Our Top Pick for 2019: GolfBuddy Voice GPS
It’s a good thing to know about the distances when playing golf or practicing your swing on the course. In the past, you needed a standalone GPS unit or a laser rangefinder to find these distances. Now, thanks to advances in technology many options are available. The golf GPS devices now come ultra-portable with many functions to help you improve your game. Some have fancy displays that show you numbers and graphics, and others are voice activated keeping you concentrated on your game. Below are the top three golf GPS devices and one for the budget conscious.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
#1. GolfBuddy Voice GPS
GolfBuddy Voice GPS is an innovative product built by the GolfBuddy company. Established in 2003, GolfBuddy is located in La Palma, California, and it has grown in the rangefinder industry building a variety of products that incorporate wearables, voice, and laser technology. The GolfBuddy Voice GPS can be used in mapping and course coverage to give distances on the green relative to where you are standing.
Small and lightweight, this product is designed with a clip-on for attaching to any article of clothing you’re wearing whether it’s your belt, shirt or cap. At the touch of a button, the device will speak out the distance. Its default setting is to give distance to the center point of the green, to change to the near or far points, all you need to do is hold down its main button. This ensures that the entire green is mapped. The GolfBuddy Voice provides distances accurate to within 4 yards but doesn’t provide any distances once you have reached the edge of the green.
GolfBuddy Voice GPS has a graphical way to display the green that complements the distances in yards on its screen. There are two main screens:
- Hole View: This is the default screen when you are the beginning of a hole. It shows a graphic of the green, note that it is not intended for the device to show an accurate depiction of the actual green. Inside this graphic is a point that indicates the distance of the green on display. If it points to the top it means far edge, middle means center, and bottom means near the edge of the green distance is shown. The amount of battery charge you have left is also indicated here. When you change the unit of distance from yards to meters, the symbol “M” will show.
- Green View: This view is accessed by pressing the top button. Through the green view screen, it provides a rough shape of the green and this shape changes depending on your location on the green. Additional information is included on this screen, and it shows each hole’s par score, satellite strength, and left or right green information that can be toggled if you are playing a hole with multiple greens.
Each time this device gives you a distance it also announces the hole number audibly preventing the need to glance at the display. The hole number is displayed on both hole and green views.
A cool thing about this GPS device is that it comes preloaded with courses for you to get started immediately. GolfBuddy keeps these courses updated and to access the latest maps you will need to download the GolfBuddy Course Manager software, which is offered free of charge. You aren’t required to pay any additional fees to access the course database in the future. This database has over 17,900 courses for the U.S and over 34,000 global courses. This places it among the top devices in course coverage.
- Buttons: It has 5 buttons, the main button is located on the top side. On the right side is the volume buttons, which also serve as selection options. On the left side are the power and position mark buttons.
- Screen: It has a small sized screen to display information and is the only of its kind that has a graphical representation drawn.
- USB cable access: This is located at the top right side.
- Clip: Located at the back side for easier carrying of the device.
- Speaker: Also located at the back of the device.
- Auto hole advance: It automatically advances to the next hole when you arrive at the tee box and announces that it has advanced.
- Shot distance tracking: This is done by first pressing the “P” button on the side and then the top button. As you move towards your ball you will see the distance changing at six-yard increments. Once you get to your ball, press the “P” button again for a measurement. It calculates the final distance, freezes it on the screen, and announces it.
- Battery: A rechargeable battery is included that gives 9 hours of use ideal for playing a number of rounds without a recharge.
How to operate
- Download GolfBuddy Course Manager from the GolfBuddy website.
- Launch the software and register to create an account.
- It will then acquire satellites to locate the nearest course. Once it has located the course it will advise you to proceed to the tee box if you aren’t there already.
- At the tee box, hole and distance information will then be displayed for you to start.
What you get in the box:
- GolfBuddy Voice GPS with a clip attached.
- Micro USB cable: Used for charging, updating the course database and upgrading the firmware of the device.
- AC adapter.
- Protective silicon case.
- Quick Start Guide.
- Warranty Card.
This GPS device has an interface that is a bit awkward, this makes the checking of near or far distances a hassle. It makes you look for these distances only when you really need to.
#2. Bushnell NEO XS Golf GPS Rangefinder
This is a wrist worn GPS device and is Bushnell Golf’s latest device offering. It is thin and comfortable to wear, so much so, that you can come out on the green and forget that you actually have it on. Its long battery life may cause you to forget to charge it making it one of the best batteries for GPS devices. And when you decide to use it as a watch only, it gives two years of use without needed to be recharged.
