Garmin Approach S3 Series

Garmin Approach S3 GPS Watch – White/Red The Garmin Approach S3 GPS Watch is a device golfers can use from the tee box to the green. It expands upon the distance-to-the-green information (front, middle, and back) found in the popular S1 and adds additional features to navigate the entire hole and speed up play. The convenient and easy-to-use touchscreen has been added to designated buttons and makes an already easy-to-use interface even simpler and glove friendly. The high-resolution display of the S3 has eight-times more pixels than the S1. This added detail offers the capability for more advanced features, such as score keeping for stroke play or Stableford. The screen has high reflectivity that enhances brightness with sunlight so that you can read it anywhere. Green View Approach S3 shows you the true shape and layout of greens so even if you have an obstructed view, youll know where to aim. Plus, you can touch and drag the pin to the day’s location. Layup Distances Course management is key – especially if you haven’t played a course before. Layup distances shows you the distances you need with yardages to doglegs and other hazards on the course. Precise Yardages Once glance at your wrist from any point on the course is all it takes to get yardages to the front, back, and middle of greens with clear, easy-to-read numbering. Measure Shot Distances When you drop the boom stick on a drive, seeing how far you hit it is a breeze. Approach S3 calculates exact yardages for shots played anywhere on the course. Additional features: Glove-friendly, high-resolution touch screen Distance to doglegs, lay-ups, front, middle, and back of green Preloaded with 25000+ worldwide courses (free updates available) No subscriptions or fees required

Customer Reviews

377 of 383 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Met expectations, July 24, 2012
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Let me begin by saying I am not a scratch golfer. I typically shoot in the high 80’s. I’ve owned a skycaddie and utilized the golfshot app on my iphone. The sky-caddie was ok….I would regularly forget to bring it with me and became annoyed with the subscription model. I also grew tired of it’s bulkiness. The golfshot app was cool but it was murder on my iphone battery. I also didn’t particularly like exposing my Iphone to the elements. I had a few close calls when it bounced out the golf cart and fortunately landed on grass.

So I made my mind up to invest in another yardage aide. I spent a week researching and weighing the pros and cons of gps vs. laser. It came down to a few key points. First, as I mentioned previously, I am not a scratch golfer. I like exact distances but do not hit my clubs consistently enough for +/- 5 yards to make that much of a difference. Second, I know me. The idea of taking a laser rangefinder out every time I need a distance is unappealing. It’ll end up staying in my bag after the novelty of it wore off. The exact distance a laser rangefinder provides is appealing but overkill for the vast majority of golfers including me. Most of us only need a fairly accurate distance. Third, I wanted something that was portable enough to ensure I would use it frequently.

Admittedly, handheld gps units are good but cannot match the accuracy of a good laser unit. That’s not the point. GPS units allow you to enjoy the game by giving you fairly accurate distances to hazards and greens. They also serve to speed up the game. If you’ve ever golfed a public course on a Saturday you know what I mean (people searching for yardage markers, etc.).

So here’s my take on the Approach S3 after two rounds. Set-up was fairly easy with the exception of the language issue others have mentioned. I followed the instructions of one of the other reviewers and it worked. The first time at the course it took about 4 minutes to acquire the satellites. The second round (at a different course) it took less than a minute. The yardages seemed to be spot on 50 yards or more from the green. Inside of 50 yards I became skeptical of the yardage the S3 was giving. Fortunately, I rely mostly on feel at that distance anyway so it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I think this issue is endemic to most GPS units.

The “measure” feature is pretty cool and easy to use. There is a dedicated button on the upper left hand side of the unit and was helpful in enabling me to check my club distances frequently. The scoring feature inaccurately showed my score in each round but I later found that either I failed to enter in my score on one of the holes or it didn’t register. Either way, I was able to go back and update for the missing hole and it correctly calculated the score. I’ll keep an eye on this and update accordingly.

Battery life is acceptable. I had about 70% of battery life left after a three and a half hour round. It should be able to get through a two round day.

I love the portability of the unit….being able to look down at your wrist and get a distance is great. My buddy, who has a Sky Caddie SGX, started asking me for distances when he saw the Approach was mirroring the distances he got from his Sky Caddie. You just can’t beat the convenience.

My one complaint is the “green view”. Moving the flag pin on the watch can be frustrating at times due to the size of the screen….it’s just not conducive to that type of feature. Each time it took more than one try to position the flag stick correctly but not annoying enough to be a deal breaker.

In conclusion, I don’t think you will be disappointed with the S3 if you’re expectations for accuracy are grounded. Remember, it will not be as accurate as a laser rangefinder (given you use the laser correctly…they have their own set of issues).


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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fantastic, July 17, 2012
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
I absolutely love this thing. I have used a Skycaddy and a uPro in the past and this blows them away. It is very accurate, and keeps score well(Just remember to go to the score card on each hole). The biggest plus for me is it is ALWAYS on. I don’t have to push a button to see my yardage, I just glance at my wrist. It has also had every course I’ve played so far(although that’s only 6 courses so far).


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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
S3 is VERY Disappointing – ForgetAboutIt…, May 27, 2013
I previously owned the S-1. It was ‘Rock Solid’ and easy to work, aside from the poor battery life (which is my only complaint on the S-1). I recently ‘upgraded’ to the S-3, and finally took it back after 2 weeks. It required ‘rebooting’ it 2 or 3 times (each time I played golf) in order to obtain a Menu which would look for local golf courses – this occurred repeatedly – each and every time I’d play golf. I did not find it’s operation or touchscreen intuitive, so I took the time to re-read the instruction booklet, and also watched a YouTube instruction video. Believing that I now ‘understood’ it’s operation, it was used (twice) after that, with the exact same result – It would need to be ‘rebooted’ 2-3 times in order to bring up the Menu to search for courses, and would intermittently become locked on one hole, and not advance to any subsequent holes. I finally took it back to the Pro Shop and watched a Golf Professional, who claimed to be familiar with the S-3, experience the same frustrations! (The Golf Pro also admitted that he had other customers experiencing similar difficulties with the S-3.)

The S-2 is ‘Rock Solid’ with dedicated external buttons allowing the user to easily access the desired features. Unfortunately, the S-3 did not prove to be user-friendly – to myself or 2 others I know who also purchased it.

Maybe Garmin is attempting to incorporate too many technical features into a touch-screen with the S-3; I am not sure. But I can state unequivocally that you can spend more time attempting to get the S-3 to ‘work’ than it’s worth. Moreover, it can become a real distraction when playing golf.

One more reason I would not recommend the S-3…….the charging adapter for the S-1 & S-2 (while different in how they clip on) are compatible. In fact, Garmin made a real improvement with the charging ‘clip’ for the S-2. However, the S-3 charging adapter is completely different and is not interchangeable or useable on the S-1 or S-2……the S-3 charging clip is also magnetized, so you’ll need to ensure that it is not placed in proximity of any other digital devices according to the S-3 Instruction Booklet. (I’d call that “Three Steps Forward – And 2 Steps Backward”)

Recommendation: Go with the S-2 (or the older S-1) if you want dependable & dedicated button access in operating the watch.


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