With the release of the “Scoring Plus” module and the latest reduction in MSRP, the Callaway uPro has surged back to the top spot in our rankings, claiming the title of “best golf GPS device.” We loved the intuitive interface, the ability to see satellite maps of the entire hole and determine the distance to any point on a hole, the vibrant color screen and how light and slim the device is. Adding a scorecard and statistics while reducing the price only makes it that much sweeter!
The device does have its flaws – the Callaway uPro wasn’t quite up to the level of some of its competitors in our test of golf courses available. But oh, it is so shiny and sparkly. It’s first in our book. And in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, if you ain’t first, you’re last.
- New low price is extremely competitive
- The smallest, and also second lightest, device tested
- Exceptional color screen
- Satellite maps of each hole that are both cool-looking and useful
- Provides distance to any point on the hole along with pre-mapped targets
- Per course fee for ProMode golf courses
- Shorter battery life, lasting approximately 2 rounds before needing a recharge
- Satellite images can be challenging to see in bright sunlight
Retail price: $199.00 plus $20 for Scoring Plus module
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Callaway upro mx
The Good: The attractive and efficient packaging in which the Callaway uPro arrives is the first sign that there has been a significant amount of thought put into everything about this device. The device syncs directly with a web interface, eliminating the need to install any desktop manager software on a computer. Hey, maybe this whole Internet thing is going to catch on after all!
The Bad: Not much to speak of. In the case when the uPro website would not establish a connection to allow us to load courses, we just needed to relaunch the Sync application on the uPro. Be sure to confirm that the Sync application has quit before removing the uPro after updating your course list.
- Required Steps. The Callaway uPro makes life easier for users by not requiring the installation of any desktop software on a computer, significantly reducing the amount of time (and in the case of many other devices, trouble) necessary to get up and running. All it takes is:
- registering to create an account;
- searching for desired golf courses on the web interface; and
- plugging the device into the computer through the USB cable, and then launch the Sync program to launch the uPro site and transfer the selected golf courses to the device.
- updating the software to the latest version and adding the Scoring Plus module was a simple matter of following the instructions (in a manner not dissimilar to the general sync process).
What’s in the Box: The Callaway uPro comes with the accessories listed below. One free download of a ProMode course is also included.
- USB cable
- Rechargeable battery
- Wall charger
- Headphones (to hear audio for the video tour)
- Quick Start
- Callaway uPro Player Guide.
Critical Golf Test: The Callaway uPro falls into the lower third of the group in our test of the availability of golf courses, with 84% coverage. Coverage by type of course was evenly dispersed, with the exception of weakness in “Best New” courses (only 12 of the 20 tested). For whatever reason, uPro also had comparatively weaker coverage among courses in the Midwest and Northeast (15 out of 20 in each). You can easily request courses to be added via the uPro website, but you can also see how many times a course has been requested but is still not available (we have seen into the hundreds!).
Manufacturer’s Claims: Callaway claims to have 25,000 courses in its database, which stands up against the competition.
Ease of Use
The Good: The Callaway uPro impressed us with its intuitive interface. And if you can’t figure out how to use it yourself, the uPro comes with introductory videos pre-loaded on the device (the manufacturer even includes a set of headphones so you can listen to the accompanying audio track). Again, we are impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into the device and its presentation.
The Bad: The device relies on a side button as the primary method of accessing the Pro Mode view of the hole – this is easy enough to use once you know it’s there, but it’s not particularly intuitive. Rechargeable battery life is slightly shorter than other devices.
- Buttons. Like most devices, the device utilizes 5-way navigation buttons, with 2 soft key buttons on the front face and additional buttons on the side. Navigating through the various features is simple and we were comfortable using the device within a couple of holes. We should note that our testers felt that the soft keys were underutilized, and that the reliance on a side button as the only method of accessing the ProMode view of the hole may be misguided.
- Screen. The color screen of the device is bright and clear, making text easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. On extremely sunny days we found the satellite images could look washed-out, and were not as crisp as images on devices that use graphics instead of satellite images, but a tradeoff we are willing to accept. Satellite images generally lack the contrast of graphic hole views, which we find much easier to view across all lighting conditions.