With over 33,000 courses preloaded for more than 30 countries, it offers golfers accurate measures of shot distances, hazards, and front / back / center. It instantly recognizes different courses and with the auto hole advance, no more pressing buttons for the next hole. At the press of a button, you get shot distance and a round odometer that tracks your speed and total time you have been on the green.
This fancy GPS watch comes in three colors: black / yellow, charcoal / orange, and white / blue. Unlike Bushnell’s earlier products that had a square look, the NEO XS design is now circular to give it the traditional look of a wristwatch. A lot of effort was put into it to making it ergonomic with lots of length options to fit every size wrist. Additionally, no membership fees are required for the Bushnell NEO XS.
- Buttons: It has five buttons which are well placed in line with its slim fit and are lightweight.
- Battery: Long battery life that allows you to play three rounds or about 12 hours before recharge.
- Hazard distances: Gives up to 4 hazards per hole.
- Point measurements: Measures shots from one point to another on the course.
- Auto-off timer: Helps conserve battery by disconnecting from the GPS system after some time.
- Comfortable band: The sports band that rests on your wrist is slim and comfortable to use even when playing. It is soft, made of rubber and fully adjustable.
- Pedometer: Tracks the time taken for the current round you are on and overall distance walked since you started.
- Tee time start: Allows you to program the device to future tee times so that it turns on the GPS system automatically seven minutes before your tee time. This makes it ready to go when you are on the green.
- Auto course detection and auto hole advance: No need to select which course or hole you are on.
- Waterproof: Up to 10 meters.
How to operate
- It is ready for use right out of the box with no downloads or fees. Simply put the Bushnell NEO XS on, press the golf button and select the “Play Golf” option.
- The device then connects to the GPS system to locate all courses that are near its position.
- After it has located the courses, select the course you are on.
- With automatic hole advance, it advances to the next hole when or near the next tee box. Should you need to go to a specific hole when starting the round at a turn, use the arrow buttons located on the right side.
- Depending on your location on the green, the watch automatically displays the front, middle and back distances. When you press the middle button on the right side, you will get four hazard locations illustrated by three letter codes and the distances to the hazards.
The NEO XS uses a five-pin to USB adapter for charging it instead of the standard Micro USB. This isn’t that bad since it helps keep it as slim as possible, but if you lose the adapter or forget to carry it when traveling you will have to buy a new one.
#3. Voice Caddie VC300 Golf GPS
The Voice Caddie VC300 Golf GPS is a small device the size of a poker chip with no screen display. This device has a hands-free design and is the lightest and smallest of all golf GPS devices. When you first see it, it looks complicated to operate especially since it isn’t like most devices that are built with displays that inform you of what action to take.
The Voice Caddie VC300 GPS device is simply looking, but this betrays the many functions and features it has. The top side of this device is a touchpad that is extremely sensitive to even the smallest touch. It also serves as a button that can be clicked. It is an intriguing device that works when you click or swipe its top side.
This device is particularly accurate, with its accuracy within three yards and is the only device with a touchpad. It has an LED light that shows its status as well. It comes preloaded with 30,000 golf courses and is voice automated. At each tee box, it announces what hole you are on and what par is. The automated voice is not distracting even when turned all the way up, someone more than 10 feet away couldn’t hear it.
- Battery: Its battery lasts 8 hours on full charge and takes 2 hours to recharge. Has a battery notification announcement when low on charge.
- Auto hole advance: It auto advances to the next hole immediately after you reach the tee box allowing you to take shots from different fairways without loss in accuracy. If you need to change the hole, you can do this manually using the volume buttons.
- Distance tracking: This is done by clicking before taking the shot and another click when you reach your ball. Voice prompts indicate to you that it is recording.
- Swing tempo function: This in an impressive function that allows you to choose from two options: single action or continuous action for a full swing count and putting tempo. It helps you improve your swing rhythm.
- Clip: Has a strong clip for attaching to your cap or belt.
- Languages: It comes in nine different spoken languages : English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Swedish.
- Volume levels: It comes with seven different levels for adjusting the volume so that it is audible to you and you don’t disturb your fellow players.
- Colors: Comes in either black, white or pink.
How to use
- Go to the VC300 website and check if the course you want to go to is listed. If not, you can download an additional 40,000 courses for free using the USB cable at the Voice Caddie website.
- Plug in the device to get it fully charged.
- When you arrive at your course, press the power button and you are good to go. It announces audibly when it powers on or off. Course and hole recognition for this device is fully automatic, no selecting from available courses.
- At the tee box, it announces the hole and par. To get the distances, swipe the unit using your finger. For front distances, swipe from right to left and for back distances swipe from left to right. To get the distance to the center, simply click it.
