TomTom's maiden voyage into the land of gorse and heather, the Golfer GPS wristwatch will track your score, distances and the length of time it takes to complete a round. Its display is not only plenty big, but also weather- and water-proof, should you find yourself in a downpour or, worse, clambering out of a water hazard. The Golfer also adds a fitness component, telling you how many miles you walked during a round, and how many calories you burned. Is this $249 device worth the greens fees?
While the screen size of the TomTom Golfer is fairly low profile, the navigational button just below feels like an unwieldy encumbrance. It didn't affect my golf swing negatively, but I would prefer to have as little bulk on my wrist as possible when playing (and especially putting). Unlike the more expensive Garmin Approach S6, the Golfer's display is monochrome. But it's also bright and easy to read, and there is a backlight feature for the waning hours of the afternoon.
Like the Garmin S6, the TomTom Golfer is water-resistant to 50 meters. At 1.87 ounces, it's slightly heavier than the 1.6-ounce S6.
As the Golfer lacks a touch screen, navigation is consigned to a button below the display, which is slightly less handy. Ergonomically, the four-way button is fairly easy to navigate, once you're up to speed. The graphic rendering of golf-course features is easily legible, including a useful arrow that appears to indicate doglegs and points you in the proper direction when your eye alone can't tell where to hit.
Information is adequate for the basics (how far to you are to the front, middle and back of the green), but the Golfer can't tell you the exact distance from hazards or how far you have to hit to carry fairway bunkers and the like. It will show you distances to 100, 150 and 200 yards from the green in Layup View, which can aid strategy. But the Golfer won't allow you to move the flagstick to determine the exact distance to the hole.
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TomTom also provides access to more than 34,000 courses, but you do have to plug the device into your computer's USB port to update the list now and again. Also, you have to establish a MySports account in order to download the app that links your watch to your mobile device via Bluetooth.
Unlike the S6, the TomTom Golfer doesn't transmit detailed information about texts or phone calls during the round, but that might prove beneficial to your game! Being too wired while playing golf is a sure way to ruin your round. Who cares if the lake house is on fire?
The Golfer's main function is measuring distances to significant course features: the front, middle and back of the green; doglegs; and hazards and layups. The green view could be a little more exact, but is accurate enough when you add your own computational skills to the mix.
The Golfer will also record the length of time you've been playing, keep track of how many miles you've walked (assuming you did walk) and also estimate how many calories you've excised in doing so. The device will additionally keep score, though not automatically, which is a bit of an extra detail to attend to.
The TomTom Golfer did what it's supposed to do well enough, which is measuring distances. At shorter ranges, it wasn't as accurate when compared to a laser-sighting device, which could prove to be a major factor when choosing the right club for an approach shot. In general, I found the Approach S6 to be more accurate at these distances.
The watch was able to locate courses without any trouble or delay, and has a whopping 34,000 international courses stored in its memory. I liked that shot distances changed automatically as I advanced toward my ball.
However, the Golfer will not always advance automatically to the next hole, so you may have to hit the four-way button to do so. No big deal, but it's an extra step when you should be focused on the game and not the tech. The detailed views of putting surfaces were extremely useful, with the shape and bunker positions marked clearly.
Unless you are a terribly slow player, the TomTom Golfer ought to last you 36 holes on a given day. Its stated battery life is about 10 hours, which turns into a week or two if you shut off the GPS function and use the device instead as an everyday timekeeper. Charging is easy enough, though I wish the Golfer had a mini-USB interface instead of its proprietary charger.
TomTom's Golfer does what it does rather well: measuring accurate distances to greens, hazards and layup points. A fitness monitor will tell you how many miles you've walked during a round and estimate the amount of calories burned. Now, if it could only factor in the amount of cholesterol consumed eating that hot dog and chips at the turn.
If accurate numbers are all you're looking for in a GPS golf watch, the Golfer will fill the bill, and save you some gambling money for the weekends. While it's not as feature-packed as the $399 Garmin Approach S6, the Golfer matched or exceeded the accuracy of the Garmin when measuring distances. If you're on a bit of a budget, the TomTom Golfer will certainly do the job and then some.
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