Customer Reviews

727
4.4 out of 5 stars
Garmin Approach S1 Special Edition GPS Golf Watch (Preloaded with US Courses)
Style Name: Special Edition, US coursesProduct Packaging: Standard PackagingChange
Price:$145.00 - $286.00
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188 of 192 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2012
This golf watch is very easy to use. I have used it on several other courses in other states since I got it in September and the satellite link was always successful. I have also used it to measure distances walked and this function is useful for determining how much exercise you get in walking. (miles) When finished using the satellite, it reverts to a timepiece which is very convenient. I would recommend this for those who only want to know front, middle or back distances to green and who don't mind wearing a watch while playing golf. I had not been in the habit of wearing one, but this is very light and doesn't interfere with my game. I like not having to grab for a distance measuring device, pick it up and put it down before swinging the club. This is easier.
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164 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
I have a golf GPS that requires me to download the course information before I can play for the first time. That process isn't simple or without problems. This Garmin S1 is the easiest thing to use. You turn it on, tell it you want to play a round of golf (since it comes up in watch mode) and it displays a list of the courses nearby. So if you are at a golf course when you tell it you want to play, you don't have to go searching for the course you want to play, it is already on the top of the list you select from. If there is more than one course nearby, as there is at my golf club, the different courses will be listed for you to choose from with the closest first.

Using the S1 during play couldn't be easier either. You don't have to change holes manually, it knows where you are and therefore what hole you are on. You can change the holes manually, but it isn't necessary under most circumstances.

I'm used to wearing a watch during play, so I didn't have much to get used to in that regard. If you don't normally wear a watch, this may be a problem. The watch and band are one solid piece of plastic. I guess that's good for the integrity of the device but don't think you will change bands to a slip-on-type to avoid having to mess with this strappy-type.

The device acquires the satellites quickly, adjusts to movement quickly and seems to be quite accurate. Certainly accurate enough for my play.

The difficulties others have mentioned about attaching the clip-on charging device are real. You've got to mess with it a little to get a good connection. The directions tell you what the screen should look like if you get a good connection, so it's isn't that big of a problem if you know what you are doing. It's an issue, but not enough of a problem to take away a star.

I know this S1 GPS doesn't have all of the features of Garmin's S3 version or other GPSs on the market, but I don't need them. My other GPS has those features and they just aren't that useful or in some cases, that easy to use. In fact, the simplicity of just getting the distance to the green is a real advantage to me. And for the price difference between the S1 and the S3, I don't think you can do better than this device.

For the simplicity, ease-of-use during play, low price and fast, accurate readings, I highly recommend the Garmin Approach S1 Golf GPS.
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84 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2013
This is a review of the Garmin S1 GPS Golf Watch but for comparison purposes I will also describe how the S1 stacks up against the Bushnell Neo X gps watch. Both of these units have similar prices and time-telling functions, so I will focus my comments mainly on the golf functions.

Size: A major appeal of the S1 is that in pictures it appears to be smaller and more streamlined than the Neo X, which is rather boxy. In hand, because of its round shape the S1 continues to look more streamlined, but it is actually heavier and thicker than the Neo X, which also has a narrower band than the S1. Winner: Neo X. (BTW, neither watch was heavy or bulky enough to interfere with my golf swing; after a couple of rounds I really didn’t notice either watch.)

Legibility: Both the S1 and the Neo X display hole number and distance to front, middle and back of green. However, the main figure of distance to center of green is larger on the Neo X. I am farsighted and play golf without glasses; I can clearly read the center distance on the Neo X but not on the S1. I believe this is due to the fact that the display area of the Neo X is larger than that of the S1, so the Neo X can show larger-size figures. Even with glasses on I found the Neo X’s display of course names easier to read than the S1’s. Winner: Neo X.

Special features: Both the S1 and the Neo X can measure shot distances and have an odometer function. However, the S1 lacks the ability to show distances to hazards, which the Neo X does; and the Neo X also has a timer you can set to turn your unit on a few minutes before your tee time. Winner: Neo X.

