Garmin recently released their Approach S40 watch to round out their extensive line of golf GPS watches. Priced at $299, it serves as a middle point between some of their premium and budget releases.
I got a chance to wear it for several rounds, and as usual, Garmin has done an excellent job of creating an attractive watch that does everything you need it to do on the golf course. Having a reliable GPS device is a great idea for a golfer of any level in my opinion because it can help you make smarter strategic decisions on the course.
Update: Voice Caddie recently released the G1 GPS Watch, which I believe is a better overall value. Find out more in this review.
Features I Liked
The Garmin Approach S40 is the most attractive golf watch they have released to date, and for some players that might be its strongest feature. It's got a sleek modern design which makes it capable of being worn off the course (it does have some smartwatch functionality). Additionally, the screen is crystal clear, which makes all of the information visible even in the brightest of sunlight.
The Approach S40 comes preloaded with more than 40,000 courses like many of Garmin's other watches. All you have to do is turn it on, let the GPS lock on, and you're good to go.
The Approach S40 displays the front, center, and back yardages to every green which has become a standard feature on most GPS devices. Keeping track of your score is very easy as well. A few features that go above and beyond most GPS watches include:
- Auto shot detection: The Approach S40 senses whenever you make contact with the ball and will display the distance of your shot at the top of the screen. I've found this feature very helpful in seeing how far I'm hitting each club on the course and also searching for wayward tee shots
- Distances to various points on the course: You can easily toggle through the distances to doglegs, critical hazards such as bunkers, and layup yardages
- Excellent battery life: You can expect up to 15 hours of use, which usually will translate to about three rounds before having to charge it
- Green View Feature: On your approach shots you can adjust where the pin position is on the screen to see a more accurate yardage
The watch also integrates with Garmin's shot-tracking sensors, the Approach CT10, which I reviewed in this article. You also can connect to their TruSwing swing analyzer. Garmin has created a very nice ecosystem of game improvement hardware and apps that play well together.
One thing missing from the Approach S40 is swing-tempo tracking, which I've written about before as a valuable form of practice. I would say this is my only disappointment in this release.
Overall, the Garmin Approach S40 has a nice list of features, and I think you're getting a ton of value.
Where the Approach S40 Fits In
If you're in the market for a golf GPS watch, I think Garmin should be at the top of your list. They now have options at multiple price levels, and all of their products are accurate and have great functionality.
Priced at $299, the Approach S40 goes beyond some of the features in the budget category but doesn't give you everything that the Approach S60 has. I still use the Approach S60 and believe it's the best GPS watch on the market. Its ability to track your swing tempo and pinpoint any location on the course using your finger are features that are valuable to me. However, you'll pay anywhere from $50 to $100 more for those features depending on its current price.
The Approach S20 is still a great value pick at well below $200. While it's not as visibly attractive, it has an excellent list of features that include long battery life, auto shot tracking for distances, swing tempo measurement, and a few smartwatch features.
Long story short, between the Approach S20, S40, and S60 you now have a good/better/best scenario based on your budget level. I'm not sure you can go wrong with any of them since they offer plenty of value based on their relative features.
If you're interested in reading some other reviews I have written on their current product line, you can check these articles out: