01.Garmin Approach S1 GPS golf watch
While you may agree with Mark Twain that golf is a good walk spoiled, you most likely know someone obsessed with the game. The aim is to hit a small ball from A (the tee) to B (the hole), avoiding hazards along the way. So knowing the exact distance from A to B is very helpful.
GPS devices have been used by golfers for several years. But it’s sometimes a case of too much information – knowing how far to the water, the second sand trap, or the out of bounds marker, you may forget about hitting a good shot. The Garmin Approach S1 GPS watch keeps it simple, quickly displaying distance to the front, middle and back of a green. If you don’t normally wear a watch, you may find it somewhat bulky at first, but at only 52 grams it shouldn’t hamper a normal swing.
The device, which has normal watch functions and can be immersed in water at one metre for up to half an hour (IPX7 rating), comes preloaded with more than 600 Australian courses. You can’t map out the course yourself, though Garmin says more courses will be added to its website, so check to make sure your home club is included.
CHOICE tested the device on several tracks and found it fast and accurate, automatically detecting the nearest golf club and providing information when you approach each tee. It is a true set and forget device - you can play a whole round and not touch a button. But turning on the GPS at least 15 minutes in advance is advised. You can also use the S1 to analyse your club distances by selecting the odometer setting, which can also be used for fitness purposes.
The Approach S1 comes with a USB cable to connect to a PC for software and course upgrades and a power adapter for charging. A charge should last about two weeks as a normal watch or two rounds of GPS-enabled golf.
The Garmin Approach 1 is a good alternative to the current range of golf GPS devices, delivering clear distance information at a quick glance. And it may give you the confidence to commit to the shot - the game is, after all, played on a 15cm course - the space between your ears.