Is the GolfBuddy World GPS worth looking into when you’re searching for a new golf GPS device? Read this review to find out.
GolfBuddy doesn’t have quite the same reputation as SkyCaddie or Garmin when it comes to making golf GPS units, but it’s trying to get there with its GolfBuddy World GPS. In some ways, it’s fair to think of GolfBuddy as playing a role similar to that of Adams Golf in its quest to join or surpass the “Big Three” golf club manufacturers – PING, TaylorMade and Callaway Golf. In other words, GolfBuddy GPS units are good … in fact, some of them are really good, but not all that many people are aware of them. Not yet, anyway.
There are two big distinctions, but otherwise this GPS system is somewhat similar to the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS we review on another page of this site. If you’ve read that review, you probably already know that one of my main knocks on the SGX are the fees SkyCaddie makes you pay to even use it. I hate paying fees to use a device I’ve already bought and paid for once.
In addition to the ability to provide accurate distances from different points on the course, there are two features I look for in any golf GPS device. In fact, I won’t consider buying a particular unit if it doesn’t satisfy both of these requirements. Any golf GPS I buy must come with a fair number of pre-loaded course maps (especially for the courses I usually play) and there must not be any kind of setup charge, download fee, annual subscription fee, or annual membership fee. Go ahead, call me cheap, but those fees really add up. Unlike the SkyCaddie SGX, the GolfBuddy World GPS fulfills both of those requirements.
Out of the box, it comes with 33,000 pre-loaded golf course maps. If that’s not enough, you can store even more on a removable MicroSD card (the unit can hold up to 40,000 courses altogether). And, no fees are associated with using the GolfBuddy World GPS. In a contest between the SkyCaddie SGX and the GolfBuddy World GPS, the GolfBuddy gets a big thumbs-up as far as those two considerations go. No fees and no need to remember to download a new course if you’re going on a golf trip. Take it out of the box, charge it up and you’re good to go.
But a GPS unit’s other features are important, too. And the GolfBuddy’s features stack up pretty well against its competitors. The unit boots up quickly, finds your location and selects the right course automatically. It fits nicely into your hand and feels rugged and solidly-constructed. It’s also shock- and water-resistant. I don’t know about you, but I’m a klutz and always dropping things, so I like those last two features.
I tested the GolfBuddy’s accuracy by running it and the SGX at the same time. The distance displays were almost always within a few yards of each other. I was beneath a canopy of trees on the few occasions when the discrepancy was larger. That’s a tough situation for any golf GPS, and I don’t know which one handled it better.
The GolfBuddy has a high-resolution color touchscreen that’s readable under different light conditions. Its graphics are useful and attractive, although I did notice a little washout under strong sunlight.
Navigating through the functions of the GolfBuddy World GPS unit is pretty intuitive – it’s simply a matter of tapping the touchscreen and using the five buttons on the front of the unit. You’ll extend the display’s lifespan by using a finger (not a tee or pencil point) to tap the touchscreen.
Unlike some units, the GolfBuddy World GPS uses a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. I played eight rounds with the unit I tested, and I always had juice left over after completing two full rounds.
Naturally, the GolfBuddy World GPS updates your location on the course and displays your distances continuously, but it offers a host of other features. It can measure your yardage to any point on the course (greens, bunkers, water hazards, layup points and so forth), it has a zoom-in and zoom-out feature, it automatically recognizes the course and hole you’re on (and advances automatically to the next hole after you leave the green), and it can measure your shots. It will even keep track of your score and relevant stats.
The Bottom Line: The GolfBuddy World GPS is one of the models I’ll definitely consider if I ever need to replace my Garmin Approach G3. It’s a terrific performer and has all the same benefits as my current GPS - easy to use, color touchscreen, thousands of pre-loaded courses, no setup, download or annual fees, and easily replaceable, inexpensive rechargeable batteries.
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