‘Garmin Approach G8’
Here’s our Garmin Approach G8 review based on weeks of testing as well as feedback from users.
The Garmin G8 full-featured handheld golf GPS unit scored high in almost every category that we typically rate. We give it a big thumbs up and highly recommend it, but suggest you take a look at our comments on each feature (below) before making your final decision.
Garmin Approach G8 User Rating:
4.18 out of 5 (113 reviews)
Score compiled from multiple sources including Amazon, GolfSmith and TGW.
What we consistently see in full-featured golf GPS devices vs. more basic models, are slightly lower ratings from users. Inevitably many will run into one issue or another in trying to use all the bells and whistles. That definitely holds true with the G8, BUT…
after spending several weeks testing the G8, we think taking the time to set it up and learn your way around it, is well worth the effort. In fact, it’s quite intuitive for all of the basic features, so you really can take it right out to the course to play and should have little trouble getting distances to just about any target.
It’s important to note, that the Garmin 8 is not legal for tournament play. It is the first GPS to use course elevations so that it can give a “plays like” distance. Although this feature can be turned off, it still does not meet the USGA local rule criteria that allows distance measuring devices. However if you don’t plan to use it in tournaments, then this is a really cool feature. In several instances we were surprised that our confident guesses of green elevation were pretty far off. If you need it to be legal for tournaments, we suggest the Garmin Approach G6.
Here’s our take on most of the features of the Garmin Approach G8:
- Wifi – Jump on any Wifi and you can update the database and/or the firmware very quickly. This will save many users the headaches that come with computer compatibility issues and software glitches. We recommend doing this a couple of times each season.
- No Fees Ever – Always a thumbs up for Garmin on this point.
- Screen Size – 3 inches from corner to corner. It’s that middle of the road that allows for a small unit, but still full hole views.
- Screen Readability – the G8 does not use actual aerial photos, which we think immensely helps readability. The distance to the middle is in a fairly large font in the top right corner. If you need even larger fonts or distance to the front and back of the green, you can just tap that number and get BIG numbers! If you tap on the screen to get a distance to layup targets, the numbers are fairly large and on par 4s and 5s, there is even a zoom feature. Of course there is also the green view button that gives that uses very large fonts for front, middle and back distance, plus to you can move the pin on this screen.
- Green View – nice to have a dedicated button to get to the up close view of the green. Very easy to touch the area of the green where you believe the pin to be and get updated distances. Also very nice to see the green shape.
- Touch Screen – We like the touch screen, but we’ve heard from many users who carry the device in their pockets, who are not happy with it. As the device is always on, inadvertent bumps to the screen can cause some problems. It’s fairly easy to lock the screen so this doesn’t happen, but it is an extra step to unlock it when you need a yardage quickly. Garmin made the touchscreen on their watches a little less sensitive and that might be a good idea for the handheld units as well.
- Targets – Although some people prefer aerial photos, we felt the representation of targets was good and also found the layup arcs useful. The layup arcs are red, white and blue representing 100, 150 and 200 yards from the middle of the green.
- # of Golf Courses – 38,000 international courses.
- Plays Like Distance – Very useful, but not legal in tournaments using the USGA local rule on distance measuring devices. The Garmin G8 uses elevation to tell how far a shot plays up or downhill. This number displays just below the actual distance.
- Club Advice – You have to enter your club distances to set this up and then the unit will display a club suggestion for each shot. We are indifferent about this, but some users seem to really like it.
- PinPointer – If you have a blind shot, this gives you an indication of where to aim, which can come in handy.
- Scorecard & Stats – a dedicated button gets you easily to the scorecard and we found it easy to navigate back and forth to different holes. Entering stats is quick and easy and getting a summary of you game is definitely beneficial. Stats include, fairways (left, center or right), greens in regulation and putts. The Garmin stores your rounds for later viewing.
- Smart Notifications – allows you to receive email, texts and alerts on your G8. We seriously don’t see too many people using this feature. We were able to get text messages from our iPhone to display on it, but not email. We also had problems with the unit getting disconnected, but are hoping a new firmware update will improve this.
- Battery Life – We didn’t get the 15 hours that Garmin advertises, but we used it at full brightness with bluetooth turned on. We never played 36 holes in a day with it, but it probably could go the distance. Users are reporting 2-2 1/2 rounds.
- Garmin Connect – We had trouble logging into our Garmin Connect account with Garmin Express and after we did that, we still had to disconnect the G8 from the computer and then reconnect it to get it to sync the data. If you’re a stats geek, or simply want to keep track of your rounds, this is a pretty cool site. There is a problem with the Best Score stat if you happen to have an incomplete round. Although we could delete the round, it somehow left the score in for this stat. Maybe we’re missing something here.
- Customer Service – we sent a question to Garmin by the E-mail form on the website and they have promised an answer within 3 days. They also have support telephone numbers on the Garmin website.
- Price – The nearest competitor with regards to features to the G8 is the Garmin Approach G7. The G7 does not have Wifi or PinPointer and has a smaller screen than the G8, but it also runs $100 less. In the end, we think it’s worth the extra money if you’ve got it, but the G7 is a great value.
|Model||Garmin Approach G8|
|Course Download Fees||No|
|Pre-loaded with Courses||Yes|
|Battery Life||up to 15 hrs.|
|Measure Shot Distance||Yes|
|Screen Size||1.5 x 2.6|
|Display Type||Transreflec ColorTFT|
|Manual Pin Positioning||Yes|
|Computer Analysis Tools||Yes|
|Aerial Hole View||Yes|
|Green Rotates to your shot angle||Yes|
|Add Courses Manually||Yes|
|USGA Compliant (local rule)||No|
|Notes||Has Wifi for updating courses. “Plays Like” distance adjusts for elevation, recommends a club based on how far you hit the ball, displays texts, emails and notifications from your iPhone and has Big Number mode.|
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