GolfBuddy World Platinum

GolfBuddy World Platinum

OVERALL RATING: 88. GRADE: B+. GolfBuddy has made large strides with the release of the GolfBuddy World Platinum, which incorporates full hole graphic layouts and the ability to target any point on the course for distance readings. The device is extremely easy to use – turn it on and it will find the course and hole and you’re off. Information is presented in a clear manner, and the menus are well organized. On top of that there are no additional subscription fees or other charges for accessing the golf course database – users simply pay for the device. Earlier concerns about course availability have been allayed, as GolfBuddy has made a serious effort to improve the course coverage.

Our biggest complaint is on the hardware itself – there is a noticeable (and frustrating) delay in touchscreen sensitivity. In addition, the screen on the GolfBuddy World Platinum isn’t as bright as we would like. Our experience has been that manufacturers take much longer to fix hardware-related problems, and thus we worry that these are issues that purchasers will be stuck with for some period of time (if not for the entire life of the unit). Our middle-of-the-road rating reflects this concern.

SCORE
88
GRADE
B+
Setup/Syncing
100
Course Availability
100
Ease of Use
89
Course Details
93
Features
94
Accuracy
92
Cost/Value
88

Pros:

  • Easy setup – just turn it on and go!
  • Full hole graphics
  • Ability to add more points
  • Great course coverage
  • No membership or course download fees
  • Intuitive interface

Cons:

  • Lag in touchscreen response
  • Varied consistency among courses on the amount of detail provided

Retail price: $399.99
Three year total cost: $399.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the GolfBuddy Platinum


100 / A+

SETUP/SYNCING

The Good: The GolfBuddy World Platinum scored a perfect 100 for setup, because you simply open the box, remove the device and power cable, charge it for 4 hours, and head to the course. No software installation is required, and with courses pre-installed on the device, you don’t have to worry about loading courses from your computer.

The Bad: Now that they have added Mac support, we can’t complain!

Details: Yes, there are times when you want to actually sync the GolfBuddy World Platinum to a PC, such as to add new courses as they become available or to update a course already on your device. To sync for these reasons, you will need to register for a free web account, install GolfBuddy management software on your PC, and sync your World Platinum via the included USB cable.
We should mention that GolfBuddy released a software update package in the fall of 2010 that contained corrupted files and required contacting their technical support to repair. This issue can be fixed, but it seems GolfBuddy needs to improve their software release process.

What’s in the Box: The GolfBuddy Platinum golf GPS device comes with the following:

  • Rechargeable battery
  • Belt clip
  • USB cable
  • A/C power adapter
  • GolfBuddy Platinum Instruction Manual on CD-ROM or available for download

100 / A+

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Critical Golf Test: The team at GolfBuddy has clearly been busy adding new course maps, as they have risen from an initial 46% coverage in our course coverage analysis to a perfect 100%! We only count a course as being covered if full hole maps and green information are offered, so you can rest assured that these are maps that take advantage of the full array of the GolfBuddy World Platinum’s capabilities. Fantastic-

Manufacturer’s Claims: GolfBuddy tells us that they have 34,500 courses available worldwide in their course database, the largest number of any of the GPS devices tested. What we don’t know, however, is if this number is restricted to maps that take full advantage of the Platinum’s premium features (overhead hole maps and green maps), or if it includes courses for which they provide only basic information.


89 / B+

EASE OF USE

The Good: GolfBuddy has delivered easy-to-use products in the past, and the GolfBuddy World Platinum continues that legacy. The device is extremely automated at startup and is easy to navigate, from selecting target points to entering scores.
The Bad: A bit unusual that multiple methods can be used to track scoring and statistics, and the fastest method to enter both is to select to “Enter Stats”. The GolfBuddy doesn’t automatically advance to the green view, so users have to somehow intuit that this is accomplished by pressing the displayed distance to the center of the green (the “349” number in the upper right hand corner of the image below).
Details:

GolfBuddy Platinum Front View

Click for details
  • Buttons. The buttons are positioned on the sides of the device, and include: a power button that also serves to lock/unlock the screen, a menu button, and a “ProPlay” button to directly enter scores and statistics.
  • Screen. The color screen performs reasonably well in various lighting conditions, and the brightness is adjustable. The screen isn’t as vivd as some GPS devices, however, and we would prefer if the device brightness could be set higher. The touchscreen sensitivity (or lack thereof) is truly confounding. Typing on the small keyboard when searching for courses, scrolling lists or selecting soft buttons is challenging – users are best served by using a tee instead of their fingers. The problems are exacerbated by the fact that the touchscreen is inset on the device (i.e. it’s not flush with the face of the unit), and the resulting ridge of plastic obscures access to buttons at the edge of the screen.
  • Form Factor. The unit is a bit larger and heavier than most devices, but it can still be reasonably kept in your pocket during play. The GolfBuddy World Platinum also comes with a belt clip.
  • Starting a Round. The GolfBuddy World Platinum acquires satellites relatively quickly, and automatically recognizes both the course and the current hole. Users can also elect to manually search for a course (by history, country, name or custom courses). Note that once the round begins, the only way to change preference settings on the device, review your scores and statistics from prior rounds, or preview a course is to completely exit the round (losing any scores and statistics that you might have already entered). This seems to presume more foresight than our reviewers typically had.

