Martin Hopley

Garmin were one of the pioneers or GPS technology and in the sixth generation of their GPS watch, the Approach S6 delivers all the functionality of the Approach S5, but with a couple of extra features to help you find your way and improve your swing.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Take the Approach S6 out of the box and the first thing you notice is how light it is, weighing just 47 grams (1.6oz). Combined with the flexible rubber strap this is one GPS watch you won't feel as though you are wearing.

It has a nice large 2.5cm (1 inch) round face on quite a deep body that is going to look chunky next to most watches, but is about par for a GPS watch. Whilst the styling may suit on course wear, I am not sure about the size, as it does not slip under a sleeve very easily.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

However the main reason for these types of watches is measuring distance and the Garmin Approach S6 locates the course you are on very quickly and from there you get the front, middle and back distances to the green displayed in large numbers clearly on the screen.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Like the previous Approach GPS watches, the S6 features a combination of buttons and touch screen to navigate around the device. This is very responsive and touching the top or bottom of the screen scrolls up or down the holes.

Touching on the right gives you the distances to lay up to 100, 150, 200 or 250 yards, which is a good feature, although being able to set your own lay-up distances would be good.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Touch the right again and you get one of the new features called the Pin Pointer. This gives you the direction and distance to the centre of the green and is ideal for when you can't see the flag when your view is blocked out for whatever reason.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Clicking the bottom right button brings up the scoring function that defaults to the par of the hole to save time, which is a big plus. If you want to change the score then all you need to do is click + or - on the touch screen and then the return arrow on the left of the dial to get back to the yardages. The touch screen works even when you are wearing a glove, although I am not sure how many people wear their watch on their non-glove arm.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Pushing on the bottom left button brings up what can be generously described as a map of the hole, but which in reality is a little small to be any use.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

You can drag the lay up distance marker around on the hole view or the flag around on the green view, but if you use your finger you can't see where you are moving it too, so if you really need this function I would go for a bigger screen GPS than a watch.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

The Approach S6 comes with a USB charging cradle that clicks into place on the back of the watch. There is no mains adapter, but I am sure by now most of us have one of these or a computer to plug the cable into.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

Using a computer will also enable you to update the device and upload scores to the Garmin Express website where you can manage your account online.

You can also sync your scores with the Garmin Connect App that is available on iOS and Android devices. The scoring feature on the app allows you to review the information you have entered for score, fairways hit, greens hit and putts per hole for each round and then analyse your performance over multiple rounds, which is a nice feature and easy to use.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

You can also view scoring information online but you have to sync the S6 via the computer to upload the scores and receive any other updates. The online account and the app do not sync between each other to do both of these functions which is a little disappointing.

If your scores are not what you want them to be there are also a couple of training features on the Approach S6 to measure swing tempo and strength.

To calibrate the watch you select wood, long iron or short iron and then save a good swing. I was using a 7-iron and was looking for a mid-iron option that is missing, so had to opt for short iron instead.

The resulting data shows your swing tempo using coloured bars at the bottom to show whether your back and forward swing are too fast or too slow, plus there is a percentage figure for strength based on your test swing.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

I am not sure how the strength figure aids you, but the tempo guide was good and would be a useful practice tool. To work on this further, you can use the TempoTraining function which operates in a similar way.

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

To help you get the right tempo it uses a built in metronome that beeps according to your selected speed for the start of the swing, the top of the backswing and impact. It is a useful tool, but quite hard to hear and there did not seem to be an option to increase the volume.

With the Approach S6 connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can also opt to receive notifications for emails, texts and calls on the watch. Certain messages can be read on the watch and this is a pretty cool feature if you don't want to miss any vital messages when you are playing

Garmin Approach S6 GPS Watch

The Garmin Approach S6 is a top of the range GPS watch that does much more than just give distances, which is just as well as it is over £300.

That is a lot of money for just front/middle/back yardages with no information on distances to hazards. It is also relatively chunky and misses on the option to sync everything through the smartphone app, which some other cheaper GPS watches already do.

On the plus side, it is very light, easy to use and picks up the satellite signals very quickly so you can get playing without waiting for the GPS to catch up.

