Apple Watch Golf GPS vs Garmin: Which Smartwatch Is the Best Golf Wearable?

Golfers today are blessed with state-of-the-art technology to help improve their game. Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and smartwatches allow golfers to view precise yardages, track stats, map courses, and more. Two leading manufacturers of golf GPS products are Apple Watch and Garmin.Here i’m going to compare apple watch golf gps vs garmin.

Apple offers the Apple Watch Golf GPS built into the new Apple Watch Ultra and is available through WatchOS apps like Hole19GolfShot, and SwingU. Garmin produces the Garmin Approach series of dedicated golf GPS watches. Each brand offers advantages that appeal to different golfers’ needs and preferences.

Apple Watch Golf GPS vs Garmin:
Apple Watch Golf GPS


This guide compares the Apple Watch Ultra’s golf features vs Garmin’s Approach offerings. Key factors covered include:

  • Yardage Calculations
  • Course Maps
  • Shot Tracking Capabilities
  • Battery Life
  • Preloaded Courses
  • Golf Community Integration
  • Ease of Use & Setup

By the end, you’ll know which golf GPS platform is best suited for your needs. Let’s tee off!

Precise Yardage Readings and course Layouts

The number one job of any golf GPS is providing accurate yardage to targets like hazards and greens.

The Apple Watch Ultra leverages the device’s GPS and sensors to calculate distances. Golfers can manually position targets or utilize Apple Watch golf apps like Golfshot for advanced yardage readouts.

WatchOS golf apps access comprehensive course maps, combining satellite imagery with GPS data to map club distances to any point within 35,000 golf courses globally. Through the app, you tap a location to view exact yardages.

Garmin Approach watches rely on preloaded full-color course maps powered by robust GPS sensors. Rather than basic satellite images, Garmin’s course maps depict a full field-of-view of each hole’s exact design, hazards, doglegs, and targets. Approach watches automatically detect and advance from hole to hole based on location. Distances dynamically update as you walk or ride the course.

For basic front/center/back distances, Apple and Garmin offer comparable GPS yardage calculations. But Garmin’s full vector mapping gives it a leg up for more advanced layouts and distances.

Detailed Maps of Any Golf Course

WatchOS golf apps offer coverage of many more courses than come preloaded on the Garmin Approach.

For example, Golfshot’s course database spans over 35,000 global tracks. After downloading the courses to your paired iPhone, you have instant access right from your Apple Watch Ultra for any course – no subscriptions or fees needed either.

Garmin Approach watches come with full-color maps of over 42,000 preloaded courses across the world, with no phone required. However, if you want to play a course that’s not onboard, you’ll need to pay to access that additional map data.

So, Apple holds the advantage for immediate mapping of any course thanks to WatchOS app integration. Garmin still wins for on-watch detail but forces you to pay for access to its full 40,000+ course library.

Recording & Analyzing Every Golf Shot

Detailed shot tracking and post-round analysis can help golfers dial in strengths, identify flaws, and lower scores over time.

Apple Watch Golf GPS
Apple Watch Golf GPS

Through Apple Watch golf apps, users can manually log shot distances and locations throughout each hole. Some apps even automatically detect shot type and club distances based on swing motions and forces picked up by the watch.

Post-round, these apps generate reports with shot-by-shot breakdowns showing dispersion, consistency, and averages per club. They’re great tools for stat junkies looking to self-analyze.

Garmin Approach watches record similar shot tracing stats automatically by detecting swing motions and ball landings. The watches integrate metrics into Garmin’s golf community apps for social sharing and comparisons across the player pool.

For rigorous swing analysis or easy sharing with the golf community, Garmin wins again thanks to seamless connectivity across its product ecosystem.

All-Day Golf Readiness with Extended Battery

A golf GPS does no good sitting dead in your bag on the back 9. Battery life is crucial.

Apple boasts up to 36 hours of “all-day battery” on a single charge for the Ultra watch. While impressive longevity from Apple, that still may not get you through two full 18-hole rounds over a long weekend. Requiring some charging in between is less than ideal.

