IZZO steps into the golf GPS watch game with the IZZO Swami Watch, providing much of what we have previously seen from IZZO in a new form factor. The IZZO Swami Watch features distances to fixed points at the front, center and back of the green, as well as auto hole advance, shot distance measurement and, somewhat surprisingly to us, a digital scorecard. It also has standard watch functions, including time, date and an alarm.

Though we weren’t taken with the styling of the watch, we can’t complain about just how easy it is to obtain distance via a watch as opposed to digging into your pockets for a handheld device. What we CAN complain about is a user interface that needs some work on a variety of fronts ranging from entering scores to modifying settings. Course coverage is fair (which we’ve come to expect at a minimum from any device that doesn’t provide hazard distance information), but we found significant mapping errors during play. All of the courses come pre-loaded, but the ability to sync to receive course updates (hopefully correcting some of the errors we saw) requires a Windows machine, so we do not recommend this device to Mac users.

The IZZO Swami Watch is the least expensive golf GPS watch on the market, comes pre-loaded with courses and carries no subscription fees – good stuff. If you are a Windows user that is watching your pennies and need only the most basic distance information and scoring for one round, it can’t hurt to take a look.

SCORE
81
GRADE
B-
Setup/Syncing
92
Course Availability
98
Ease of Use
80
Course Detail
70
Features
80
Accuracy
70
Cost/Value
90

Pros:

Cons:

Retail price: $149.99
Three-year total price: $149.99
Availability: Discontinued. The IZZO Swami line of watches was in effect replaced by the Callaway GPSync watch (produced by IZZO, manufactured by Callaway).
Amazon.com: The model reviewed here was replaced by an updated IZZO Swami Watch.


92 / A-

SETUP/SYNCING

The Good: Courses come pre-loaded, so the only must before beginning play is to charge the battery.

The Bad: Very large charging/syncing cradle. No support for Macs, which is key given the IZZO mapping issues and the need to always have the latest course updates on your watch.

IZZO Swami Golf GPS Watch

Click to enlarge

Details:

Some quick comments on the charging/syncing station – it is a dedicated base that is a rather large, making it a bit of a pain to bring along if you are traveling. The watch requires the charging station not just for syncing, but also for charging, so there isn’t an option to bring just a USB cord. To hook up the watch, you set the watch in a cradle in the center, then push part of the base sideways into the watch to lock it in place. It can require a bit of force, but it ensures that you have made a solid connection. We are still waiting for many golf GPS watch manufacturers to use a USB port instead of dedicated charging stations/clips/etc.

What’s in the Box: The IZZO Swami watch comes with:


98 / A+

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Critical Golf Test: The IZZO Swami Watch has continued to improve its course coverage, and now finishes near the top of the pack in our golf course coverage tests. With only fixed distances to the front, center and back of the green mapped, we expect this from the device.

Manufacturer’s Claims: IZZO claims that its course database covers just over 28,000 courses worldwide, which is about average among golf GPS devices tested.


80 / B-

EASE OF USE

The Good: Distances available at the twist of your wrist.

The Bad: Interface for entering scores needs work. Poor battery life.

IZZO Swami Golf GPS Watch

Click for images

Details:

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


70 / C-

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

The Good: Um, allows you to focus? The IZZO Swami watch only provides mapping to fixed points at the front, center and back of the green.

The Bad: Unlike some competing golf GPS watches we have reviewed, no hazard information is available. Plus, the Swami Watch doesn’t have the ability to provide distances to the near and far points of the green based on player position, but rather only fixed front and back points of the green.

IZZO Swami Golf GPS Watch

Click for larger image

Details:


80 / B-

FEATURES

The Good: Covers the bare minimum (shot distance measuring and auto hole advance), along with scoring capability. Don’t fear the showers…it’s waterproof.

The Bad: The IZZO Swami watch lacks more advanced features, such as additional statistics tracking and club distance averages. No online portal is available, so players can’t save their scores. Changing settings requires users to go through process of selecting to play golf all over again – waiting for the watch to acquire satellites, selecting the course again, and advancing back to the appropriate current hole.

IZZO Swami Golf GPS Watch

Click for larger image

Details:

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


70 / C-

ACCURACY

IZZO Swami Golf GPS Watch

Click for larger image

We found the IZZO Swami Watch to be accurate in distance readings within 5-6 yards, though some holes had slightly greater errors. For whatever reason, we found the IZZO Swami Watch to pick up distances faster than the IZZO Swami 4000.

Aside from differences mentioned above, we had one disastrous experience during a test round. Everything was hunky dory getting starting and playing the first two holes, but we arrived at the 3rd hole to find distance readings of “999” to the each of the fixed front, center and back points of the green. Argh! Oh well, on to the 4th hole. Same problem. Grrr. These holes were somewhat recently redesigned so we wondered if this was the cause, but that still wouldn’t explain why the Swami Watch wouldn’t show distance readings based on the previous layout. The good news? When we advanced to the 5th tee the Swami Watch provided distance information once again. The bad news? When we arrived on the 10th tee there were no more holes available. Not even false distance readings. No hole information at all, distance or par, and no ability to continue scoring. Argh! And yes, this course was listed as mapped in the IZZO course database prior to play, which means serious issues with IZZO quality control. Unless of course this was the only course out of the nearly 29,000 courses mapped that had this issue. We’ll leave others to figure out the odds of that.

Thankfully a course map update resolved this issue. But it does mean that buyers should beware – just because they say that a course is mapped doesn’t mean that it actually is (or we should say, is correctly).


90 / A-

COST/VALUE

Retail Price: The IZZO Swami watch retails for a mere $149.99, the least expensive price of any golf GPS watch on the market.

Fees for Access to Course Database: You can update your course maps and use this device each year for the low, low price of $0. With no extras fees, you can spring for nachos and a Coke in the clubhouse after your round.

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With no additional fees for access to the course database, the IZZO Swami watch has a three-year total cost of only $149.99. This makes the IZZO Swami watch not just the lowest-priced golf GPS watch in terms of overall cost over three years, but also one of the least expensive golf GPS devices overall.

Value: Players looking for an affordable golf GPS watch will be drawn to the IZZO Swami Watch. It may be a great solution for those who want only fixed green points, though keep in mind that you better have a Windows machine available to update the sometimes erroneous course maps, and the interface of entering scores will get tiresome.

Reviewed: March 2013