Heading off to a golf course to practice your swing has always been a great way to unwind. For some, the sport gives them a chance to temporarily remove themselves from the digital world. With wearable technology breaking into so many facets of our lives, it was only a matter of time before technology found its way into golf.
There are many wearable devices hitting the market now for all manner of niches. Amateur and professional golfers alike have started to embrace wearables to improve their game and obtain a competitive edge.
Smartwatch and sensory technology have come a long way in helping golfers hone their skills. Using a GPS watch, for example, can help golfers make better decisions. Tiny sensors placed on gloves or clubs can analyse swings, and some wearables track performance, such as how far the ball travels and how accurate the golfer is on the fairway. These gadgets offer unprecedented insights into the game and actionable information to become a better golfer.
Garmin Approach S6 | Garmin Approach X40 | TomTom Golfer 2 | Zepp Golf 2 | Game Golf Live | Microsoft Band 2 | Garmin Vivoactive HR | Golfbuddy BB5 | Swingtalk Golf | Arccos Golf | Bushnell Tour X Jolt Rangefinder | Garmin Approach S20 | Garmin TruSwing | Blast Motion Golf | PIQ Golf
Garmin Approach S6 is a GPS watch that comes with a hi-res colour touchscreen and a rich set of features that will appeal to golfers of all ability levels.
The S6 features full-colour course views for over 39,000 international courses and a dedicated CourseView button, to give you previews of doglegs, traps and water hazards, green shapes and pin positioning from wherever you are on your favorite course. Touch Targeting allows you to touch any point on the display to get the precise distance to that exact spot. The PinPointer blind shot assistance provides better situational awareness during the game.
You can train your swing with SwingTempo, TempoTraining and SwingStrength. SwingTempo measures the relationship between backswing and downswing and expresses it as a ratio 3:1 being the ideal ratio, even with individual variations of speed. TempoTrainer uses the 3:1 ratio, guiding golfers with audible tones to fine-tune their tempo during practice. SwingStrength provides you with immediate feedback on your power percentage.
The watch also provides some basic smartwatch functions and will for example dish out SMS notifications when paired with a smartphone. There are three colors to choose from – dark, white and black with orange details. The battery lasts for 10 hours, more than enough for a good round of golf.
Instead of the S6, you could opt for Garmin’s new Approach X40 GPS golf band. Although not as fully featured it comes with a lower price tag and slimmer design. You still get precise distances to greens, hazards and doglegs on more than 40,000 international preloaded courses.
On the course, Approach X40’s AutoShot round analyzer automatically detects shots along the fairway and measures distances for post-round analysis on Garmin Connect. With its built-in digital scorecard, the X40 golf band makes it easy to keep track of your score throughout each round.
It also doubles as an activity tracker including Elevate wrist heart rate technology and smart notifcations to connect with your active and healthy lifestyle. Now you can take steps to shoot better golf, while at the same time keeping an eye on your overall fitness and well-being.
TomTom are market leaders in car satellite navigation and they have a meaningful presence in the golf industry as well. Offering a similar feature set to the Garmin S6, the light and slim TomTom Golfer 2 GPS Watch is an option definitely worth considering.
Now with automatic shot detection and post-game analysis you can drive your game to the next level. Other features include a database of more than 40,000 courses and a GPS chip providing precise yardages to the front, centre and back of the green, as well as distances to individual hazards incuding creeks and streams along the fairway.
Unlike the S6 there is no colour display but the 168 x 144 monochrome screen offers course graphics and a green view mode for checking out the position of the flag. The watch has a durable, scratch resistant, super-tough display and is water resistant up to 50 metres so you can play regardless of the conditions. There is also a score-keeping function, distance and time for your round and information on the calories you’ve burned during your session. Finally, the TomTom 2 Golfer has a battery life of up to 11 hours (GPS Mode) and around month when used as a regular watch.
Zepp is a motion-sensor training system that has been helping people analyze and improve their technique for a a number of yeasr now. The original Zepp Golf Swing Analyzer is a small sensor you attach to your glove in a mount. Download the companion app, pair up, and a bunch of fascinating swing data is sent to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The array of sensors uses an accelerometer to track hip movements, and notes everything from the speed of your hands to the tempo of your forward and backswing, before showing your data in the app which flashes up in less than a second after you’ve hit the ball.
The key change in Zepp 2 is in its design, going from a square to a slightly smaller and more rounded design. packs a bigger eight-hour-lasting battery, two gyroscopes instead of one, two accelerometers, and upgraded Bluetooth Low Energy for better connectivity and battery life. The addition of new sensors means that the second-generation Zepp is more accurate.
Another big change is the Smart Coach feature. Essentially, the new app will provide advice to help you improve your game. After a few swings the app will pinpoint specific areas of your game that you should focus on.
Elsewhere, the features look pretty much the same as the previous generation. You can review data, look at visual charts of your shots, and compare them to professional’s swings to see where you’re going wrong. Even if you don’t grasp all the stats at first, they’re presented as easy-to-understand visualisations. With the 3d view, you can watch and replay your swing from any angle.
