Update: We've added the brand-new, high-end Garmin Approach S60. A watch for serious golfers.
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.
The great news is that activity-tracking and sports GPS gadgets are not only affordable, they're better than ever – especially for golf.
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 offerings available right now.
Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
1. ScoreBand Golf
Cheap and basic, but a solid watch
It's not the prettiest golf watch out there that's for sure, but the ScoreBand Golf is also one of the most affordable.
That means you should, understandably, lower your expectations in terms of features though.
Top features include score cards, shot distance measurements and more than 27,000 pre-loaded courses.
It's also water-resistant, can auto-detect the nearest course, and can store up to 10 rounds of golf, so it's got the basics covered.
2. Bushnell Neo Ion
Loads of courses and loads of life
Colors: Black, Charcoal
This sleek wearable crams in a hefty 35,000 courses in 30 countries, and the smarts to automatically recognize where you are.
It'll also record hole advances automatically, after offering handy shot distance readings to help you plan ahead.
Battery life is a good 16 hours, which should mean about three full rounds before a charge is needed – more than most can claim to offer. Plus it's waterproof – so no excuses for playing fair-weather golf only.
3. Callaway GPSy Sport Watch
A feature-packed option at a reasonable price
Colors: Black, White
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 . The battery should last between 10 and 12 hours in GPS mode, placing it near the top of the longevity pile.
4. TomTom Golfer 2
A watch and app combo
Colors: Black, Light Gray
Tracking your game without even lifting a pencil is one reason to wear this watch, but other GPS watches also offer automatic shot detection. A prime offering of the TomTom Golfer 2 is analysis of game data using the MySports app.
This app lets you review shot patterns, so you can see if you're missing fairways to the left more than the right, for example, or you can compare the same hole across different rounds of the 40,000 stored courses.
Ultimately it should make tracking your game easier when out on the course, and enable you to keep working on your game when you're back at the clubhouse.
5. Garmin Vivoactive
An almost-smartwatch that tracks loads of sports
Colors: Black, White
While the does golf it's so much more than just a golf watch. As the name suggests this is an activity tracker for steps, but also for running, cycling and swimming, and it even doubles as a smartwatch with phone notifications.
On the golf-specific front you get yardage, lay-up distances and GPS course maps.
It's also slim enough to be worn day to day, with a battery that goes for three weeks in watch mode or 10 hours of GPS life, plus it works with the Garmin Connect IQ app store, so there are always new offerings being created to improve the software.
6. GolfBuddy BB5
A sleek watch you can wear all day
Colors: Black, White, Teal, Pink, Orange, Navy, Lime
Despite its compact size and approachable name, the activity tracker-styled GolfBuddy BB5 is a serious golf wearable.
This sleek little unit features an LED display, which can show distances to the green as it automatically advances between holes.
It also comes preloaded with over 37,000 courses in its databanks (fewer than some watches on test here, but not by a huge amount), and uses an accelerometer to measure your shots. Plus it's sleek enough to wear day-to-day as an activity tracker.
7. SkyCaddie Linx GT
More than just a wearable
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.
8. GolfBuddy WT4
A shiny metal golf watch
The GoldBuddy WT4 features a brushed metal finish and angular design, which is reflected in the no-nonsense nature of the software.
Quickly updating yardage and an easy-to-use interface is what this watch is all about.
All the usual score-keeping and distance measures are there too, including distance to targets or hazards, dynamic green view and pin placement.
The waterproof watch has 40,000 international courses onboard, which it will recognize automatically before tracking holes itself too. The GPS tracking also works for other sports, so you're not limited to golf.
9. Garmin Approach S6
A top-end watch with a wealth of apps
Colors: Light, Dark, Orange
When it comes to geolocation, Garmin is at the top of its game, with years of experience in military and nautical applications, so a golf course is easy pickings.
The focus on accuracy means measuring your distance to the hole, green or pin is simple and clear at a glance.
Over 40,000 courses with free updates are logged, with 'course view' and 'green view', plus the Garmin IQ store has thousands of apps built specifically for golfing-related tasks.
This watch will use motion sensors to measure your stroke and offer tips for improvement, plus it goes a hefty 20 weeks between charges, or 10 hours in GPS mode.
10. Garmin Approach S60
Garmin's flagship golf watch
Colors: Black, White
Although not as feature-packed or expensive as the multi-sport Garmin Fenix 5, 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 water proof to 5 ATM and its battery will last up to 10 hours in golf mode.