The additional features of message notifications and swing tempo training are an upgrade to the S5 and are valuable additions, so if these are important to you then the Garmin Approach S6 is an ideal GPS watch for keeping you in touch and on course.

Golfalot Rating: 4 stars
More from Garmin



Garmin Approach S6 Golf GPS Rangefinder - Product Details

UK LaunchSeptember 2014
UK Launch RRP£349
Device TypeGPS Watch
Shot MeasurementYes
Power OptionsRechargeable
DimensionsWidth: 45mm, Height: 45mm, Depth: 14mm
Screen SizeWidth: 25mm, Height: 25mm
Device Weight46.6 grams
Course Capacity38,000
Manufacturer's WebsiteGarmin Website

User Reviews

January 2018

Used 2x and so far I'm quite pleased with the result.

  • Battery life - lasted 27 holes in South Forbes and Cangolf; more than 8 days normal watch use.
  • GPS Accuracy - provides very close distance as my Bushnell v3 range finder (1 to 2 yrds)
  • Scoring - easy to use once you get yourself familiar with the buttons; very important to learn it first.
  • Screen view while on the fairway - very easy to read; provides backlight if needed
  • Pinpoint - useful but not essential for weekend players

Still to be Used -

Swing Guide/Tempo - will use in the driving range Bluetooth to Android phone - I don't need it to be honest; will only waste battery juice

S. Andrews
November 2017

While it packs a lot in a small device and has, at least in my experience so far, a good battery it suffers from two major flaws: - accuracy is below standard. On several courses in my area, I have seen discrepancies up to 14 yards and therefore must seek out on-course yardage markers on every hole to determine the error (add or subtract yards from what the device indicates). I have even noticed that the error can change from, say, the 200 yard marker to the 100 yard marker. As a result, I am almost back to pacing yardage from course markers; and - the display is unstable. It is almost never on the main yardage display (the one required 90% of the time). For reasons unknown, it switches itself to one of the many other displays so one must start pushing buttons to get back to yardage.

Jason Marchand
September 2017

Purchased refurbished model. Absolutely love it. Only complaint would be it does too much and battery only lasts about 27-30 holes which is still an improvement over my S1. Cost has come way down on this model. Price for the S60 is still way too high for me. The S6 was the right one for me!

David Holdaway
August 2017

The S6 has really a number of gimmicks that 99 out of 100 golfers will never use and this makes the watch SERIOUSLY overpriced for the average golfer.

March 2017

Battery charging slow and inaccurate. You can plug the S6 in overnight and open it the next morning. It shows 1 percent battery life. Shut it down, turn it on, now you might have 2 percent. Also, when you finish playing the first nine holes on A Course the S6 doesn't transition automatically to the next, B Course. You have to shut it down and reset it. It then looks for satellite, course, hole, etc.

January 2017

Battery does not last. Have to reset after every hole as it locks out . Very disappointed wish I could have the old one back.

November 2016

Not worth the money. Battery dies after 25 holes. Not easy to navigate to different screens. Beeps for tempo very hard to hear. Garmin express score cards don't even separate and give data for shots left and right of the fairway.

October 2016

Better than any other but poor in battery. You can play max 27 holes only. Got unit serviced once time but exactly same.

May 2016

I purchased the S6 to replace my S2 as I was playing courses new to me and needed hazards and layups.

I gave the my S2 to my son-in-law - bad mistake!

The S6 is not user friendly and it is difficult to navigate to different screens.

It had no instructions to operate which considering the cost I find disappointing and I can't find any online.

Very disappointed and unsatisfied - I want my S2 back!

March 2016

Recently, brought the Approach S6 and used it on course.

Frankly not a positive experience. - The watch reset itself 3 times during my round of golf. The score was erased after each reset.

  • Battery life is very poor, after one round of golf the battery life left with 35%.

  • Once the S6 is linked with your phone, it will receive all notifications from your phone. ie emails, sms, app notification. You can't select what notification you wish to receive.

  • Some of the courses are not up to date.

Not worth buying for the price.

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