Garmin S6 Review

'Garmin Approach S6'

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Just when we thought the Garmin Approach series had reached the peak of potential in a golf GPS watch with the Garmin S4, they introduced one with even more features. In our testing for the Garmin S6 Review, we found some pros and some cons, but we can definitely recommend this golf watch for some golfers. Keep reading to see if it’s for you.

Garmin Approach S6 User Rating: 3.75 Stars 3.75 out of 5 (290 reviews)

Score compiled from multiple sources.

First of all, let’s take a look at the features that set Garmin S6 apart from the Garmin S4:

  • Dedicated CourseView button. We love the dedicated GreenView button on the S4 that made it easy to see the green shape and adjust the pin location to get more precise distance. The S6 replaces that button with a CourseView button. The first press of the CourseView button shows a graphic view of your landing area. This is pretty cool and important when you are playing unfamiliar courses. You can manually pinpoint and get distance a target, but remember this is a small screen, so not quite as easy as doing it on a handheld unit. A tap on the top of the screen will take you to the GreenView which shows the shape of the green and surrounding hazards. It also allows for manual pin positioning for getting a more precise distance. Although it is only one extra button press to get to the GreenView, we found it a little annoying on approach shots that the green view didn’t come up immediately.
  • PinPointer blind shot assistance tells you where the pin is, even if you can’t see it. It’s not as good as having your caddie run to the top of the hill to show you the line, but it’s way better than nothing if you can’t see where you need to be aiming. Since this isn’t a feature that you will use often, the trick is remembering how to get to it! (Tap the screen until it shows up.)
  • SwingTempo™ and TempoTraining™. Although some users like this feature, we weren’t sold. We had a five-handicapper with a decent swing test this and the swing tempo didn’t even remotely match with the “average pro” tempo. Do we think our test subject should spend hours on the range trying to create a swing that matches this watch… No! If you happen to be working with an instructor on Tempo, it’s possible that this tool could be useful, but it’s definitely not a feature the would convince us to buy this watch.
  • SwingStrength™. We had high hopes for the SwingStrength aspect of the Garmin S6, but in our testing, we just couldn’t get readings that made sense. To set it up, you choose what type of club you are using… for instance “short iron”. Then you hit a shot and if you think it was a great shot, the watch will use that as the baseline swing. For our tests, we used wedges, hoping to learn how hard to swing for those shots closer to the green that don’t require a full swing. Unfortunately, most of our half swings registered over 100% on the SwingStrength meter even though they clearly weren’t going as far as our baseline shot. As much as we like idea of this feature, we’re hoping Garmin will put some more work into developing this technology.

Like the Garmin S4, the Garmin S6 has a glove-friendly, high-resolution touchscreen. Distance to the front, middle and back of every green, plus par and hole number shows on the main screen. In addition to the doglegs and layups already included with the course maps, you can save custom points for future reference. As with most GPS devices, you can measure your shots.

We think the scorecard and stat-tracking features are super easy to use and it can also utilize handicap information. The Garmin S6 can connect via bluetooth to your iPhone and get notifications but we didn’t always stay connected. It comes preloaded 38,000 international courses and never have any subscriptions or fees.

We like the Garmin Connect website and seeing our rounds and stats broken down in different ways, but we do wish that the site provided a way to edit your round information. If you simply forgot to record the last hole of your last round before uploading, you can’t really do anything except delete the round or your stats will be off.

In conclusion, we don’t think the Garmin Approach S6 is for everyone, but if you have the budget for it and frequently play unfamiliar courses, it’s definitely worth considering. The trade off is whether having the convenience of a watch is worth the sacrifice of the larger screen on a Garmin handheld. We lean toward the convenience of the watch and S6 definitely brings something new to the table with the CourseView screen.

If you don’t play many unfamiliar courses or if the S6 stretches your budget a little too tight, you should take a look at our latest picks for the best golf watches currently on the market to see which one suits your style of play.

