Playing a round with Garmin’s latest golf GPS, the Approach G30, is a bit like having a knowledgeable local caddy in your pocket, or clipped conveniently to your club bag – except it doesn’t expect a big tip the moment you head for the clubhouse. Preloaded with over 40 000 courses worldwide, its high-sensitivity GPS acquires satellites quickly to show exact distances to greens, hazards and doglegs – helping you to up your game and beat the opposition.

I haven’t met a golfer yet who doesn’t fantasise about lowering his or her handicap. However, to achieve that lofty goal (some would argue lifelong quest), you need to beat the course you’re playing. And to have any chance of doing that, you need to know its layout, be able to timeously spot hidden hazards and know exactly what club to pick when. That’s why the pros place so much value on their caddies and reward them so lavishly when on top of their game. These dudes do way more than just carry clubs around all day – they’re knowledgeable teammates who help players make the right choices at the right times to climb leaderboards and win tournaments.

That said, Garmin’s new Approach G30 brings the same kind of local course expertise to any golfer willing to clip this clever little electronic assistant to their belt, pull cart or club bag. Like previous golf-dedicated devices from the nav giant, this sleek, compact handheld comes preloaded with over 40 000 courses from all around the world. Plus it provides free course updates for life, making it a real investment if you’re serious about your sport. It also packs a lot of tech inside its diminutive chassis, helping you to improve your game and notch-up lower totals on your scorecard.

“With the Approach G30, we were able to pack a ton of features into a streamlined device,” explains Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales. “The colour touchscreen combined with Touch Targeting, Green View and stat tracking will give users a competitive advantage no matter what course they play.”

Garmin Approach G30 features at a glance: 

  • Sleek, compact handheld golf GPS with bright 2.3-inch colour touchscreen display.
  • High-sensitivity GPS acquires satellites quickly to show distance to greens, hazards and doglegs, even under heavy tree cover.
  • Comes preloaded with over 40 000 courses worldwide.
  • Full colour course mapping with Touch Targeting functionality.
  • Green View allows you to place pins in the correct locations for the day.
  • Digital scorecard lets you easily keep track of scores for up to four players.
  • Stat Tracking shows fairways hit, greens in regulation, puts, shot distances and more.
  • Using Garmin’s free Connect Mobile app, you can analyse scores and stats online via your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Big Numbers mode displays distances to the front, back and middle of the green in an easy-to-read large font.
  • Lithium-ion battery with up to 15 hours of playtime per charge.
  • Smart notifications from your phone allow you to read text messages, emails and the like.
  • Can be paired with TruSwing, Garmin’s swing analyser that tracks metrics such as club path and face angles, then relays the info directly to the device.
  • Free lifetime course updates.

How the Approach G30 helps improve your game
Driving the Approach G30 is easy. Once you arrive at the course you’re playing for the day, simply switch it on and the device basically takes care of the rest. In no time, it’s high-sensitivity GPS receiver locks onto satellites and calculates exactly what course you’re planning to conquer – providing you with an accurate, full colour map of the entire course when in CourseView mode for you to study while out on your round. And with just a tap on a flag, its responsive, sunlight-readable TFT touchscreen display lets you zoom in on any of the greens to get a closer look at what sneaky tricks and hazards they have lying in wait for the unprepared.

Green View provides you with a true orientation of all 18 greens from wherever you’re located on the course, even when behind them. This mode also allows you to manually place individual pins in their correct locations for the day, so you can get more accurate yardage readings. Touch Targeting lets you tap any point on the map to calculate the precise distance from your location to that spot. Plus, when in Big Numbers mode, the G30 displays yardage references to the front, middle and back of greens in a large font – allowing you to easily read what’s on the device’s small screen and quickly determine what club to use without any distractions.

Stat Tracking allows you to keep a record of putts made, greens in regulation and fairways hit, so you can monitor your progress over time. The device also features an odometer and round timer to provide even more data on your game.

When it comes to keeping a tally of the day’s proceedings, the Approach G30 won’t be able to bust opponents surreptitiously kicking balls out of the rough when they think no-one’s looking (that’s your job). But it’s digital scorecard does do a great job keeping tabs on up to four players at once – allowing you officiate fun bets made out on the course once you’re all back at the clubhouse and looking for a scapegoat to settle the erm, rehydration bill. Scoring options include Stroke Play, Stableford, Skins and Match Play, and everyone’s handicap can be included.

Other things you can do with the G30
The last thing you want to do while playing a round of golf with your mates or a business contact is to be fiddling with your phone. Unless your plan is to purposefully distract them while teeing off or putting, that is. Jokes aside, once the Approach G30 is paired to your smartphone via the free Garmin Connect Mobile app, it’ll display smart notifications including incoming calls, texts and emails – allowing you keep your phone stashed conveniently (and tastefully) out of sight while playing.

Incidentally, the app also automatically uploads and saves all your golfing data in one convenient location – making things like keeping track of overall scores and seeing how well (or badly) you played each individual hole a breeze. Plus you can go back and check out your average and best scores for every course ever played with the device.

Finally, the Approach G30 is compatible with Garmin’s TruSwing analyser. So once paired together you can practice your swing using game-changing metrics such as swing tempo, club path angles, dynamic loft, shaft lean and a good few more. The rational being, by helping you understand what your swing is doing and how it impacts ball flight, you can improve your consistency on each stroke and ultimately become a better player. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

Garmin Approach G30 specifications:

Physical dimensions: 53.0 x 75.0 x 21.0 mm
Display type: 2.3-inch Transflective colour TFT touchscreen
Weight: 70.9 grams
Battery: Internal rechargeable lithium ion with a runtime of up to 15 hours
Water rating: IPX7
Connectivity: Bluetooth; USB

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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