If anyone should be able to navigate you around a golf course it should be TomTom, as they have been one of the leaders in GPS navigation for drivers of cars.
Now they are here to provide directions for drivers of golf balls with their first foray into the Royal and Ancient sport with the TomTom Golfer GPS watch.
Straight away I have to say that this is one of the most stylish golf GPS watches in the market. It is also one of the thinnest so you could wear it off the course without looking like you have a slab of plastic strapped to your wrist.
It connects to your wrist with a comfortable strap that features a buckle and then has 3 nodules that clip into the 3 holes in the strap to stop the end flapping around. In practice this style of attaching the end of the strap can be a little fiddly, but once in, it holds the end well.
The TomTom Golfer comes fully charged out of the box so you can use it right away, but it is better to give it a charge first. A USB cable with an L shaped connector attaches to the watch receiver on the inside of the strap very easily.
Usually with GPS watches I ignore the instructions to see how intuitive the navigation and controls are and the TomTom Golfer scores highly in this regard.
There is a chunky little booklet included in the box, but it only has 4 pages of information per language so it is not very informative. If you go to the TomTom website you can download the pdf instruction booklet which gives you everything you need to know about the watch. It also defines things like 'About greens', which I thought most golfers should be au fait with and maybe is a reflection of the non-golf heritage of the Dutch company.
All the menus are controlled by a 4 way touch pad below the watch screen and this is one of the best navigation tools I have seen on a GPS watch because sufferers of FFS (Fat Finger Syndrome) can not only get the buttons to work first time, but also see what they are doing on the screen as they click.
To get started, just head out to the course you are playing and click the right pad button and in about 30 seconds the TomTom Golfer will locate which of the 34,000 courses in its database you are on. If you are not starting at the first hole then scrolling up will get you to the right one quickly and easily.
Scroll to the right from the hole information screen and you get details of the various hazards on that hole in graphical form.
This is a good attempt at displaying visually what the hole looks like in a similar way to a large screen GPS, but I am not sure it actually does the job of getting the information across in a clear way if there are a lot of hazards. Something more text based would be clearer, but I applaud TomTom for thinking out of the box here.
Scroll up from this screen and you get the lay up distances to leave 100, 150 or 200 yards
Scroll up again and you get the green view with a representation of where the hazards are, which is more of a visual guide than any practical use for distances.
Scroll right from any of the distance screens and you get the scoring function that keeps a running total of your round if you are not going to use pencil and paper.
Each time you go in the score starts from zero, I suppose so you can count as you go along, but I feel it would be better to default to the par of the hole as I would imagine more people will enter the score after completing each hole. Then if it defaults to par you don't have to enter a score unless you deviated from the par golf I know you are all capable of, which will save time.
The TomTom Golfer is very quick at moving from one hole to the other which in some ways is good, but for the scoring it is a pain as within 5 yards of the green it has moved on to the next hole. So if you are entering your score for the 7th on the 8th tee whilst your partners are playing, like you should, then you have to scroll back down to the 7th, before scrolling right twice to enter the score and then scrolling left twice and then up to get back to the 8th hole on the screen.
Once you have played any given course, you can also go back at a later date and scroll through the holes and scores, which is a nice touch.
The TomTom Golfer will also track the time and distance covered of your round, plus how many calories you have burned, excluding anything you may have consumed during the game to rebalance your physique.
If you have an Apple tablet or smartphone then the TomTom Golfer app will enable you to update your GPS watch via Bluetooth and transfer any scores online. There is an airplane mode to turn off the Bluetooth to save battery when you are not using it, denoted by the plane icon on the foot of the screen.
You can also access scores and any updates through the TomTom My Sports Connect website by plugging the USB cable into a computer and the whole lot works seamlessly across web, app and watch.
This is one of the best updating systems I have come across as it is quick and has the flexibility of using just a smartphone or tablet if you are out and about or do not own one of those bulky computer things anymore.
Overall, the TomTom Golfer GPS is one of my favourites of this year's GPS watches. The lightweight and slim styling makes it a lot more wearable and the navigation pad is easily the best to use.
It is a very competent GPS watch and the scoring and hazard information are the only areas where it could be improved. To be fair no-one has cracked the hazard information display yet on a watch and whilst the retro video games graphics was a good try, it is not as clear as it could be.
However, if you are just using it for front/middle/back yardages then TomTom Golfer GPS watch is an excellent choice, especially for FFS golfers.