Garmin were one of the pioneers or GPS technology and in the sixth generation of their GPS watch, the Approach S6 delivers all the functionality of the Approach S5, but with a couple of extra features to help you find your way and improve your swing.
Take the Approach S6 out of the box and the first thing you notice is how light it is, weighing just 47 grams (1.6oz). Combined with the flexible rubber strap this is one GPS watch you won't feel as though you are wearing.
It has a nice large 2.5cm (1 inch) round face on quite a deep body that is going to look chunky next to most watches, but is about par for a GPS watch. Whilst the styling may suit on course wear, I am not sure about the size, as it does not slip under a sleeve very easily.
However the main reason for these types of watches is measuring distance and the Garmin Approach S6 locates the course you are on very quickly and from there you get the front, middle and back distances to the green displayed in large numbers clearly on the screen.
Like the previous Approach GPS watches, the S6 features a combination of buttons and touch screen to navigate around the device. This is very responsive and touching the top or bottom of the screen scrolls up or down the holes.
Touching on the right gives you the distances to lay up to 100, 150, 200 or 250 yards, which is a good feature, although being able to set your own lay-up distances would be good.
Touch the right again and you get one of the new features called the Pin Pointer. This gives you the direction and distance to the centre of the green and is ideal for when you can't see the flag when your view is blocked out for whatever reason.
Clicking the bottom right button brings up the scoring function that defaults to the par of the hole to save time, which is a big plus. If you want to change the score then all you need to do is click + or - on the touch screen and then the return arrow on the left of the dial to get back to the yardages. The touch screen works even when you are wearing a glove, although I am not sure how many people wear their watch on their non-glove arm.
Pushing on the bottom left button brings up what can be generously described as a map of the hole, but which in reality is a little small to be any use.
You can drag the lay up distance marker around on the hole view or the flag around on the green view, but if you use your finger you can't see where you are moving it too, so if you really need this function I would go for a bigger screen GPS than a watch.
The Approach S6 comes with a USB charging cradle that clicks into place on the back of the watch. There is no mains adapter, but I am sure by now most of us have one of these or a computer to plug the cable into.
Using a computer will also enable you to update the device and upload scores to the Garmin Express website where you can manage your account online.
You can also sync your scores with the Garmin Connect App that is available on iOS and Android devices. The scoring feature on the app allows you to review the information you have entered for score, fairways hit, greens hit and putts per hole for each round and then analyse your performance over multiple rounds, which is a nice feature and easy to use.
You can also view scoring information online but you have to sync the S6 via the computer to upload the scores and receive any other updates. The online account and the app do not sync between each other to do both of these functions which is a little disappointing.
If your scores are not what you want them to be there are also a couple of training features on the Approach S6 to measure swing tempo and strength.
To calibrate the watch you select wood, long iron or short iron and then save a good swing. I was using a 7-iron and was looking for a mid-iron option that is missing, so had to opt for short iron instead.
The resulting data shows your swing tempo using coloured bars at the bottom to show whether your back and forward swing are too fast or too slow, plus there is a percentage figure for strength based on your test swing.
I am not sure how the strength figure aids you, but the tempo guide was good and would be a useful practice tool. To work on this further, you can use the TempoTraining function which operates in a similar way.
To help you get the right tempo it uses a built in metronome that beeps according to your selected speed for the start of the swing, the top of the backswing and impact. It is a useful tool, but quite hard to hear and there did not seem to be an option to increase the volume.
With the Approach S6 connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can also opt to receive notifications for emails, texts and calls on the watch. Certain messages can be read on the watch and this is a pretty cool feature if you don't want to miss any vital messages when you are playing
The Garmin Approach S6 is a top of the range GPS watch that does much more than just give distances, which is just as well as it is over £300.
That is a lot of money for just front/middle/back yardages with no information on distances to hazards. It is also relatively chunky and misses on the option to sync everything through the smartphone app, which some other cheaper GPS watches already do.
On the plus side, it is very light, easy to use and picks up the satellite signals very quickly so you can get playing without waiting for the GPS to catch up.
The additional features of message notifications and swing tempo training are an upgrade to the S5 and are valuable additions, so if these are important to you then the Garmin Approach S6 is an ideal GPS watch for keeping you in touch and on course.