Martin Hopley

The Garmin Approach S3 is a wonderful piece of kit. Easy to use, immediate feedback, tonnes of different features, no fees or subscriptions required and slick looks.

An upgrade from the previous, and successful Approach S1 watch, the S3 now features a glove-friendly touch screen, a higher resolution display and a host of additional upgrades. As with many new technologies, it often takes one model to figure out functionality and user-feedback, making the second generation a product to behold. That is what Garmin have in the Approach S3.

Arrive at your course, use the touch screen to find nearby courses and once found, simply enjoy your round. The S3 displays an active home screen display showing yardages to the front, middle and back. Some GPS products tend to just show the middle and require some navigation to get front and back distances, we think having all three visible makes choosing the right shot and yardage much easier. Deeper still, the S3 now offers a touch and move Green View showing you the true shape and layout of the green you are playing. Simply touch and move the pin, and you can more accurately discover the distance you face.

Another cool feature continued from the S1, is the shot-measurement feature. Click "measure", walk to your ball and discover how far you have hit your shot. Great for improving your game and distance control, as well as discovering you really don't hit your drives 300 yards!

A new feature that we really liked on the S3 is the ability to add your own yardage points. If there is a ridge on a green, a layup area, or a carry over trees, simply mark that spot and it will be saved for future rounds. A fantastic feature for playing around your home course and a wonderful addition on the S3. Further within the touch screen menu is a scorecard, round timer and odometer.

Now you may be thinking this all sounds to good to be true. It may well be, but there are some things about the S3 that people may not like. The watch is relatively large and if you are not a watch-wearer it may get some getting used to. Also, whilst the touch screen functionality is a nice touch, it is sometimes hard to see what you are selecting, especially in the Green View, as your finger tends to block your view. As with many GPS products, the battery life can be rather limiting. The Garmin S3's battery will last approximately 4 weeks when used simply as a watch, but only 8 hours in GPS mode. This is fine, but means it will require regular recharging which can be a hassle to remember. Overall, very small criticisms for what is a wonderful product.

The price is a little on the high side so it won't be in everyone's budget. However, compare it with other GPS devices and rangefinders and it is fairly priced and we are sure you will not be disappointed. If you like gadgets, or just showing off in your weekly game, this is must have. Well played Garmin!

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
Overall Rating - 5 stars:
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Garmin Approach S3 Golf GPS Rangefinder - Product Details

UK Launch01 May 2012
Device TypeGPS Handheld
Shot MeasurementYes
Power OptionsRechargeable
DimensionsWidth: 6.9mm, Height: 4.5mm, Depth: 1.4mm
Screen SizeWidth: 2.54mm
Device Weight58.5 grams
Manufacturer's WebsiteGarmin Website

User Reviews

Bob Cranch
June 2018

The watch was comfortable to wear and the GPS features worked well, however the battery wouldn't last for even a four hour round when brand new! Typically works for 14 to 16 holes and shuts down. Would NOT recommend this product.

March 2017

I've had this watch for less than 18 months. The battery has died. No batteries available at Amazon. Replacement of battery requires a PhD in soldering. Never again with this company's products!!

February 2017

Good product when working until the strap broke and the battery gave up and I couldn't get a new one even thought it was only 2years old.

June 2016

I have used my Garmin S3 Approach a total of 12 times and it has completely stopped working twice and I have called in and they tell me that I need a new battery therefore I can buy a refurbished watch which would cost as much as a new one where they should be selling batteries for them without having to buy another one. Therefore I will never buy another Garmin golf/watch product again. It was great when it worked!

April 2016

It's a great addition to my golf game or WAS until the battery died and no genuine 3.7 v replacement was available. It wasn't hard to remove and wouldn't be hard to install a new one if only I could find one. If you have a S1 or S3 and have a source for an OEM replacement battery, please post it. The listings on eBay are sold out and Amazon sellers have a knockoff 3.6 v which is an unacceptable substitute with dubious results and equally questionable sellers. I miss having a working S3 but I won't buy another Garmin product if they won't support it for at least a few years with replacement parts.

Darren Ramowski
November 2012

Great product.

Ignoring the price which may put some people off the Garmin S3 is an excellent product.

If like me you are just after a quick, equally important accurate, distance to your ball then I doubt you will find a product better than the S3. I've used other products which are still very good but the simplistic approach of the S3 in terms of data and ease of use, being on your wrist, makes for a fantastic product.

Additional features such as the touch screen, ball distance marking add to an excellent product.

August 2012

I had seen a lot of people using the S1 watch so when the Garmin S3 Approach arrived I was very keen to try it out. I don't usually wear a watch to play but wearing the S3 did not affect my game and the usability was great as you just look at your wrist. I also put it around the handle of my golf trolley for easy viewing with extra brackets required.

It was light and the styling was good, especially the white version. Battery life is only a couple of rounds which is disappointing, but it charges quickly.

The touchscreen controls are the best of the 'micro' GPS that are on the market and the S3 found the course I was on quickly and easily, even abroad.

The distances were clear and pretty accurate even though they have been derived from maps and I love the ability to see front, middle and back distances to the green in one quick view.

The scoring function is nice to have but pencil and paper will still be quicker, although the shot distance measurement was much easier to use and provides good information to help your game.

That is all you get unfortunately as hazards and a map of the course can't fit on the screen although the lay-up yardages are there and you can create your own GPS points too. I only mention this because for the same price you can get a top of the range SkyCaddie or GolfBuddy that will do all this and more.

What you are paying for is usability and size, so if that is what you prefer and you have the money then you will be swearing by them as everyone I know who has one does.

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