I’m a creature of habit and comfort. When it comes to golf, there are very few opportunities for a new device or concept to crack my starting lineup and infiltrate the reliable pre-shot routine that has become cemented in my game and propelled me to untold success in the game. (Success here is solely defined as “not having lost a limb while playing.”)
When it comes to measuring the distance between me and the hole, I am a Bushnell guy through and through. There is maximum comfort for me in aiming the crosshairs on the flag or tree or hazard, and then doing my best to navigate the shot accordingly.
As a Hollywood icon once said (in an entirely different context), “You’ll get it from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” Bushnell has always provided an A+ experience for me and I can’t imagine making a change to that vital aspect of my equipment.
So, when the fine folks at TomTom recently sent their GPS Golf Watch for review, I turned to the other member of the MGL team – my 17-year old son – to get his impressions of a fast-growing sector of the Distance Measuring Device genre. Here are the thoughts of a young golfer who gladly embraces new ideas and innovations (you’ll also find a view review below):
The TomTom GPS Golf Watch is a device that, while getting the job done, is not going to revolutionize the GPS golf watch market, or even improve upon it in any noticeable way. The basic functions of the watch are just that, very basic, and the functionality of the watch doesn’t extend far beyond those basic features. You get to a course, navigate to the GPS tracking screen, and the watch picks up the courses nearest you fairly quickly. That process is very easy.
I was able to go to that screen, select the course I was on, and get a yardage for the first hole within seconds. After that, you get front, middle, and back yardages from anywhere on the hole, and you get used to glancing at the big, easy to read numbers very quickly. Once you finish out the hole, the watch has a scorecard functionality as well, which allows you to quickly enter your score for the hole. I enjoyed that feature a lot.
Unfortunately, the fairly smooth first hole was the peak of the watch’s performance. As soon as I entered my score for the first hole, I began to run into trouble. Instead of simply switching to the next hole immediately after entering your score, the watch instead stays on that hole until the GPS detects that you’ve arrived at your next hole. I don’t understand why it would do this, and not just switch right after score-entering, but it would still be a fine concept, if it worked. It simply doesn’t work very well, and I often found myself still stuck on last hole yardages when I was on my second shot on the next hole, and I would have tinker with the watch in order to manually get myself to the next hole. Not a huge deal, but it was just kind of annoying. Who wants to wrestle with technology while trying to play an already difficult game?
This was by far my biggest issue with the watch. Perhaps in a future software update, TomTom will adjust the settings to allow the hole to simply switch after score entering. It would have made for a much better, and more practical, experience.
Some other gripes I had with the watch were minor, such as the UI not being very user-friendly, and the instructions provided with the watch being rather scant. I also had to download something unto my computer just to use the watch, and go through a lot of menus to get everything set up, and I still wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, or how to properly navigate the watch.
I could have taken more time to figure things out, and I’m sure I would have eventually gotten the hang of things, but for the average golfer who wants to pop the watch out of the box, read some concise instructions, and be ready to go, this would not fit the bill. It may very well be capable of this, but the instructions were not clear on how to access this feature, if it exists at all. The watch also looks rather clunky, but the average golfer (including me) isn’t going to care too much about fashion on the course, so it was fine. It also definitely carries a noticeable weight, but it’s nothing that’s going to throw your golf game off.
In the end, the TomTom GPS watch was a decently useful, clunky, and unpolished tool that I feel is geared more towards first time GPS watch users. It is not going to do anything special for you, but its easy to read, accurate numbers were nice, and if you don’t mind a subpar UI and scant instructions, I would say pick one up. It’s not going to change your game, but it might help you stick a shot that much closer than last time.
Watch Bo’s review of the TomTom GPS Golf Watch starting at the 5:00 mark of this video: