For my first round of 2019, I met up with my good friend Chris, an old high school buddy Al, and their friend Kris at Cassadaga Country Club.
On the very first tee box, they ask each other something to the effect of, “what do you have for yardage to the creek?” Then they all consult their watches and each give some numbers.
After we all tee off, they again check their watches and say, “you’ve got 118 yards to the front of the green,” or whatever the particular yardage was.
It was at this point that my jaw just about hit the floor. I was familiar with rangefinders. I had seen people use those binocular-looking devices to hone in on the flagstick and know how far away it was. I had even looked into getting one, but could never justify the exorbitant price. This was something entirely different. This was using GPS technology to hone in on exactly where the golfer was and exactly where the green was. I needed to have one.
Chris and Kris were both using Apple watches with an app, if I recall. Chris pulled it up on his phone and could get an aerial image of the course. It was pretty wild. As I don’t have an iPhone, the Apple watch was quickly eliminated from my wishlist, but I have to say that it certainly looked like an incredible option.
Al, on the other hand, had a Garmin watch. Yes, as in Garmin that makes GPS navigation devices, etc. I can’t remember exactly which model he was wearing, but Garmin became the first brand I researched when I got home. And let me tell you, I’ve never researched any product this much in my life. I read articles. I watched YouTube videos. I scoured Amazon reviews. I felt like I knew everything there was to know about every golf watch known to man.
So when I chose the Garmin X40, it wasn’t done so lightly. I ordered it from Amazon. Yes, I probably could have supported a local business, but sometimes that free two-day shipping and convenience of shopping from home is just too much to pass up. And honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen these in any pro shop. There are probably GPS devices, but I’ve just never noticed.
Here’s my ultra quick review of the Garmin X40 golf watch: It’s really, really good. It’s not perfect, but I can certainly recommend it as an affordable, durable, reliable option.
Here’s a more in-depth look:
Cost – As with most technology, golf watches range wildly in price. If this makes sense, the X40 is on the higher end of the lower tier of that spectrum at somewhere around $175-200. What I mean is that there are more affordable options, which includes this one, and then there’s quite a jump up to the $350+ range.
Look – The sleek design of the X40 was one of the main drawing points. Al only wears his for golf, but I was looking for a new watch to wear every day, so I wanted something to fit that need as well. Even within the Garmin line, there are many styles, but I liked the smaller, almost inconspicuous design of the X40.
Courses – There are over 40,000 preloaded courses on this watch, so the odds of the course you’re playing being on there is pretty high. It’s super easy to use, too. You simply hit the golf button and it starts looking for nearby courses. You pick the one you’re at and up pops the yardage to the first green from wherever you’re standing.
Features – For the first few rounds, all I did with the watch was use the yardage. But then I started tinkering. You can track each individual club in your bag, which can be incredibly helpful once you have enough data. Here’s how it works: You hit a shot. The watch can sense that you just took that shot and asks you which club you just used. You put in 5-iron, for example. Then you go up to wherever the ball went and take another shot. The watch measures the distance between the two shots so it knows how far you hit that 5-iron. After a few rounds, you can look at that data and see your average distance for each club in your bag. How cool is that? The watch also has many features of a Fitbit watch. It measures heart rate, steps, tracks activity and can link to your phone so that you can get text updates, etc. right to your wrist. I actually credit having this watch with helping me lose almost 20 pounds this summer because I kept wanting to beat my step total each day. It’s a simple feature, but it absolutely helped me.
Reliability – There was exactly one time this year that I disagreed with the yardage this watch gave me. I was literally standing on the green and it told me I was 60 yards away from the green. It was certainly just a weird glitch. The only other issue I had was with the Vineyards-Hillview merger that occurred in the past 18 month or so. My watch didn’t recognize the south side at all. Al, with the same software, had both sides on his watch with no issues. I probably just need to run an update, but that was slightly annoying because I played a couple rounds on the south side without being able to use my watch. Those rounds made me realize just how much I came to depend on the yardage updates, though.
Durability – As I said, I wear this watch all day, every day. Frankly, I beat it up pretty good. I have a screen protector on it, but it is showing virtually no sign of wear at all. This thing holds up to some abuse. I’ve been pleased in that regard.
Final verdict – This is the only golf watch I’ve ever owned, but I’ve been extremely pleased with both the value and functionality of the Garmin X40. The screen isn’t huge, but I intentionally picked the smaller model. The touchscreen works very well. The menus are easy to navigate. Setup was a breeze. I’m a little envious when I see other people with their big, full-color screens, but I’m convinced that you’re never going to beat the X40 for the price.
Until next time, golf is great. Go get some.