SkyCaddie likes to say it makes the #1 rangefinder in golf. After trying a SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS on the course, I think the company has a strong claim, but it also has a few problems.
I love good golf GPS units. They give us the information and confidence we need for success, but they can also speed up the pace of play. Instead of dithering (and taking up time) between two or three clubs because you’re uncertain about the yardage, with a good golf GPS you’ll know your yardage and the right club to use as soon as you arrive at your ball.
I’ve wanted to test and review this golf GPS since I first heard about it. Recently, I had the opportunity to put it to the test at my home golf course. Here’s what I learned about the golf GPS device.
First, the unit’s large, state-of-the-art, 3-inch color LCD screen (the same size as the Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS we review elsewhere on this site) displays course maps and a wealth of information in vibrant colors. It displays clearly visible images under all light conditions, from deep shade to bright sunlight. Not all GPS units can do that.
Thanks to the unit’s rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack, it’s possible to play more than one round on a charge. A single charge can give you up to 14 hours of battery life.
This golf GPS system is able to store full-featured maps and complete course information for up to 50 courses at any one time. Unfortunately, you must pay an annual membership fee before you’ll be allowed to download, store and access this information. Course downloads aren’t free, either. Basic green information for 30,000 courses comes pre-loaded, but the unit shuts down unless the membership fee is paid within 30 days of initial setup.
It acquires distances quickly, and according to the company they’re accurate to within one meter. SkyCaddie says it’s the only golf GPS company that sends people out to walk and map every course instead of relying on aerial images. The survey-grade equipment these mappers use enables this golf GPS device to display very precise distances to greens, layup spots, hazards and other targets. In 2011, Golf Datatech rated SkyCaddie tops in accuracy among rangefinder and GPS manufacturers.
The “HoleVue™ functionality built into this golf GPS is unavailable when you’re viewing pre-loaded, basic green information, but it springs to life in the unit’s full-featured course map mode. The HoleVue™ function displays your distance to any specific point on a hole you choose. You can even get a close-up view of any location on the hole by using a zoom feature. SkyCaddie’s “IntelliGreen®” technology also becomes available in course map mode. The shape of the green automatically rotates to match your position on the course so you can better plan your attack. The unit also simultaneously displays your carry distances to the front and back of the green, along with the depth of the green and distances to significant contours and breaks.
Other features of the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS include digital scorekeeping, stat-tracking and statistical analysis, one-hand operation, shot measurement, and the ability to switch between screens (HoleVue™, IntelliGreen®, Scorecard and so on) by simply turning the unit from portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal) orientation.
Some buyers report problems with the registration and setup process. I can’t comment on that because the unit I tested had already been registered and set up. Once the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS is fully set up, however, its interface is pretty user-friendly.
Some people also report having difficulty synching their SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS with their personal computer. Most of these problems seem to occur with computers using Windows 7; the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS apparently works better with the Vista operating system.
Although basic green information comes pre-loaded, you’ll have to pay a fee to download a full-featured course map. The required annual membership fee is another disadvantage of the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS - if you don’t pay within 30 days of initial setup, even the pre-loaded basic green information will become inaccessible. Some competing GPS units do not have these fees, so they’re cheaper to use than the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS.
: There’s no question that the SkyCaddie SGX golf GPS is a high-end unit with a ton of features. The screen is gorgeous and the yardages it displays are accurate. Unfortunately, the reports of users having trouble registering and/or synching their units with their computers are a little too common for me to be comfortable recommending this device. If SkyCaddie eliminates these issues, this could be an outstanding golf GPS device. But all the features in the world won’t help your game unless you’re able to get your GPS working properly.