5 Best Golf GPS Rangefinder Apps: Here’s The Best For 2018

Ever since the advent of the GPS technology for public back in the Bill Clinton era, we have seen many advancements and applications to the technology. Chances are, you are driving using one right now, whether from a standalone device or an app on your smartphone.

In the past decade or so, the usage of GPS in the game of golf has also improved dramatically.

Smartphone Golf

We can even say, arguably, that it evolves the game in a lot of ways. Laser rangefinder and handheld GPS devices have aided many professional golfer's and their caddies, evolving a game into a more detailed, data-driven game with less allowed mistakes.

GPS Handheld

Yet, with the advancements in smartphone technology and its apps, we can also say that handheld GPS devices have now become obsolete, as cheaper and more versatile smartphones can do almost everything they can do just as well.

The smartphone apps will be the main topic of our discussion today, as we have tested various apps out there to figure out the best golf GPS apps for golfers.

Before we will discuss our recommended products, however, let us begin by answering some of the frequently asked questions regarding golf GPS apps.


Questions & Answers

How can golf GPS apps help me?

The main feature of a Golf GPS app is to pinpoint your location correctly, as well as monitoring your position on a course and the distance to the nearest hole.

While you won't see a lot of GPS apps on competitions like the Masters series, you have to remember that most of the PGA players have personal caddies that understand their playing style, as well as having an excellent course knowledge. 

Most of the amateur golfers don't have that luxury, and that's where a golf GPS app can really fill the gap.

Not only they provide you with a detailed course map and measure the necessary distances, a lot of newer golf GPS apps nowadays can track your shot distance, as well as keeping your scores and statistics.

With that data-keeping and analyzing abilities, some of the high-end apps can even give you suggestions based on your position and playstyle, so you can imagine its usefulness.

On its very basic form, however, any golf GPS systems can give information on accurate yardages, including detecting any hazards and distance to the green, which are arguably essential for any players.

Competitive golf rules also allow the use of smartphone-based GPS apps, although it will limit the functionality to just measuring distance and pinpointing location. With that being said, golf GPS systems can also aid your competition games.

Smartphone Golf
Pro Tip

Bottom line: Even though you don't use the app during the competition, for various reasons, you can definitely take advantage of it during course practice, so that you can be more familiar with the course.


Should I buy a handheld system or smartphone app?

In the past, answering this question is fairly easy, since a handheld system will win in almost every category.

However, smartphones nowadays are quite powerful. Not to mention, the technology developments and infrastructures for smartphone apps have been getting better and better in the past few years.

With that regards, smartphone apps have a little edge nowadays, since they can offer similar features with a significantly more affordable price. We will focus our discussion today on exclusively the smartphone apps.


Can a GPS app help all types of players (beginners, immediate or advanced)?

Yes, the golf GPS apps will definitely benefit players of all skill ranges.

You might want to choose the right product based on your current skill level.

For example, more skilled players might want to have a more accurate distance measurements in the form of a laser rangefinder. On the other hand, striving beginners might benefit more in stats and shots monitoring features, which are available in most golf GPS products.

Ultimately, golf GPS apps nowadays are quite versatile, and each individual player will be able to get benefits according to the current skill level, play style, favorite course, and many other factors.

Pro Tip

Bottom line: in our opinion, investing in a golf GPS system is one of the most effective and affordable ways to improve your game, regardless of your level. The only thing that might benefit you more is investing in a personal caddy, which is obviously more expensive and time-consuming.


What characteristics should I look before buying a GPS app?

Here are some of the basic principles and considerations:

  • Map Database and Details

In its essence, the golf GPS app's main functionality should be the ability to accurately bring out your favorite course details, correct measurements of distance, and all the course details such as hazards, traps, bunkers, and many others.

Some GPS apps can offer hundreds of course database out of the box, while some others make it easily downloadable.

At the very least, your GPS app should support the course you frequented. Depending on your needs, some handheld GPS systems can hold up to 100+ course information at once, so that's a thing to consider.

