Review: GolfBuddy World GPS

by Derek on June 7, 2011

in Equipment,Reviews

GolfBuddy World GPS

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.

GolfBuddy World and SkyCaddie SGX

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.

Golf Buddy Manager score screen

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!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

birgit dalum October 11, 2011 at 7:43 am

Interesting reading. I live in Denmark, Europe. If I by a GolfBuddy World over the internet, will it for sure feature Danish and Swedish courses?

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Derek October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

You can check out the course library here to see what courses they have mapped in Denmark (the list looks pretty extensive to me):

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Ken Walker November 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Can you add a course not shown in the library??? Ken

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Donny S March 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Purchased this device last week and attempted to use the belt clip on the first outing. It snapped into two pieces when I tried to clip it on my belt. Very irritating, this clip could have broken on the course and resulted in damaging or losing the GPS. If you’re going to add accessories, at least make the effort to construct them of reasonable quality.
BTW, the device worked fine.

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mike pierce May 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm

used the golf buddie world for approx. 15 rounds. the touch screen quit working. Couldn’t even shut it off without removing the battery.For this price I expected alot more. Maybe thats why the warranty is only good for 90 days.

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john lander September 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Have you got the touch screen working again, mine has just packed up after 8 months.

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Craig May 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

To the previous poster.maybe you got a lemon.
Even the best cars, products etc in the world
Get problems.
I have owned my world edition for almost 2 yrs
Now and it works fantastic.no complaints
Whatsoever. Did you use customer
Service I find them great.had to use them
Twice.once for mapping issue other re another question
That got resolved quickly.

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milton genzlinger June 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I’ve owned golfbuddy world about 15 months and use it in az and in s.dak. and did not seem to be a problem until I got home in s.dak and the yardages are off 12 to 15 yards off on my home course. I called support several times without any solution to my problem. I have emailed the pga store where I bought the unit and also emailed golf buddy to let them know of my disatisfaction with there product. I’m waiting for a response to see if this is a repitable company or not. I think not from the runaround I was getting from the support people.

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Ovidio s Lopez June 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm

This is the 2nd time I use this unit,and today the holes were backwards on my golfbuddy world, but we’re okay on my partners older model golfbuddy pro. This course is located in saint Anne Illinois ( Kankakee elks). The yardage and the layout was fine, but the hole numbers were backward .

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B Lane July 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Used my golf buddy for about four months now and it is completly shot. I’m past the 90 days and out of luck. The unit just stopped working and would not turn back on. Tech support was polite, but I felt they were just trying to get me off the phone.

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rusty gates August 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I recently bought a near new GolfBuddy World from a seller in Perth, Western Australia, and when I took it to my local golf course, Pinjarra Golf Course, it was anywhere from 4m to 20m out, when compared with the fairway markers, as well as comparing the tee box signage on the par 3s.
Only on the 10th hole was it accurate all the way down the fairway.

The other issue it has is that is sometimes doesn’t know which hole it’s on. I have had to manually changed holes on the unit and on the 14th hole at Pinjarra, it completely loses its way and it takes till the 15th hole for it to sort itself out.
I have contacted their support department in Melbourne (Australia) and explained the issues that I’m having, but I’ve not had a reply yet.

I was using a Bushnell Neo for 9 months and it was ok but on some fairway markers it could be approx. 3 – 5m out.

I also took the GoflBuddy to another local course and on the 1st tee, it was 10m short when compared to the tee box signage…on both the men’s and ladies tees. I then walked over to the 10th tee and it was within 1m of the tee box signage for both the men’s and ladies tees.

I have no confidence in the unit I have and I wouldn’t be recommending it to anyone who’s serious about knowing their position on the fairway. I’m now considering buying a laser rangefinder.

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rusty gates September 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

An update on my Golf Buddy World.
After contacting golf buddy support in Australia and explaining the issues I have been experiencing with the inaccuracies and lack of auto hole recognition, they have remapped the Pinjarra Golf Course and now the unit is accurate to within 0 to 4m when compared to the fairway markers…mostly, it’s accurate to within 0 to 2m, so I’m happy.

Now it’s developed another isssue that wasn’t there before….when I approach the green, the screen changes to show me the layout of the green, which is nice, but overlayed over this is the message ‘At Green’ and ‘Add/Enter Score’. Nothing I do will get rid of these messages and just let me see the green. I can’t enter my score because I haven’t finished playing the hole….most annoying.

The support team have been notified of this latest ‘glitch’ but I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

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john lander September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

Mine does the same and with the touch screen not working its a pain in the a–e

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Frank Kiraly May 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm

When I turn on my Golf Buddy World it will not open up. It tells me at the top that “NO SD CARD”. How do I correct this?

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Ron Spanier May 19, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Bought the World gps for my wife. The distances compared well with my old Buddy, but the World had a love affair with hole 6. It could be changed to the correct hole and show a good distance, but after we move 10 – 15 yards, it went back to hole 6. We tried it on 4 different courses and it did the same thing on each course. The retailor took it back and made a comment that the distributor had taken back their inventory of World.

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gagsey May 27, 2013 at 8:46 am

Just purchased the GB World. 22/05/13 took 2.5 hrs to locate satellites. On the 15th hole before it worked. Next time could not find satellites at all..

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stex7 June 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm

my golfbuddy world touch screen, needs recalibrating, it works if I touch the screen in a different position … as in trying to use tools to recalibrate, If I touch the screen at the bottom, the play now button lights up.
frustrating to say the least.. I have contacted support, awaiting an answer..
I also can’t turn it off because of this problem… You would think there would be a reset pin hole somewhere on the device, so that it could be put back to factory settings..

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Robert Perino June 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm

My distance to green box is not registering the distance from the tee boxes on holes. It registers distance for the fairway sometimes. Any suggestions?

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Tony July 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I got a new golf buddy world and used it today on my home course. It seemed to work fine except the distance fron tee to green on doglegged holes seems to be “as the crow flies” it does not measure along the centre od the fairways. It was accurate for the 2nd shot after passing the dogleg. Could someone tell me what the extra numbers on the screen mean. The instructions are very poor, is there a web site which explains this

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Mark Berry July 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Just touch the target area on the screen and It will give you the distance to that point.

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Mark Berry July 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

My Golf Buddy World has been used 3 times a week for a couple of years without any problems. Suddenly the touch screen only works when the unit is on charge.

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Stex July 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm

My Golf Buddy World was 10 months old when the touch screen went wrong, The customer service was brilliant and sent me an updated new platinum by return of post.
excellent service.

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Geno December 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I just bought a GolfBuddy World, I charged it over night and tried to
turn it on with no luck. I could only get it to work by using the power cable.
The G B World found loaded courses and I could find my home course. I
turned it off and unplugged the cable and tried to turn the GPS on using
just the battery, it will not come on at all. I can’t use this on the golf course
at all. Does anyone have an idea?

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