We have previously written about Zepp’s Tennis Swing Analyzer. You can use the same sensor for golf, baseball and tennis with different mounts and apps.
Game Golf Digital Live is a tracking system that keeps tabs on your whole round of golf from tee to green. Shot by shot, it records all your stats so you can visualize your game, whether you’re on your way to break 80 or just actively working on your game. The little device puts real stats at your fingertips, including fairway accuracy, GIR, putts per hole and more.
Originally funded through Indiegogo, the system consists of two parts – the Game Golf GPS tracking device you wear on your belt in waist height, and the tags you attach on the end of the clubs. During the round, you tap your club against the device before each shot and it does the rest, detecting what club you’re using, then translating your next shot into a bunch of useful stats.
With over 30,000 courses to choose from, the tracker allows you to: review your rounds and game stats quickly on your personal dashboard; benchmark your game stats against others in various scoring ranges to see strengths and weaknesses; see club performance data to know how far you really hit your clubs and eliminate distance gaps between clubs; see shot dispersion and tendencies, by club and by distance, off the tee and on approach; share posted rounds with friends, family and your instructor, coach or PGA Professional by email or social media tools; and compete in virtual challenges.
The second generation device also adds real-time shot tracking which makes it even more useful when you are on the course. All your performance data is instantaneously captured and visible on your phone.
The device is brimming with professional endorsements with Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and even Barack Obama all using it.
The Band 2 sits somewhere between a fitness band and a smartwatch, but one with more sensors than anything else on the market today. What you get with Microsoft Band 2 is a 24/7 activity tracker that provides you with a comprehensive health dashboard, a whole lot of sensors squeezed into it, and something that doesn’t look too bad or fit too uncomfortably on your wrist.
The second generation device has enjoyed a golfing update in collaboration with TaylorMade – which is why we have included it in this list. Just sync your local course to the Health app and you can get yardages. The built-in GPS detects which hole you’re playing and provides you with distance to the front, centre and back of the green, allowing you to perfect your approach.
The device will also keep your score, and the band can even differentiate between a practice swing and a proper shot. You can review your entire scorecard in the Microsoft Health app when you’ve finished your game. Then head off to the web dashboard to see how your heart rate and calorie burn affected your performance. Microsoft Band also works with TaylorMade’s myRoundpro platform for detailed maps of your shots and in-depth analysis on your performance.
Vivoactive HR takes all the features from the original Vivoactive device, but upgrades it with a heart rate monitor and a sleeker new design. This is a fully featured fitness tracker with integrated GPS. It counts steps, intensity minutes, monitors sleep, and now with the addition of a barometric altimeter – keeps tabs on the number of floors climbed. The device uses 24/7 wrist-based heart rate data to calculate calories burned as well as the intensity of fitness activities.
Built-in sports apps include running; cycling; golf and swimming plus added support for paddle boarding and skiing. The watch also continuously monitors for periods of sustained activity. This is essentially auto-recognition for running, swimming, cycling and elliptical.
For golfing, you can download golf course maps from over 38,000 courses worldwide, measure shot distance and support individual scorecards as well as know yardage to layups and doglegs. While the golf features are no-where near as in-depth as Garmin’s Approach series of watches, for most golfers, they’re more than adequate.
GolfBuddy BB5 takes the form of a band rather than a traditional watch. A variety of different color wristbands are offered separately in two different sizes. GolfBuddy works as a pedometer and displays distance to the front or back of the green on its LED dot display for more than 38,000 courses.
The full feature set includes: distances to front/center/back of the green; shot distance measurement; pedometer; auto course/hole recognition; water resistant; time; rechargeable battery and an interchangeable wristband.
Compared to some of the other devices available, this is a rather limited feature set – so may suit those who only want the basics.
SwingTalk is unlike any other swing analyzer products. Voice feedback function gives you seamless swing practice experiences. It gives you instant tempo & speed feedback with real-time voice alarm so you don’t need to stop and look at your smartphone display.
SwingTalk thoroughly analyzes your swing with comprehensive analysis data. It shows you the tempo, club speed, club trajectory, as well as actual movement of the shaft, key point analysis – shaft angles throughout the shaft.
The little device weighs only 0.3oz and is simple to install on the end of the grip. You can fit it to all kinds of golf clubs including drivers, woods, irons, wedges and putters. Swingtalk also analyzes your putting – and provides a comprehensive iOS and Android app.
The Arccos Gold Performance Tracking System is another great golf tracking system that wants to take your game to a whole new level. With fourteen virtually weightless sensors attached to the end of each of your clubs, once paired with your smartphone, you are good to go.
Each shot is recorded live and instantly saved to the cloud. The information is then brought to life by bird’s-eye visuals overlaid on GPS hole imagery. The stats are available instantly on your iPhone or after your round on a computer. Information tracked includes: GPS Distances to Front, Center and Back of Green, Club Distances and Averages, Fairways Hit or Missed, Greens in Regulations, Putting Statistics and more. Armed with detailed data, you can then uncover your strengths and trends and make better decisions on the course.