The detail of the maps will also differ with different apps. Obviously, usually the more expensive ones will offer greater map details and more accurate distance measurements.

  • Features

Different apps will offer different extra features, which might be better suited for different players.

Features

For example, one app might have a better score tracking feature, while another one is better at measuring precise distance.

Some players might also like a beautiful 3D visualization, will others might like conventional 2D ones.

As we will review some of the apps below, we will make sure to highlight the key features for each app. Consider your needs and play style, and find the app that offers you the right features to improve your game.

  • Price

Although a smartphone app will not be as costly as buying a handheld GPS or laser rangefinder, the deviation can be pretty big. Some can cost just below $5, while the others above $100. 

$ 5 Average price for smartphone app
$ 100 Average price for handheld GPS
  • Ease of Use

There's no use for an overly detailed app that can't be easily used for various situations. Intuitive user interface and intelligent score input are a must. After all, it should aid your game, not add more stress.

Ease Of Use - Golf

Do I need additional material on top of the GPS app?

Obviously, you will first need a smartphone. Some apps are also part of a hardware purchase. However, our focus of discussion today will be strictly apps that can be used with only your smartphone, and won't need additional equipment or tools to function properly.


Do pro golfers use smartphone apps when on the green?

Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan

PGA Tours banned the use of laser rangefinders on the competition grounds, however, smartphone apps are allowed to measure distance.

Many professional players are taking advantage of this, although most of the time it's done by their caddies.

Many professional golfers also use all kinds of tools and apps during course practice. This way, they can create a more detailed yardage book, which is allowed to use during a tournament.

During casual practice, you can imagine many pro golfers using assisted tools and apps to refine their skills by accurately monitoring their performance and gained distance. So should you!


Our Product Recommendations

Smartphone App #1: GolfShot Plus

GolfShot is one of the most popular GPS apps for both iOS and Android devices, delivering a great value albeit being one of the most expensive golf GPS apps out there.

Priced at $29.99, it is the most expensive app on this list, but it is still relatively affordable considering its overall value. There is a free version, but you will lose the real-time design, club usage recommendations, and 3D preview features. Not to mention, the statistic recording is more advanced on the paid version.

With GolfShot, you will get a quite detailed overhead satellite images, so that you can zoom in and out, as well as pan on each hole. It will also provide you with a list of distances for each hole. Regarding its mapping and distance measurement, we have to say that it is one of the best.

Design-wise, it is very friendly, especially for your statistics, scorecards, and other metrics. You can view the data both on your device or at home on your PC, depending on your convenience.

It can record a pretty detailed stats of your game and interlink it with your handicap index, so no more manual handicapping!

GolfShot Plus

As we can imagine, it will be useful for just about any golfers. Its user interface is very neat compared to many other golf apps out there, and it's definitely another plus point for the GolfShot.

The GolfShot Plus also has a wide variety of user preference and settings, and you can adjust the app to better fit your needs. It currently has a course database of more than 15,000 courses worldwide, so chances are, your favorite course is in there.

The Plus version also supports Apple Watch and a number of Android wearables, which is another plus point considering your golfing activities.

GolfShot Plus

With those facts being said, here are our verdicts regarding the app:

The layout and user interface of GolfShot is very clean and neat. Yet, it is also quite advanced and deep. With this kind of advanced features, you would expect that it would need a bit of time getting used to. But that is simply not the case.

It is one of the best and easiest to use.

Ease of Use

Ease of Use

The accuracy you will get from GolfShot is simply astonishing. As we tested it on a variety of courses, the worst deviation we've got is just 4-yards difference compared to the actual on-course distances. On this aspect, GolfShot performed among the best of all the apps we've tested and deserved a full mark.

Unique Shape

Measure Distance Between Shots and Holes

GolfShot tracks the distance of your shots by manually touching the hole number. Compared to other apps, it's maybe less intuitive, but it's very accessible.