Suggestion Box: The touchscreen seems to afford the ability to create much more user-friendly ways to navigate some of the more advanced features, such as accessing the preference settings or advancing through different views. Here’s hoping that GolfBuddy will quickly push out a software update with that in mind!

Check out our chart comparing ease of use across different GPS devices.


93 / A-

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

The Good: The GolfBuddy World Platinum usually provides a large number of pre-mapped targets and hazards, and there is always the ability to add your own custom points.

The Bad: A few course maps, however, suffered from a dearth of pre-mapped targets, so adding additional custom points wound up being critical. We also weren’t able to determine how GolfBuddy selects the number of pre-mapped targets to display, and often would have rather seen more pre-mapped target distances in the hole view than GolfBuddy provides.
Details:

GolfBuddy Platinum Hole Graphic View

Click for views
  • Views. The GolfBuddy World Platinum provides an overhead map of the hole, a “green view”, and a “target view” that is a textual list of targets and distances. Navigating among the different views is easily accomplished.
    • Overhead hole view –The GolfBuddy World Platinum provides an overhead graphic pictorial of the shape of the hole and the location of various hazards (note that it is a drawn illustration, and not a satellite photograph). The device will automatically zoom in to show progressively more detailed views as the user advances closer to the green. Users are able to manually zoom, but in order to do so they have to cycle through the zoom levels in order, i.e. the GolfBuddy doesn’t allow users to zoom in a couple of levels, and then step back a level. We’re a bit surprised that GolfBuddy’s user interface designers didn’t capitalize on the touchscreen interface to provide a “zoom out” button.
      Users can tap on any point on the hole to see the distance to that point and from that point to the green, and can drag their finger on the touchscreen to see the same data at different points.
      The overhead hole view of the GolfBuddy World Platinum also displays radiating circles at distances of 100, 150 and 200 yards to the center of the green. This was a really nice touch, as the radiating circles provide instant context on where one might want to lay up.
    • Green view – The green view is a detailed illustration of the shape of the green and surrounding area and provides data on the width and depth of the green. The GolfBuddy World Platinum provides the distances to the front and the back of the green, and users can touch different points on the green to move the flagstick and receive the distance to that point. We appreciated the fact that the graphic of the green will rotate as the user’s position relative to the green changes.
    • Target view – The GolfBuddy World Platinum not only pre-maps distances to selected targets in the overhead hole view, but also allows users at the touch of a button to pop up a list of additional pre-mapped target locations (identified with text such as “RtBkr2” for the second bunker on the right) and the distances to those targets. A very nice feature is that touching any target on the list will instantly add that point (and the distance to that point) to the overhead hole view. Slick!
  • Custom Mapping. Each hole holds up to 11 targets. So for example, if there are 3 pre-mapped targets on one hole, the user can add up to 8 additional targets.

92 / A-

FEATURES

The Good: The GolfBuddy World Platinum provides a varied feature set that should cover the requirements of most golfers.
The Bad: Data junkies may find that that the set of statistics that can be tracked is still relatively basic.
Details:

GolfBuddy Platinum Scorecard

Click for feature views
  • Score and Statistics. The GolfBuddy World Platinum can keep scores for up to 4 players, along with their names and handicaps, and will also track more detailed statistics for just the primary user, including fairways hit, putts, and sand saves. Note that you can’t actually track how often you are actually in a bunker – instead, the device just presents you with the option to manually check a box entitled “Sand Save.” The device tracks greens in regulation by backing into the result based on the score for the hole and the number of putts. As we note in reviews of other devices, this can result in an incorrect calculation if the user hits the green in regulation, accidentally putts off the green, and then chips in (the device will not give the user credit for a GIR in that instance). Either standard scoring or Stableford scoring can be used, although GolfBuddy seems to utilize its own modified Stableford scoring system (for example, GolfBuddy awards 3 points for a par instead of the usual 2, and 4 points for a birdies instead of the usual 3). If anybody from GolfBuddy is reading this, they might want to note that there is a bug in the statistics entry interface when entering putts – the prompt asks the user to “Enter Score” instead of “Enter Putts.”
  • Shot Tracking. Users can track the distance and location of each of their shots, which can be reviewed later. There is no ability to enter the club used for a particular shot.
  • Auto-Advance. The GolfBuddy World Platinum will automatically prompt users if they are ready to advance to the next hole.
  • Preferences. The GolfBuddy World Platinum has all the basic settings covered: unit of distance, language, time, button sound, and a variety of power management settings including screen timeout, auto-power off, and screen brightness.

92 / A-

ACCURACY

Device Accuracy: As is the case for most units tested, the device accuracy of the GolfBuddy World Platinum operated within the standard margin of error for GPS devices.
Mapping Accuracy: The illustrated maps generally portrayed the holes and the greens accurately, and we found the plotted locations of the different targets to be accurate. We did find some instances of missing bunkers that were in play.


86 / B+

COST/VALUE

Retail Price: The GolfBuddy World Platinum retails for $399.99, which places it on the higher end of devices tested.

Fees for Access to Course Database: Zippo. No additional annual fees or course download fees. Sweet!

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With no additional annual fees or course download fees, the GolfBuddy World Platinum winds up being less expensive than a number of its competitors when it comes to the three-year total cost of ownership (which is a much better indication of the actual cost to the user).

Value: The reasonable cost of ownership, broad feature set, and much improved course availability make the GolfBuddy World Platinum worth considering. What gives us pause is the clunkiness of the hardware itself.