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If you play golf, then you probably have an idea on how vast a single golf course can get. Depending on the course, the challenges of the game can also vary. Some will have numerous hazard zones, while others have plenty of slopes and small hills. One of the best ways to navigate through all these obstacles is by using a golf GPS.

Ever since the GPS (global positioning system) technology was made available to the masses, many sports, like golf, have also started utilizing the same innovation for navigational purposes. While there are several forms of golf GPS devices, this article will mainly focus on the handheld GPS units.

Garmin Approach G6 Golf GPS Handheld Touchscreen Golf CourseWhat is a golf GPS handheld device?

Just as its name suggests, a golf GPS handheld is a tracking device that uses the global positional system technology, and is compressed in a portable design. In contrast to golf GPS watches that can simply wrap around your wrist, handheld GPS are mostly carried in your pocket, your golf bag or golf cart.

What is its purpose?

This gadget will help you navigate through the expansive golf courses. Normally, directing a player is a job for a caddy. But not all players can afford such companion, so unless you are a sponsored professional or have the money for it, a GPS device is your best alternative at maneuvering the course effectively.

When is it viable?

The short answer to this question is: in every game of golf.

The R&A, which is a worldwide deciding body for anything related to golf, has approved the use of GPS devices in the sport. However, not all golf clubs allow the use of such devices, so it pays to personally ask the organization you belong and clear up any lingering doubts you have.

What is GPS?

GPS is a technology that uses satellite signals to pin point your current position on the globe. Unlike traditional compasses or radars, GPS tends to display a more detailed map of your location, which results in accurate readings.

What are the types of golf GPS devices?

You can find golf GPS devices in several appearance. This can range from a dedicated golf GPS handheld, golf GPS watches, to smartphone integration, etc. These different golf GPS devices have their own advantages, but for the most part, they all meet the standards. A golf GPS device is not the same as a golf rangefinder. A golf GPS device will provide you information on pre-recorded hazards and green positions, and with a golf rangefinder, you’ll have to ‘shoot’ the targets yourself.

To give you a better idea about each of these GPS golf device builds, here’s a list of some of the common ones currently available in the market:

  • Golf GPS handheld

IZZO Swami 4000+ Golf GPS Handheld - in handThese are perhaps the most basic form of handheld GPS devices made for golf. They are gadgets dedicated mainly for displaying all the pertinent information you need to navigate a golf course. They are also designed to easily fit into your pocket and rest on your palm.

The simpler builds of this sort will provide you with information like distances to the green, or the overall measurement to the front, center, and back, of the green, in yard unit. However, there’re also other variations that offers additional features to further improve your course management.

With these devices, the measurement of hazards on each hole will also be displayed for your convenience, but the number of it well depend on the brand. Furthermore, some brands can also store more golf courses than the others, so if you play on different fields or if you travel a lot, then you should get the ones that can store the most course.

Aside from assisting you in direction finding, these devices can also help improve your overall performance by keeping a record of your games. This record includes data like fairway hits, sand saves, and driving distances, among others. In keeping track of these relevant information you’ll be able to come up with statistics, which will serve as your point of reference for future games.

Golf is an outdoor sport, therefore it is also susceptible to weather changes. To avoid any issues while using these items out on the open, you need to check if the device you are considering to buy has any features to combat environmental elements, like waterproofing or anti-glare.

  • Golf GPS watches

GolfBuddy WT5 Golf GPS Watch - large display for easy viewingThe golf GPS watches are similar to the golf GPS handheld devices but are a lot smaller and lighter. The golf watches look just like an ordinary watch but have the additional features of providing golf course related information.

Most golf GPS watches give you the distance to the front, center and backside of the green, distances to nearby hazards (some display a reduced amount of hazards and some display all nearby hazards). The more intelligent golf GPS watches also have a build-in scorecard, automatic hole forward and give you advice on which golf club to use (predicted on your previous recorded golf swings).

  • Golf GPS software or apps

Golf App for smartphoneYour smartphone can actually turn into a golf-intended GPS device. Compared to a dedicated golf GPS handheld, your smartphone can offer more utility and other features that can work concurrently with its GPS function.

To use the GPS capability of your phone in golf, you first need to download a golf app from your phone’s respective app store. These applications also come at a price, but compared to dedicated GPS devices, they are cheaper. Plus, their interface are more interactive and easy to discern.

A disadvantage of using your smartphone as a golf device, is that these features will drain the battery fast, so if your smartphone doesn’t have that big of a battery, you can’t expect it to last beyond (or even) one round.

There are still other factors that can help you narrow down your list for potential golf GPS handhelds. But just remember, you should get a handheld GPS model that agrees most to your current needs based on your how many rounds you usually play, your frequency of playtime, and your budget.