One major downside is when you want to calculate your distance averages for the same shot, as you will need to re-enter the same location, as well as the club used. It will add more details to your average and will be useful if you use different clubs in a practice session, but it can be a hassle sometimes.

Looks, Design

Ability to record and trace shots

Regarding stats recording, GolfShot is simply among the best. It's smart enough to restrict stats input based on what's actually possible on a certain hole, so it's very smart and intuitive. 

Record trace shots

Detailed stats on the game

Actually, in our opinion, GolfShot offers the best designed 3D preview, paired with its nice and clean user interface. As with many apps out there, it will load satellite images as you begin your round, so it might need quite a while before it's fully loaded (and it's a battery drainer).

You can easily select any point on course, and you will receive the distance to the selected point, as well as the distance from the said point to the green. The list of hazards and targets on the hole is also very comprehensive and nicely designed, so you can actually get all the information you need without getting a headache. Full marks on this aspect.

Golf Course Preview

Golf course hole advice and 3D preview

Smartphone App #2: SkyDroid

Price

First things first, SkyDroid's most attractive quality is the price tag, only costs $1.99 on the Google Play Store, with $1 for unlocking the Synchronizing Score feature. For only $2.99, the cost is almost one-tenth that of the GolfShot plus, and the question is, is the quality far behind?

You can download an unlimited amount of course maps for totally free, only limited by your device's storage. The overall user interface design looks a little obsolete, and can't be compared to the modern and neat look of the GolfShot or Mobitee Golf (which we will review later below). However, it works quite well, considering its value.

As a golf GPS, it is quite accurate but dependent on the accuracy of Google Maps, of which the SkyDroid based its mapping technology on.

As a result, on courses where Google Maps doesn't have enough data, it won't be as accurate. To pinpoint your location and get a distance measurement, simply hold down your finger on the desired location on the map. It will take 1 or 2 seconds to measure distance, then it will appear on the map.

It does have a score tracking system that will sync to SkyDroid's website for later viewing and editing.

You can also track your shots directly on the app.

iPhone GPS App

Picture courtesy of SkyDroid

In the Distance screen (not the satellite map view), you can push the Track button on the lower left on your screen, and it will open a shot tracking window. Quite intuitive and easy to use, a plus point.

Although it does have score keeping and shot tracing features, we can think of the SkyDroid as a strictly informative Golf GPS system, where you can get a satellite imaging of your golf course, as well as distances, bunkers, water hazards, and many other information.

It works perfectly well, again, especially considering its price, with the major downsides being its rather outdated user interface and less intuitive overall design.

iPhone GPS App SkyDroid
iPhone GPS App SkyDroid

Picture courtesy of SkyDroid

Here is our verdict of the SkyDroid:

The user interface of the SkyDroid feels a little obsolete, but it's actually quite intuitive. After a bit of trial and error, you will most likely find all the important buttons and features.

You might also want to refer to SkyDroid's FAQ section here.

Ease of Use

Ease of use

Not as accurate as more expensive alternatives such as Mobitee Golf or GolfShot, because of SkyDroid's sole reliance to Google Maps. It is still quite decent, but on courses with bad Google Maps data, you can expect a relatively big deviation.

Thankfully, there's a huge community of SkyDroid users with open-ended Course Mapper tool. If your course isn't officially listed by SkyDroid or quite outdated, chances are, there's a better, user-mapped version for your course.

Unique Shape

Mesure distance between shots and holes

Using SkyDroid's shot tracking feature is fairly simple.

After you've hit a shot, tap the track button on the lower left of the screen. Then, you can start moving to the ball, and it will measure distance automatically. Very simple and easy to use, and after you're done, simply push the stop button.

However, due to the limitation of Google Maps, the measurement might not be entirely that accurate. Expect a 4 to 8 yards deviation.

Looks, Design

Ability to record and trace shots

You can easily input your hole score in the Scores tab, and it will sync to SkyDroid's website if you want to edit and view later. It is not as detailed as GolfShot, lacking the ability to input multiple different clubs, but it's also easier to use.

