Reader Test: SkyCaddie SX500 GPS

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SkyCaddie’s new SX500 GPS has become the first of its kind to replace yardage books and laser rangefinder in Tour pros bags (on the Staysure Tour).

The switch is primarily down to the extra detail it offers over lasers and traditional GPS systems. To find out if the time is right for you to ditch your laser, we asked four TG readers to put the SX500 through its paces in a long term test.

The readers:

First impressions of the SX500?

MJ: It’s big like a smartphone and has the feel of one, too. It’s well made, robust, and the graphics are great.


EF: It has a sturdy feel, definitely not fragile if you happen to drop it. The graphics are very good and the display is clear in any light.


SM: Excellent quality feel to the product and I really liked the bracket for attaching it to a trolley handle. It means I had quick glance access to the device without digging in my pocket.


MS: It’s very rugged, I wouldn’t be worried about throwing it into a bag. If it’s meant to be carried on the course it’s quite big, but the level of detail is great.

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SkyCaddie SX500 GPS

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Twenty pros on the Staysure Tour have switched to the SX500 over yardage books and laser rangefinders, how does SX500 compare for you?

MJ: I’m a laser fan, but SX500 is much better than other GPS systems I’ve tried. Having this level of information as an app would be the ultimate for me. It would mean I didn’t needed to charge and carry two devices to the course. 


EF: It gives a lot of information, so much in fact if you took the time to learn all the features it would be like having a caddie in your pocket.


SM: It helped planning carries across hazards and calculating run-outs that a laser couldn’t compete with. I liked the accuracy when flag positions were inputted before play. Planning second shots on par 5s was clearer, and approach distances to the flag with wedges (and knowing how far I had behind or in front of the flag) were really helpful.


MS: I already use Arccos shot tracking and a laser rangefinder, so I’m not sure I saw a massive advantage with the SX500. As a 10 handicapper, aiming at specific points on the green like a Tour pro isn’t an option. But the SkyCaddie was great for finding bailout areas around greens for bad shots.   

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The product: SkyCaddie SX500 GPS

Price: £379.95 (£29.95 annual subscription for UK course yardages after the first year).

SkyCaddie SX500 GPS

SkyCaddie insist on measuring every course on foot, were the yardages accurate? Was there anything you particularly liked or disliked?


MJ: The yardages were solid, and I liked how the unit is so rugged. I’m not quite so keen on paying a subscription for yardages after the first year, but everything’s subscription nowadays.   


EF: I tested the unit against my laser and it was very accurate, much more accurate than GPS watches I’ve used before. I can see if you’re out of position you can gauge how far away hazards are, which you can’t do with a laser. I liked the scoring and stat features, too.

 
SM: I’ve not used alternative GPS options, but SX500 was accurate and I really enjoyed using it for quick assessment of shots inside 140 yards.


MS: I questioned the yardages/maps on a couple of occasions (but golf courses change over time and SkyCaddie will remeasure them when asked) which led to me checking yardages with my watch or rangefinder. If I saw the benefit I’d have no issue paying a yearly subs for the info the SX500 offers.     

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Would you choose an SX500 over a laser or GPS alternative?

MJ: If the information given on the SX500 was available as an app, I’d be happy to pay to use it on my phone. I’m not a fan of charging two devices before golf, so I wouldn’t choose it myself. But I can see what it could bring to the party. 


EF: I would use SX500 if I used a trolley, as it can be attached to the handle, but I like to carry, and need somewhere to put the device whilst playing. It’s not just for serious golfers either, I’d recommend it to golfers who buggy or use a trolley.


SM: I’d argue SX500 is more for the serious player, I’d be happy to recommend it to players looking for help in developing a low scoring game.


MS: In all honesty I don’t see the extra benefit the SX500 brings to my game over my current set up. If winning titles was my job like a Tour pro, I can see its benefits, but it’s just not for me.