Handheld Garmin Golf GPS Review: The G3, G5 and G6 Approach Range

When it comes to navigation technology, Garmin are the go to guys.

With years of experience when it comes to portable GPS devices in the marine, aviation, outdoor and sports sectors. In short they know what they’re doing.

The Garmin Golf GPS range includes three handheld devices – the G6, G5 and the G3 – as well as two watches, the S1 and S3.

In this article you’ll get a brief overview of what to expect as standard from the portable devices and the watches. Later in this Garmin Golf GPS review we’ll go deeper into how each model differs and what you get for your money – so you can pick the best Garmin GPS device for you.

>> Best place to save money on Garmin Approach range

The Handheld Garmin Approach Devices

Garmin G6 Approach Handheld GPS
Garmin G6 Approach Handheld GPS

The handheld GPS systems include the G3, it’s bigger brother the G5 and the newly released G6. As is standard for Garmin they’re all rugged, waterproof devices you don’t have to wrap in cotton wool. Pretty important when you’re spending upwards of $200 on something for the outdoors!

All three have glove-friendly, color, touchscreen, transflective TFT displays. These are sensitive to use and easy to point, click, zoom in and out. The actual display uses brightly colored ‘cartoon like’ graphics to map out the course (not life-like satellite images) and detail the hole, hazards and green.

For your money you’ll get easy to use, digital scorecards with distances to the fairways or “touch targeting” (you move a marker and it’ll show you the distance to where you expect to hit the ball and then from there to the green), the hazards and the front, middle and back of the green. You can then zoom into the green and move the position of the flag for the most accurate reading.

The handheld devices will automatically detect your course and automatically change, they charge quickly and come ready to use right out of the box.

Differences Between the G3, G5 and G6

Garmin Approach G5 Handheld GPS

The Garmin Approach G5

The G3 and G5, for the most part, are similar machines. The G3 is the smaller, lightweight yet equally rugged little brother to the G5.

Both come with 18,000+ US and Canadian courses, you need to buy a different version if you wish to play European course. The biggest difference is the screen size, resolution and, of course, price. The G5 dimensions are 2.3″ x 4.5″ x 1.4″ (5.8 x 11.4 x 3.5 cm) while the G3 is 2.2″ x 3.9″ x 1.3″ (5.5 x 10.0 x 3.3 cm).

The Garmin G3 and G5 both use 2x AA batteries and one of the biggest complaints is battery life. They should last you 15 hours but experience (and lots of independent reviews) show them coming up short. Bring a spare pair!

The G6 is a different kettle of fish. Unlike the G3 and G5, the Garmin G6 Approach comes with 27,000+ courses worldwide and has an internal re-chargeable battery. Solves the problem it’s siblings have. It comes 75% charged right out of the box and it’s fast charging means you’ll have it up to 100% and ready to use almost right away.

You’ll also get enhanced statistics and scoring with stroke play, stableford, skins and match play (with adjustable handicaps). The G6 is still a nice compact, lightweight device measuring 2.1″ x 3.7″ x 0.8″ (5.4 x 9.3 x 1.9 cm) and has two buttons for easier use on the front. These provide access to the green view, scorecard and shot measurement.

The Good and The Bad

Garmin G3 Approach Handheld GPS

The Smaller Garmin G3

During our Garmin Golf GPS review the best thing by far (and one thing you shouldn’t catch them out at) is accuracy. The downside is it can take 5-10 minutes to fire up your GPS and let it find satellites.

This isn’t unique to Garmin, many rivals take equally long and it means you have to turn your devices on early. Once they’ve located the satellites – it performs like a champ – with all three models updating quickly and in real-time.

For the G3 and G6 you should be getting 15 hours out of a charge but there are too many reported problems with machines dying during the round. Part of the problem could be golfers using the backlight. During sunny days – you don’t need it – turn it off and conserve your battery life.

This might also explain problems with reading the display. Again, this isn’t a problem unique to Garmin if electronic displays and sunlight aren’t the best friend – again – turn the backlight off and you’ll make reading considerably easier.

Garmin Golf GPS Review Overview

The Garmin Approach series is right up there with the best. At this moment in time on GPS system is faultless, most of that comes down to factors that can’t be avoided right now (like sunlight and finding satellites) but you have to ask what you want from your GPS device.

If it’s accuracy and yardage – Garmin are spot on. If you want something small and light then save yourself the best part of $100 and go for the G3. If you travel or score, statistics and battery life are big considerations then pick up the G6. Personally it’s the one I recommend because even though you can pick up rechargeable batteries for the G3 and G5 – I like a hassle free life ?

This made me laugh but sums it up perfectly!

“As a high handicapper I likely needed a golf GPS like I need a second wife, but since my wife had just gone out and bought a lot of clothes which I didn’t think she needed, I decided to act like a spoiled brat and buy something for myself”

“I have saved on average 3-4 strokes per hole since I bought this item ( I told you I had a high handicap). In addition, my wife who initially said, “it was a waste of money”, now asks me for her yardage or asks me to measure how far she has driven her ball.”

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