Playing a round of golf without a GPS these days is becoming a rarity, at least among serious golfers. So, the purchase of a golf GPS is almost a must. The difficulty is, when buying one, the increasing number of options available to choose from, something that complicates the shopping process.
The Garmin Approach G30 Handheld GPS has been on the market for several years, but remains a big favorite with golfers, but what works for one golfer won’t always work for another, so would it be the right choice for you? Our review is going to try to help you answer that question.
Table of Contents
Garmin Approach G30 Basic Stats
- Number of Preloaded Golf Courses Available: Over 41,000 worldwide
- Display size: 58.44mm/2.3″ diagonally
- Weight: 70.9g/2.5 oz
- Expected Battery Life From Fully Charged: 15 Hours
- Charging time to Full Charge: 2-4 hours
- Tournament legal globally
- Fully waterproof.
What’s In the Box
- The Garmin Approach G30 device
- Branded USB cable
- Belt clip
- Instruction manual
Garmin Approach G30 Basics
The Garmin Approach G30 was launched as an upgrade on the much loved Garmin Approach G10, a device that was a bestseller among golfers for years. The upgrade offered by the Garmin Approach G30 is pretty significant, but does not take away too much from the simplicity that users loved about the G10.
The last thing any golfer wants – or needs – is more bulky equipment weighing them down on the links. This means that the fact that the Garmin Approach G30 is as small as its predecessor is a plus. At less than 3 inches and 3oz, it can be easily clipped to your belt, stashed in your pocket, clipped to your golf bag or even, if you take it out on the greens, your regular keychain.
Some might think that the screen size makes this golf GPS difficult to use, but we found that not to be the case. The display is bright and clear – even in bright sunlight – and the ‘Big Numbers’ function (more on that in a moment) makes things even easier.
There is a downside to this very small swing that irritates some users, however. It’s not the best option if you have big fingers, as a few wrong touches can throw off the efficient use of the device. If you manage to text OK though then that really should not be too much of a problem.
Battery Life Claims
The manufacturer claims, that when fully charged, the Garmin Approach G30 has a battery life of 15 hours, but what does that translate to in real life? We found – as did a number of other previous users – that it functions perfectly for at least three full rounds of 18 hole golf, which is more than enough for anyone, even a pro.
However, we’d still recommend that you make sure to leave the gadget charging the night before you head out for a day on the links, but that’s just to be on the safe side and a recommendation we make for any of these golf GPS devices so that they’ll perform as expected ‘on the day’.
Charging the Garmin Approach G30 is easy, it has a USB charging facility that means it can be charged anywhere you have access to a USB port, or via any power point if you purchase an inexpensive USB charging converter. Opt for a car converter and you can probably even charge it on the golf cart.
A golf GPS is only helpful if it can map the golf course you are playing, so choosing a GPS that offers great global coverage is a must.
The Garmin Approach G30 boasts more than 41,000 golf course maps from across the globe. The question is, of course, will it include your local course as well as those big, fancy PGA designed courses that the pros play on.
We found that most of the courses we looked for were indeed featured, and, on the off chance that you are planning to play a course that is not included – maybe a very small private course – if it has been GPS mapped the chances are good you can add it manually. Most courses however are included ‘out of the box’.
The Course Display feature offers you a clear overview of the course, and hole, being played. You can choose to view the entire course on the screen, and then, by tapping on a specific flag you can zoom in on specific holes and move into ‘Greenview’.
Greenview is the really useful stuff, and it allows you to get a true orientation wherever you are personally located – even if you’re standing behind the green. Then, via ‘Big Numbers Mode’ the true to life yardages to the front, middle and back of green will be displayed, and displayed in a large, easy to read font that you won’t have to squint uncomfortably to view.
The various display modes offer more than distance measurements though. Known hazards and doglegs are displayed, as is tree cover. Anything that might be slightly different on the day – the level of tree cover for example – can be manually adjusted should you want to do so.
Maybe the most useful feature of all though – during play at least – is Touch Targeting. Touch Targeting allows you to touch any point on the display and get the distance from your current location immediately. And that’s really one of the biggest reasons to use a golf GPS in the first place and this little gadget gives you those all important distances quickly and easily.
