If you want to have the most extensive knowledge of course layouts and yardages to various points on each hole, premium GPS watches have become powerful companions. Recently, SkyGolf released their SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch and is now one of the top contenders in this category.
Essentially, they took all of the features from their SX500 handheld GPS, my favorite GPS overall, and shrunk them into a wrist-sized device. On paper, the SkyCaddie LX5 seems like a no brainer as the best GPS watch out there. However, based on my testing, there are a few tradeoffs you have to accept, which help to decide between the LX5 and the Garmin Approach S62 (my previous pick as the best overall golf GPS watch).
In this review, I'll explain what I love most about this watch, and make you aware of a couple of minor setbacks that I noticed.
The Best Visuals
Technology is always changing, but I can comfortably say that the SkyGolf LX5 GPS Watch has the best visuals in this category right now.
The combination of HD graphics, bright screen, and in-depth hole layouts make this watch a course manager's dream come true.
You can expect to have crystal-clear layouts of each hole, with the ability to pick specific targets to see your yardages. These features are available on other watches like the Garmin Approach S62 and Voice Caddie G1. However, I would give the edge to the LX5.
SkyGolf is the only company that walks each course to verify yardages (we'll get to the cost factor later). Other companies have various means of collecting golf course data, and to be honest, I haven't had too many issues with competing GPS providers, but you should know that their methods are the most "robust" in the industry.
Another feature of the SkyCaddie LX5 that sets it apart is what they call IntelliGreen imagery. You'll get a much more detailed view of each green that includes contours, false fronts, and mounds. Also, you easily select any point on the green and see exact yardages.
Overall, they've knocked it out of the park with the visuals. Similar to other watches in this category, you can also track your score and basic stats like fairways hit, greens in regulation, and total putts.
Those Features Come At a Slight Cost
I've tested enough products at this point to know that there are always inevitable tradeoffs. If you want a bright, powerful display, it will consume more battery life.
One feature I did not like about the LX5 is that the screen automatically goes into what's called dim mode rather quickly (the screen goes completely dark). You can change this to as long as 30 seconds, but I found it to be a bit of a nuisance. Every time I wanted to check a yardage, I had to touch the screen and wait for it to turn on. Sometimes I needed to do it several times before hitting a shot.
As someone who is a fast player and often plays with other quick golfers, this was an annoyance for me. Every other watch I've tested always has the screen on, and it was a noticeable difference. Unfortunately, you can't disable this feature because it would likely drain the battery too quickly. This might not be a problem for every golfer, but it is something you should be aware of.
I would say you can only expect to get one round, perhaps two rounds out of the watch before you need to charge it. This was a bit shorter than its top competitor, the Garmin Approach S62, which you can get almost three rounds out of in one charge.
Also, the watch did get stuck a few times changing holes and buzzes your wrist to ask you if you are finished with a hole. This was another feature that felt like a mild annoyance even if you did turn on the auto-advance setting.
Other Useful Features
Premium Golf GPS watches are starting to go beyond just functionality on the course. The LX5 also has the following capabilities:
- Customizable watch faces: the watch does look pretty sharp, and you can easily wear it all-day
- Fitness features: you can track your daily step count, heart rate, and use a stopwatch feature for workouts
A Pricing Caveat
SkyGolf does have a different pricing structure than other companies. When you purchase most GPS products, you don't have to pay an ongoing fee. But since SkyGolf does have their courses manually mapped, they do charge annual fees for most of their products.
Fortunately, the LX5 does come with a three-year subscription included. But if you do plan on keeping the watch over the long haul, that should be a consideration.
Where It Fits In
When I saw the list of features on the LX5, I had high expectations and figured it would be the outright best premium golf GPS watch. That throne has long been held by Garmin with their Approach S60 and now the S62.
In terms of visuals and features, it ranks #1. But I was a little disappointed by the auto-dimming feature, shorter battery life, and issues with changing holes. They're not deal-breakers, but they should be considerations when you purchase.
So if you want the best, you're going to be choosing between the LX5 and the Garmin Approach S62. I would say Garmin wins the battle in overall usability, but the LX5 has a slightly more robust set of features.
If you do want to save some money, you should also consider the Voice Caddie G1.
Overall, SkyGolf did an excellent job with the LX5 GPS Watch. It has the best display, yardage features, and if you're OK with a couple of small tradeoffs with usability, I think you'll love the watch. You can check the lowest price on Amazon here.