Investing in a golf GPS watch or a swing analyser is a great way to slash shots off your handicap, and we couldn't imagine going back to guessing which club to hit without the data to back it up.
Wearables and golfers have long been bedfellows, and for those desperate to shave a few digits off their handicap can really find benefits through technology. Using a GPS watch can help golfers make better decisions, and the price of technology has plummeted in the last year, making the tech affordable for everyone.
Essential reading: Check out our real-world big test of top-golf tech
It's not just GPS watches and glorified range-finders either. Systems like GameGolf and Zepp are helping golfers get more out of their practice time, and both systems promise* to offer unprecedented insights into your game – and most importantly, actionable information to become a better golfer.
*Miracles not guaranteed.
Garmin Approach S20
Designed to be worn away from the golf course, as well as providing GPS distances on it, the Approach S20 offers fitness tracking and smartwatch notifications. On the golf course, there's support for 40,000 worldwide courses with distances to front, middle and back displayed next to a map of each green.
You can call up hazard and lay-up distances for any hole through the context menu, keep score on the watch using a super nifty tracker, and the watch claims to record every shot you take on the course – although we found that hit and miss to say the least. You'll get two big rounds of golf from the battery – and up to 8 weeks as a standard smartwatch.
Check out our full Garmin Approach S20 review for more details.
Garmin Approach X40
OK – there's a lot of Garmins on this list, but the company is turning out golf wearables at a rate of knots, and they're very different. The X40 band is kind of aimed at female players, but it also features dedicated GPS run tracking and heart rate data.
While it's no Garmin Approach S6 in terms of golfing details, you still get 35,000 courses, pin position details, shot detection, hazards, shot measuring, smartphone notifications, fitness tracking and 24/7 heart rate.
Taking the fight to GameGolf is the impressive Arccos Golf package, which uses club-top receivers to track every shot on the course. Unlike its big rival, however, you don't need to physically tap before taking every shot, with shots automatically detected by your smartphone. In return you get handicaps derived from each aspect of your game, showing you where you can pick up shots, as well as average distances for every club.
It's not perfect, not every shot is recognised, but it blends into the background allowing you to get back into your game. Arccos is currently being tested at Wareable and the full review will follow.
The original TomTom Golfer was one of our favourite GPS golf watches, thanks to its packed suite of features and great value. There's no colour display but the 168 x 144 monochrome screen offers course graphics and a green view mode for checking out the position of the flag. It also offers score recording, distance measuring and the calories you've burned during your round.
With a 10 hour battery life, the TomTom Golfer should have enough power for a society day 36 hole competition and if it rains, no worries – the Golfer is 5ATM water resistant.
Now the company is back with the TomTom Golfer 2. However, we've had issues with the Golfer 2's shot recognition, which detracts from an otherwise brilliant watch. Want our advice? Pick up the original Golfer for a cut price on Amazon.
Essential reading: Check out our full TomTom Golfer review
Game Golf LIVE
Another wearable analyser, GameGolf is brimming with professional endorsements with Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and some bloke called Barack Obama all using it. If that wasn't enough, GameGolf even boasts design by Yves Behar, the creative director of Jawbone.
GameGolf comes in two parts, a wearable sensor which mounts on your belt, and a series of sensors that mount onto the top of your club. When you're about to play a shot just touch the club element to the sensor, and play your shot. When you get home Game Golf shows every shot and the success rates in each part of your game, so you can identify the areas your need to work on.
The first update – Game Golf LIVE – has just been released, which adds real-time shot tracking so it becomes more useful out on the round. It connects to a smartphone app so you can get yardages to the pin while you're stood over the ball – which increases Game Golf's usefulness on the course.
Zepp 2 golf sensor
Zepp 2 is a clip-on device that attaches to your glove when you're on the course or hitting on the range. The array of sensors notes everything from the speed of your hands to the tempo of your forward and backswing, before showing your data in the app which flashes up in less than a second after you've hit the ball.
You can then review the data, look at visual charts of your shots, and even compare them to professional's swings to see where you're going wrong. There are also heaps of tuition videos from pros tailored to the area of your swing you're struggling with.
When paired with a smartphone, the app will even use the built-in accelerometer to track hip movements: a crucial element of a consistent swing and the Achilles heel of many a weekend golfer.
Excitingly, the CEO of Zepp, Jason Fass, revealed to Wareable that the company will have its technology built into clubs in 2016.
Check out our full Zepp Golf review for our take.
We haven't tested the TruSwing yet so this all comes with a big caveat, but we felt it would be remiss of us not to mention Garmin's new swing analyser. The TruSwing clips to the club and communicates with its range of golf watches to offer feedback on your swing. What's more, you can look at a 3D map of your technique in the Garmin Connect app. We'll be testing it fully in the coming weeks.
Microsoft Band 2
Microsoft's original GPS wristband enjoyed a golfing update, in partnership with equipment giant TaylorMade – and the sport now has pride of place on the follow-up wearable, too. Just sync your local course to the Health app and you can get yardages to the front, centre and back of the green – just like any GPS golf watch.
The Microsoft Band 2 will also keep your score as you go along, and the band can even differentiate between a practice swing and a proper shot, and you can override the scoring if you need to as well. At the end you get a scorecard that blends calories burned and heart rate data. It also works with TaylorMade's myRoundpro platform for detailed maps of your shots and an analysis on your performance.
For those looking for some extra help on the course without breaking the bank, the SkyCaddie SW2 GPS Watch is a surprisingly powerful golf watch. As well as coming pre-loaded with data on 35,000 courses, it can also act as a smartwatch displaying calls and messages and works as an activity tracker to boot.
OK so it's not a wearable, but Hole 19 has become a staple of the Wareable golf line-up. Firstly, it turns your Apple Watch or Android Wear device into a GPS golf watch by piggy-backing off your smartphone. Secondly, it's an awesome golf community where you can post photos of your rounds and add your regular playing buddies and keep track of how they're doing.
Free, iOS/Android, hole19golf.com
Garmin Approach S6
OK it's a double header for Garmin, but the Approach S6 is the daddy of golf watches. The Garmin Approach S6 has built-in mapping for 40,000 international courses, and will display yardage to the pin and a top-down view of the hole on its colour screen.
In a new addition, the S6 will also provide information on your swing, helping you to achieve a more consistent performance, and Garmin Connect, which is one of the best platforms for running stats analysis.
The only problem is that you'll need to spend the equivalent of a top-end driver on a device that tells you how far to hit one.
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