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Golf GPS Watch vs Handheld

Best Golf GPS units

So let’s say you want a golf GPS device, whether a watch, rangefinder, phone or tablet app, that can help you determine distances and improve your golf game. How do you decide whether to invest in a watch or handheld device?

The pros and cons of each are extensive, so let’s spend a little time examining the argument for each.

First, which device—a GPS watch or a handheld golf GPS rangefinder—is more convenient. As smartwatches continue to improve, the truth is that the tech in a good golf GPS watch is often not much different from a handheld device, as each offer many of the same features. Both can help you become better golfers as a result, especially as they can help train you to better naturally gauge distance.

The bigger question might be how you feel about the extra weight of a watch on your wrist as you swing. Many golfers don’t mind, but some do. Ultimately, though, when it comes to the convenience it’s far easier to forget a rangefinder in the car than a smartwatch that you might well already be wearing.

Battery life is also a consideration. While many smartwatches need to be charged after every four to eight hours of heavy use, especially if you’re using more battery-intensive features, many handheld devices may offer a battery life of us to several months (or longer if you don’t use them as frequently).

Price is also likely a consideration. Smartwatches designed for golf can easily run hundreds of dollars. Handheld devices can start at under a hundred, even though some of the best can still run a few hundred dollars. (A big part of that is the smaller size of the golf GPS watch; you pay more as a result.)

Memory or storage space may be a consideration if you play more than a few courses or travel extensively. While most devices can store thousands of courses, not all devices are created equally when it comes to downloading maps for overseas courses, for instance, if you travel widely. This problem extends to both handheld golf GPS devices and smartwatches, however.

Similarly, service fees for both types of rangefinders (as well as the cost to download more courses) are often comparable.

Extra features likewise vary, and whether you prefer a handheld device or a golf GPS watch may well come down to those extra features. Some handheld devices include slope and far better laser technology than any watch, but some of those extra features may also make them illegal for tournament play. GPS watches, however, may include other fitness tracking features that you can use for more than just golf, and Bluetooth accessibility means you can get texts and calls and calendar updates, too.

So whether to go with the handheld device or a golf GPS watch can be a question that comes down to the individual user. If you just want golf applications, you may be better off with a handheld device, but if you want to be able to use your watch for tracking fitness measurements, you may prefer a watch.

For serious golfers, handheld rangefinders are often a better purchase, but for golfers who simply see golf as part of the rest of their life, watches may be a better choice

Best Handheld Golf GPS 2019

So what if you decide that a handheld golf GPS device is the way you’re going to best improve your game? With as many options as there are on the market today, how do you know what the best choice is?

We’re here to present some of our favorite options, so you can best determine what fits your needs and budget.

Check out our 5 best golf GPS devices.

Top 5 Golf GPS Devices

1. Garmin Approach G8 Golf Course GPS. A full-color handheld GPS device, the roughly four-inch-by-two-inch Garmen Approach G8 Golf Course GPS does everything you need to do without overly complicating its use. In fact, despite the beauty of its maps and functions, it only needs two buttons! Automatic updates, game memory (it saves your previous games), smartphone notifications, and more make this our top choice.