on July 15, 2012
I don't write many reviews, and that's probably because if something works really well, I feel it should. Or if it fails my expectations, it doesn't surprise me anymore.
That said, The Garmin Approach G6 is simply one of those products that so greatly exceeds my expectations, I have to write a review on it. For several years I've primarily used a laser rangefinder, though for convenience sake I keep trying every new GPS that comes along...hoping I'll find the Holy Grail of yardages in an easy-to-use GPS product.
In the past decade I've tried every model of SkyCaddie ever manufactured, including the latest SGXw. I've tried the Golf Buddy Platinum, a Bushnell, GPS watches, but nothing holds a candle to the Garmin G6...nothing! All the others found their way to eBay or Craig's List at a great loss of money!
One of the inherent features of the G6 is its simplicity. The obvious front, middle and back yardages are always present, but if you desire a distance from you to a water hazard, or sand trap, etc., the touchscreen is so responsive and easy to use I still can't believe it. If you want layup distances, you can drag the cursor to the distance you want, or simply look at the screen and see they are also automatically displayed at 100, 150, 200 and 250 yard arcs from the center of the green.
At any time, you can press one of two buttons (more simplicity) on the G6 and see an expanded view of the green, or press it again and go back to the hole view. That might seem like a minor point, but so many of the other devices make this action more difficult.
My last point about the Garmin G6 is the most important...to me, anyway. It is SO VISIBLE...even in bright sunlight. In fact, because of how the screen is made, it's even more visible in the sunlight. I had mine set for the backlight to go off after 15 seconds, yet every time I looked at it on the course, the screen was very bright and readable. I thought there was something wrong with it and the backlight was staying on, but in fact, the backlight was actually going off as it should, but having it on simply made no difference. The display was as easy to read with the backlight on or off. On a cloudy or overcast day, the backlight does come into play and makes a marked difference.
If you're on the fence about a GPS unit, please do yourself a favor and give the Garmin G6 a try. If you don't like it you can always return it, but I'm betting that will not happen. And don't forget, it has over 27,000 courses pre-loaded and there are no fees at all. You can also update the courses easily online with it hooked up to your computer (Mac or Windows).
One more thing: a couple of reviews I've read said the Garmin G6 was slow acquiring courses before you started play. I have not found that to be true at all. In all cases my unit acquires the satellite in less than a minute or two.
About me: retired, five rounds per week, 7-handicap, 66 years old.
on February 26, 2012
My disclaimer: I am writing this review after one actual round and some playing around on Preview mode.
For the past two or so seasons, I have been a devoted user of the Callaway Upro Golf GPS product, the one that game out before the one with all the problems. I am comparing the G6 to that device. Overall, I give the Garmin G6 (which I was looking forward to greatly) 4 stars, it's a good device, but not a home run.
For starters, the G6 is incredibly small, lightweight and has a good feel to it. The top piece has a carbon-like appearance and the screen is probably about 3 inches long by about 2. The screen is definitely bright enough to read outdoors (my round was on a bright sunny day) but not too bright that it gets washed out. The device came 75% charged with was nice, and charged to 100 percent pretty darn quick. It comes with a USB cable and an electric unit with one of those slide in adapters (where you slide in the plug). I charged it off my Mac computer without incident. It came with a minimum of paper, just a short pamphlet.
The First Round: I took the unit out for a 900 tee time, and have to say that it took longer than the Callaway to acquire the GPS. I turned it on and off a few times to see if I could "jog" it into place, and just when I said screw it, I looked down one more time, it acquired. It thought I was in Kansas City for a while before figuring it out. In contrast, the Callaway UPRO acquired the sats much facter.
The look and feel of the graphics on the Garmin are far different than the Callaway. With the Callaway, it was a photo-realistic image superimposed on top of the GPS data. By contrast, the Garmin's graphics are cartoonish and not nearly as detailed. If you've used one of their other devices, then you will be fine. It displays MOST of the data you need in acceptable fashion, it's just not as clean as the Callaway UPRO. Another thing the UPRO has that the Garmin lacks in distance measurements to trouble. The Garmin will map to the bunkers pretty well, but if you are flying over some junk and want to know precisely how far until the junk or edge of it, you just see green.