It also doesn't have the input restriction like GolfShot (you can put in impossible scores), so, it's not as detailed as more expensive apps out there, but it works.

Record trace shots

Detailed stats on my game

In this aspect, the SkyDroid is a little bit lackluster, especially when compared to GolfShot or Mobitee.

There's no real 3D preview, although you can use the satellite imaging for a similar purpose.

Regarding hole advice, you can simply push the point of interest for one or two seconds, and you will get the necessary information. It's simple and easy to use, yet not as detailed as other apps.

Golf Course Preview

Golf course hold advice and 3D preview

Smartphone App #3: GolfLogix

GPS Handheld

GolfLogix started out as a standalone handheld GPS, most notably with the infamous Garmin GolfLogix GPS-8, which is widely popular a few years back.

These days, however, they seem to be focusing on their iPhone/Android app, which is also very popular, despite being the most expensive GPS app in the market for the past few years.

Now, you can download the GolfLogix app for absolutely free from the app store, but you will need to pay an annual fee of $19.99 (might differ depending on your location). It is potentially more expensive than GolfShot or over time, and the question is, is it worth it?

The answer is yes.

GolfLogix offers the most detailed course mapping, satellite view, and 3D preview out of the bunch we've tested.

Not only that, it also offers the most detailed and varied traceable statistics. It will cover all the basic needs for any golfers, and arguably, a lot more than you realized, but it's not without its hiccups.

For example, it always asks you for the most detailed statistics input possible, whenever the chance arose.

On a fast paced game, or when you are in a hurry, it might be a major annoyance.

There isn't any option to simplify the stat input, and it's not intelligent enough for predictive measures, which is found on the GolfShot.

Golf Logix Golf GPS App
Golf Logix Golf GPS App

Photo by GolfLogix

Another major downside we've hated is that it auto-advances quite faster than we've liked.

The GolfLogix will switch to a green-only view (and advice) as you are 200-yards or so away from the center of the green. There isn't any option to switch back to the previous view, so it might be a major hassle when you need a hazards view or full hole preview.

Depending on the player, that might be a major or minor hassle.

Overall, the GolfLogix is overall a very excellent app offering rich features, beautiful design, and very detailed stats recording ability.

Here is our verdict for the GolfLogix:

GolfLogix offers one of the best user interfaces, both in terms of design and usability.

Although it's rich in features, the GolfLogix is built with a simplicity in mind, allowing you for easy navigation between statistics tab, scorecard, hole views, and overhead satellite view seamlessly.

Its auto-advance feature is also very intuitive, although as we have mentioned, it switches to green view quite faster than we'd like. Overall, however, regarding its simplicity and ease of use, GolfLogix deserved a full mark.

Ease of Use

Ease of use

Regarding shot tracking ability, GolfLogix is also one of the best and most polished out of its competitors.

A unique feature from the GolfLogix is that it can also track the longest distance for each used club, along with the average distances. This feature will be extremely useful if you use multiple clubs, or when you are figuring out which ones to carry for a competition.

Unique Shape

Measure distance between shots and holes

The shot tracing feature itself is pretty straightforward and intuitive, simply press the Track button, walk to your ball, and it will save the distance along with the club used.

You can also create a customizable virtual bag for your clubs, so that you won't have to input the club details every time. Another full mark.

Looks, Design

Ability to record and trace shots

GolfLogix offers the most diverse and detailed statistics recording feature. You can obviously input your score, putts, and drive details.

However, you can also input the number of chip, lob or sand shots, penalty strokes, and in-depth details on each putt (even when you missed). Very detailed, yet sometimes, less is more. As the result, the scorekeeping feature might take a little while getting used to.

Record trace shots

Detailed stats on my game

GolfLogix offers one of the most detailed course mapping, 3D Preview, and intelligent hole-advice technology. Another full mark.

Golf Course Preview

Golf course hole advice and 3D Preview

Smartphone App #4: Mobitee Golf

Smartphone Golf

Mobitee is another popular smartphone GPS app for golf and is priced at $24.99.

