Garmin S4 Golf Watch Review

The Garmin S4 Golf Watch has been retired. Check out our current recommendations for today's best golf rangefinders..

UPDATE: Our Garmin S4 Golf Watch Review is a little bit dated. We still think this is a great watch, but there are newer Garmin Golf Watches that outperform the S4 and cost less. The new Garmin golf watches provide distances to hazards, where the S4 only includes layups and doglegs. The Garmin S4 is a solid golf watch, but the price would need to around $100 to make it a good value.

'Garmin S4 Golf Watch'

Garmin S4 Golf Watch
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Golf Watches

We’ve read dozens of user reviews and put the S4 to the test on several golf courses. First, let’s just say this is the slickest golf watch on the market and it does so many things well that it is our top pick in the golf watch category.

Garmin S4 Golf Watch User Rating: 4.06 Stars 4.06 out of 5 (276 reviews)

Score compiled from multiple sources.

For all it’s features, it is remarkably simple to navigate. The screen is easy to see and one touch will get you layup distances to the 50, 100, 150 and 200-yard markers. The touchscreen is perfectly responsive (once you realize it’s not supposed to be quite as sensitive to touch as your smartphone), the green view, scorecard and shot measuring features couldn’t be easier with dedicated buttons on the side of the watch. To move the pin, you press the green view button and press and drag your finger to the pin location and the distance will adjust. To enter your score, press the scorecard button and adjust the number of shots and easily add putts and fairways if you want. The watch calculates greens in regulation for you. If you use the scorecard on the first hole, it automatically pops up at the end of each hole, making it even more convenient. For all of that, the Garmin S4 is perfect!

There is one issue and it may be a factor for a few buyers. The S4 has the ability to connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth and display your text messages, emails, and other notifications right on the watch. It’s easy to pair the watch with your phone and amazingly unobtrusive. A small box displays the number of new messages on the screen when there are new messages. You can tap it to view the messages. The font for the messages is quite small, but you can adjust it by pressing the face once or twice and then scroll to read the whole message. You can easily go back and forth between your distances and your notifications. So what’s the issue? If you get too far away from your phone, the Bluetooth sometimes disconnects and does not always automatically reconnect. It won’t happen if you keep your phone in your pocket or clipped to your belt, but it happened way too often when the phone was left in the cart. Reconnecting wasn’t difficult, but it meant getting the phone out and turning the Bluetooth off and then back on. That defeats the purpose of having notifications in the first place, so for those who would use it with the intention of leaving it in a golf cart, don’t count on that feature. We reached out to other users and those who walked with their clubs and they had not experienced the problem. Even with this issue, we still think this coolest golf GPS watch on the market.

Garmin S4 Noteworthy Features
  • can display text and email messages and other notifications from your iPhone.
  • high resolution touchscreen easily readable even in bright sunlight
  • provides distance to the front, middle and back of every green, plus layups and doglegs.
  • dedicated “green view” button for easy access to manual pin positioning
  • detailed stat tracking
  • preloaded with over 30,000 golf courses
  • battery life lasts up to 10 hours in GPS mode.
  • waterproof to 10 meters
  • allows the creation of custom yardage points
Garmin S4 Golf Watch Specifications
Garmin S4 Golf Watch
Course Download Fees No
Pre-loaded with Courses Yes
Full Hole Views Yes
Slope / Elevation N/A
Battery Life 10 hrs GPS / 6 wks
Battery rechargeable Li-ion
Size (Width x Height x Depth) 2.41 in. x 1.83 in. x .58 in.
Measure Shot Distance Yes
Screen Size 1
Resolution 128 x 128
Display Type hi-res touchscreen
Weight 2.06 oz.
Rainproof Yes (10 meters)
Touch Screen Yes
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 N/A
USGA Compliant (local rule) Yes
Notes Can receive email, text messages and notifications from smartphone. You can also print your scorecard from you computer after your round.
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User Manual for Garmin S4 Golf Watch


  1. UGH! Garmin does not “get it”!

    I am so disappointed that Garmin has kept that God awful charging bracelet (actually they changed it from the S3 and made it worse).. Why can’t these people understand what a pain the neck that insipid, low functioning cradle is. any normal company would have made the device connect and charge with a standard or micro USB plug so that you could charge it anywhere, instead of lugging around that clunky, mal functioning bracelet or cuff or what ever they call that poorly designed piece of garbage.

    This is my last Garmin purchase until they make user friendly, designed to meet consumer needs devices. DO NOT BUY this product if you are looking for convenience.


    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Good point RK. That would be a nice improvement, but it definitely isn’t a deal breaker for me. I love this watch on the golf course and since I have a designated charging spot at home, it’s not a huge inconvenience. It’s a little more trouble when I’m traveling and your suggestion is a good one.

  2. Ronald Piester says

    I have the s-4 I have a hard time unlocking the screen once it is locked. I tap and swipe left but it doesn’t unlock. Any suggestions?

  3. I found the S4 a great watch, I’m wondering if there was anyway possible of setting the stapleford scoring to my handicap?

  4. Recently, it looked like the watch was fully charged in the craddle and when I picked it up the next day, it was off and a battery low message was blinking. Has anyone experienced this?

  5. I own an S4 and recently the battery life is down to about 4 hours after a full charge ……. is it time for a new battery and if so, does the retail store that I bought it at, sell the batteries and who should I contact to physically replace the battery?

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi Dan. I hope you wore the battery down with many rounds of golf! I would first contact Garmin to see if they replace the battery for you. If not you might find a local watch repair shop that would do it. There’s one at our local flea market. If you don’t have any luck with that, there is a service offered from an Amazon Marketplace seller and the reviews are pretty good. I personally have no experience with them. This link is my affiliate link with Amazon, so I would make a tiny commission on the sale if you were to purchase it:

      Good luck and let us know what you end up doing!

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Here’s an update from Dan regarding his battery life. I hope this helps someone else in the future…

      Thanks folks

      I contacted Garmin and they actually were very helpful – I first did an update on the software and then charged the watch via a USB port on my PC – turns out I was charging from a wall plug over night most often and once it reaches 100 percent it begins to de-charge if not unplugged to protect the batteries from over-charging –

      I’m curious to see if this corrects my problem-

      Thanks again for dropping a line –


  6. Kathy Gupton says

    I love my new approach s4 except for one issue. It does not hold on the urgent hole I am playing. It seems like every time I look at it it is on the wrong hole. Why. Am I missing something? Is it that sensitive?

    • Golf Rangefinder Shop says

      Hi Kathy. I didn’t experience that issue when testing the S4. I’m curious if you have had the problem at more than one golf course? Also, have you tried updating the firmware? You can do that using the Garmin Express software: Have you reached out to Garmin to see if they can help? Here is their contact information: If you get the chance, please stop back by and let us know how your experience with customer support is. Hope they can get you up and running quickly.

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