What to Look For When Choosing a Golf GPS App

Innovations in both mobile and GPS technology over the last few years have led to an explosion in the golf GPS app market. Once a technology that was confined to in-cart GPS solutions, a number of manufacturers have broadened the scope across a wide range of devices, including smartphones. If you are in the market for a golf GPS app solution, here are some things you need to consider.

Just the Facts

No two golfers are alike, from the clubs in their bag to the balls they tee up. Golf GPS apps are no different. Before you even start looking at different solutions, consider what you are looking for. Some golfers are going to want nothing more than distance to the hole, while others are going to want every possible piece of data regarding their next shot.

Golf GPS App Screenshot

Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club Hole 18

If you are more of a “grip it and rip it” type of player, an entry-level device may be all you need. There is no need in spending extra money for the solution that can give you multiple layup shot distances, etc., if you just want help selecting a club. But, if you need to know yardage past hazards or change in elevation, then a more expensive unit may be better.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Bag

Another important consideration is the footprint you want a device to take up. Golf watches and smartphone apps are nice because they do not add much to what you are already carrying on the course. Standalone devices follow the typical cost-to-size association, being the smaller the unit the more expensive it will be.

Golf GPS Watches & Stand-alone Golf GPS Units

Golf GPS Watch Golf GPS Device

An important consideration in regards to the size of the unit involves how you typically traverse the course. If you regularly travel via cart, then size may not matter as much if the unit will be mounted. However, if you usually walk the course, then again a golf watch or smartphone app may be the better solution.  Laser Rangefinders are another option.  Learn more about them in our Laser Range Finders vs Golf GPS Apps article.

Course Coverage

The best top-of-the-line golf GPS solution may have thousands of courses listed as available, but no matter how big the list is, if it does not include the courses you play the most then the device will be almost worthless to you. Before selecting a device or app to help you navigate your local muni, verify that your favorite courses are mapped and available.

Golf GPS Course Coverage

Golf GPS Coverage

Submit a support request to have your favorite golf course added to the Birdie Apps Golf GPS App for free.

Battery Drain

Nothing is more frustrating than pulling up to the 16th tee and realizing your phone’s battery is dead because your golf gps app drained the entire battery!  This is a very real concern for golf GPS apps on smartphones.  Standalone units usually have a battery with sufficient capacity to make it through an average round of golf.  Make sure whatever Golf GPS solution you choose has enough battery or else you’ll look like this guy out on the golf course!

Golf GPS App Battery

In our own tests and from user reports, the Birdie Apps Golf GPS App uses as little as 20% of the battery life for an entire round!  Learn more by reading our Preserve Your Phone’s Battery Life With Birdie Apps Free Golf GPS App article.


Perhaps there is no bigger consideration than the cost of the device. Besides the initial investment, there may also be hidden costs associated with keeping the device up to date with course changes or data costs for downloading updates. Be aware of those going in so you are not surprised six months down the road.

Many smartphone apps may initially be free, but may also require a per-course download charge, or run in-app advertising that can be annoying once on the course.

One of the most comprehensive and effective tools out there for golfers right now is the free Birdie Apps golf GPS app. It requires no separate purchase, and runs right in your smartphone’s browser or is available from your phone’s app store.  There are no hidden costs and also no privacy-invading data mining.  Birdie Apps minimizes the battery drain that plagues other apps, sometimes consuming as little as 20% of the charge for an entire round! It also keeps it simple, providing you with as much or as little information as you need for your game.


Apple Watch App now available.