What you get in the box:
- Voice Caddie VC300 Golf GPS.
- Magnetic ball marker.
- USB charging cable.
Requires you to read and understand the manual first before use since it doesn’t have a display. Without a display, it makes it harder and less convenient to use than other typical GPS devices.
#4. GolfBuddy GB-WT3 Golf GPS/Rangefinder
This is another GolfBuddy product that made it to our list. Since it is made by the makers of the top product we have picked, the GB-WT3 is undoubtedly a quality product. It has been around for a number of years even with the upsurge of newer and advanced devices. This is a testament to its quality and value.
At its affordable price point, it comes with a whole lot of features hardly expected in such a budget-friendly product. It looks like a big wristwatch and has a silicone strap that is comfortable to wear with an automatic date and time setting.
It is accurate within 3 yards and comes preloaded with over 36, 000 courses with an option to download more as well as update the current information. The display screen is clear to easily view information displayed on it. Once it has recorded a distance, it automatically resets to the default screen ready for the next measurement.
- Buttons: It has four buttons to operate it.
- Battery: Its rechargeable battery allows you to use it for 8 hours on the green and up to 50 hours when functioning as a standard watch without GPS features.
- GPS tracking: This allows you to use the device to track how far you have walked on and off the green, making it useful when you are not golfing.
- Watch: It has all the features a standard watch should have; date, time, and alarm.
- Moveable Pin Technology : Enables you to locate the direction of a pin when it isn’t in sight, assisting you to make better shots.
- Waterproof: It is rated IPX7, which means it can take splashes of water and rain and can even be immersed under less than 30 feet of water for three minutes. This enables its use in rainy conditions.
- Digital scorecard: The GB-WT3 allows you to record your scores for future review or comparison with friends.
- Dynamic green view: This allows the viewing of the green at any angle you are coming from.
- Distance measurement: Accurately measures the distances to the front, back, and center of the green.
Since it has a big clear screen, this also makes it quite bulky compared to the modern GPS devices that are slim. It also doesn’t have a color display screen, this gives it an outdated look.
When devices are similar or cost the same, it’s the features that make the difference. GPS devices should be feature-rich and go beyond what they are designed for. Extras that make the difference such as auto hole advance, are soon going to be default features in all GPS devices. Others like unique swing tempo function and voice are nice to have. Always go for the device with the most features as long as it first satisfies its basic function.
Ease of use
Ease of setting up and use is another key factor. This is because you want to be out on the green, not fiddling with a device to try to get it to work. You shouldn’t have to be a computer or tech person with skills to operate it. The manual should be easy to read, highlighting the steps for basic function. Those that can be used without even reading the guide are better. With most devices having free membership for access to their databases are better than paid models that make you jump through hoops to get started.
Having lots of features and a good design can be good to have, but for all GPS devices, accuracy is the key. It should accurately measure yardages typically to within 2 to 3 yards. Although lasers are mostly used for this function, GPS devices have come of age and are now quite accurate. This is especially useful in times when the laser is useless, such as when there is an obstructed view like trees and when you want to hit a blind shot. Find a GPS device that can accurately give you distances.
Playing golf will keep you at the green for several hours with mainly nowhere to recharge your GPS device. Therefore, your device should have a good battery capable of holding a charge for at least eight hours. This will be enough for avid golfers who play around 36 holes daily. Devices with an automatic off switch are good for conserving battery power. Recharging should also be easy as an extra bonus. This means the time taken to recharge shouldn’t be too long and the cable for recharging should be a common one, such as the micro USB. If you forget or lose your cable, replacing it or ordering another one should be easy.
These devices are mostly meant to be on your person while playing. For this to work, they should be unobtrusive and not affect you throughout your golf swing. Huge bulky devices will require you to take them off before you swing. The weight of the device and how it feels on you should also be taken into consideration. The kind of wrist strap or clip on should be soft and comfortable enough and not grip you.
The golf GPS device should have a wide array of courses either preloaded or available for download. If the course isn’t available for a particular device then it is useless and can’t be used. These devices should have over 30,000 courses that will allow you to play at practically any course. Those that have course databases for download are particularly useful when courses are updated or when new ones are made.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
The golfing industry continues to evolve with technology playing a huge role. With these awesome products, you can be at the forefront taking advantage of all they have to offer. Available for all kinds of golfers with different skill sets, these GPS devices have won over skeptics and proven of value at the golf course. With continued advances in design and features the ability to have your numbers in such a small portable device doesn’t get any easier. Purchase one of them today and take your game to the next level.