TheSandTrap.com  ›  Blog  ›  Bag Drop  ›  Knowing Your Distance – Part Two 

Knowing Your Distance – Part Two

Apr. 29, 2008     By     Comments (23)

Forget getting a GPS for your car. Get one for your golf game.

Bag DropLast 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.

SkyGolf
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).

iGolf
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.

GolfBuddy
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.

Sonocaddie
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.

uPro
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.

Final Thoughts
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.

Posted in: Bag Drop Comments (23)

Discussion

  1. Craig says:

    unless you have a hilly course or one with many hidden pins, go with a laser. they work at any course, you can laser off of anything (people, pins, trees and even tops of hills) and there are no extra fees. GPS is better if you have hidden pins or blind shots.

  2. Paul says:

    Thank you for the uPro link. My sky caddie is no longer working correctly [SG3] and I was unhappy with the subscription model anyway. Courses simply don't change that much, I should not have to pay for the same maps every year.

    Once these guys provide Mac OSX support, I will get one, if the USGA rules permit it.

  3. Matt M says:

    I've had a SkyCaddie SG4 (hated the connector cable) and currently have an SG5. I think the uPro satellite images are by far the best way to view distances on the course. Now I just hope that this feature comes to the SkyCaddie so that I don't have to buy a new device next year...

  4. Paul says:

    I've had a SkyCaddie SG4 (hated the connector cable) and currently have an SG5. I think the uPro satellite images are by far the best way to view distances on the course. Now I just hope that this feature comes to the SkyCaddie so that I don't have to buy a new device next year...

    I agree with you on the cable. I will never buy another product from sky caddie simply because they deliberately designed the cable to force me to have to buy it from them if I were to lose my cable, where as its really a regular usb cable.

    But I have other problems with the product now as well. It is definitely no longer working correctly, just 16 months into its life. I have Macs with me that continue to work 12 or 14 years later.

    I just don't think that this is a company that designs products with the best interest of their customers. Therefore no need to give them any more of my dollars.

  5. Matt M says:

    Once these guys provide Mac OSX support, I will get one, if the USGA rules permit it.

    According to their web site, they already work with Mac OS X (I can't remember if it was in their Product or Support FAQ). Check the availability of your courses in their course finder. A lot of mine are coming in June.

  6. Mike Krolewski says:

    I use the golf guru.

    It is about $210 on ebay ( from their site ) with no membership fees, it provide f/c/b plus green-sense, a model similar to the SkyCaddie feature, plus numerous fairway points, marking shot distance and scoring. All the numbers readout continuously across the entire hole, even onto the green. You can generate your own maps with all of the above information including the detailed green-sense feature. My experience on a couple of courses is the distances are pretty accurate. Often better than some of the fairway markers. Sometimes the edge of the green is a little off ( 1-4 feet) in spots when testing the entire perimeter of a green. I personally wish my game was good enough for that to matter.

    It is small and easy to use ( after that first round ).

    My only complaints are you cannot annonotate the down loaded courses and there are not many Canadian courses ( I live near B.C.).

  7. Mohun says:

    I've had a SkyCaddie SG4 (hated the connector cable)

    Ditto on the connector cable; I have the SG3, and opening the battery cover is also pathetic...

    Let's put it this way - Apple's design studio provided no input into the design on the SG3 and SG4. HORRIBLY designed!!

    I can't believe they spent such little money on the design of the device given its popularity. The SG5 looks a lot better, but I haven't seen the connectors...

  8. Mark says:

    Why no review of Garmin? I have one and I love the thing!

  9. Craig the Shark says:

    I bought a golfbuddy pro. Powered it up at a course and without any downloading ahead of time, right out of box it worked showing the accurate course, hole and yardage......
    ....that was until 5 holes later when screen filled with gibberish.

    Never figured out what happened but emails to inquire on problem along with many of the rural courses I play not loaded or available for download, i emaild customer service.

    Well its been almost two mths and no reply whatsoever? Sign of their support or lack thereof, so I gave up and returned it to retailer. Added irritant was the manual came missing pages and kept repeating pages 1-8, then 1-8 so critical stuff missing.

    I love the look of the upro but they have been online advertising the product without support for ages. Even this minute I did a search of canadian courses in ontario the biggest province. Nada, not a single course still after months upon mths of promising such.
    so far all flash, no sizzle.

  10. Eric says:

    I checked the website for the SkyCaddie, and the SG5 looks like it uses a standard mini-USB connector. The other models use a proprietary connector.

    I chose a laser range finder last year, for many of the reasons already listed... no subscription, can laser off anything I can see, longer battery life, doubles as a 7x binoculars, can use it at the practice range, etc, etc.

    The ability to use a laser at the practice range was big for me, since I'm still a high handicapper and like to practice hitting specific distances and to specific targets on the driving range.

  11. Golf Nomad says:

    I own the SG3 and I had a problem where the internal software was outdated and wouldn't update. I called SkyCaddie, 866-759-4653 Monday through Friday from 7am to 7pm CST or Saturday 7am to 4pm CST, and they were actually VERY HELPFUL and gave me an RMA# to send my SG3 back to have reprogrammed.

    I still choose a GPS over rangefinder because the constant eye to target procedure becomes combersome after a few holes.

  12. JP Bouffard says:

    If you can, my advice to people interested in some sort of rangefinder or GPS try to borrow one from someone for a few rounds.

    I have a skycaddie, and although I was delighted with it at first, it was more a gadget thing than something that I felt really added to my game.

    I know that's not what the marketing folks say who write copy for selling rangefinders, but practically speaking I don't know how important they really are to average golfers.

    If you compete, or are a good player and want to do everything to be as good as you can, obviously having accurate yardages is extremely important--I'm not saying the concept is wrong, it's definitely right.