- Form Factor. Light and slim, the Callaway uPro is perfectly sized for tucking into a pocket during a round.
- Starting a Round. The uPro does not automatically locate what course you are on, so the round is initiated by selecting the desired course from a list (the device will list the courses in order of proximity once it locks on to the user’s position).
- Battery Life. Battery life on the uPro is on the short side – the bright screen and video flyover views are the likely culprits. Our reviewers found that the device would last approximately 2 rounds before it needed recharging. The device does allow adjusting its settings to save power, such as reducing the brightness of the screen and the amount of time before it enters “sleep mode”.
Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.
Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: The uPro is absolutely unmatched with respect to course detail, providing a veritable cornucopia of information about each hole for ProMode courses.
The Bad: Users cannot customize existing course maps with additional targets.
- Views. The Callaway uPro provides courses in two modes: Basic and Pro – Basic Mode maps are free, while ProMode maps come at a cost ranging from $1.20 to $10 per course (there are discounts for buying courses in bulk). The features in the Basic Mode maps are limited to those available for run-of-the-mill golf GPS devices (identifying certain hazards and providing distances to the front, middle and back of the green). The Pro Mode maps are what make the Callaway uPro exceptional, featuring a video flyover of each hole, a satellite map of each hole, and the ability to measure distances to any point on the golf course. In our view, the significant functionality from the Pro Mode maps easily justify the additional cost.
- Basic Mode/Green view – A simple reading of distances to the front, middle and back of the green.
- Basic Mode/Target view – Provides a list of hazards, along with a picture to indicate the type of target (bunker, tree, etc.), and distances both to reach the target and to clear the target. Our reviewers were pleased that the Callway uPro always provides both of the distances. The targets are listed in order of proximity to the user’s location.
- ProMode/SmartView – The Callaway uPro’s ProMode provides the user with practically unlimited flexibility of views based on an astounding overhead satellite map of the hole. The device will zoom in to the section of the map it believes is most relevant to the user based on the user’s location (what the manufacturer calls its “SmartView”), and provides distances to reach and to clear various targets on the map. White, red and yellow dots indicate distances to points on the green, hazards, and those where distance would be displayed if not limited by screen space. Even better, the user can override the SmartView and pan and zoom anywhere on the entire hole. Even if a desired point isn’t mapped as a target, users can highlight the point using a cursor on the map and simply click to determine the distance from their current position (the uPro’s “AnyPoint” feature). Even better, users can also perform layup measurements so you can plan successive shot distances.
- Rotation of targets – The borders of all greens and most targets are mapped – which means that wherever you are on the course, the device will rotate the map to show you the yardage to the edges of the green (or target) closest to and farthest from you, not just the yardages to the edge closest to and farthest from the tee box.
- ProMode/Video flyover – Courses mapped in ProMode also have an introductory helicopter-type flyover of an aerial map of the hole, similar to the ones shown on TV during professional tournaments. The flyovers show the shape of the hole, the relevant hazards and the shape of the green, with lines drawn across the fairway at 200, 150 and 100 yards (in blue, white and red). This is extremely helpful on a course that the user has never played, but is admittedly less useful on a course with which the user is already familiar.
- Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on both of the Basic Mode views (ProMode only shows the hole number, so users need to toggle back to Basic Mode to see the par for the hole). Hole handicap is not available.
- Custom Mapping. The Callaway uPro does not allow users to add new hazards to the course map, but this isn’t a problem with this device because of the aforementioned ability to calculate the distance to any point on the map (or for that matter, the distance between any two points on the map). The vast majority of devices don’t provide a map of the entire hole, listing only specific hazards on each hole – for those devices, the ability to add a hazard that might be relevant to a particular user is far more important.
Suggestion Box: It would be nice if the Callaway uPro prompted the user on whether to skip all of the video flyovers for that round (it does provides a prompt before each hole, but that can lead to pressing the “skip” button 18 times per round if you know the course pretty well). The device has a setting that will shut down all video flyovers, but we would like the flexibility to make that decision just once at the beginning of each round, instead of having to go deep into the preferences menu to change the setting back and forth. And yes, we realize that we’re REALLY nitpicking at this point.
