How Do I Choose the Best Golf GPS?

Alex Newth

A golf global-positioning system (GPS) is a useful device when you do not have a caddie, because it can display the distance and hazards of a golf course. If you golf often, then you'll likely want a golf GPS that is able to remember information about a large number of courses. Some golf GPS units only measure the distance of the course, while others are able to follow you as you move around. Water and sand hazards mean a durable GPS may be a good option. Like most mobile devices, a golf GPS runs on batteries, and a long battery life will allow you to play for an extended amount of time.

A GPS system can be useful for golfers who do not have a caddie who is familiar with the course.
A GPS system can be useful for golfers who do not have a caddie who is familiar with the course.

When you go to a course, a golf GPS may have to load the course’s information, which can take several minutes. After the course is loaded, most GPS units allow you to save the course, decreasing future load time. Most golf GPS units hold 1,000 or more courses on the low end, while those with larger storage capacities hold 40,000 or more. If you are a casual golfer, the low end should be fine but, if you are an avid golfer, then it may be better to get extended storage.

A golf GPS shows you the course’s distance and hazards, but some remain static and only display the overall map without moving. Other GPS units move with you; if you move 50 feet (15.24 meters), then the golf course GPS will subtract that from the distance between you and the hole. Getting a golf course GPS with this movement feature is generally a little more expensive, but it also helps you more accurately measure shots.

Durability is a major concern when purchasing a golf GPS, because there are water and sand hazards that can potentially damage a GPS. Dropping a GPS, even if not in a hazard, may damage the unit. Getting a durable GPS that is resistant to shock, water and sand may be a good feature to keep the device safe.

As with most mobile devices, a golf GPS runs on an internal battery, meaning the device has a limited charge. This means getting a golf course GPS that lasts for an extended amount of time is important, especially if you play for many hours. Most golf course GPS devices last from five to seven hours, but others last up to 14 hours; a longer battery life typically costs more money and may not be necessary if you play short courses.

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