The G6 does have, what the UPRO lacks, a touch screen. Navigating around the screen is pretty easy, but I never had problem moving the cursor around the screen on the UPRO, though that wss often slow, particularly when getting a detailed distance from your ball position. It's much easier on the G6, though as far as I can tell, you really only get three views on the Garmin. You get the zoomed out view, the zoomed in view and the green view. The zoomed out view is too distant, and the zoomed in view may be a little two close. What I couldn't figure out how to do (if the device permits it at all), is to scroll along the hole. If you can scroll the hole from tee to green, I couldn't figure out how to do it. Every time I tried to swipe down to scroll, as you would on an iPad or iPhone for example, it just moved the targeting circle all over the screen, giving me handy new (and not useful) yardages every time. This frustrated me for the whole round. As I said before, the UPRO does a better job at giving you an idea of distances to trouble and bunkers after your tee shot too.
The Garmin does a good job at giving you intermediate distances when you lay up. The addition of the Red, While, Blue yardage arcs that the UPRO lacks is also a nice touch. You move the targeting reticle to the spot you are thinking of laying up to and it instantly calculates that distance and then the remaining distance to the green. This is far more fluid and flawless than the UPRO which took some time to calculate same. That way, you can sort of figure out you want to hit "just a 7 iron" and instantly see where it put you to a desired yardage, and go from there.
The green view is a bit of a disappointment, however. And here, it falls below the UPRO again. In green view, you CAN move the flag around which is good (and just as easy on the UPRO), but distance presentation is a little confusing. It gives you distances, but only to the flag in the close up view (and maybe the back, I couldn't tell for sure).
Scorecard: It's a draw here. I did have to pay $25 to obtain that functionality on the UPRO, but it's out of the box on the G. The UPRO was the whole card, which you could always see, easily see what you did going out and coming in and could scroll the whole card. The G6 opts for different presentation. You have to enter the score on every hole but don't get to see the whole card laid out. It calculates your +1 or +4 for the round, but it doesn't let you easily go back and see the whole card, and requires a few key presses. You press the button on the screen of the device to go to score card mode, you then press another button that looks like a pencil to enter your score, and then you have to hit a few checkboxes and back arrows to get back to the main view so that you can advance or auto advance the unit. I didn't think this was necessary. I couldn't simply hit the right arrow from the scorecard mode to advance to the next hole. Over all, tomato, tomoto. It may be that I just am used to what I know. In order to see your numeric total, you have to go to scorecard, and hit a different button to bring up the detail screen.
Statistics Tracking: G6 wins here, no contest. It such a pain on the UPRO, I never did it, and was one of the reasons, I was looking forward to the G6. Right under your score it populates a numeric value for putts (I think the default is 2) and you move it up or down, for a very accurate accounting. I was hoping to calculate other statistics, but I haven't yet added clubs, because I think it will be too much trouble for what it's worth, and may require that you mark/measure each shot. More reading to do here, so the jury is out. For some reason, it had me hitting 10 out of 10 fairways, but I never entered anything or set anything up, and I certainly didn't hit 100 percent of the fairways. More practice here is required. Update: I found the buttons on the hole view that show an arrow to the left and arrow down the middle and an arrow to the right. All you have to do is hit the arrow to indicate you missed the fairway left or right or hit it. Should be pretty easy and fast to do on the next round, so this looks like a nice feature. You can view the scorecard and the statistics you track on a computer, by plugging in the Garmin to your Mac or Windows machine which will mount as a drive and you can see the viewers there which will put the documents into its html viewer for easy viewing.
