Golf GPS Device Course Availability

Every manufacturer says that they have tens of thousands of golf courses available in their database (see Table 1) – but we think it’s more important to know if they actually have the courses that you play (see Table 2). In general, devices with full hole views, either graphics or satellite views, have lower course availability than those without.

We also tested how easy it is to map courses that aren’t available from the manufacturer, and in cases where the course is mapped and available, if you can add more targets points to each hole.

Table 1. Manufacturer Claim of Courses Available (Updated Summer 2015)

Golf GPS Device Worldwide
Sonocaddie V500 40,000
Garmin Approach G8
Garmin Approach G7
Garmin Approach G6
Garmin Approach S6
Garmin Approach S5
Garmin Approach S4
Garmin Approach S2
38,000
GolfBuddy PT4 37,000
SkyCaddie Aire
SkyCaddie Breeze
SkyCaddie Gimme
SkyCaddie Voice
SkyCaddie SGXw
SkyCaddie SGX
SkyCaddie LINX Watch
35,000
TomTom Golfer 34,000
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS
Bushnell NEO XS Watch
Expresso WR67 Watch
33,000
Callaway GPSync
IZZO SWAMI 4000
IZZO SWAMI Watch
30,000
ScoreBand Golf 27,000
Matrix SHOTMATE Voice 22,000

Notes:
Source for “Courses Available” data was each company’s website, marketing literature or company representative.
For reference, the National Golf Foundation states there were 15,979 golf courses in the United States as of January 1, 2010 and Golf Digest estimated the number worldwide at over 32,000 as of 2005.

Our Survey

We took a cross-section of 100 public courses across the country and searched to see if the courses were available for each device. In order to avoid having a skewed result, we tried to utilize as broad and representative a sample as possible.
We counted courses as “covered” only if the highest level of functionality advertised is available for the course.

To test if there were specific areas lacking in course coverage:

Selections were also evenly dispersed among 5 different types of courses:

The Results

Overall Coverage

Overall coverage is based upon course availability of the most advanced features marketed for the product (such as IntelliGreen Pro for selected SkyCaddie products). All devices continue to creep upwards in course coverage since our initial reviews in 2009, though some still toil at lower coverage levels, dragged down by a lack of coverage for their advanced features. Scores were out of a possible 100. Full detail of courses tested is available.

Table 2. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage (Updated Summer 2015)

Golf GPS Device Course Coverage*
Garmin Approach S6/S5/S4/S3/S2/S1 100
Garmin Approach G8/G7/G6 100
GolfBuddy PT4/Voice 100
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS/NEO XS Watch 99
Expresso WR67 99
TomTom Golfer 99
SkyCaddie Aire/Aire II/LINX/Watch 99
Callaway GPSync 98
IZZO SWAMI 4000/Watch 98
ScoreBand Golf 96
SkyCaddie Breeze 57
Sonocaddie V500 26

Notes:
We define our course coverage statistic to only count a course as “covered” if it was mapped in the most advanced mode a device provided. The change in our methodology results as more and more devices evolve to providing overhead maps. We believe consumers want to know if these devices they are buying are able to deliver what is promised, and not a lower level of service.

Coverage by Course Type

When it came to course type (see Table 3 below), coverage of “Best New” courses is the differentiator between the upper echelon and also-ran competitors in this category. That wasn’t too surprising (we would presume that the primary challenge for the makers of these units will always be keeping up with new courses that open) – but we were pleasantly surprised to see most units providing solid coverage of the Tolerable 20. Scores were out of 20 for each course type.

Table 3. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage by Course Type (Updated Summer 2015)

Golf GPS Device Top 100 Destination Best New Best Value Tolerable 20
Garmin Approach S6/S5/S4/S3/S2/S1 20 20 20 20 20
Garmin Approach G8/G7/G6 20 20 20 20 20
GolfBuddy PT4/Voice 20 20 20 20 20
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS/NEO XS Watch 20 20 19 20 20
Expresso WR67 20 20 19 20 20
TomTom Golfer 20 20 19 20 20
SkyCaddie Aire/Aire II/LINX/Watch 19 20 20 20 20
Callaway GPSync 20 19 20 19 20
IZZO SWAMI 4000/Watch 20 19 20 19 20
ScoreBand Golf 20 19 19 19 19
SkyCaddie Breeze 13 13 13 11 7
Sonocaddie V500 7 5 5 3 6

See our list of golf courses tested for full details.

Coverage by Geography

The breakout by geography in Table 4 shows that devices that aren’t in the top tier of our course testing generally have one or more regions that trail their strongest regions in coverage. Scores were out of 20 for each region.

Table 4. Critical Golf Test Results – Course Coverage by Geography (Updated Summer 2015)

Golf GPS Device West Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast
Garmin Approach S6/S5/S4/S3/S2/S1 20 20 20 20 20
Garmin Approach G8/G7/G6 20 20 20 20 20
GolfBuddy PT4/Voice 20 20 20 20 20
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS/NEO XS Watch 20 19 20 20 20
Expresso WR67 20 19 20 20 20
TomTom Golfer 20 19 20 20 20
SkyCaddie Aire/Aire II/LINX/Watch 19 20 20 20 20
Callaway GPSync 20 19 20 20 19
IZZO SWAMI 4000/Watch 20 19 20 20 19
ScoreBand Golf 19 19 19 20 19
SkyCaddie Breeze 11 12 7 16 12
Sonocaddie V500 7 3 4 5 8

See our list of golf courses tested for full details.