What users of the Garmin Approach S6 are saying…

  • Many users liked the special features on this watch… SwingStrength, TempoTraining, PinPointer and fairwary touch targeting.
  • As expected, with all those features, this watch didn’t get the best feedback with regards to ease of use and intuitiveness.
  • Many users struggled with getting enough precision with manual targeting. Using a stylus or golf tee was suggested by several users.
  • Some users complained about battery life. Although it should get two rounds before needing a charge, we recommend charging it every time.
  • A number of users were disappointed in the brightness of the display, but just as many were happy with the high resolution color display.
  • Several users felt the swing metrics were worthless.
  • The sound for TempoTraining isn’t loud enough for some users to hear under normal range conditions.
  • Quite a few users felt that this watch was not worth price.
Garmin Approach S6 Golf Watch Specifications
Garmin Approach S6
Course Download Fees No
Pre-loaded with Courses Yes
Full Hole Views Yes
Slope / Elevation No
Battery Life 10 hrs GPS / 20 wk
Battery rechargeable Li-ion
Size (Width x Height x Depth) 1.8 in. x 1.8 in. x .56 in.
Measure Shot Distance Yes
Screen Size 1"
Resolution 180x180
Display Type hi-res color touch
Weight 1.6 oz.
Rainproof Yes (50 meters)
Touch Screen Yes
Touch Targeting N/A
Manual Pin Positioning Yes
Stat Tracker Yes
Digital Scorecard Yes
Computer Analysis Tools Yes
Ground Verified N/A
Alternate Targets Yes
Green Rotates to your shot angle Yes
USGA Compliant (local rule) Yes, providing Pin Pointer, Tempo Training, and Swing Strength are not used
Notes Swing tempo trainer and swing strength measurements. Notifications from iPhone available via bluetooth.
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Comments

  1. Bought the Approach S6 Watch yesterday. Performed great on the front 9. Then died on the back nine. Restarted and tried to bring me back to hole 1. After two restarts it found the back nine but not the correct hole. Was able to get it working again after doing a manual calibration of the compass. The calibration is supposed to be automatic but didn’t work. It is almost put into the manual as an afterthought. I found it by accident. Watch worked great after recalibration but lost most of back nine trying to figure out how to reset the watch. Remember to calibrate the compass if your S6 gets lost!

  2. bob coleman says:

    Got an S4 for Christmas and was impressed but ending up returning it. Blue tooth feature doesn’t work with my Samsung android phone. Too bad! Would have kept it otherwise

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says:

      Hi Bob. It is too bad that the S4 doesn’t support Android. What are you going to get instead? I still think the S4 is hard to beat even without phone notifications.

    • Clarence says:

      You have to download the connect app to use the blue tooth feature. I used it for one round and got tired of the notifications so I don’t use it anymore.

  3. My S6 gets lost on my course and I am unable to get it back on the proper hole. Looking for information on the compass calibration.

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says:

      Calibrating the Compass

      From the manual:
      You must calibrate the electronic compass outdoors. Do not stand near objects that influence magnetic fields, such as cars, golf carts, buildings, or overhead power lines.
      Your device was calibrated at the factory, and the device uses automatic calibration by default. If you experience irregular compass behavior, for example, after moving long distances or after extreme temperature changes, you can manually calibrate the compass.

      From the hole information screen, select > Calibrate.
      Follow the on-screen instructions.

      Also here is the link to the manual: http://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webhelp/ApproachS6/EN-US/GUID-18AD6103-3817-4AE3-B659-67F9C61E71D4.html

  4. David Holdaway says:

    The S6 has really a number of gimmicks that 99 out of 100 golfers will never use and this makes the watch SERIOUSLY overpriced for the average golfer.
    However the S6 has some very large drawbacks. In practice you won’t get much more than 27 holes before the battery runs out .. and you need a COMPUTER to charge it. Now honestly having to take a computer with you going away for a weekend golfing just to charge your S6 is pretty ridiculous.
    The standard USB charger that everyone uses to charge their mobile phone DOES NOT WORK !! This is pretty stupid and makes this Garmin watch a pretty poor buy for the golfer that plays a lot of golf or goes away golfing for the weekend ..
    I’m afraid I couldn’t recommend the Garmin S6 and I’m sorry I bought it .. it was an expensive misser !!

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says:

      I agree that the S6 is way more watch than most people will ever need. For the geeks out there, it may be worthwhile, but thanks for the excellent perspective.

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