I absolutely love this thing. I have used a Skycaddy and a uPro in the past and this blows them away. It is very accurate, and keeps score well(Just remember to go to the score card on each hole). The biggest plus for me is it is ALWAYS on. I don't have to push a button to see my yardage, I just glance at my wrist. It has also had every course I've played so far(although that's only 6 courses so far).
Amazing new outperformer
This watch is an absolute delight for a 16 handicap golfer. For years I have used a Golf Buddy and valued it. But the Approach S3 makes the Golf Buddy obsolete. Some of the reviewers had programming and Garmin support problems, but I never had any problems so I never called support. I recently went to half a dozen northeast Iowa golf courses (yes-it's good golf in Iowa in the rolling NE part), and the S3 contained all the obscure little courses and my Golf Buddy had none. Glancing at the wrist is much easier than digging a hand unit out of your pocket. And no one knows you are checking the distance rather than time, so it's seamless.
Small problems which don't override the 5 Star rating are these: (1) It is difficult to get the watch unlocked with the "easy glove or finger sweep" across the face, and I always need to make multiple hard swipes across the watch to get into golf course mode. (2) The battery gets drained quickly. I found after 34 holes it went blank. If you play no more than 27 holes, it's fine. (3) The wrist strap has a notch which the end of the strap fits into--that makes it harder to put on and remove the watch and I wonder how long the strap will last. (4) I couldn't get it to show an actual shot of the hole, so other competitors are better for that. If you're a scratch golfer you may need more hole layout information. Us 16 handicappers get along fine with it. Would an S1 work as well? Maybe so, but I am a fish with a big mouth for golf toy lures.
UPDATE on 10-1-12: Recently my watch just died and wouldn't take a charge. I called customer support and talked to Dean. Great help. He assisted me (patiently) with updating the software, and it cured not only the "go blank" problem but also the difficulty I had getting the watch to course mode from the watch. I am still giving the watch five stars--I love the convenience of wearing it and now I am a 14.2--down from 16.4, maybe thanks a little to the S3. I'd buy it again if it dropped in a water hazard. And if you are having problems, call customer support and update your software. Great toys are worthless when they don't work. And heaven when they do.
Really well done
This is by far the most unobtrusive and straightforward GPS device I have used on the course. I have used numerous GPS devices all have worked as expected but my issue with all of them is that they are too large to not be unobtrusive in a pocket and then I am constantly leaving them in the cart. Once you charge this Garmin fully and set it up, which is really straight forward if you follow the instructions, it works flawlessly. It takes a while to learn how the navigate the device but that is true with any GPS gadget. Distances are accurate, the score keeping is simple. It moves from hole to hole much faster than my previous gadgets did. All in all I am very satisfied.
I read all the reviews and had some trepidations but this turned out to be a fanastic little gadget. Its very accurate (as compared to course markings), extremely convient, very intuitive to use and has great features - I particularly like the score keeping and measuremet features. I was concerned about some of the issues people had written about as follows: Language issues - no issue as my Garmin was already set to English; software updating issues - true, the website they specified in the manual does not exist but I just clicked on the help/support button on the Garmin site and very quickly found the software update information (note that I'm pretty much a computer illiterate). Updating was a snap, literally; freezing up - if this was an issue they fixed it with updated software as I have not experienced any such issue; charging problems - absolutely no issue; slow to access satelite - mine accesses in less than a minute.
There are a couple of minor things they probably could have done better: you do have to swipe the unlock feature more than a couple of times to unlock the watch. It does not provide hazard information (but there is a save location feature that's pretty neat). Battery life will last for 36 holes only if you're playing quickly, otherwise, count on 27 holes. These are the only cons I can think of and none would cause me to give less than a 5 star rating.
This little gem may not improve my swing but its a joy to use and I'm sure I'll be refining my club distance knowledge to improve my overall game now that I have a convient measurement tool at the tip of fingers (or on my wrist).
Great Watch with GPS capabilities
This is an amazing Golf GPS watch. I've used it about 7 outings so far and its helped me tremendously. I've actually lowered my score because of this watch. By the way its also a watch. I wear it everyday. The features are intuitive and easy to use. No more fumbling on the phone or waiting to get distances. On the course this watch works precisely. Its a true advantage to have. Off the course the watch is stylish and functions very well. It holds a charge for a long time. I can get 2 rounds and still have some juice left. If you want to lower your score, this is the right tool.
Dont buy bundled accessories
Recieved the S3 as a requested birthday present. My friend has the S1 and love the convenience of the wrist borne GPS system. My S3 set up immediately and I've had no issues operating it. Very intuitive and the touch screen feature is great. I also received the car and data charger accessories that were suggested as "frequently bought with". These only fit the older model Garmin watches!!
Garmin S3 Golf GPS watch
Great improvement from the S1 in the charging clip. It ALWAYS works! The new features and the touch screen are good additions. I wish the battery life had also been improved.
This watch is a Game Changer!!
I've been playing golf for nearly 20 years and have never had any sort of ranger finder. I always relied on markers and such and mostly was pretty spot on. However, THIS WATCH HAS CHANGED MY GAME.
First time out:
-The night prior I charged the watch, too easy. The charging cradle is MAGNETIC and is dummy-proof. The next day I put it on and headed to the course.
FEEL: I wear an "oversized" TIMEX watch (I have small wrists as well) and this fit like a brand new golf glove, AMAZING. It didn't get in the way of my swing nor my glove.
