Ever since GPS technology hit the golf industry, golfers have been paying out a lot of money for the latest and greatest device. Whilst the technology and features are great, the high price range of most models has put off many everyday golfers. Gradually the market has picked up on this and simpler, more affordable models are beginning to hit shops. A case in point is the SkyCaddie Aire.
Everything about the Aire is simple and easy to use. With a profile size similar to a modern car key, it sits very comfortably in your hand. The four buttons that control the features are well positioned and, once again, very simple to use.
The great thing about the Aire is its simplicity. There is no touch-screen, over-the-top graphics or features, it is just easy and fun to use. Switch it on, let it find the course you are playing and go play.
When you arrive at the course, all you do is turn it and and wait a few moments for the GPS satellites to locate the course you are on automatically. Once your course is found, the device can change hole and yardages automatically, meaning all you have to do is glance at the screen and find out the distance to the front, middle and back and away you go.
The battery life of the Aire seemed very solid. SkyCaddie told us the battery can last up to 10 hours and after a couple of rounds and we still had battery left over. Of course, we recommend you charge it using the supplied mini USB cable fully before heading out. Who knows when you might fancy a 36-hole day, especially now that you don't have to walk out your yardages.
Tracking Distance & Scores
To help you record your game as you go along the SkyCaddie Aire has a distance measuring function operated by clicking the bottom left button a couple of times to bring it up and then the top right to start and stop the measurement tracking. This is one of the easiest distance marking functions we have used and good fun for measuring, what you think was, a 'boomed' drive.
Through the same menu is the scoring function. It automatically assumes you make a par so you only have to enter the score if you do better or worse than par. It keeps a running total of strokes played and the score to par and is a useful function if you don't want to mark a scorecard.
The score has to be entered for the current hole showing on the device so if you have the auto-hole advance on it will have moved on by the time you get to the next tee. So therefore you have to scroll back to turn off the auto-hole advance. Not a big deal, but one of the few anomalies in an otherwise intuitive Aire menu.
One cool, hidden feature the Aire offers is a built-in odometer. Once you start your round, the device immediately starts tracking your distance in miles or kilometers and time.
This is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, it lets you note the time and distance of your round. Secondly, the timer could be used as a five-minute timer when looking for a ball. When using it, our group started looking for a ball. A quick look at the timer gave our group a start point and we were able to track our search and call the ball-hunt off when we had been 5 minutes. It is a minor, but useful, feature.
Off the course, the Aire could be used to measure/track runs or walks you do. There is a setting where you can enter your weight and thus find out how many calories you are burning whilst you play, run or walk whilst carrying the device.
Having listened to how golfers use these small devices, SkyCaddie smartly included a belt clip and a carabina bag clip with the Aire. It's a small addition, but it will be appreciated by anyone buying an Aire. Both a very well made and easy to fit to the Aire. The clips are very easy to add to your golf bag, cart bag strap or belt.
Either are great ways to carry the Aire, but it would be a nice touch to have the option to flip the display 180 degrees in the device settings so you can view the figures upside down when it is attached to a carry bag for instance.
We liked the blue colour of the Aire, but were surprised it wasn't offered in two or three other colours considering the recent trend of adjustability and customization that is spreading throughout the game and equipment.
Overall, the SkyCaddie Aire is similar to many GPS watches and smaller devices that have hit the market in recent months, but we think it is a step ahead. The watches are great and similarly easy to use, but not everyone likes to have a device strapped to their wrist and many of the designs can be quite bulky.
All small GPS devices will not be as super accurate as their bigger smartphone sized brethren becuase the GPS receiver has to be smaller to fit in. However the Aire is still very accuarate and, combined with the data from SkyCaddie's mappers who walk every course, the Aire is one of the most accurate compact GPS devices in the market.
The RRP of £129 is on the low end of the price range and still offers plenty of value in our opinion. Each new SkyCaddie 'Sport Series' device comes pre-loaded with SkyCaddie's Par Membership that gives you 12-months access to the global database of courses. After 12 months, you will need to select from one of the membership plans so bear that in mind.
To the countless users and golfers that have asked us to recommend a simple, more affordable GPS device, we are pleased to tell you we have finally found one. Nice work SkyCaddie!