    But as a recreational player, I don't think they're worth the money.

    As for speeding up play, that's tough to judge. On a course I know well, I know the yardages anyway, and the device either slows me down or doesn't change anything. I guess if you were playing on an unfamiliar course, and you wanted exact yardages for all your shots, the rangefinder is much faster than looking around for sprinkler heads.

    Anyway, if you can, try before you buy.

  13. Paul says:

    According to their web site, they already work with Mac OS X (I can't remember if it was in their Product or Support FAQ). Check the availability of your courses in their course finder. A lot of mine are coming in June.

    Thanks yes, I contacted them and the sales person wrote back to say OS X is already supported. Now I am trying to determine which courses my area have maps ready to use. I gave them a list of the 25 courses we play regularly. We tend to play 50 times a year. I just play the Tampa courses. Need to play elsewhere in the country though.

  14. Eric Palmquist says:

    I have a golflogix (Garmin), the first version (7, I believe) and it is very good. It works with a Mac, you can get the information for a golf course within a couple weeks (I have done this with 2 small courses in northern Michigan), and the information is very accurate with the courses I have played so far. They have a new version (8) out which is cheaper (I bought high, duh), $300 and gives a little more information, but the one I have gives everything I needed on the courses I played. I also bought a rangefinder (I know, but I'm a nut), and it works, but I find it less convenient than the GPS, and sometimes, not as accurate, depending on how steady you can hold it. Will be great for hunting, though.

    Check out the golflogix out if you live in a place that doesn't have courses listed in Golf Digest.

  15. David McCormack says:

    I also vote for the Garmin device (golflogix). Works great, waterproof, shockresistant, and very simple. Started with the V7 (green case) and upgraded to the V8(black case). Shows green yardages, hazards, and distance of last shot and thats it, and thats enuf! Holds 20 courses, with 15k on file, what else you need. Asked them to map a course for me and done in 2 days. Asked them to remap a course for me and done in 1 day. Its a rock solid device.

  16. Sean says:

    I've got a SureShot GPS and have been very happy with it. I've input a couple of courses on my own and have updated some courses that they already had in their database.

    I'm going to disagree with JP a little bit. I'm an 18 hcp right now and the gps/rangefinder is extremely helpful at my level. I'm not always in the fairway or just off of it, so yardages can be hard to calculate, even when playing a fairly open course where being 1 fairway over isn't that much of a penalty!

    My gps battery was dead a couple of weeks ago (I didn't realize it until I got to the course), and it threw me off for a couple of holes. I'd forgotten where the yardage markers were on a course that I've played every week for 2 years.

  17. gortyl says:

    Great review, first of all. I have been debating between laser and GPS for about a year now and have never pulled the trigger, so this is all great information for me.

    Great points on being able to use the laser on the range; that would be very helpful at my range.

    For those who have the Garmin, can you use it as a regular GPS device driving around as well? If not, is there a product like this with the dual functionality?

  18. gortyl says:

    Actually, now that I reflect on this a bit, my search for information between laser and GPS actually led my to thesandtrap.com! I googled laser vs. GPS and a thread from this forum popped up last year and I've been a regular ever since. Funny stuff! But thanks again for the information.

  19. Eric Palmquist says:

    Great review, first of all. I have been debating between laser and GPS for about a year now and have never pulled the trigger, so this is all great information for me.

    Great points on being able to use the laser on the range; that would be very helpful at my range.

    For those who have the Garmin, can you use it as a regular GPS device driving around as well? If not, is there a product like this with the dual functionality?

    It is specific to golf and I haven't heard of one that would do both.

  20. Ray says:

    Having purchased my sky caddy early on, I suffered through the growing pains from having the unit quit on me twice. Both times I sent the unit back to the manufacturer without much problem and they turned them around both times within a week. I guess they finally got the bugs worked out because the unit has been performing pretty much without a glitch now for two years. While playing a round of golf during some very cold weather this winter, the cold affected the unit to the point where it would stop working. And I simply put in my pocket, warmed up with my hands and within a hole or to the unit began to function properly. So I guess those things are pretty sensitive to the low temperatures.

    I have found the sky caddy to be fairly accurate, certainly accurate enough for my game. I have a Bushnell laser range finder as well, and have compared measurements, and found them to be usually within a yard of each other. Such as distances the traps, and other things I could measure with a laser that were part of this Guy Candy database for the course. I use a sky caddy for most measurements; front, middle and back of the green yardages are real helpful.

    The laser unit is used to get those yardages less than 150 yards. I am unable to hold the unit steady enough to work effectively and quickly for yardages over 150.

    So the up shot is, I use them both. Even at the most familiar tracks. I guess I could live without the laser, but the sky caddy, I can't do without.

  21. tpl says:

    I've owned two GPS units during the past years: SkyCaddie SG4 and Sonocaddie V300. SkyCaddie SG4 was aweful. I hated the charging and data transfer cable. I did not much like paying for the scubscription fee either. The Sonocaddie was much nicer, but like all GPS units, they can be really inaccurate, especially on overcast days (10+ yards off).

    I've recently purchased a Callaway Nikon 1200 laser range finder and I couldn't be happier with the purchase. The range finder is always accurate (as long as you can point it to the right target.) It is pretty easy to use, and works as a binoculars as well.

  22. Paul says:

    I personally think that the non subscription devices like the GolfBuddy and Sonocaddie devices are the way forward in this highly competive market. Skycaddie may have a problem in the future getting owners to renew their membership if they are in the market for the latest up to date model.

  23. David says:

    gortyl said:
    It is specific to golf and I haven't heard of one that would do both.
    Eric Palmquist

    there is a device that does both, Golf GPS and GPS for the car...its an iphone using golflogix for golf and navigon for car nav. Both work great...the software is $30 and $24 respectively.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.