New Tech Meets a Very Old Course

Testing Garmin’s S10 Approach on the Most Famous Course


June 25, 2018 Reviews By Photo by Andrew Haynes

“You won’t need that — you’ve got me.” That was the first thing my caddie Tony said as I turned on my Garmin S10 while standing on the first teebox of The Old Course at St. Andrews. After 18 holes at the home of golf, I found myself impressed with the accuracy of both of my advisors. The Garmin S10 watch won’t tell you what club to hit to avoid the water (or beat the wind) — it will, however, provide you with all the distances you need to keep your round on track while keeping some green in your pocket.

The Good: As a baseline, the S10 is Garmin’s most affordable golf watch model to date. Plus, it unquestionably earns its keep every round. The data is crisp, sharp and easily visible on the screen, even in full sunlight. It also gives you all the necessary data packaged in a simple and minimal watch that you’ll forget you’re wearing on the second hole. Golfers will spend endless amounts of cash on gadgets to gain an advantage. This watch gives you an edge without blowing your month’s savings. This is the Honda of golf GPS watches. It’s not fancy, but it’ll get you where you need to go without much fuss.

Who It’s For: Any golfer who’s looking for an affordable, reliable GPS watch. It provides all the necessary data you need, including front, back and middle green distances. The S10 also provides bunker and hazard distances at the press of a button.

Watch Out For: The S10 will automatically locate your course, and toggle to the next hole when you approach the tee box. But it’s worth noting that on tighter, links-style courses (like St. Andrews), the watch will detect the incorrect hole at times, which may require you to keep a closer eye on the screen before teeing off.

Alternatives: There are a few watches in the sub-$200 category worth considering, but buyer beware. With each unit, you’ll gain a feature while losing another. The Golf Buddy WT6 GPS Watch wins on price ($100), but loses on functionality and design. The screen display is almost too simple, with basic block letters and numerals, along with a clunky face. There’s a pretty significant dropoff with watches that are cheap, but provide neither reasonable function or impressive design. Your next best bet is to purchase an older model when it’s on sale. Garmin’s S20 model can be had for $130.

Review: After charging the watch, I strapped it to my wrist at the practice green near the first tee. I hadn’t turned it on since arriving in Scotland, so this was a complete dice roll. Will this thing work? Will it know where I am or force me to turn it off and play in the dark? I pressed the “on” button, started the round and saw the name of the most relevant course in the game pop up on the screen. We’re in business.

Throughout the round, I glanced down at the watch for quick distance reminders and cross-referenced my yardage with Tony. I was impressed by the data both provided. This little watch packs tons of important features — the shot distance measuring, score keeping and round duration are just the beginning. It also provided sunrise and sunset times to maximize every minute of daylight. The battery life is impressive as well – I squeezed in another 18 holes the following day on the same charge.

Verdict: There’s no shortage of quality GPS watches on the market, especially from Garmin. This watch provides all of the essentials in a smart package, and most importantly at a great price. Tony and the watch ended at a draw on distance measurement, but the watch couldn’t hold a candle to Tony’s knowledge of the wind and shot shaping guidance. If you find yourself in Northern Scotland, definitely bring your GPS watch — then ask to be paired with Tony.

What Others Are Saying:

• “Garmin has added an entry-level golf watch to its growing number of wearables for those who love the sport but aren’t obsessed enough to shell out two Benjamins for one of the brand’s other devices..” — Mariella Moon, Engadget

• “The focus is on giving you the yardages to the front, middle and back of each green, and it doesn’t have other fitness features like some watches that include step counting or heart-rate monitoring. This is just about the golf.” — Keely Levins, Golf Digest

• “You can play in the rain or take the Approach S10 into the shower, as it’s waterproof to 5ATM, and after each round of golf it will show the distance traveled, time played and score, as well as allowing you to upload your stats to the Garmin Golf app’s weekly leaderboard.” — James Rogerson, Tech Radar

Key Specs

Weight: 1.2 ounces
Battery: 12 hours (GPS mode)
Pre-Loaded Courses: 41,000 (worldwide)
Display Resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
Water Rating: 5 ATM
Available Colors: Black, Powder Gray, Granite Blue

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