There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What We Tried:
Who Tried It:
Connor. Director of Soft Goods Testing and resident sneakerhead. I believe golf is better with a pair of cool shoes and comfortable joggers.
I’m upgrading from the Approach S40 and ready to find a “daily driver” golf watch.
Years In the Making
Good things come to those who wait. And, boy, did Garmin make us wait for the brand-new Garmin Approach S70 golf GPS watch. As the successor to the perennial champion, the Garmin Approach S62, the Approach S70 has big shoes to fill.
Can it live up to the hype? I’ve put it through its paces and have the inside scoop on the latest and greatest Garmin has to offer.
Garmin Approach S70: A Few Cosmetic Changes
Was the wait worth it? An emphatic “yes!”
The Approach S70 must be a significant upgrade over the S62 to be considered a success in my mind. That said, I’m elated to report that nearly every one of the things I wanted to see in the Garmin S70 came to fruition.
Seriously. It’s like Garmin actually listened to user feedback!
The biggest (and most noteworthy) difference between the new S70 and the old S62 is the introduction of an AMOLED display. If you’re a technology enthusiast like me, you’ll know that AMOLED displays are known for their crisp contrast. On an AMOLED panel, black looks more, well, black. The colors are more vibrant and the course maps look flat-out amazing on the large 1.4-inch display.
Speaking of displays, now is a good time to mention the next big change to Garmin’s latest golf GPS watch: Size.
The Garmin Approach S70 golf GPS is offered in two different sizes, a robust 47mm and the slightly smaller 42mm. This is great for those of you with dainty wrists. Left out no longer! On the other hand (no pun intended), the 47mm version is perfect for my wrists.
With all of the screen real estate, there had better be increased functionality, right? Thankfully, Garmin updated the course maps with better graphics to include things like trees, penalty areas, etc. It seems like a small thing but it adds a realistic feel to course navigation.
Garmin Approach S70: User Experience
A good golf GPS should be easy and intuitive to use. Between the new, larger display and the great software features, the Garmin Approach S70 provides a terrific user experience.
Here are some things I noticed as I played with the Approach S70:
- Plays Like” distances are very helpful on a windy day or if there are differences in slope. Let the watch do the hard math for you
- The onboard barometer adds one more data point with which to calculate your true distance to the flag
- The ability to pinpoint any spot on the course is convenient. This made laying up or finding the distance to penalty areas a seamless experience
- Auto-hole detection worked perfectly. The Approach S70 had no issues advancing to each new hole.
Outside of the excellent on-course experience I had with the Garmin Approach S70, I really wanted to find out if it’s a capable smartwatch, too. As a comparison, most of us cite the gold standard, the Apple Watch. I found the Garmin S70 was a worthy competitor off the course.
Some of its admirable health and fitness options:
- Body battery. The higher the number, the higher your energy. After my round of golf I had dropped to an 8 out of 100. Yikes!
- Stress tracking. I loved being able to check my stress levels, especially at night as I try to unwind after a long day of writing stuff for you to read.
- Sleep tracking. This GPS watch functions as a full-fledged sleep tracker. It works pretty darned well, too.
Accuracy On Par
How accurate is the Garmin Approach S70? Not as accurate as a laser rangefinder, for sure. That’s a given. But the S70 was within a couple yards (of the rangefinder reading.
That doesn’t concern me all that much. You’re buying a golf GPS watch for ease of use, not for 100-percent accuracy. If you’re looking to hone in the accuracy, you can manually enter the pin location on the watch rather than rely on the classic front, middle and back data.
Battery Life On Point
My biggest concern with the move to a full AMOLED display was potential battery issues. With an advertised 16 days of battery life in smartwatch mode (20 hours in GPS/golf mode), those concerns were quickly quashed.
I’ve had the S70 on my wrist every day for a week and haven’t charged it once, even after a five-hour round at Payne’s Valley, the Payne Stewart tribute course in Missouri (yes, I’m bragging a little).
One or Two Gripes
It can’t all be good, can it? If I had one gripe (a tiny one, at that), it would be about the overall setup process. The setup and pairing process to my phone via Bluetooth took a few tries. But after the good ol’ IT trick of turning it off and then back on, I was able to connect the Garmin Approach S70 to my phone.
Since the initial setup, I’ve had no connection issues.
One other slight annoyance is the necessity for a paid Garmin Golf membership in order to access green maps and undulation data. This pay-to-play model for extra features isn’t unique to Garmin so it’s hard to knock them here. That said, some golf GPS devices I’ve used give you green maps for free, rather than making them a paid feature.
Garmin S70: Raising the Bar
While the Approach S70 was a little too late to participate in our “Best Golf GPS of 2023” testing, I’m not so sure it wouldn’t have swept the competition. That said, I won’t know until we test again in 2024.
Even still, the Garmin Approach S70 is the best golf GPS watch I’ve used. The one “catch” if you will? The price. The S70 sits in a price bracket of its own at $700. But remember, you’re getting a device that can be used for daily wear, not just golf.
In my mind, that makes the Garmin Approach S70 worth the asking price.