Cost: The S1 and Neo X cost about the same. Winner: tie.

Battery time: The Neo X battery lasts at least twice as long, 2-3 rounds vs 1 round for the S1. (The Neo X actually claims to have enough battery life to play 3 rounds, but so far I have only played 2 without recharging; after 2 rounds the remaining battery life as per the battery charge icon seems to show enough for a third round.) Winner: Neo X.

Satellite acquisition time: On more than one occasion the S1 has taken 20-30 seconds longer than the Neo X to acquire a satellite lock-in. Winner: Neo X.

Strap width: The S1 strap is wider than that of Neo X. Winner: Probably a tie for men, ladies may prefer the narrower strap of the Neo X. Winner: depends on personal preference.

Color: Both the S1 and Neo X are available in black and white. I prefer black because it doesn’t show dirt and dings as much as white does. Winner: tie.

Charging mechanism: Both the S1 and the Neo X charging mechanisms are poorly designed and awkward; a clip with tiny metal prongs must be carefully aligned with tiny holes on the back of the watch in order for charging to take place. Both watches get a grade of “D” on this criterion, but I find the Neo X mechanism to be easier to insert and less likely to pull loose while charging. Winner: Neo X. (Note to Bushnell and Garmin: Hire away an engineer and a designer from Apple to solve this vexing problem.)

Issues: I have had no problems with the Neo X, but have to return the Garmin S1 because of occasional lapses in displaying the distances to the pin and other readings. I believe this is a quality control issue rather than a design flaw, so if you buy an S1 make sure you can easily return or replace it if it malfunctions (this is one main reason I shop with Amazon whenever possible).

Overall: The S1 is an initial model no longer manufactured by Garmin so it has only very basic functions. Garmin’s later models (S2, S3, S4) have more bells and whistles but cost 2 or 3 times as much as the S1. The Bushnell Neo X costs about the same as the S1 but shows the distance to hazards, has a more legible distance-to-center figure, and has much longer battery life, so the Neo X is the better choice.

Disclosure: I have no personal or business relationships with Garmin or Bushnell.
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140 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
This watch is a great device and is very accurate when on the course. The only issue I have with it is when you go to charge the device...the charger has a 4 prong connection and it fits very tightly in the 4 holes provided. You have make SURE all 4 connections are in the holes or it will not charge. I have reached for the watch on my way to the course and it has been dead.

Just need to make sure its fully connected.
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133 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
My video review going over the Garmin Approach S1. If you have any questions, please give me a comment and I'll try to answer as soon as possible.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
This is great no yearly fee and easy to keep up with since your wearing it, unlike a sky caddie.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2013
It seems to work very well. It is within 1 yard of markers. Although, the batter life could be better. It only lasts for about two rounds.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2013
First disclaimer is I bought this at a local store (wanted it right away), but having used it for several months now I feel I can add value to the Amazon community and so am submitting a review on here.

Part of my motivation is how surprised I am at the very high ratings here on Amazon. Don't get me wrong; I think this is a *good* device (I give it 3-star). But honestly it falls well short of the 4-5 star ratings that people are giving it. I feel it appropriate to add another perspective.

And a last bit of preamble: This is my *third* range finding device (I am part techno lover and part supporter of my son's golf efforts, seeking the best/easiest device for him to us in - allowed - competitions). As my third device, I was able to do very solid head-to-head comparisons with a Bushnell Tour V2 (laser) and SkyCaddie SGX (GPS).

The issue with the Garmin S1 is...accuracy! Yes, I too read all the reviewers who said it was right on. Well, I am here to tell you that it is *not* always right on. I have checked it on quite a few courses over the last few months, and there are holes on which it is 5-10 yards off (as compared to marked plates or the other devices) at least. I think I got my worst comparison at about 15 yards of error. Admittedly, if you are a beginner, that is no big deal. But if you are a single-digit handicapper, that is a full club off...and on many greens that can be a disaster. As such, unfortunately my son (3-5 handicap) has already given up on it....

