One of the reasons I purchased my Apple Watch was to be able to use it on the golf course. I anted an easy way of being able to see distances from where I was standing to the hole. I am not a good enough golfer to need to know with absolute accuracy as a laser finder would tell me but roughly (within a few metres) was required To date I have been using a Neo golf unit which I have mapped for my local course and also some Apps on my iPhone.
The main App I have been using on my iPhone is Golfshot. I purchased this App some time ago after playing with quite a number of golf Apps. I also purchased it before it was a subscription based application so I am somewhere in-between the free version they offer and the subscription service features they offer.. I have found it extremely useful and user friendly. It is not as accurate as a Laser finder but it’s accuracy has been more than sufficient for me. It has been great to go to new courses and have the ability to get distances. Yes, I have to walk up to my ball and pull my phone out to get distances but that was never too much of a hassle. If you leave your phone in your bag or have it attached to your cart you obviously need to have the cart next to your ball.
With the purchase of the Apple Watch I have also downloaded the Hole19 App to try out. At the time of writing it is offered in a free version and also as a premium (paid) version. These seem to be the two Apps that I have heard about most.
Lets start with Hole19. As I said I am using the free version of this App. The subscription version costs around $5 per month at the time of writing and adds advanced statistics, notes, highlights of your round and other media based content. The basic statistics tell me enough, so the free app it is for me at this moment and for these tests. You need to start the App on your iPhone providing the information about where you are playing, handicap, hole you are starting on etc. Once this is done you can start the App on your Apple Watch and the GPS distances detected by your phone are transferred to the watch. Yes the distances shown are from your phone to the target so if your cart/buggy with your phone in it is 50 metres away the accuracy is gone.
This first image shows you the distances on the watch face. You can see it is showing for the 1st Hole, it is a Par 4 with a stroke index of 8. The 3 large numbers show the distance to the front, middle and rear of the green. The middle number is taken from the standard mapped location of the pin for the course being played. Roughly the middle. If you pull your phone out and change the location of the pin on the green the distances will change, obviously. You can also wee the Distances text. This is a link to all the holes on the course so you can move to any hole you require. Oh, the time is there also.
I rarely pull my phone out for my local course and perhaps only when I am in real doubt about where the hole is taking me, hazards or other things on an unfamiliar course. Remember I wanted this to be easy and not have to pull my phone out – otherwise why did I buy it. As I said earlier accuracy is pretty good. Finally on this screen tapping the golf icon takes you to the screen where you enter your score.
This image shows a score that has been score for the hole just played. It starts out as empty of any numbers but touching the +/- buttons will bring up the par for the hole and the regulation putting number. Further pushes on the +/- buttons lets you adjust your score (number of strokes for the hole) up and down. similarly the +/- keys let you adjust the number of putts you have had. By the way, telling your phone that it is a stableford round and picks are allowed with give this option on the watch. Without it you must enter a number.
Each time you press a button you feel that little tap on your wrist to let you know an entry has been made. On the bottom of the image you will notice 3 dots, the first of which is lit. This tells you there are 3 screens. Swiping to the left moves to the next screen where you tell App if you have hit the fairway, were left or right of the fairway or short of it. On a Par 3 this screen is not shown.
Finally, a further swipe to the left brings up the screen asking you if the App should move to the next hole. It also shows your progressive stroke score in relation to your handicap. Once you select Next Hole your phone is updated. It is pretty good at working out scrambling from this basic data but if you want to keep track of sand shots or penalties you need to go to the phone. I tend to do this after a round but it is very easy to do during. Pressing the Done button will take you back to the first screen for the hole you are on. What will be added is the total number of strokes and putts you had for the hole. This will show up in green to the left of the yardages.
The next image shows you a list of all the holes on the course. You get to it by touching the hole number shown on the first image. You can then scroll up and down and select the hole you wish to see. I have to admit I don’t use this much at all. Essential when you make a mistake it lets you easily and go back and fix it.
You need to finish the round off on your iPhone. Overall the App on the watch is easy to use and read. I wear glasses a lot of the time but not while playing golf. I can see everything on the watch clearly (small print a bit hard) without my glasses. Whilst the App on the phone allows for the recording of the scores of multiple players the watch will only allow the recording of scores for the main person on the App.
Golfshot was always my go to golfing App. I have also recommended it to many of my friends. But, here I am looking at the Apple Watch App and not the iPhone App. So as I said there is a paid version (about $30) Golfshot Plus, equivalent to my Classic Edition and an enhanced subscription version Golfshot: Golf GPS (additional $15 year). The subscription version of provides greater features for your Apple Watch. They list the differences as: Golfshot Pro members enjoy additional benefits including:
- Real-time GPS distances to the front, center, and back of each green
- Real-time GPS distances to all key hazards and targets
- Crisp aerial views of the course
- Scoring, including putts
- Shot tracking
The image I am showing below is for the subscription members. The non-subscription version does not show the distances to the back or front of the greens. It does not show club tracking distances (under time) and finally it only provides you with 2 screens (3 dots indicate 3 screens in this image).
Finally, the next screen allows you to put your score in. It does not allow you to record your putts. Lastly simple navigation is provided to the next hole or to browse to any of the other 18 holes.
Reading the review will obviously give it away. As a free App I believe that Hole19 blows away Golfshot on the Apple Watch. As a free App on the iPhone I also think it delivers probably enough for 99% of golfers. I love Golfshot on the iPhone and without the need for an Apple Watch App I would be back using it tomorrow.
I suppose the question really is whether the Golfshot Apple Watch App is worth the $23 a year to me or $47 for new users?