For the past year or so, one of the most common questions I've received from readers is, "when is Garmin releasing an update to the Approach S60 watch?" Golfers could sense it was at the end of its product cycle and didn't want to make a purchase without seeing what a newer, shinier model would offer. Fortunately, the wait is over. The Garmin Approach S62 GPS Watch is now available for purchase, and I got a chance to try it out this spring on the golf course.
The S60 watch held its position as the best GPS watch in the market for several years. It's hard to imagine what improvements it needed, but Garmin managed to come up with some enhancements and new features not seen before. In this review, I'll try to help solve the problem of deciding between the two watches (the S60 is still on the market), and whether or not you need all the bells and whistles.
The Garmin S60 did not have much to complain about - you can read my review here. Having detailed maps of each hole, the ability to track swing tempo, yardage adjustments for elevation changes, and plenty of other attributes made it the best golf GPS watch for the past several years.
But as technology improves, new releases try to go above and beyond the originals.
I'll summarize the key features that I noticed in the Approach S62:
- The resolution is sharper and the screen is even easier to read in direct sunlight (the watch face is also 17% larger).
- It's much faster - most notably when I'm using the on-screen map to select points on the course. There used to be a slight delay, but now it's almost instantaneous.
- Garmin has improved the hazard information. You can quickly toggle through the distances to sand traps and other points of interest on the hole without having to manually select them on the map.
- Battery life is much longer; I can play three rounds without having to recharge the watch.
New Features in the S62
The Garmin Approach S62 does have a few new features that its predecessor did not. However, I'm not completely sold on their utility.
The virtual caddie is perhaps their biggest new addition. After collecting information on your typical distances with each club, it factors in the wind speed, yardage, elevation changes, and the layout of the hole to give you advice on what club and target you should choose. While I didn't get to use this feature, I have to say I'm "philosophically" opposed to having these decisions made for you. I'm very skeptical that it can make the right choice in each instance, but more importantly, I believe those choices should be made by the golfer.
I'm not suggesting the virtual caddie won't be useful for players, but in a perfect world, I'd love for you to go through the archives of Practical Golf to learn how to make these decisions without the help of a (potentially) imperfect technology.
The Approach S62 can also pair with your smartphone to help display wind direction and speed. I live in an area where it's quite windy, and it's common that the wind direction can change several times during a round. This is also another area where I believe a golfer has to rely on their senses, and not technology. I'm not opposed to knowing the prevailing wind conditions for the day, but I'd defer to your senses to make the right decision on what the wind is actually doing at the moment.
Lastly, the Approach S62 does come with built-in shot tracking capability. Garmin has built a nice stats app, and this pairs nicely with the watch. You will have to manually make sure the club you use on each shot is correct. If you want a more seamless experience, then I would recommend adding their CT10 sensors, which I have used in the past and recommend.
Overall, I'm not completely sold on the virtual caddie or wind features, but I believe the automatic shot tracking is its strongest additional characteristic. I'm a big proponent of golfers keeping track of their stats to help them make better decisions on the course. My preference is that you are the one making those decisions, and not artificial intelligence.
The Approach S62 Can Also Be Your Smartwatch
Garmin also went above and beyond golf to build even more value into the S62. The watch pairs with your smartphone to provide various notifications (text messages etc). But I think the main feature that might entice some is the new heart rate technology.
For the past 18 months, I've had an Apple Watch and mainly used it as a fitness tracker (and motivator). The results have been pretty powerful for me. If you are someone who exercises or wants to start, I think having fitness tracking is a great feature that could make the Approach S62 a permanent fixture on your wrist rather than just a golf accessory. Garmin has a robust app that can track your fitness progress and heart rate.
As an Apple enthusiast, I would say that the S62 will not replace my Apple watch because the syncing feature is so powerful with the iPhone. But if you don't currently have a smartwatch, or use Android for mobile, then I think there are enough new features to make it a great smartwatch.
The Final Verdict
Garmin easily maintains the title of the best golf GPS watch with the Approach S62. But it does create a decision to make because the Approach S60 is still available for purchase at a lower price. Based on the current market, it seems it could be anywhere between a $100 - $150 price differential.
The new enhancements are nice, but compared to its predecessor, I wouldn't call them game-changers. If you strictly want a great golf watch, and the price is a major consideration, then it might make sense to go with the Approach S60. However, if the extra smartwatch features are important to you, and you do want the benefit of some of the newer enhancements, then spending the extra money might make sense.
Either way, they're both excellent watches. The only other watch that I've seen that could compare at a slightly lower price is the Voice Caddie G1. Additionally, if you want a more basic model, then I would recommend going with the Garmin Approach S20.
Overall, Garmin did another fantastic job of making a premium golf GPS watch that has a robust set of features.