There are two types of people in this world: laser rangefinder lovers or GPS go-getters.
If you love your laser rangefinder, it’s probably because you play the same course or few courses frequently. You know where the trouble is, so you just need to know the yardage around or over it, or to the stick.
You also could be a very skilled player, needing absolutely accurate measurements to give you the edge you need to eek another shot or two out of every round.
However, if variety is the spice of your life, then you’re a GPS fan. Whether it’s an app on your phone, a device in your hand or on your bag, or a watch on your wrist, the GPS packs in features that work for the traveling golfer.
The accuracy is good enough — usually within a yard or two of target points — but modern GPS units add value by giving the lay of the land. They remind you of that hazard 250 yards off the tee and highlight that pot bunker you can’t see until you’re stuck in it for two or three shots. GPS units provide invaluable information.
For me, I’ve always preferred a GPS watch. An app sucks battery life on my phone, which I use a lot anyhow. A separate device can attach to your bag or sit in a cart, walking or driving, but then it’s a bit of a drag to go to on each critical shot (also a downside of laser rangefinders). With a watch, however, I’m a wrist turn away from getting a good, honest number or seeing the danger out there invisible to my eye.
That’s why the Garmin Approach S6 GPS watch is a great product. It provides timely general information with an interface that lets the golfer see all the detail they want, and all on their wrist.
The S6, which comes pre-loaded with data for 30,000 courses, marks an evolution in the Approach line.
For starters, it’s a color unit, although that’s truly not much of a draw in strong sunlight. The touch-screen display is designed to work well regardless of how strong the sun is out on the course, but don’t be shocked when the color looks more dull in practice compared to the packaging.
The device offers a variety of ways to get information. By default, it shows back, middle and front distances. However, with a mere swipe to the right, the device shows the layout of a hole, tee to green. The user can zoom in and scroll up and down to home in particular facets of the hole, including hazards and fairway locations. Laying up to a number on a par 5 is easy with that kind of information. By zooming in on the green, a user can better approximate distance to the pin for those times that general numbers aren’t going to cut it.
The Garmin Approach S6 also has a very helpful blind-shot function, pointing you toward the green with a number. That should just be named the Pete Dye Compass.
This isn’t a smart watch, but the S6 does connect with your Apple devices so that you can leave your phone in your bag as text messages and emails show up on the S6.
The S6 features a comfortable wrist band and long battery life. A simple clasp with a USB plug keeps the unit charged. By the way, it’s also a watch, which is nice.
Now, there’s a catch. Under USGA rules, you can’t use the S6 in competition. That’s because of two features, SwingTempo and TempoTraining, which help a player understand the smoothness and speed of their swing. The features are very useful, particularly as a round unfolds, but if you want this unit in competition, the S5 is for you.
The Garmin Approach S6 offers a slew of features any golfer would want, even if they are a part of the country-club set. After a $50 mail-in rebate, the unit is now $350.