My theory is this: Garmin, like many GPS golf range finders, probably uses satellite images of golf courses and shoves them in some analysis program to identify the green and then center of green. The fundamental issue with *all* GPS companies using this tactic is: greens with false fronts. After getting some very bad readings on a number of holes, I finally started to sense a pattern: greens with false fronts were consistently off by the most. My guess: Garmin's algorithm is reading the false front as part of the green and calculating the pin/middle too far up toward the front. SkyCaddie avoids this fate by sending people out to *walk* courses. So - IMHO - if you really want to go with a GPS-based golf system, go with one like the SkyCaddie where they verify yardages by hand...not just rely on a computer.

I'll summarize my findings as follows:
Pro's:
No annual fee (this is a *big* advantage over SkyCaddie)
Surprisingly light and easy to wear watch (less clunky than the belt-holsetr SkyCaddie)
Auto-detects very well...I have played many 18 hole rounds and almost never have to tell it what hole I am on!
Easy to read yardage display...even for someone like me who usually wears reading glasses!

Con's
Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. This is an Achilles Heal for a serious golfer. I don't trust it for better than 5-10 yd accuracy (unless I have previously checked a plate).
Battery is "ok". If you play a 36-hole day (my son and I did last week)...the watch will die near the end of round #2.
Charging "clip" for recharge is a royal pain and very poorly designed. It is VERY hard to make proper pin connections (and I am an Engineer!). Whoever designed this really dropped the...err...ball! I can't tell you how many times I was *sure* it was connected correctly...only to take the watch out for my next round and have it die because the recharge never happened. Very frustrating!

Suggestions (in case anyone from Garmin reads this)
1. Fix the charging clip. It really is a joke. It would have been so easy to design a molded clip that *fit* snuggly in the proper position for assuring a charge. The current system takes precise positioning and a bit of luck to get it right. Really silly.
2. Develop an options to add or subtract yardage. Example: I go to the main plate at the tee and it reads 415 yards, but my S1 reads 408 yards. Allow me to enter an "adjust" mode on the watch and tick up +7 yards, so from then on while on that hole, it reads the *correct* yardage (assuming of course the plate is accurate). Even better...install a bit of memory on the S1 and allow me to *save* yardage adjustments for all the holes at my 1 or 2 favorite (home) courses!

Some of you may read this and say: "Well, silly, just do a comparison at a plate on the course and mentally adjust yardage from there". And indeed this is what I ended up doing most often. But...let me point out that if a plate is nearby, you really don't need the S1 in the first place. This - and any range device - is most useful when you are *away* from marked yardages. So if you have forgotten to do a plate comparison and are out of position (when the S1 is most needed)..you are sunk.

Honestly, I had dreams of using the S1 as a permanent replacement for the SkyCaddie, and avoiding all future annual fees. But the accuracy issues just are not going to make this possible. The S1 is most probably headed to eBay, and another annual renewal fee headed to SkyCaddie.

P.S. Some of you may say: "Since you have a Bushnell Laser, why bother with a GPS device in the first place?!" My response: I really like the Bushnell, but in all honestly, even in pinseeker mode I find it can get flakey and even *wrong* readings sometimes. I end up having to do 3-4 re-checks of every pin to ensure I get the same reading...which I can then trust. It works, but is far less convenient than looking down at a watch (or the SkyCaddie screen) and reading the yardage right away.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2013
Great Golf GPS. Does exactly what it says it will do, but no more. You will only get the distances to the front, middle and back portions of the green. No distances to hazards or carries like some of Garmin's other models and other GPS's on the market. The charge last for the full round and then some. Not sure if it would last for two rounds in one day though. Good funtionality as a watch and easy to use. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because it is a little bulky and for me, the band is not all the comfortable, but I suspect I will get used to it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
It has allowed me to know how far I am from the pin from any position and has been very accurate.
My scores with it have been an average of 7 strokes down:)
Rick Glover
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