Customer Review

341 of 347 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Met expectations, July 24, 2012
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This review is from: Garmin Approach S3 GPS Golf Watch (White) (Electronics)
Let me begin by saying I am not a scratch golfer. I typically shoot in the high 80's. I've owned a skycaddie and utilized the golfshot app on my iphone. The sky-caddie was ok....I would regularly forget to bring it with me and became annoyed with the subscription model. I also grew tired of it's bulkiness. The golfshot app was cool but it was murder on my iphone battery. I also didn't particularly like exposing my Iphone to the elements. I had a few close calls when it bounced out the golf cart and fortunately landed on grass.

So I made my mind up to invest in another yardage aide. I spent a week researching and weighing the pros and cons of gps vs. laser. It came down to a few key points. First, as I mentioned previously, I am not a scratch golfer. I like exact distances but do not hit my clubs consistently enough for +/- 5 yards to make that much of a difference. Second, I know me. The idea of taking a laser rangefinder out every time I need a distance is unappealing. It'll end up staying in my bag after the novelty of it wore off. The exact distance a laser rangefinder provides is appealing but overkill for the vast majority of golfers including me. Most of us only need a fairly accurate distance. Third, I wanted something that was portable enough to ensure I would use it frequently.

Admittedly, handheld gps units are good but cannot match the accuracy of a good laser unit. That's not the point. GPS units allow you to enjoy the game by giving you fairly accurate distances to hazards and greens. They also serve to speed up the game. If you've ever golfed a public course on a Saturday you know what I mean (people searching for yardage markers, etc.).

So here's my take on the Approach S3 after two rounds. Set-up was fairly easy with the exception of the language issue others have mentioned. I followed the instructions of one of the other reviewers and it worked. The first time at the course it took about 4 minutes to acquire the satellites. The second round (at a different course) it took less than a minute. The yardages seemed to be spot on 50 yards or more from the green. Inside of 50 yards I became skeptical of the yardage the S3 was giving. Fortunately, I rely mostly on feel at that distance anyway so it wasn't a deal breaker for me. I think this issue is endemic to most GPS units.

The "measure" feature is pretty cool and easy to use. There is a dedicated button on the upper left hand side of the unit and was helpful in enabling me to check my club distances frequently. The scoring feature inaccurately showed my score in each round but I later found that either I failed to enter in my score on one of the holes or it didn't register. Either way, I was able to go back and update for the missing hole and it correctly calculated the score. I'll keep an eye on this and update accordingly.

Battery life is acceptable. I had about 70% of battery life left after a three and a half hour round. It should be able to get through a two round day.

I love the portability of the unit....being able to look down at your wrist and get a distance is great. My buddy, who has a Sky Caddie SGX, started asking me for distances when he saw the Approach was mirroring the distances he got from his Sky Caddie. You just can't beat the convenience.

My one complaint is the "green view". Moving the flag pin on the watch can be frustrating at times due to the size of the's just not conducive to that type of feature. Each time it took more than one try to position the flag stick correctly but not annoying enough to be a deal breaker.

In conclusion, I don't think you will be disappointed with the S3 if you're expectations for accuracy are grounded. Remember, it will not be as accurate as a laser rangefinder (given you use the laser correctly...they have their own set of issues).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2012 9:42:27 AM PDT
V. Portis says:
This review was great. Seriously considering the s3. Other reviews welcomed ASAP.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 4:57:57 PM PST
Great review. How long does the battery last if the watch is worn as an pedometer or just as a watch with GPS off?

Posted on Dec 19, 2013 4:41:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2013 4:42:36 PM PST
hal96a says:
thanks for a solid review, and for recognizing that EXACT yardage is not crucial to us double digit handicappers. While we're young...
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