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This Garmin golf watch has one key feature that makes it indispensable for my game

This latest Garmin Approach S70 provides everything you need to manage and improve your golf game, especially if you're just getting started.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Wearing the Garmin Approach S70
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

After five years of playing golf, and a few lessons, I'm fairly comfortable on the course and continue to pursue ways to improve my game. In order to do that, I need to know where my weaknesses are and that means capturing all of the data associated with my time on the grass.

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Garmin is best known for its rugged sports watches, but it's secretly one of the best at making golf wearables, as demonstrated by the Approach S70. Sure, the Garmin MARQ Golfer beats the Approach if you want the ultimate golfer's watch, but that costs three times as much ($2,300), and the latter is not too far off in terms of data tracking and features. That's why it's the watch I recommend for golfers.

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Some of the golf features found on the Approach S70 that are not available on other Garmin watches include custom targets, PinPointer, PlaysLike distance, Swing Tempo, green contours, and shot dispersion. Shot dispersion may be one of my favorite new features as it displays a box on the watch to show where your selected club shot may end up, based on your golfing history. 

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This type of advanced analysis of historical data, with current conditions accounted for, is exactly why you would consider a more premium golf watch like the Approach S70 if you truly want to improve your game.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Garmin Approach S70 improves on the previous S62 with an AMOLED display, 42 and 47mm size options (people with smaller wrists can now enjoy this complete golf experience), improved PlaysLike features (temperature and barometric pressure accounted for), green contours with Garmin Golf subscription, and improvements in other health and fitness aspects of the Garmin ecosystem outside of golf. 

Garmin advertises up to 20 hours of GPS tracking with the Approach S70 and that is about what I was able to achieve, five rounds of 18-hole golf with friends.

A few years ago I purchased the Garmin CT10 sensors to track my swings with different clubs, so I used them alongside the Approach S70 to see just how accurate the tracking can get. I then spent a couple of weeks visiting various courses in the area to capture data and try to improve my score. A few things I love about the S70 on the course include:

  • Large 47mm AMOLED display: The display is vibrant and viewable in all lighting conditions. The larger 1.4-inch size is also perfect for my aging eyes
  • Hole score indicator: Around the inside of the bezel are the numbers 1-18. As you complete a hole and Garmin captures your score, the numbers increase or decrease, and a short color bar appears. A par score appears green, a birdie appears light blue, and a bogey is yellow. The warmer the color, the more "over" you are from a hole-in-one.
  • PlaysLike features: The Garmin watch can display course elevation changes, wind speed/direction, and air density.
  • Virtual caddie: The most intimidating aspect of the game when I began to play was trying to figure out an appropriate club to use. For the first year or two, I golfed with friends who were more experienced and I was constantly asking them for recommendations. I've since golfed enough to gauge the performance of my primary clubs, but greatly appreciate that the S70 shows me what club is the best choice for the upcoming shot. This virtual caddie feature removes one aspect of my anxiety on the course so that I can focus on other parts of my game.
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Setting up the watch for the first time is interesting since you must pair it to your smartphone via the Garmin Golf application with the Garmin Connect app also being used for health, wellness, and other non-golf activities. I sometimes have to toggle Bluetooth on and off as the connection via the Garmin Golf app is not as reliable as its Connect counterpart. 

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The Garmin Golf app is very powerful and provides you with an incredible amount of information for your golf game, especially if you have the CT10 club sensors paired with the Approach S70.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Another golf aspect that the watch is useful for is tempo training on the driving range. The feature appears as an activity after you press the Action button and then you select from a number of timing choices. Historical data shows that professionals generally have a 3.0 golf swing tempo. Garmin provides six different timings to help you improve your swing tempo with the help of the watch's vibration to initiate your swing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course with the Garmin Approach S70 and have yet to find another golf watch that offers as much as it does. If you're passionate about golf, and you want a watch that can help you with other fitness activities just as much, then this is the watch to consider.

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