The Garmin Approach G5 Review: This Golf GPS Has a Lot Going For It

Consider buying a Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS if you’re one of the millions of golfers who are hoping to play better. Using one of these devices can give you the yardages and confidence you need to lower your scores.

Garmin is widely acknowledged as one of the leaders in the GPS industry. It makes a number of different types of GPS units, including several models of GPS devices designed specifically for golfers. You can find our review of the Garmin Approach G3 GPS on another page of this website. On this page we focus on that unit’s “big brother” - the Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS.

Calling this device the G3’s “big brother” is appropriate in several ways, so much so that we recommend you read our separate review on the G3 in addition to reading this page. Basically, this GPS system is a “super-sized” version of the Approach G3 – it gives you a larger screen and some extra features.

Although the G5 does have a few drawbacks, its advantages tip the scale heavily in its favor. Let’s do things a little backward this time and talk about the unit’s drawbacks first – we’ll get to its advantages quickly enough.


  • Price. Although $270 is a very reasonable price for a GPS with a large color touchscreen, several competitors are cheaper. Of course, if you opt for something cheaper you’ll probably get a black-and-white display and it won’t be a touchscreen, but that’s the price you pay.
  • Occasional Washout of Display in Bright Sunlight. Sometimes the display will “wash out” in bright sunlight, making it difficult to read. That’s fairly common with golf GPS units.
  • Batteries. The device doesn’t use a battery pack like most golf GPS units. Instead, it operates with two ordinary AA batteries (rechargeable AA batteries work well and they’re cheap). Instead of being an out-and-out drawback, though, this aspect actually has pros and cons.

You’ll probably get two or three rounds out of each battery charge, but after that you’ll need to recharge the used-up pair or swap in freshly-charged batteries. Of course, you’ll probably need to recharge the battery pack in any other type of GPS unit after every round, but you don’t need to physically remove the batteries and insert fresh ones like you do with the Garmin Approach G5. Removing the discharged set and inserting charged batteries into the Approach G5 takes a little longer than simply plugging the entire unit into a charger.

Replacing a discharged set of batteries in the Garmin Approach G5 is easier to do than I’ve probably made it sound. It only takes about 10 seconds to pop out the discharged batteries and insert a freshly charged pair. That’s nothing when you compare the cost of a set of batteries for the Garmin Approach G5 with the cost of replacing the battery pack that most GPS units use. You can buy a pair of rechargeable AA batteries for five or six bucks; a new battery pack for a different GPS unit can easily cost ten times that amount. And those battery packs do eventually wear out.

Those are the only real drawbacks of the Garmin Approach G5, and I don’t really consider the battery thing to be a disadvantage (to the contrary, I think it’s a better and less expensive design). Now, let’s move on to some of the unit’s advantages.


  • No Annual Subscription Fee. This is a biggie. You need to pay a fee every year to use most golf GPS units. Over time, those fees can add up to one hundred dollars or more. There’s no such fee with the Garmin Approach G5.
  • No Downloads Necessary. You have immediate access to more than 18,000 U.S. and Canadian course maps because they’re pre-loaded into the unit. You’re good to go as soon as you insert two AA batteries. New courses are added regularly. Map updates are free and can be downloaded by using the included USB cable. With many other units, you need to download courses after working your way through a sometimes-confusing setup process. And many units are limited to holding only a handful of course maps at any one time.
  • 3-Inch Color Touchscreen. Accurate yardage information is continuously displayed on a beautiful, easy-to-use color touchscreen. Your distance to the green is always shown, but tapping the appropriate spot on the screen’s map will display the exact yardage to a bunker, dogleg, pond or other course feature.
  • Rugged, Rubberized, Water-Resistant Housing. Some GPS units crack or break if dropped, but not the Garmin Approach G5. It’s water-resistant, too.

The Bottom Line: Several other features, including manual pin positioning, shot measurement, scorekeeping and stat tracking, also come with the Garmin Approach G5. It’s a great little device that’s well worth its price.

From Garmin Approach G5 to other golf GPS reviews.

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