Meanwhile, the Garmin S62 Approach watch promises up to 30 hours while actively using golf features like automatic shot tracking. For basic distance readings with occasional swings tracked, it can last over a week without charging. No concerns about it dying mid-tournament!

For golf-focused watches, Garmin once again proves superior from a battery life perspective.

Preloaded Golf Courses

As mentioned previously regarding course maps, WatchOS golf apps provide coverage of vastly more tracks – over 35,000 and counting. Yes, Garmin still wins for the level of detail on its 42,000 included layouts.

But Apple unlocks global access to major courses plus hidden gems you won’t find already stored on the Approach. For golfers who play a wide variety of courses, Apple brings more versatility through downloadable options.

However, if you stick primarily to major championship tracks that the Garmin likely includes already, its preloaded details will be handy compared to downloading each time on Apple. Still, with storage on your paired iPhone, not a concern, Apple offers a more extensive range of courses at no added fees.

Golf Community Connectivity

Apple Watch Golf GPS vs Garmin:
Garmin Smart Watch

Beyond just distances and stats, golfers also benefit from connecting within the greater community to compete against others and get expert insights.

Garmin Approach watches integrate directly with its golf community apps like Garmin Golf. After each round, wear your Approach device, shot traces, swing temps, handicaps, and custom stats auto-sync for in-depth analysis.

Golfers can compare against peers, get coaching based on swing/shot data, and connect with friends for challenges – all from a centralized Garmin golf profile. Custom printable scorecards also auto-generate from each tracked round.

On Apple, golf stats stay mostly isolated within whichever WatchOS golf app is used. Yes, some apps share certain metrics out to Apple Health or other platforms. But there’s no central profile or community tailored specifically to golf. The experience remains fractured across different software tools.

For hardcore golf nerds wanting robust stats/analytics and connections with fellow players, Garmin better aligns with those motivations.

Ease of Use & Setup

Convenience factors may influence which golf GPS platform best fits someone’s needs and lifestyle.

For the Apple Watch Golf GPS experience, you first need to own an Apple Watch – one of the newer models with native GPS like Ultra, Series 8, or SE. Then, choose a third-party golf app from the App Store, optionally paying any subscription fees to that software vendor.

Finally you’ll need an iPhone paired to both download course maps and sync recorded round data for later analysis. There are dependencies on multiple products working in unison.

Garmin Approach watches work as standalone devices with maps, sensors, displays, and analytics consolidated into one dedicated golf product. Charge up and wear the watch; no phone is required while playing. It automatically handles activity tracking, stats compilation, and connectivity when in the range of WiFi or Bluetooth for syncing.

For golfers wanting an all-in-one seamless hardware experience, Garmin Approach streamlines the utility down to a single wearable device specialized for golf. Apple still brings the advantage, though, if it already owns compatible hardware like an Ultra watch or later-model iPhone.

The Verdict: What Golf GPS Is Right For You?

In the showdown between Apple Watch and Garmin Approach, both bring fantastic technology, advancing the game through detailed yardages, dynamic mapping, swing analysis, and community features.

Here is a quick recap of key strengths discovered for each platform:

Apple Watch Golf GPS Advantages

  • Access any course right from your wrist through 35,000+ maps integrated into Golfshot, Hole19, and more WatchOS golf apps.
  • Manual shot tracking with club/ball sensor data thanks to Apple Watch sensors
  • No added fees or subscriptions beyond Apple Watch and app purchases

Garmin Approach Golf Watch Benefits

  • Automatic shot tracing based on swing motion and impact dynamics
  • Full-color vector maps with exact hole layouts, hazards, and targets
  • Robust golf community connectivity for stats, improvement tips, and peer challenges
  • Long battery life up to 30+ hours of golf mode usage
  • All-in-one solution consolidated into a single dedicated golf watch

Weigh your key motivators and must-have features between the two. Top amateur golfers wanting comprehensive analysis, community and convenience will gravitate towards Garmin Approach watches.

Casual and nomadic players may favor the flexibility of accessing any course through Apple Watch golf apps as they travel across the world chasing summer.

Either way, today’s golf wearables remove rangefinder devices from bags while unlocking club guidance, 3D mapping, and modern community experiences to help improve any golfer’s game.

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