Martin Hopley

The Bushnell Excel is their top of the range GPS watch that gives you distances plus a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone for updates and notifications.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

The other watch currently in their range is the Bushnell Neo iON and as you can see the Excel is based on the same chassis with the same buttons.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

What is an improvement is that the dark backed colour screen is more blended into the style of the watch and looks a bit more classy than the monochrome screen on the Neo iON.

That said, the actual 25mm circular visible screen on the Excel is just 43% of the surface area of the face and the numbers sometimes look a little lost relative to the size of the dial.

What the dimensions of the watch give you is a decent GPS receiver to work out the distances and the Excel is light to wear and looks pretty good on your wrist.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

The Excel is controlled by two buttons on the left and three on the right, which are responsive and easy enough for even the fattest fingers to click.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

The Excel comes with its own specialised charger that has a connector you clip on at one end and a USB to plug into the mains or a computer to charge it up.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

Switching the Excel on then selecting the golf option saw it find the course I was on in around 45 seconds, which is par for the sector and a little quicker than the Neo iON.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

For each hole you get the middle yardage, or meterage, in large clear numbers with the front and back distances shown in smaller numbers below it, which is clear enough.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

It will auto-advance between holes or you can scroll manually using the top and bottom buttons on the right.

Hit the middle button and it will bring up hazard information, but only for 4 hazards at a time so make sure you are not playing a bunker strewn hole.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

You will also have to learn a lexicon of 21 hazard TLAs that denote each hazard, but most are pretty obvious with some cultural exceptions - CRK shown above is a creek.

You can record shot distances and if you like to keep ahead of the game then the Excel automatically records your pace of play and distance travelled from when the GPS found the course.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

You can also set the watch to auto turn on 7 minutes in advance if you enter your tee time and then it can also be set to switch off after a maximum time, say 4 hours, so that the battery doesn't run down in case you forget to switch it off and don't realise the time as you are drowning your sorrows in the clubhouse and then forget to get home in time to meet the better half.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

If the better half texts you to find out where you are, the Excel can also display the message once you download the Bushnell Golf app to your Apple or Android smartphone.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

The app has a few other features like setting tee times via the app, a fairly basic Score function where you just enter your round score and putts and a more useful full screen GPS app. This is much better for viewing hazard distances as you have the hole overview and even a graphic flyover.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

There is also a weather option if you need to know temperature and pressure, which I am not sure is strictly within the rules and anyway given you are already outside experiencing it, a forecast for the next 4 hours would be better.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

One feature that did show more promise was the Swing Pro function that you can use in practice and on the course. You select the club you are using on the watch or the app and it measures the speed and tempo of your swing.

The numbers are then displayed on the watch for the last swing, or if you have the app running, it will display a history of your swings so you can compare swings with the same club or different clubs.

Bushnell Excel GPS Watch

On the face of it this is brilliant, but in reality the accuracy was suspect as you can see above when I had a 95mph 3-wood swing followed by a 125mph one and this happened multiple times. Not even Rory swings a 3-wood that fast and I didn't feel the swing tempo ratio of backswing to downswing was that accurate either. A lot were around the ideal 3:1 ratio but when I varied the speed deliberately the numbers did not always follow suit.

This is a shame as the Swing Pro would be a great function if it could be relied upon, as just having an accurate tempo number would have really helped with practice on the range and it would be interesting to see if that changed on the course.

And this is the rub with the Bushnell Excel GPS watch. It doesn't really set the heart racing and the bells and whistles like the Swing Pro and the app scoring analysis are not hitting the right notes. If this is what the £60 premium over the Neo iON is for, then it's a tough sell because there are also competitors that do more for the same price, so check the features you really need before you buy.

However on the plus side, it is quicker and more stylish than the Neo iON in an understated way, delivers distance information clearly and the connection to the app for messages and the full screen GPS hole guide compliments it well.

Golfalot Rating: 4 stars
More from Bushnell



Bushnell Excel Golf GPS Rangefinder - Product Details

UK LaunchJuly 2017
UK Launch RRP£199
USA LaunchApril 2017
USA Launch RRP$249.99
GolferMens, Women
Device TypeGPS Watch
Shot MeasurementYes
Power OptionsRechargeable
DimensionsWidth: 45mm, Height: 53mm, Depth: 13mm
Screen SizeWidth: 25mm, Height: 25mm
Device Weight45 grams
Course Capacity35,000
Manufacturer's WebsiteBushnell Website

User Reviews

Robert Baker
August 2018

My Bushnell NEO watch band broke. It was connected to the hardware (watch) and couldn't be replaced. After 4 years and 500 rounds I asked for nothing, was even willing to pay for a repair. Golftown filled out a return form and requested repair. Bushnell sent a brand new EXCEL to Golftown for me. Wow, I will be a loyal buyer forever. Great product and outstanding response.

michael chiodi
March 2018

Just bought this thing the other day. Says don't overcharge but it does not tell you how long that should take. Goes in and out of golf course mode. Now it seems to be in stuck mode the only thing I can do is power on and power off. Not easy to attach charger and I thought they had figured a way to charge without exposed connections. I had another Bushnell and after a while the leads on the charging points became either corroded or degraded so the battery life kept getting shorter and shorter to the point I could only get about 10 to 12 holes. Today I call and they are not available to help, only normal business hours. I suppose I could understand if they were not an international company. I can't believe this thing can do so much and still have these basic issues.

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