Upgrading your golfing game isn't just about time at the range or on the course, or about splashing cash on new clubs – it's about trying new things too.
Golf watches and activity-tracking devices are now an affordable option for even the amateur golfer, and they're better than ever too.
There are loads of different devices on the market with beginner watches all the way through to tech for professionals who want to improve the minor faults in their game.
Get your distance to the green, have your hardware track your shots and even improve your swing – tech is here to improve your game, and these are the best golf watches we've seen.
Best golf watch at a glance
- Hole 19 + Apple Watch/Wear OS
- Bushell Excel GPS
- Garmin Approach S20
- Garmin Approach X40
- Golf Buddy WTX
- Callaway GPSy Sport Watch
- SkyCaddie Linx GT
- Garmin Approach S60
Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
If you’re anything like us, you’re rapidly approaching a shoebox full of wearables and would rather not add another. Hole 19 is a free app for Apple Watch and Wear OS that replicates many of the features you’ll find on dedicated trackers and does so with a super-slick, easy to use wrist-based interface.
It leverages the built-in GPS (Apple Watch Series 2 and up as well as a variety of Wear OS watches) to track distances off the tee and to the pin without whipping out your phone.
You can also add your strokes, putts and fairways made and sync it back to the companion smartphone app. The mobile app offers flyover views of holes, a full digital scorecard and the ability to book a round on your favorite course.
The Bushell Excel GPS is an attractive watch golf fans will have no qualms about wearing once the round is over. It brings everything you’d expect in terms of shot measurements and distances to the hole as well as the distinguishing between the various hazards you’re likely to encounter during your round.
It’s more of a traditional watch as the UI is button-controlled rather than touchscreen while, in GPS mode, it promises three full rounds between charges.
A couple of the more ambitious features like Swing Pro, which aims to track the speed at various points in your swing, needs work, but overall this is an excellent GPS golf watch.
The Garmin S20 watch offers a larger display than the X40 that you're about to learn about in this list as well as longer battery life (15 hours in GPS mode). It also features the same frequently-updated course database, GPS shot tracking, activity tracking, a digital scorecard and smart notifications capabilities.
It includes hazard information, green details and AutoShot tracking for tee and fairway shots, and is also much cheaper than the Garmin X40, so what’s not to love?
Well this model lacks a heart-rate sensor and it’s not really something you’ll want to wear as a fashion statement away from the golf course.
Powerful activity tracker meets all-knowing caddy with Garmin’s exceptional X40. It has a heart rate sensor, so you can monitor your pulse under pressure, and a step/distance/calorie tracker so you can quantifiably justify playing golf four times a week, because it’s exercise.
It’s pre-loaded with 40,000 golf courses worldwide and the GPS will give you a precise distance to the front/pin/back of the green. It’ll even automatically track your drives and iron shots, allowing you to track performance over time.
Despite the slim display it’ll deliver green shape and layout data, allowing you to perfectly plan your approach. Everything is synced back to the powerful Garmin Connect Golf app via Bluetooth.
With a highly visible, raise-to-wake colour screen, powerful GPS, an intuitive interface, distance and hazard tracking and flyover views of each hole on 38,00 courses, the Golf Buddy WTX ticks a lot of boxes (or sinks a lot of putts) for tech-savvy golfers.
However, where it really racks up the extra yardage is the dynamic green view. This feature allows you to plan your pitch from the angle of approach shot.
There’s also GPS course and hole recognition and the watch will move to the next hole automatically. Syncing with the Golf Buddy app will bring you all of the course updates you need.
A premium golf brand, Callaway's GPSy Sport Watch is packed with features.
The 30,000 courses, which this watch can auto-recognize, are tracked as you play, meaning access to green lay-up and carry distances, as well as hazards and dog-legs.
It will also auto score and track your steps as well. The battery should last between 10 and 12 hours in GPS mode, placing it near the top of the longevity pile.
The SkyCaddie Linx GT is one of a kind in that it's not just a wearable, but part of a package.
Combined with an app and a club sensor, the Linx GT does more than just measure shots using GPS, as it can analyze each swing very accurately to offer improvement tips too.
The company claims the watch's GPS increases accuracy over apps by up to 300%, while saving your phone's battery too. The readout on the display will show yardage on the watch, or you can get out your phone for a more detailed course map and shot analysis.
And it's not limited to golf, with step, distance and calorie tracking enabling it to double up as a basic fitness tracker.
Although not as feature-packed or expensive as the multi-sport Garmin Fenix 6, the Garmin Approach S60 is the company’s flagship golfing watch, combining a stylish build with a 1.2-inch 240 x 240 color screen and loads of features.
There are over 40,000 courses preloaded, complete with information like precise yardages to greens, hazards and doglegs.
The Approach S60 will also automatically record the location and distance of each shot, while its PlaysLike feature allows the S60 to take elevation changes between the player and target into account and calculate what the distance will play like.
There’s also SwingTempo and TempoTraining to help you improve your swing, and of course the Approach S60 works with the Garmin Connect and Garmin Golf apps, syncing your data and letting you compete with friends.
All that and it will also work as a general activity tracker, tracking steps, calories burned, distance and sleep, providing you with alerts when you haven’t moved enough and even showing smartphone notifications. Plus, it’s waterproof to 5 meters and its battery will last up to 10 hours in golf mode.
- Don't need it to be ready for golf? These are the best smartwatches available