Garmin Approach S20 Review

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'Garmin Approach S20'

Garmin Approach S20
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Our Garmin Approach S20 Review is based upon feedback from over 100 users. Overall the ratings are reasonably high for a golf watch with this many features, but there are a few things that were clearly outstanding on this watch. Although the number of positive comments far outweighed the negative, there are still a few issues on both sides that are worth discussing.

Garmin Approach S20 User Rating: 4.31 Stars 4.31 out of 5 (326 reviews)

Score compiled from multiple sources.

When the Garmin S20 first came out, we weren’t sure it was for everyone. However, the price is low enough now and the performance/features may be the best we’ve ever seen in a golf watch, so we’ve changed our tune.

We now feel ready to recommend it for any golfer. You can use it for just the basics, or dig into some of the advanced features. If you happen to be a little bit of a golf geek or a fitness enthusiast, you’re going to love the features of this watch! The S20 combines smartwatch features of phone notifications, activity tracking, and sleep tracking with a golf watch loaded with features.

Let’s start with the Garmin Approach S20 noteworthy features:
  • Distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.
  • Green shape from your point of view.
  • Manual pin positioning.
  • Distances to the front and back of hazards and doglegs.
  • AutoShot round analyzer measures and auto-records shot distances.
  • Pairs with Garmin Connect for interesting post-game analysis.
  • Pairs with Garmin TruSwing™ sensor for metrics to improve your swing consistency. (TruSwing™ available for purchase separately on Amazon.)
  • CourseView feature automatically updates frequently played courses for free.
  • High-resolution display easily readable in bright sunlight.
  • Activity tracking – steps and sleep.
  • Receive smart notifications for incoming calls, texts and other alerts².
  • Attractive watchband design.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons mentioned the most in the user feedback that we reviewed.

Garmin Approach S20 Review – Most Mentioned Pros
  • Accuracy – Overwhelmingly, the most frequent positive comment was about the accuracy of the S20. We didn’t find any complaints on this point.
  • Ease of Use – Many users commmented on the ease of use, however a few users had difficulty learning how to use the features.
  • Battery Life – There were plenty of rave reviews about the battery life of the Garmin S20. The only complaint we saw was from a user who was using it as an everyday watch.
  • Screen Readability – The comments about the clarity and readability of the screen were more enthusiastic than we generally see and there were zero complaints.
  • Responsiveness – Compliments about the responsiveness of any golf GPS is fairly unusual, but it must be good on the S20, because it was mentioned frequently.
  • Hazards – Many users commented on the accuracy of the hazard information.
  • Features – Quite a few users commented on the extensive features available on the watch.
  • Value – There were a number of comments about the Garmin Approach S20 being a good value.
  • Attractiveness – Several users mentioned the attractiveness of the watch.
  • Size and Weight – The size and weight was mentioned as a positive in quite a few comments.
Garmin Approach S20 Review – Most Mentioned Cons
  • Software Problems – A number of users experienced problems with the watch working correctly. In most cases, a software update corrected the problem, but some users had to return the watch. Garmin had a glitch with an update last year that has since been corrected.
  • User Manual – There were complaints about the lack of clarity in the user manual. That no doubt led to some other complaints.
  • Ease of Use – Some users had trouble learning how to navigate the S20. As mentioned on the previous point, a better user manual might have helped with this.
  • Autoshot – Although there were a few users that loved this feature, there were several complaints that it didn’t track a fair number of shots and there was no way to manually input a shot when the watch didn’t pick it up.
  • Garmin Connect – Several users felt that the inability to make corrections within Garmin Connect made the scoring and stats worthless. Others felt it provided interesting and helpful information.
  • Difficult to fasten – Only a couple of users complained that it was difficult to put the Garmin S20 on their wrist.

We believe the Garmin Approach S20 is an excellent golf watch for anyone and for golf geeks like us, it’s amazing! If you are concerned about having too many advanced features, there are a few other great choices on our “Best Budget-Friendly Golf Watch” list.

Garmin Approach S20
Course Download Fees No
Pre-loaded with Courses Yes
Full Hole Views Yes
Slope / Elevation N/A
Battery Life 15 hrs GPS / 8 wks
Battery rechargeable Li-ion
Size (Width x Height x Depth) 1.9 in. x 1.5 in. x .4 in.
Measure Shot Distance Yes
Screen Size .9 square
Resolution 128x128
Display Type hi-res monochrome
Weight 1.5 oz.
Rainproof Yes (50 meters)
Touch Screen No
Touch Targeting No
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
Notes In addition to all the golf features, it has an activity tracker, a sleep tracker, and move notification after periods of inactivity.
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User Manual for Garmin Approach S20


  1. John Short says

    In Garmin Connect you can edit, add shot details as well as GIR info. Garmin connect on PC or laptop is best for this.

  2. One question that I cannot find the answer to. How do I go back and see what I scored in a round I played two days or a week ago. Is there a way I can retrieve this data? It has me save that data after a round- I would think I could go back and see it- But I haven’t figured out how.


  3. John Short says

    There seems to be a new feature for scoring entry, perhaps after an update. When score is entered, you are asked to enter penalties. What is this about?

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi John. I saw that posted somewhere on a forum, but haven’t seen an announcement from Garmin. I’m not sure how it impacts your stats, but it could be interesting to track. I’m not sure if Garmin Connect does anything with it yet or not.

  4. Christine De Ponte says

    Can I add my own course? It is a 9 hole course in a gated senior community.

  5. Daniel Baird says

    My approach 20, even though I have turned it “off”always says “start round” as soon as I plug it in to charge. WHY????

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi Daniel. Sorry I didn’t see your question until today. I no longer have an S20 around to check, but that doesn’t sound right. Is it getting charged? If not, I would contact Garmin here:
      Let us know if they offer a solution.

  6. Jack Conner says

    How do I turn off my S20?

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi Jack,

      The manual doesn’t exactly say how to turn off the Garmin Approach S20, but I would guess that it’s the same way you turn it on. Try pressing and holding the Power button until it goes of (at least 10 seconds).

  7. Bill Green says

    My S20 links Connect but not Golf since an update of both earlier in the year. I lost all my historical data. I’ve tried Garmin but no Respibse by either phone or email. I have closed the Apps on my iPhone 10r and reloaded, no difference.

    Any suggestions

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi Bill. Sorry to hear about your issues. Both are logged into the same account, right?

      I’ve reached out to Garmin on Facebook Messenger to see if they will respond there. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Garmin responded to the direct message I sent on Facebook Messenger. They suggested that you “reach out to the support team directly via phone or chat.” They also wanted to know what phone number you had used. Try this page and scroll to the bottom and click “CHAT” or “CALL”. Please let us know if you get any help.

  8. Question – how can I get a new connecting wire for my S20?

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