DURABILITY: So far I've worn it once on the course for 18 holes and around town. There were some complaints on the durability of the band but this seems SOLID. I wouldn't wear this watch on any sort of endurance race or through the woods (unless you hit your ball there) but for the course and normal wear, this watch is as high of quality as I would have expected from Garmin.
INTERFACE: As soon as I walked outside the time synced with GPS, NO PROGRAMMING NEEDED! The touch screen is great and EASILY navigable. I didn't notice the buttons on the side. They're nice if you use it to keep score (I haven't yet as I use Nike Golf 360 app) and the "distance" button (top right) is great for measuring shots, you push it from where you hit to where the ball landed, TOO EASY. Now I was able to actually see real-world number of my shots. AWESOME!
USE DURING PLAY: I drove to the course and several courses around me came up, with the one I was at on top. I selected it and it started at hole one and gave me the distance to the pin, front, and back (as you see in most photos of the watch). Whenever I moved around the tee box, the numbers changed accordingly, and VERY QUICKLY. You can also use the distance to doglegs and the 150/200 yard markers. Finally knowing the distance to dog legs was GREAT! I was able to change up my teeing options and nail the doglegs instead of hitting a driver or 3 wood and wondering if they would stay on the fairway. GREAT TOOL!
-After the tee shot, this watch was ABSOLUTE MONEY. I was able to stick a few greens and change my club options by knowing the EXACT distance to the pin. You can even physically move the pin on the "green view" which was also pretty amazing.
-At one point the watch switched to another hole (as noted by another reviewer) but all I did was literally press UP or DOWN on the screen (top or bottom) and it switched to the hole that I was on and was accurate to the pin (I may have bumped or accidentally touched the screen). This ONLY HAPPENED ONCE and rest assured that it doesn't register wayward motions or touches, at least it didn't for me during the rest of the course. I'm not sure of the "downtime" between presses but you'll find yourself having to "swipe" across the screen to make changes. It's not a pain at all and I like the design.
ODOMETER: I didn't realize until before I started that I could use the odometer to track my overall walking distance. It also keeps time via a timer and lets you see how fast you're playing as well. Pretty great! I finished walking 18 holes and also ran a 3 mile course afterward by MAPPING IT OUT with the watch. Too cool! I've never had a GPS watch before and this was great!
UPDATING: When I returned home I plugged it into my computer with the included USB cable. On the watch face it gave me the website to go to (again, dummy proof!) I went there and had to download a small program (Garmin Express) and it quickly recognized my watch. There were 5 updates (2 watch software) to include map updates! Again, too easy. I had to restart the watch (top left button) and turn it back on for the updates to apply. Simple, fast, and easy.
BOTTOM LINE: I haven't worn watches when golfing up until a few weeks ago (knowing that I wanted a GPS watch). It doesn't hinder my play or throw my swing off whatsoever. I personally believe that this is WAY BETTER than using a laser distance range finder (beats carrying it around!). Knowing distance to the hole (for me anyhow) allows me to also know the distances to any hazards (which the watch DOES NOT give you distances to). This IS NOT a deal breaker for me!
-Having been jammed up after the 10th hole and falling out of rhythm, I nailed a +8, not bad given the windy conditions. Do I think that I was able to take strokes off with the watch? Absolutely. Before checking distance a couple of times I chose what club I thought I should use and then checked distance. A few times I changed clubs and stuck it right on the green; I was ecstatic!
WHY I CHOSE THE S3: I was torn between the less expensive S1/2 and the more-expensive-with-more-features S6. For me I don't need anymore features than what the S3 has (I don't need the smartphone notification, color maps, swing tempo, etc). Here is a link to the comparison on the Garmin website (scroll down): [...] .These all seemed more than what I actually needed a distance finder for. If you want DISTANCE, GREEN VIEWS, ODOMETER, etc, this watch is perfect for you. If you want to keep track of phone calls and want color maps on your wrist, then get the more expensive watch (Me personally I don't care to know who is calling and the score cards and signs on the course ALREADY give you the course layout!) Also, for less than $199 this was a GREAT INVESTMENT and price point for me. Want SIMPLICITY but also some STYLE? Then this watch is for you. My girlfriend and a few buddies even commented on how nice it looked.
The best in making your decision and I hope that this review was able to help out!
I pre-ordered the S3 and received it just the other day. Charged it and took it out to the course. Fantastic! Easy to use and very accurate. It really speeds up play. Simply look at your wrist and you are good to go. No pacing and estimating distance. No clunky object you have to carry. I have not plugged it into my computer yet, so I know nothing about those problems others speak of.
I have used the watch for 3 rounds of golf. One in SoCal and 2 in Hawaii. When changing locations, the watch does take about 3-4 minutes to locate satellites and load the course you are going to play, not unreasonable. The yardages are within and average of 8 yards of the sprinkler head marks and within 4 yards of the golf cart mounted GPS. I trust the watch the most for the yardages. The movable pin feature and touch screen is what make the Approach S3 so attractive. I have dumped my SkyCaddie for this watch. It is more convenient and has a large database. With the Skycaddie, I got tired of paying the annual fees for the databases and the limited ability to only store 10 courses. It is rugged and comfortable as well. You can enter your score which is nice. The only thing you need to watch is sometime it advances to the next hole while still close to the green, then if you don't verify the hole and enter the score, it will be for the wrong hole. I like yardages from everywhere, even from the other fairway that I miss, it is accurate. :-) A great device for golf!