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SkyCaddie Watch review: golf GPS and much more
05 Apr 2013
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Equipment Reviews

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I haven’t worn anything on my wrist in years. I’m going to start doing so now, after trying the SkyCaddie Watch.

I have been looking at a wearable GPS for a couple of years -- when SkyCaddie released one I knew it would not disappoint. From the moment I opened the package and peeled the protective plastic coating off of the face of the watch, I knew I would want to wear it off the course. It feels and looks that good. Mine is black, with subtle lime green accents. It’s super light, and the band adjusts in seconds.

The controls are intuitive too. Simply hold either button on the left and the watch tells you what to do, for example “hold for menu” or “hold to set”. I was able to set the time for my time zone in a matter of seconds without glancing at the manual.

It stayed on my wrist for the next two days and even got a couple of compliments. I should mention that prior to playing golf I used setup an account at SkyGolf.com and downloaded the SkyCaddie software which is used to update course data. The watch stores all courses and auto-detects your location but it’s important to be a member and be in sync with the latest database. Computer connection is via a USB cable that easily clips to the watch. You’ll want to keep that cable in a safe place – it’s used to recharge the SkyCaddie watch to provide up to a year of power in watch mode or 10 hours in GPS mode.

For my test and review of the SkyCaddie Watch, I decided to take it a bit further than just playing a round of golf at my home course – I played half the holes in the dark with the help of a Night Flyer L.E.D. ball. (The kind they use in glow ball tournaments.)

I started my round before dusk because I wanted to get a good idea of how accurate the Watch was when I could still see my targets and compare the information on the screen with yardages marked on sprinkler heads and tee boxes. The SkyCaddie Watch is spot on; just take a look at the photo on the upper left.

I soon wondered why I haven't used GPS technology more often. Maybe it's because the last time I tried it was via an app on my iPhone which at times was off by 5 yards or more. There are close to 50 free or low cost GPS apps on the iTunes store alone. They may be good enough for some golfers, (what’s 5 yards when you’re trying to get it airborne?) but anybody who is serious about their game needs more.

The SkyCaddie Watch has something that GPS apps, or competing “wearable” devices for the matter, don’t. From the get-go the company behind SkyCaddie – SkyGolf -- wasn't satisfied with relying on satellite imagery for course mapping. SkyGolf walks every course in it’s database with professional-grade survey equipment to create ground-corrected course maps that are accurate to within one yard. (I remember playing golf once and seeing a brisk- walking, very in shape SkyGolf employee completing a survey, GPS antenna backpack and all.)

Back to my “walk in the dark” – I never came close to losing my Night Flyer and quickly learned the value of the SkyCaddie Watch’s backlight (pushing a button activates it for a few seconds), a nice feature when needing the time, or a yardage in the dark. My experiment ended with a lot of questions and conversation in the clubhouse as I waltzed in a full hour after sunset.

I can’t wait to try some of the other features of this multi-feature sports watch, but look forward to using all of them, except maybe the calorie counter. Here are some product details.

FEATURES, APPEARANCE, AND EASE-OF- USE:

The whole concept of having a wearable golf GPS device centers around convenience. No more reaching in and out of the bag pocket, and running back to the tee to grab the GPS or laser you left behind. You’ll want to wear the SkyCaddie Watch everywhere, letting it tell time when you’re off the course and quickly letting it “find” and tune into the course you’re playing in a matter minutes.

ON-COURSE:

Follow the menu to find your course, then view bold, legible center of the green yardage numbers in the middle of the screen and front and back yardages in smaller numerals below. Need to skip a hole or jump around? Simply use the up and down buttons on the right to get to the correct hole. Use the pace-of-play clock to track the speed of your round.

OFF COURSE:

• Track distance, time, speed of any run, walk or bike ride
• Water resistant to 30 meters
• Odometer, Lap Counter, and Calorie Counter
• Available in black and cool gray
• Extras: Clock, timer, alarm, English and French, , and backlight MEMBERSHIP:

To take advantage of SkyGolf’s massive 30,000- plus worldwide course map collection, you will need to purchase a Par level membership for either $19.95 for one year or $49.95 for three years. The membership will pay for itself many times over in lower scores and the confidence of picking the perfect club.

OPTIONS AND PRICING:

The SkyCaddie Watch is available in Black/Neon or White/Neon, at a price of $199.95. Purchase at www.skygolf.com or at your favorite golf retailer.
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