf Caddie.