You may notice that it is only slightly cheaper than the GolfShot Plus above, and actually, there are many similarities between the two.

Both are offering a modern, sleek looking design for their interfaces, which are really neat. In our opinion, Mobitee's interface is slightly better looking.

Mobitee Golf Gps App
Mobitee Golf Gps App

Photo courtesy of Mobitee

Mobitee also offers a 37.000+ supported course, a list that keeps growing overtime. The course mapping is very nice looking and very detailed, and it is almost on par with the more expensive GolfLogix.

Mobitee also offers a virtual bag feature, similar to that of the GolfLogix, and it can give you smart suggestions based on your position and your hole destination.

Also unique to Mobitee is the additional PIQ sensor (sold separately), enhancing the app with a multi-sensor that can do a real-time shot tracking and even swing analysis. It's actually a good idea to purchase the PIQ sensor if you liked Mobitee Golf as a standalone app.

Regardless, here are our verdicts regarding the Mobitee Golf:

Mobitee, in our opinion, offers the simplest and most intuitive UI over all the others we have reviewed.

It is very easy to switch between hole views, scorecard and stats input back and forth. Simply put, Mobitee deserves a full mark in this aspect.

Ease of Use

Ease of use

With the intuitiveness of the UI, measuring shot distances is very easy with the Mobitee Golf app.

However, on some courses where we tested the Mobitee, the deviation in distances are quite high. The accuracy of distance tracking feature will be largely dependent on whether your course map has been updated.

Unique Shape

Measure distance between shots and holes

As a standalone app, Mobitee is already very excellent in shot tracing, and paired with its awesome user interface, it is also very easy (and fun) to use.

It can also be further improved with the add-on PIQ sensor. Simply one of the best in this category.

Looks, Design

Ability to record and trace shots

Mobitee offers a stat keeping and recording features (almost) comparable to that of the GolfLogix. Very detailed and diverse, and you can definitely input all the statistics you'd like, and probably a lot more.

Again, Mobitee deserved a full mark in this aspect.

Record trace shots

Detailed stats on my game

Mobitee offers a wide variety of supported course, currently with more than 37,000 courses supported all around the world. However, the quality of the course mapping and 3D preview varies greatly, depending on when Mobitee updated the map.

Regarding the hole advice feature, however, Mobitee offered one of the most intelligent and intuitive designs.

Golf Course Preview

Golf course hole advice and 3D preview

Smartphone App's Pro Tip: The Shot Tracer App

Although the Shot Tracer app is not technically a golf GPS, it is rather an interesting app to have. Not to mention, it's very affordable at only $6.99.

With this app, you can take a video of your shots (of course, you must ask your caddy or your friend to take the video using the app), and it will create a trailing effect, as you usually see on PGA Tours replay on TV.

You can also add more effects, such as swing tracer, shadows, explosion, and many more.

The Shot Tracer might not be an essential app, but it's pretty fun to have. We will definitely recommend it for more fun times on the course.

The Shot Tracer Golf App
The Shot Tracer Golf App

Bottom Line

We have come to the end of our discussion, and let's now find out the absolute best of all the GPS apps we have reviewed.

As you can see from the verdicts, this will be a difficult choice for us.

The GolfLogix should be the overall best regarding its quality. However, the pricing scheme might not be for everyone.

With that being said, our best overall choice goes to:

Mobitee Golf GPS

Mobitee Golf

Mobitee golf delivers its value by having an excellent user interface, intuitive score keeping, and very accurate shot tracing ability. The fact that it can be further improved with the Mobitee PIQ sensor (sold separately) also adds to its overall value.

The only major downside of Mobitee Golf is that not all of the (37,000+) maps are accurately updated. In this regard, GolfLogix and GolfShot have an edge. However, on courses that are supported, it is excellent in every aspect.

Did you enjoy our review? Don't forget to leave any suggestions or questions in the comment section, and share the article with your fellow golfers. Stay tuned for more reviews and articles in the near future!

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