The Good: The Callaway uPro is packed with unique features that we fell in love with. There are lots of “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” when you show the device to your friends.
The Bad: A couple of a minor quibbles – it would be nice to have more detailed statistics available, such as sand saves and which direction the fairway was missed, and we would like to see aggregate statistics across all of our rounds (the uPro only shows statistics for each separate round).
- Shot Tracking. The Callaway uPro provides a simple interface to mark the distance of shots. Purchasing the Scoring Plus module adds the ability to indicate which club you used on the shot, and aggregates data on the minimum, maximum and average distances for each club. Nifty if you are a data junkie, but it requires a bit of diligence on your part to measure each shot.
- Score and Statistics. The new Scoring Plus module (available for an additional $20) enables users to track scoring for up to 4 players and statistics for one player. The statistics tracked are fairways hit (but not which direction it was missed, if applicable), GIR (the user clicks a check box to indicate if the green was reached in regulation or not, as opposed to the device backing into the answer based on overall score and number of putts), and number of putts. A summary of score and statistics is available at all times by selecting the “Summary” tab at the top of the page. The device will advance to the scorecard when it thinks you have left the previous green, but we found it frequently hadn’t advanced by the time we had arrived at the next tee box, and usually just wound up manually selecting the scorecard from the menu screen in order to enter scores and statistics.
- Clock. The time is handily displayed on both Basic Mode screens, so you can quickly calculate how many precious minutes of sunlight are remaining when you are playing in the late afternoon. “Seriously, what is the group in front of us thinking? The sun is about to set! It’s your 4th putt, so JUST PICK UP THE FREAKING BALL!”
- Auto-Advance. The device provides the option of automatically advancing the user to the next hole, with preference settings to either automatically advance without a prompt, prompt the user to advance, or leave the user to advance holes manually.
- ProMode SmartView. We know we already mentioned the ability to pan and zoom anywhere on a satellite view of the hole under “Course Detail and Mapping” above, but it’s so important that we wanted to mention it again.
- Preferences. The Callaway uPro allows users to change backlight settings, power conservation functions, and even the size of the font used to display distances. Additional preferences enabled in the version 4.0 software update are the ability to select which mode is first displayed as you advance to a new hole (Basic Mode, Pro Mode, or Virtual Green Mode), whether or not the green is outlined on the overhead views, whether the hole number is indicated in Pro Mode, and which green views are available (Basic Green, Virtual Green, or both). Nice!
Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.
Device Accuracy: Our test of device accuracy found the uPro to be on par with its competitors, with readings to known points coming well within the acceptable margin of error of three to four yards.
Mapping Accuracy: We played quite a few rounds on a variety of different golf courses with the uPro (we told you we really like the device!) and found no problems with mapping accuracy.
The uPro always shows a distance to a reference point no matter how close the user is to that reference point, which enabled us to test distances at short range (and shows that the manufacturer has extreme confidence in the device’s accuracy). Some manufacturers elect to intentionally stop displaying yardage distances when the user is within a short distance (30 or 50 yards) from a reference point.
Retail Price: At a new low price of $199.00, the Callaway uPro is one of the least expensive devices in our cost comparison (and it only drops one notch in the comparison rankings if you add the $20 additional surcharge for the Scoring Plus module).
Fees for Access to Course Database: Users pay a per-download fee for each Pro Mode course. The base price per Pro Mode course is $10, but Callaway provides bulk discounts ranging from $8/course if the user buys a pack of 5 courses down to $1.20/course if the user buys a pack of 150 courses. Basic Mode course downloads are available for free, and provide course detail on par with some of the competition. The features available only on the ProMode courses are what make the Callaway uPro stand out from the crowd, however, and we think the additional functionality is well worth the cost.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: At a projected three-year total cost of ownership of $269.00 (which incorporates our assumptions on the number of new courses a typical user will want to add each year and assumes purchase of the $20 Scoring Plus Module), the uPro fell into the bottom third of devices tested in our cost comparison. A user’s actual three-year cost of ownership will vary based on how many courses are desired and whether they are purchased in bulk.
Value: The Callaway uPro provides an amazing combination of top-notch performance and exceptional features. With a new aggressive price point, we think that users will be more than pleased with the value that they receive.