Battery Life: G6 wins hands down again. I don't know how many rounds I will get out of a single charge, but I can tell you that it's 3-4 more than the UPRO easily. My UPRO barely got a single round, so much so that I kept a USB plugged into my car and just kept it permanently in the console of my car. No doubt the photo realistic view eats some battery, as well as brining up the course which has to be a bigger file than on the Garmin. The G6 charged faster and when I took it home to use the scrorecard viewer, it was still at 85 percent, indicating a pretty acceptable drain for a day on the course. Getting two or three rounds out of a charge will be very nice.
Courses: G6 wins again. The biggest reason I was looking forward to the G6 was because it comes pre-loaded with 25,000 courses on the unit, no downloading or syncing. While Callaway upgraded me recently with an "unlimited" account, I used to have to pay for the more detailed courses and still, regardless of the plan which is now unlimited, I have to engage in a lengthy and not altogether acceptable on a Mac, process of syncing courses. It was never fast, and I could never figure out why it was taking so long to add a single course. No such hassles with the G6. This, alone, might be reason to go with the G6, it's a huge advantage to know I just have to pack and carry it.
Conclusions: The G6 has a better touch and feel that the other units I have tried, and once it acquires the GPS, it's lock solid. I never lost connectivity, and it performed well after the initial hiccup. I think the answer is to turn it on a little earlier when I arrive at the course (which I never did with the UPRO because its battery life was so sucky I didn't want to waste it while putting and chipping). I don't enjoy the cartoonish graphics as well as the photo-realistic graphics I was used to, but honestly, it's all about the numbers anyway and at some point too much information is, well, too much information. I liked the easy of the interface, using the touch screen to move around and to get multiple two shot distances with ease. The cartoony feel of the graphics made me less confident on distance to bunkers and to clear them, but we checked the yardages against a laser (with elevation adjustment) and they were spot on. The green view is the greatest disappointment, but I think you will get used to it.
Strengths: small (enough to fit in a pocket), no dumb button presses even with the touch screen while in your pocket, touch screen, pre-loaded with courses, decent stat tracking, pretty easy interface, excellent battery life (it appears), accurate numbers and competitive pricing.
Weaknesses: cartoonish graphic presentation lacking detailed distances to out of bounds and forced carries, multiple key presses for score keeping, was slow (in the one trial) to acquire the satellite, and not great green presentation.
UPDATE: following several rounds, I still give the unit a 4 out of 5 stars. It's like a triple, but not a home run, and I still am struggling with the lack of photo realistic imagery. The numbers are solid, the unit is relatively easy to maneuver and the battery life is phenomenal. It's so great to know that I don't have to charge it for 3 to 4 rounds and that I don't have to mess with thinking, "hey, remind me to download the course I am going to play" or to wait 10 minutes for the course to download as with Callaway. After several rounds, the only thing that really bugs is still the lack of great distance to the trouble to clear the trouble, it's a little harder than it should be to really figure out what a new hole is doing. To be fair, I've been putting it to the test. Been playing lots of new courses because we are bored of the old ones. Solid unit with great advantages, some minor disadvantages that are more tied to preference than function.
on February 27, 2012
I have had the Garmin G5 for 2 years and it works great. I got the G6 and have played 4 rounds with it and it did not disappoint at all. Great in the sun, light on your hip, battery lasted all 4 rounds and accurate. In comparison to the G5, its better than the G5 in the sun, the graphics are more detailed, & its WAY smaller.
If I had to say something I didnt like, I would say it takes some time before it finds that satellites (turn it on 10-15 minutes before your round starts) The screen can sometimes be a little sensitive...but its not the end of the world especially for what you get in return. The belt clip the GPS attaches to, doesn't come out easily at all. Which is a good thing considering you dont want the $300 you spent on the unit to fall off your hip and its so light you wouldnt feel it missing until its to late. So if you play with it on your hip rather than leaving it in the cart, you just have to pull the whole thing off your belt rather than unclipping it. But it does pull off your belt easily, so its not a big deal.
I would only suggest to get a screen protector, I put 1 on mine and it works fine. Garmin is the best when it comes to GPS and this one is no different. FREE lifetime map updates....You cant go wrong!
on April 24, 2012
Just received my Garmin G6 and played one round with it. I wanted something simple and the G6 delivered. It's very easy to use, not a distraction on the course. Distance readings are very accurate. I used the function to re-position the pin on the green which worked as I expected. I used it to keep my score, putts, and fairways hit, which also worked well.
