Last week at the Bag Drop we showed you a few different options for finding out various distances on the golf course using a laser rangefinder.
This week we're going to focus on a few of the GPS options available to golfers. I looked at a couple of GPS units during my rangefinder decision-making process, but decided to go with a laser in the end. I have no buyer's remorse to this point, but did like a few of the options the GPS systems have to offer.
Let's take a look.
The first name I think of for golf GPS units is the SkyCaddie, which is developed by SkyGolf. With four models to choose from, including the SQ 2.5, SQ3, SQ4, and SQ5 and ranging in price from about $260 to $430, you are sure to find one that will fit in your budget.
Boasting a course database of over 17,000 in over 45 countries, you would be hard pressed to not find your course although if you do, you can send a request to have them professionally map it or you can do it yourself.
There are three membership levels available, which give you unlimited courses in your state ($29.95/yr), country ($49.95/yr) and the world ($59.99/year).
Another alternative is through iGolf which is an online database collection of courses as well as an online golf community. Featuring three models, the Neo ($149.99), Caddie ($174.99) and Caddie II ($229.99) are a bit lighter on the pocketbook that other models on the market today. If you have a smartphone or PDA, you can get software to have that act as your rangefinder instead (turn your ringer off, please).
Basic membership levels are free, which give you access to the community as well as limited scorecard downloads. A paid membership of $34.99/year gives you the same as the free plus scorecard downloads and 100 GPS downloads.
If subscription fees aren't your thing, you can always go for the GolfBuddy. With three models to choose from, the GolfBuddy Plus ($349.99), which can hold up to 1000 courses and the soon to be released, GolfBuddy Pro ($349.99) which has a black and white screen, and Tour ($429.99), which boasts a color screen.
Both the Tour and Pro models can hold up 20,000 courses (who needs that many courses on their GPS unit?). All courses in North America come pre-loaded on the units.
Another non-subscription product is the Sonocaddie. Currently, the XV2 is the only option for about $250. A color version (V300, $399.99) is schedule for release in May (according to one online golf retailier).
The website wasn't too informative and didn't have any information on the new model. For a comparison of models, you can check out their U.S. distributor, Club Champ. The V300 doesn't have an annual fee but there is a one time, three-tier fee structure so that is something to keep in mind.
If you want to take your GPS to the next level, you can add some aerial photography by using theuPro GPS. The detail in ProMode is pretty stunning to say the least and it will be very interesting to see what this does to the GPS industry. There are no membership fees, but you pay a per-course fee ($2 for BasicMode and $10 for the ProMode). A package deal is also available if you want to download multiple courses.
There are quite a few options out there if you are looking to add a GPS rangefinder to your golf game but there are a few questions you need to think about such as, are you willing to pay a subscription fee, in some cases annually, on top of purchasing the unit and potential accessories? With today's technology, the latest and greatest now won't be in a year or two so are you going to satisfied with that or want to upgrade? Is the company you decide to go with going to be around in the future so as not to turn your unit into a paperweight? Who maps the courses and how accurate are they?
I like the new options (and color!) the GPS units of today offer. No longer do you just know the front, center and back distance of a green but you are given quite a bit more of detail. After doing a bit of research, I opted for the laser rather than a GPS rangefinder.
Just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it may not work for you. Just spend a little time doing some research and if possible, demo and test different ones out to make sure you're going to get the maximum use for your investment.