The system is also compatible with Apple Watch for added ease of accessing your data.
Bushnell has led in laser rangefinders technology over the years. The Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder, which is one of their premium models, is perhaps the most advanced golf laser rangefinder in the world.
As with most lasers, the device is very easy to use. Just point it at your target and use the red button on top to activate it and then push and hold it again with the crosshairs on the flag. The device precisely gives you information on distance and angles to the hole. By looking into the 6x magnifying device, the flag appears 6 times closer!
The Tour X Jolt fits very easily into an adult hand. The rubber grip top and bottom offers some protection against bangs and gives the laser a robust feel.
Changing the red and black front plates, allows for enabling and disabling the elevation measurement function in a way that has been approved by golf’s ruling bodies. The Rangefinder also features Dual Display Technology – so you can switch between a LCD and red LED display depending on the lighting conditions.
For serious golfers who are looking for a range-finder, the Tour X Jolt has everything you would ever wish for.
Approach S20 comes preloaded with more than 40,000 courses, records the location and distance of every shot automatically and provides a wide range of statistics on the watch itself and the Garmin Connect app. Rather conveniently, the watch also doubles up as an activity tracker and has connected features such as smart notifications to alert you to calls, texts and emails.
The Approach S20 measures precise distances to the front, back and middle of the green, distances to course targets such as sand traps, water hazards and more, as well as layups and doglegs.
S20’s AutoShot feature automatically detects every swing, measures your shot distance and records each shot’s location for post-round analysis on your Garmin Connect account. You can even see all your shots overlaid onto a map to find out your own personal trends and tendencies.
The watch is designed to be worn both on and off the course as it offers daily activity tracking. This includes counting steps, calories, distance, measuring sleep and giving you inactivity nudges throughout the day. You can easily get through an entire weekend of golf as the watch runs for 15 hours while in GPS mode, and an impressive 8 weeks in watch mode with activity tracking.
TruSwing is Garmin’s first golf club sensor accessory. The small, lightweight and easy-to-use sensor measures a mere 2.40 inches and weighs only 28 grams, making it portable enough for you to take to every golf session – especially since it hooks onto any club.
TruSwing churns out a variety of metrics including: swing tempo, speed, club-path measurements, critical club angles and more. Wwing metrics can be checked on your smartphone, or wrist using one of the compatible Approach watches such as the S4, S5, S6 and S20 as well as the Approach G7 and G8.
Additionally, TruSwing collects data to produce 3D swing animations through the Garmin Connect mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. With these animated diagrams, you can view side-by-side swing comparisons to analyse your data in real-time. Individual swings can be analysed, and two swings can be overlaid on top of each other to compare and contrast.
Analysis on Garmin Connect allows you to identify exactly where you can make changes. For example, just by altering the combination of clubface angle and clubhead-path angle, you can make significant improvements to your ball’s flight pattern. Each session is organised by date, so you can go back to see each individual swing, and how you’ve improved since then.
The device can get up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge with plenty of storage to make it through multiple rounds. It also boasts an IPX-7 water rating.
Blast Motion Golf is a tiny device that attaches to most putters and drivers . The removable sensor, which houses a combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers, records a variety of metrics. Blast Motion’s proprietary algorithm allows the device to detect swing speed for driving, loft and lie for putting, and more. The data can be viewed in real-time or stored for later use.
The app integrates with video captured from your phone or tablet and will overlay data so you can visually analyse your game. It is worth noting, when compared to some other sensor devices on the market, Blast lacks the three-dimensional rendering of the swing. Instead, the Blast app revolves around video.
The technology also allows you to identify trends through stats and graphs. These performance metrics can than be immediately uploaded to share with a coach or posted on a social network to compare with others.
What distinguishes Blast Golf from other devices on the market is its accuracy and consistency. Identical swings produce identical sensor readings which apparently made a big difference to the professional athletes the company collaborated with.
This is a golf tracker that is billed as one of smallest and lightest sensors on the market. PIQ provides you with real-time information on your game, and includes a range finder, a swing analyzer, and a shot-tracker.
The sensor fits on your glove and communicates with your smartphone to display your distance to the green in real time. What you essentially get is a a bright LED display on your glove that tells you at a glance just how far you have to go to a particular hole.
It doesn’t end here, as the device uses NFC tags attached to your clubs to track shots. This creates an interesting pre-shot ritual. Each time you take a shot, you tap the end of the club to your PIQ device to register which club you’re using. The app will keep score for you.
Next, there is the swing analysis. PIQ takes data from a 13-axis motion sensor to analyze your swing. You will need your smartphone though to access the information. PIQ automatically tracks your tempo, swing path and club head speed for every shot. At the same time, it’s recording the distance of every shot you hit and where you hit it from so that you can analyze your round later.
Once you’re back home or at the club house, you’ll get to relive each shot and observe your game strategy directly on your smartphone screen. Each shot – along with the club you’ve used and the yardage you’ve covered – is stored in the app and is displayed on the satellite imagery of the hole.
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!