One small complaint and one suggestion: The small rubber port covers don't seat really well. I can see them becoming worn and ruined, but so far they're ok. Secondly, since it's so small, the place for the G6 is in your pocket. A lanyard is not necessary. When the G6 is in your pocket, the touch screen becomes manipulated unintentionally. I wish there was a lock switch to disable the screen so that it remains in the same configuration as before. But anyway, I can't wait to use it again.
As you've found out already, there's no course downloading, no annual fees. You select your course when your're checking in at the pro shop. Mine took about a minute or so to pick up the SATs and then it was ready. It never lost signal during my 1 round. Two of my golf partners have the SGX which they love, but mine seems to be at least as good functionally, with several advantages. Other reviews described the G5 being hard to read in the sun, but I haven't tried it. The G6 screen contrast and visibility are excellent....no complaints. After 18 holes, the battery showed 3/4 remaining. The unit itself seems well put together and sturdy. I've read that this unit doubles as a $600 cycling computer.
Great job by Garmin on this rangefinder.
on February 29, 2012
I've played two rounds with the G6 and I really like it - a lot.
I also own a Skycaddie SGX, but I began having problems with the joystick and I didn't like having to know where I would be playing all the time which had an impact on playing unplanned rounds.
The unit is light in weight and very easy to carry or clip to you hip or pants pocket. It's so light that several times it didn't feel like I had it in my pocket.
The screen is very bright and readable in sunlight but it is kind of small. It's easy to navigate from hole layout, greens, meassure distance, layup points and the score card.
The unit is out of the box - ready to use.
If you're looking for a unit that gives you the basic information with stats and a score card, then this unit is the one you should get. If you're looking for additional information about the hole such as To and clear distance for sand traps, water and slopes on the green (some courses, not many) you may want to look at the Skycaddie as it's more detailed.
Nevertheless, I am finding that the G6 information provides me with the same information I received from the SGX. I never used all of the other details the SGX offers. I will say the SGX offers a nice colorfull screen layout.
on April 9, 2012
After two rounds, I am returning it for the following issues:
« It restarted the round multiple times causing me to go back and re-enter my scores
« It lost track of what hole I was on and put me back on 1 forcing me to cycle through to the correct hole before I could get the distance (once you get to hole 16 it becomes a serious pain)
« Yardages were off by as much as 25 yards - I checked course markers/SGX and friend's laser unit when I couldn't believe some distances I was getting on par 3s
« Even after calibrating a few times, I found the touch screen was "off"
« I found the readability in sunlight the same as my SGX and still much better than my smart phone
« After a few holes, you get used to the size and look of the map
« I loved the size of this unit, it is about 50% smaller than the SGX
« I had no issues with satellite lock (30 seconds at most), it was quite a bit faster than my SGX
I really wanted to keep this unit as I hate paying the annual fees to SkyCaddie and I do not like the navigation joystick of the SGX. But after a few rounds I am going to suck it up and pay for another year as it is still a much better GPS unit than this one.
on December 8, 2013
This item performed very well and has all of my local courses in it. Distances were accurate or within a yard of course markers and you didn't have to stand and wait for the yardages to update after getting to your ball.I would have liked a real aerial view of the holes instead, but not having to subscribe to a plan like another similar product makes it acceptable.. I set the display to stay on continuously and had plenty of battery life left after a round of golf. So for me, I am very satisfied with the product.
on April 5, 2012
I am a long time golfer, 10 index, used original Skycaddie for several years, the annual fee for the Skycaddie bugged me. I am quite happy with this one, love the close up of green view. I am enjoying the various stat tracking and scorekeeping options. I kept score for our group quite easily. Good battery life, good size, small enough for my pocket, but not too small. True it is a little hard to read in bright sun, but no annual fee means I don't mind this minor distraction.
on June 4, 2012
For about the last three years I've been unable to bring myself to spend $300 for a real GPS unit. I'd been using my iPhone with Golfshot or with the Golflogix app. But after getting tired of lugging around a spare battery, of being unable to see the iPhone apps in bright light, I dropped the $300 for the Garmin G6.
