Handhelds

SkyCaddie Touch

£329.99

Distant Devices

Key Features: 35,000 courses pre-loaded. Glove friendly touchscreen. Bluetooth with a free smartphone app. Hi-resolution 3in colour screen readable in the sun. 'Vivid HD' course graphics inspired by tour yardage books. 'IntelliGreen' shows the shape of the green from your attack angle. Digital scorecard. Pricing plans range from £29.95 to £44.95 a year.

Out of the box: You need to create an account through the SkyCaddie website or an app on your smartphone. Pre-loaded courses are free for 12 months in the UK and Ireland then you need an annual membership.

First use: Set-up time on 1st tee: 2.39 mins. Colour screen. A lovely compact system that fits nicely into your palm. The main hole screen has loads of yardages to bunkers and carries etc which saves flicking through other screens like you do on a GPS watch. However it doesn't give par and SI on the main screen, which would be useful if you're playing matchplay. The scoring and analysis system is great for scrutinising your game.

Verdict: Up there with the best. The yearly subs will put some off but as it funds accurate measurement it could well be a price worth paying.


 

Golf Buddy PT4

£299.95

Distant Devices
Key Features: 8,000 European and north African courses (37,000 globally). 4in mobile phone-quality touch screen. Pinch and zoom hole view. Width and depth of green indicators. Shot distance measurement. Fixed lay-up point (select a point you want to lay up to and you get the distance to that point). Moveable pin placement. Water resistant.

 

Out of the box: Needs charging before use. The 'manual' runs to 47 pages of English instructions, but to be fair its pretty intuitive.

First use: Set-up time on 1st tee: 2.02 mins. Colour screen. First thing you see is the screen is bigger than any of the others on test; it feels more like using a smartphone. The larger screen makes plotting your route a bit easier as you see more detail and can relate it to the landscape. It's a simple thing but to see the hole number, par and the stroke index all on the main screen is invaluable on a little-known course.

Verdict: An impressive unit. We used it on two courses we'd never played. The data it gave us on each tee was invaluable. But do you need to invest in this level of info if you only play your home course most weekends?


Skycaddie Aire II

£129.95

Distant Devices

Key Features: A micro handheld GPS unit with 35,000 courses mapped. Front, centre and back green measurements. Lay-up target distances. Shot and walking distances measured. Digital scoring.  

Out of the box: Charge before you play. Very simply plug it into a USB slot on your computer.

First use: Set-up time on 1st tee: 1.35 mins. Black and white screen. Comparing this to other handhelds is like comparing a mouse to an elephant. It's way smaller, simpler and in a different category altogether. Expecting us to slate the Aire II? Well you're wrong; we loved it. If you play your home course most weekends, this is as much info as you need. You know the course, you just need consistent accurate yardages to the front, middle and back of greens, as well as yardages to lay-up when you're in the mire. For the basic features it's fee free and we love how you don't need a degree in quantum physics to use it.

Verdict: The lower end of the price scale in our test but for a lot of golfers it's just what they need. Doesn't have the bells and whistles of some of the other GPS systems but if you want solid performance we think the Aire II is special for the price.


Garmin Approach G8

£329.99

Distant Devices

Key Features: 3in colour touch screen. Pre-loaded with more than 38,000 golf courses. 'Playslike' distances take account for uphill and downhill shots. Receive email and texts. Club Advice gives you a suggestion on which club to hit. 'PinPointer' shows the direction of the green on blind shots. Free automatic course updates.

Out of the box: Our unit came with 9% battery life so you'll definitely want to charge the Approach before heading out onto the course.

First use: Set-up time on 1st tee: 1.16 mins. Colour screen. A nice slimline unit which has enough weight to convince you it's well made. Its simplicity and clear graphics are the key. Repositioning flags anywhere on greens gives more accuracy to approach shots. Picking targets and lay-ups is a doddle, feeling intuitive rather than searching through endless menus to find the info you need. The numbers are also a decent size.

Verdict: A top handheld GPS system which does exactly what it's meant to without ever feeling like hard work. The graphics are great, it's a good size for your pocket and despite the hefty cost this is a product we'd certainly recommend.

 

Bushnell Neo Ghost

£99

Distant Devices

Key Features: Pre loaded with 33,000 courses. Long battery life lasts over three rounds. Easy to read front/centre/back distances. Hazard distances up to four per hole.  

Out of the box: Simply unpack and stick into a USB slot in your computer to charge before play.

First use: Set-up time on 1st tee: 2.08 mins. Black and white screen. The Ghost is a really neat unit that fits snugly into an open pocket on your bag for easy access. We really enjoyed how the Ghost is super-intuitive to get up and running with all buttons clearly labelled on the back of the device. Displays for hazards weren't as easy to interpret as some, taking our fourball a bit of discussion on which hazard was which. Annoyingly ours ran out of battery life on the 15th after only being charged a day and a half before.

Verdict: If you play at your home course most weekends the Ghost is a decent option; it gives you the vital yardages you need. At this price it's a great entry-level device which could bring a lot of confidence to your game if you struggle with club selection.



Distance Devices

Distance Devices