Product Reviews - September 05, 2011

Review of Garmin G3 GPS

Having once owned a Golf GPS about 5 years ago, I was wary of this electronics meets golf idea for a 2nd go. I cannot think of many electronic products that have a purpose on a golf course. We often give value to Electronic aids in practice, before a game and maybe even after a game, but during a game they have little credence. Personally, I want to concentrate on swing, technique and well; winning, but definitely not slaving to a handheld device or electronic score system.

My first foray into GPS based golf course advisory devices was disastrous when I found my local golf course would not endorse it for use in any club competitions and further my home course wasn’t properly mapped out. It was hard to use even in a casual round and there was a further issue in that being an early adopter, I often found myself the subject of minor sledging by the others in the group (3 versus 1 is tough to defend and when the opponents sniff a weakness, they milk it). It was a no win situation. I duly ebayed it and waved goodbye. Cannot even remember the brand I bought back then, but do recall it was sold at Ray Drummond stores for $400+.

Then entered the Garmin Approach G3. It looked good on paper and a huge difference now was that GPS devices have been endorsed by the Golf ruling bodies full stop. My local golf club now allows full use in competitions, the course was fully pre mapped and I figured I might be less of a leper being 2011. Garmin state that 600+ courses are pre loaded on their G3 and a quick resume check of all the courses I have played around Australia in the past 10 years showed everyone of them on the list.

Everything about the G3 is simple and there is no need to discuss any of the finer details about what comes with it etc. as it works perfectly once the batteries are installed. I did play around with it for about 10 minutes at home the night before my round and it was simple and intuitive with a touch screen to add to its ease of use. The only detail I really needed to get correct was to ensure it was set to measure in metric and not imperial. I was really chasing a quick uptake on this product with minimum fuss and definitely wasn’t going to put any effort into connecting/uploading etc. Essentially, I had in mind that this unit was given a limited window to impress me or it was going to be packed up and shipped back pronto.

Arriving at the course, I turned it on and pressed PLAY. It asked me to select a course and since I was at Woodlands Golf course, Mordialloc, VIC, this was already on top of the list of courses. Straight up it switches to the first hole with a map and distance to the pin. I checked this against the course marking (i.e. the certified distance marked on a plate on the tee) and it was spot on. For the first few holes I regularly checked it against the sprinkler head distance markings etc and each time it was +/- 1 metre. I clipped the Approach G3 to a suitable position on my golf bag and the swing type clip was a perfect mount. So far, so good.

Each time I finished a hole, as soon as I transited to the next tee the G3 automatically switched over to the next hole map. There was only one occasion on the 14th hole I found the screen was incorrectly on a previous hole and I put this down to a stray tee shot. It was simply fixed by one push of a button and everything returned to normal. The colour screen was a little hard to read in some light conditions/angles, however touching the display turns on the backlight which improves the readability.

Here is the best news though, the two guys I was with kept asking me throughout the day what distance I had on my display. The more the day went on, the more they asked. So not only was it accurate, easy to use, totally useful (and legal to use on competition day), it was popular. I was even able to toy with them a few times on the distance after realising they were now reliant upon me! Every experience of 5 years ago was now the opposite as I trundled around all day long knowing exactly how far I was from the pin. I was at my home course and even though I already knew where all the sand traps and course obstacles were, I could utilise the on screen distance features on the odd occasion to check whether club selection was appropriate to carry these obstacles.

There are other features possible on the G3 such as selecting specific positions on the map to aid in next shot measurements. There is also a complete scorecard feature, but for now I was not keen on bothering with this. I just wanted a simple tool to aid in distance measurement. My interaction with the device throughout the day was negligible and I generally never touched it, but rather looked at the screen to get a distance. It worked for me just as I wanted and I never found myself slaving to it!

The only negatives are the included cover and battery life. The cover seemed like a good idea, but I ditched it and went naked after a few holes. It kind of got in the way of the touch screen. Before the game I installed two brand new Lithium AA batteries and upon picking it up again the next day to do this review I find I am now getting low battery warnings. It never ran out during the round or gave any such low battery warnings and it also has an auto power shut down so I am not sure why the documented 15 hour battery life seemed to be more like 5 hours. It may be something I did myself such as not correctly turning it off or finishing the round on the screen, as once my round was over I had the 19th hole on my mind. (Note: 19th hole is not on the course map). Regardless, I have made a note to carry an extra set or 2 of batteries next time, just in case of a mid round power issue. Plus the case now exists as a protection case for storage once I have finished. So neither of these are of great concern.


What’s good about it:


– It gets the job done in a very easy manner.

– 600+ courses are pre loaded with even more coming.

– Simple to set up and very easy to get working upon arrival.

– Accurate distances.

– Wont distract you from your game.


What’s not so good about it:


– Nothing really except battery life. Carry a spare set of batteries for emergency.

Carry case is a bit cumbersome. Simply fixed by removing it!



It’s a little beauty! Small, easy to use, functional and outright a great tool to aid in playing better golf. I will never play another round without it. This one is a keeper!


PS: I won the day too!


Rob Grinter is the owner of Highly Tuned Athletes and wrote this review based on his own personal experience with using the product. The Garmin Approach G3 Golf GPS is available for $349 including Free delivery.



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