Any golf GPS worth having should also boast an easy to use, easy to complete accurately scorecard. That is certainly what we found to be the case here.
The built-in scorecard can be used simultaneously for up to four players and is an easy few touches away from the main screen when you want to view it. The device keeps score automatically -as it should – and notes putts, greens in regulation and fairways hit.
There’s also an odometer feature and a timer, so your scorecard – which can be synched with the Garmin Connect app/software automatically – so you can keep track of even more information.
You can also store your scorecards according to course and even according to specific green, something that will allow you to check your progress – and improvement – with ease every time you play it.
Once completed, the scorecard can also automatically be shared across several social media apps, so if you want to impress your LinkedIn connections with the stats from a particularly great round you can do so with ease.
Improving Your Game
If you make use of Truswing golf swing analyzer – or are thinking about doing so in the future – the Garmin Approach 360 syncs with that utility easily and makes it even more efficient, as you can track your swing performance with additional data about path angles, swing distances, reaction to obstacles and more.
Truswing is already a big help to golfers looking to make serious swing improvements, but the addition of the data from the Garmin Approach 360 makes it even better.
Stay in Touch While You Play Through
No one wants to play with a golfer who keeps checking his phone every few minutes because they are afraid they’ll miss an important message. By the same token however no golfer wants to think they’ll be completely out of touch when they’re out on the greens.
When synched with your phone the Garmin Approach 360 will alert you to calls, texts, and even, if you chose, to important email messages from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! and more. This way you can use your time at the 19th hole to respond to them before heading back home or back to the office.
Garmin Approach 360 Full Specs
The full specs on the device, according to the manufacturer, break down as follows:
- Dimensions 2.1″ x 3.0″ x 0.8″ (53.0 x 75.0 x 21.0 mm)
- Weight 2.5 oz (70.9 g)
- Battery type: Internal rechargeable lithium ion
- Touchscreen functionality: Yes
- Display Type: Transflective color TFT touchscreen
- Display Size : 2.3″ diag (58.4 mm)
- Display Resolution : 200 x 265 pixels
- Color Display : Yes
- Battery Life: An average of 15 hours
- Charge time: 2 -4 hours
- High-Sensitivity Receiver Yes
- Interface USB
- Included Accessories: Belt clip, USB cable
Garmin Approach 360 Pros and Cons
Every golf GPS device will have pros and cons attached to it, as it’s probably fair to say that the perfect golf GPS gadget has really yet to be invented. In making extensive use of this one for testing purposes we found that the following pros and cons stood out.
- Bright, easy to read color display
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Long battery life
- Easy USB charging
- Extensive golf course catalog
- Offered by a well-known manufacturer with a good reputation for customer service.
- Screen may be too small for those with larger fingers
- More expensive than some other options you might be considering.
Now that we’ve detailed lots about the Garmin Approach 360, and shown you what it can do, you are probably wondering what we really thought about it in action.
In a nutshell, we liked it a lot. It’s faster than the previous version, the Approach G10, and it’s Bluetooth functionality seems to perform a little better, although if you are playing through in a very remote location do not expect perfect performance, but that’s true of almost any GPS.
We liked the brightness of the screen and the crisp display. The Big Numbers function is very useful and not just because of the font size. Having those all important range numbers displayed immediately before a shot was something we found to be very useful.
Another thing we loved? Garmin does not charge any subscription fees to use Garmin Connect to store your data or to update the device when and if course updates become available. Golf can get expensive enough, without having to pay subscription fees for data storage! And as Truswing users we appreciated the additional data points to help improve our swing.
Finally, there’s the Touch Targeting. It’s fast and the screen is responsive (although maybe a little too responsive if you have bigger fingers.) However, for us it was an excellent feature to have.
Critics of this golf GPS say it lacks some of the bells and whistles of slightly newer models, and that’s true. They also might point out that there are cheaper options out there, which is also true.
However if you are looking for a very portable, very reliable golf GPS device that also adds some of the cooler features you’ll get with a smartwatch – message, call and email tracking for example – as well as excellent data functionality and great support then this is a good solid choice for both the weekend warrior and the daily player.