I had a chance to spend a few weeks with the GolfBuddy World GPS unit and thought I would share my thoughts.
The GolfBuddy World is a GPS unit similar to the SkyCaddie SGX that I personally own. I think it’s safe to say that SkyCaddie has set the standard by which other GPS units are judged. So how does the GolfBuddy World stack up? Pretty darn well.
First things first, the GolfBuddy World comes preloaded with 33,000 courses from around the world on a removeable MicroSD memory card (it can store a maximum of 40,000 courses). I used it around my home state and while traveling on vacation and didn’t have any issues with the course library. With the SkyCaddie, you have to pay a yearly fee for map access. At $50 for a nationwide plan, it’s not cheap.
But the real problem that I run into isn’t the cost, it’s that I often forget to download the courses into my Skycaddie SGX before leaving on a trip. With the GolfBuddy World, you don’t have to worry about any of that – the courses are already there.
The GolfBuddy features a removable battery, which is very nice for those of us that sometimes forget to charge our GPS’s after a long day on the course. And the battery itself lasts a long time. I believe the official rating is for 10 hours, but I was able to get through 50 holes over a 2 day period before running out of juice. That’s not bad at all.
The accuracy seemed to be on a par with the Skycaddie as well. Generally speaking, the units were within a few yards of each other while standing on the teebox of a long hole. When hitting approach shots, I almost always found them to be within 2 yards of each other.
When marking drive distances to see their relative accuracy, both units seemed to be within 2 yards or less of each other. I didn’t have a laser to see which unit was closer, so I have to call it a wash between them.
The GolfBuddy World was also much faster to boot up and automatically find my location and select the course I was at. The only area that it had some problems (and I think this could be fixed with a firmware update) is that the “auto next-hole” feature was a little too sensitive.
On courses that criss-cross back on themselves, I sometimes found the GolfBuddy jumping from hole 4 to hole 12 as I drove to the 5th tee box. It was easy to go in and manually select hole 5 instead, but dialing back the sensitivity of this feature could improve it.
When holding the units in your hand, the GolfBuddy World is overall noticeably smaller than the SkyCaddie SGX. At first glance, the screen appears smaller, but when you put them side by side, you can see that the screens are actually about the same size.
Obviously the GolfBuddy doesn’t have an antenna sticking up, nor does it have a joystick on the bottom. All navigation is done via touchscreen and the 5 buttons on the front.
The Golfbuddy World uses a resistive touchscreen that has its upsides and downsides (I’m going to get a bit techie on you here for a minute because I have some professional knowledge of this area). A resistive touchscreen works by putting an overlay on top of the glass. Inside that overlay are two conductive layers separated by a spacer layer. When you press on the screen, the spacer layer compresses and the two conductive layers meet which draws current, which in turn registers a touch.
It’s a nice technology because it’s a) less expensive to use than projected capacitive screens commonly found on smartphones and b) you can use any type of input device, such as a gloved hand, a fingernail, or even a golf tee. The downside is that it’s possible to wear through and break a resistive touch screen with heavy use.
In particular, if you use a tee to touch the screen like they show on the GolfBuddy commercials, you will wear through the screen much faster than if you just used your finger. You will also have to periodically calibrate the touch screen to ensure that it remains accurate (this is easily done through the settings menu).
Overall though I suspect that the touch screen will outlast the life of the unit for most customers (use your fingers, not a tee or anything else with a sharp edge/point!). And the touchscreen navigation itself is very intuitive to use and allows you to quickly and easily move targets, select menu options, etc.
The GolfBuddy World will also track your score and keep all of the relevant stats that you might want to know about your round. You can upload your rounds into the GolfBuddy Course Manager software (which can also provide course updates, manage profiles, etc) but you can’t do much other than look at the scores once they’re uploaded. Some type of analysis or export capability would be nice.
This is an area where SkyCaddie really separates themselves with their ClubSG offering. It’s great to be able to see how you’re performing relative to others as well as get a complete statistical breakdown of your golf game.
The GolfBuddy World sells for $299 with 33k pre-loaded courses from around the world. The SkyCaddie SGX is selling right now for $349 and requires an annual membership for full course access.
Am I going to go out and replace my SGX with a GolfBuddy World? No. But if I was in the market right now for a GPS unit, the solid performance, lower price and lack of annual fees would put the GolfBuddy pretty high up my list of potential purchases.
If you’re interested in purchasing a GolfBuddy World, you can do so here. If you buy it through the link, it helps keep the lights on around here. Thanks!