Overall, I'm pretty satisfied. The gps loads up quickly, is easy to see in bright light, has great battery life and generally gets the job done. Here are it's shortcomings, as I see them:
There is no screen that simply gives you GPS distances to and over hazards, etc. You always have to look at the map of the hole and drag a circle to what you want to measure. It does give you distances to most sand traps, but not always to water hazards and it does not give you carry distances.
Dragging the circle doesn't work well for me. The screen is nowhere near as responsive as an iPhone. Plus,the image you are working with is really quite small. Unless you're carrying this in a pocket instead of on your bag, belt clip, or pull cart, I don't see why small is so much better, other than using less battery.
Dragging the flag to a different portion of the green was not easy to do.
My major beef is with the scorecard. Although it tracks most of the needed stats: Fairways missed, GIR, Putts, total score - this is well short of the Golfshot scorecard on my iPhone, which also tracks penalties, sand shots, scrambling, etc. You can even enter stats about where you missed your putts and how much of a leave you left yourself. This is pretty basic in comparison.
More importantly, the scorecard on the Garmin G6 does not allow you to look at all your stats in one place. You can kind of see an overview of total score, fairways and putts, but not where you missed your fairways, left or right. Nor can you see which holes you 3 putted or how many 3 puts you had. If you got to putting you can see that. But I'm used to looking at a virtual scorecard giving me all of this information at once. I wouldn't think that would be so hard reproduce.
All that said, it's still a pretty great little device and has more going for it than any of the other devices I've seen. No one gps seems to have it all, so if anyone can give use the functionality of the garmin g6 with the scorecard and touchscreen of an iPhone app, you'd make big bucks.
on October 25, 2013
I have now used the Garmin G6 about a dozen times and I think the best way to rate the Garmin G6 is to compare it to the Sky Caddie SGX GPS which I also own and which I used for about two years prior to buying the Garmin. Each GPS costs about the same and they contain pretty much the same features. However, the SGX only holds up to 50 courses while the Garmin comes with approximately 25,000 courses already loaded. The SGX requires an annual fee for the right to add and change courses while there is no annual fee for the Garmin. And, with 25,000 courses already preloaded, there is little need to download anything more on the G6. Therefore, score big time for the G6 in that aspect. Also, and as an aside, even though the SGX advertises that it holds up to 50 courses, that is misleading. Many country clubs have 27 holes and the way the SGX handles most of those clubs is to consider each 9 holes within those 27 holes as a separate course. Accordingly, when you are downloading courses from the Sky Caddie website, you can actually end up with less than 50 actual course locations and it takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes to change the courses in the SGX by connecting to the Sky Caddie website. This is a lot of time wasted in my opinion. A nice thing about the G6 is that it turns on instantly and its GPS almost immediately knows which course or courses you are near. So, all you have to do is select the right one that is on the screen and you are ready to go. Conversely, the SGX takes a while to warm up and turn itself on and once that finally happens after a minute or so, you then can either ask it to search the nearest course or you have to scroll through all 50 of your downloaded courses until you find the one that applies to your current location. The "course search" option can take several minutes and the "scroll through 50 courses option" is frankly a pain. Score another round for the Garmin. To be fair to the SGX, the SGX screen is slightly bigger, which makes it a bit easier to read, and the graphics are considerably better than the Garmin. This makes it easier to get more precise distance readings to any location on a particular hole. The Garmin will do the same thing for you, but the SGX does this maneuver better in my opinion. I also think you have a few more options in the "settings" of the SGX than you get in the Garmin. Both the G6 and the SGX are accurate on the distances they provide. The first few rounds that I played with the Garmin I also brought the SGX and they were always within a yard or two of each other. Hope this helps you decide which features are more to your liking. Each is a good GPS.