Martin Hopley

The Approach S20 is Garmin's entry level golf GPS watch and offers the essential functions for yardages using a button menu rather than a touchscreen.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

Like most Garmin watches it is light and the rubber strap is easy to adjust and comfortable to wear.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

Garmin make a lot of devices across many activities and these multi-sport manufacturers tend to make watches that are more stylish than golf specific GPS manufacturers.

The functional Approach S20 may not be a stunner, but it is better than most and the slim design and graphics on the time screen mean that you can feel comfortable wearing it on and off the course.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

It charges quickly through a USB cable with a dedicated clip quickly and it managed to hold the charge easily for a round or two, plus it is waterproof which makes it handy for summer golf in the UK.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

To start the golf GPS function you click the top right OK button and select start round and the S20 found the course I was on in around a minute, which is middle of the road for these things.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

The yardages to front, middle and back along with the hole number and the par are displayed clearly on the screen together with an outline of the green shape that looks like a bit like scared child has drawn it.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

To scroll between the holes is very easy using the Up and Down buttons on the left of the S20. There is also more information available on each hole for hazards, lay ups and scoring which is all good stuff to have.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

I could explain how you get there, but I am not going to because the navigation is not very user friendly. It generally involves clicking OK on the top right to bring up a new menu and then Up and Down on the left to scroll through this menu and then OK again to select or Back in the bottom right to give up.

Usually you need to hold the watch on one side with a thumb or finger so that you can push a button against this digit on the opposite side. I am pretty coordinated, but I found alternating sides to bring up menus and then selecting options had my fingers jumping from one side to another like sailors tacking against the wind.

The information was pretty accurate, but if it is hassle to view it then you are not going to use it, especially the scoring which needs a minimum of 3 clicks before you can enter a score.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

Most watches struggle to get hazard information displayed correctly and the Approach S20 has a different take on it which visually looks like an approach to a roundabout.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

The letter in the circle shows where said hazard is relative to the roundabout styled green and having a distance to the hazard and then another for over it was a plus point over many other watches.

As well as the middle yardage there is also a Move Flag option where you can scroll the flag around 9 or so pre-defined points to get a specific yardage, but that only works if you know what sector the flag is in before you play.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

The front and back yardage does however adjust to your angle of attack, so that is good, provided you have the stamina to get to this screen.

If you have a Garmin TruSwing swing sensor you can connect it to the Approach S20 and see the results of your latest swish on your wrist, which is pretty cool and ideal for practising instead of having to look at the Garmin Connect App on your phone all the time.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

As the Approach S20 comes from a multi-sport activity background, it can also measure walking and steps and then sync them to the Garmin Connect App on your iOS or Andriod device so you can see how healthy you are being.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

Therefore if you are looking for a device to be a cross between and activity tracker and golf GPS then the Approach S20 has some merit. The Garmin Connect App is free, easy to use and the facility to connect and sync wirelessly using Bluetooth is quick and easy.

When I was using it with the TruSwing, results were appearing in real time and this ability to get different devices talking to each other directly rather than going through the phone all the time is a strength of Garmin products.

The Approach S20 looks like a strapless Approach G10 with an extra £60 on the price tag for putting it on your wrist and the option of connecting to the TruSwing. Even with the mind bending navigation, the clip on G10 could be a reasonable buy as a budget GPS. However at the higher price point the S20 watch comes up against stiffer opposition that may not look as good, but is more user friendly.

Garmin Approach S20 GPS Watch

If you particularly want a Garmin GPS watch for all the connection opportunities, then if you can afford it, the Approach S4 or Approach S6 with the touch screen menu and on screen message notifications from your phone would be the ones to go for.

Golfalot Rating: 3 stars
More from Garmin



Garmin Approach S20 Golf GPS Rangefinder - Product Details

UK LaunchFebruary 2016
UK Launch RRP£179.99
USA LaunchFebruary 2016
Device TypeGPS Watch
Shot MeasurementYes
Power OptionsRechargeable
DimensionsWidth: 37.4mm, Height: 47.6mm, Depth: 11.3mm
Screen SizeWidth: 23mm, Height: 23mm
Device Weight42.2 grams
Course Capacity40,000
Manufacturer's WebsiteGarmin Website

User Reviews

Doug in Madison
July 2018

Buddy has one and used it for a year now with a high level of satisfaction with accuracy, battery life and always having the course in it. No fails. I just got one in for myself and it seems perfect so far as well. I like the great sunlight readable screen and charges quickly. I really think anyone not happy with battery life is not starting and ending the round appropriately since ending round or not pre-starting it. Leave the gps off until needed and saves battery. Should be going 2 rounds easy with battery to spare. In fact my buddy played 10 hours straight on his today on the coarse with a 1 hour break. Mine seems like about a 2 hour charge time from 10 to 100% Anyone finding the function changes not simple must be a competitor digging on them cause it could not be any easier. Ok to select menu up/down to highlight and ok again to access, back to back up one screen and hold ok for 2-3 seconds to toggle light on and off. That is it!

DS Golfer
June 2018

I find the watch terribly inaccurate with distances....sort of defeats the purpose. Did all the updates recently thinking/hoping it would fix the issue but it did not. It's regularly 10 - 20 yards off the actual distance. I golfed with a friend who has a different Garmin model and there was always a big difference between the two watches....his being much more accurate (verified by a range finder)

Jeff C
May 2018

Only had the S20 for a week so far, its easy to use, you can skip back and forward through the scorecard if you think you've made a mistake. Its light and comfortable and has never failed to pick up the courses I'm playing. The yardage is accurate, checked it against other players devices and the course markers. Good Item.

BE Diokno
March 2018

The Approach S20 Quick Start Manual requires pushing the OK and Back Button at the same time, wait for Garmin logo to show and then push the Up Button for so many Seconds. Craaaazy complicated way to recharge this device. Garmin need to come up with a doable instruction on how to turn off, recharge and turn the Approach S20 back on. Garmin should offer a replacement or reimbursement for this complicated device.

Georgina Buckmaster
September 2017

I have played a few rounds with this watch and am very happy with it, I managed to get the hang of it including using the hazards screen very quickly, would recommend it as it is a no nonsense simple machine. I don't need half the features it provides and I find it simple to operate.

helen howard
August 2017

Just bought S20 watch is not showing hazards. I have updated S20 but still the same. I originally had an old Garmin for years, which is still working. I bought the S20 mainly because it showed the hazards disappointed with it.

March 2017

I'm a keen golfer and I bought this watch at Amazon at a formidable price of $300, with a lot of hope and expectations. However my experience for the last four months has been rather disappointing as the watch is a useless piece of equipment and a waste of money. Firstly it doesn't show most of the courses that I've played on. Secondly the distances to the pin are not accurate and is showing false distances. Lastly it doesn't have a provision of keying in Putts more than two on your score and once you've accidentally skipped keying in your score on a particular hole and moved on to the next, there's no way you can go back to the previous hole score!!

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