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Best Golf GPS Apps – Free Features & Upgrades

The golf GPS apps have made it hard for golf GPS manufacturers to compete. The GPS apps are sometimes free, have great graphics, are easy to download to your phone, and are ready to use anytime.

Mostly, they are convenient.

Even if you are a rangefinder type person, a golf GPS app can track your scores, strokes gained, steps, distance, and much more. We recently tested some of the top golf GPS apps on the market and a few that are not as well known.

No single app stood out as the best overall golf GPS app, but here are the top contenders across some of the most important categories.

Best Overall Features: GolfLogix Golf GPS + 3D Putts

GolfLogix is one of the most downloaded golf apps in the business, with more than 95,000 reviews and a long history in the industry. The GolfLogix app has stat tracking, a scorecard, and an impressive golf GPS.

The GolfLogix app has more advanced features that come at a cost, but as a free golf app, it also has plenty of functionality. The thing that I think really makes the GolfLogix app stand out is the 3D putting technology.

3D Puttline from GolfLogix app

The first time I used this, I thought it was a bit overwhelming. It’s a lot of information coming at you at once, and I honestly wouldn’t recommend it when playing a casual round with your friends on the weekend.

However, if you head out to the course for a practice round or have an event coming up at a course you don’t know well, the 3D putts are a great way to truly understand the way the greens roll.

The 3D putt line shows you how to putt, it’s a bit like cheating, but of course, you still need to make the stroke.

GolfLogix also has nice-looking images, and the overall design and functionality of the app are easy to use. I found this to be one of the best golf GPS apps for tracking scores as well; it’s just simple, clean, and well-designed.

In addition, when you switch to the paid version, GolfLogix is still affordable for all you get.

Golf Insider Verdict

As long as you are smart about your pace of play, the GolfLogix green reading technology is really fun to play around with. In addition, the basic version of the GolfLogix app is one of the best free golf GPS apps in the game. With 22 years in the industry, these guys know a bit about what golfers need on the course.

One more quick tip; charge your phone before a round. If you play to use the 3D putts, it drains my battery rather quickly.

Best Free Golf GPS: 18 Birdies

Free golf apps do exist. However, all of the free golf GPS app options offer a chance for an upgrade. Essentially you will get a certain number of features for free and then have to start paying out of pocket.

One of our favorites for the free GPS is 18 birdies. The 18 birdies app is quick to load, moves from one hole to the next with ease, and is very highly rated by golfers (4.9 stars on the Apple store with 79,000 ratings).

18 Birdies app intro questions and social leaderboard

Outside of the GPS technology, you can expect the 18 Birdies app to also offer AI-generated golf swing tips and fixes. Essentially you upload a video of your golf swing, and then a system will tell you what things you need to work on. We didn’t find this feature to be overly helpful, but the GPS still stands out as a good free feature.

I like that you can track your stats and round history without having to upgrade to premium. In addition, if you and your friends like to play skins or points, you can use the free golf GPS app.

When you first download 18 Birdies, you get a free trial of the premium features. You will get shot tacking and strokes gained capabilities, but we found it easier to work with Upgame for this. The 18 Biridies App can certainly expand to be all that you need when out on the course, but having the free golf GPS to start is a great feature.

Golf Insider Verdict

Overall I like the 18 Birdies app. I think the best way to describe it is a golf app that does a lot but doesn’t do anything better than anyone else. In other words, you have all the features and functionality you could ever use, but nothing about 18 Birdies makes it stand out as the overall best GPS app on the market. If you have never used a GPS app before, this is a great place to start.

Best For Stat Tracking and Strokes Gained: UpGame Golf

UpGame may at first look like it is just a stat-tracking golf app, but there is much more to UpGame than just stat-tracking. You can input three free rounds, gain some insight and have access to a free GPS map system for a wide range of courses.

UpGame works on helping players track their strokes gained. Strokes gained is a very valuable way to pinpoint exactly what areas of your game need work. However, in order to track strokes gained, you need a baseline or a data set and GPS technology.

With UpGame, you can add your golf shots and then measure your performance against those on the PGA Tour. If you think your approach shots may be what is costing you your strokes, UpGame will tell you.

If you have a coach that you work with, UpGame also allows you to share your information with your coach. UpGame can work as an individual, but it’s great for golf groups and teams as well. Some of the best golf apps are designed to combine the social side of golf with the technical side, UpGame focuses pretty solidly on the stats and technical side, but it does a great job of it.

In the world of golf, we have been discussing tracking strokes gained for quite some time. However, things are finally being put into place to help players get this tracking done quickly and easily while on the golf course.

Golf Insider Verdict

I like UpGame for its game tracking ability. Strokes gained is only going to become more valuable in the future, and this app gets you into the mindset you need to become a better golfer. The GPS isn’t the prettiest one on the market, but it has good accuracy and the data you need to become a better player.

Best For Using With Apple Watch: SwingU Golf GPS

Apple Watch connectivity is a really important feature in a golf GPS app. Many golf apps work well on the phone but are not compatible with the watch. Like I’ve said in the past if you have already invested in the watch, it makes sense to pair it with the right golf GPS.

The SwingU is a scorecard, rangefinder stats and coaching app. It has a ton of reviews (96.000 and counting with a rating of 4.7 stars), and people like the free app option that includes quite a bit of functionality without any cost.

One of my favorite things about SwingU is that you can learn the details of becoming a great player. If you always have sort of “gripped it and ripped it,” SwingU may teach you to slow down a second, track your information, and be smart about the clubs you choose to hit.

In addition to the yardage to the green or hazards, you can upgrade to the Plus version of SwingU and get things like a played like yardage or even some stats on your game based on scorecard results and distances.

The upgrade to the plus feels like a golf GPS turning into a game-improvement tool. In addition, for those that want to spend a little more money, the Premium option from SwingU includes the stroke gained tracking capability, lessons and drills from teachers, and green maps.

Before upgrading to premium, take a look at which courses they offer green maps for; currently, there are 13,000 courses, so it’s not quite as built out as the GolfLogix green maps selections.

Golf Insider Verdict

I think the ability to track your handicap and the strokes gained is a major benefit. In addition, when you combine that capability with the use of the Apple Watch, it’s a great chance to take full advantage of the technology you own while on the golf course. For a free golf GPS app, the SwingU is good, but where you really see the benefit is when you upgrade to the premium version with the strokes gained, plays like yardages, and coaching tools.

Best For Simplicity: Bushnell Golf Mobile

Bushnell likes to advertise their products, including the Bushnell Golf Mobile app with the slogan, “distance made simple.” If that was their goal, they did quite well in achieving it. Bushnell makes distance easy, regardless of what products you are using.

If you are a Bushnell product owner, the Bushnell Golf app makes it easier to unlock the full benefits of your product. In addition, if you are just looking for a golf GPS, the Bushnell golf mobile has you covered.

There is access to 38,000 courses worldwide with plenty of accurate data. I liked the movable layup points to help with course management and shot selection. In addition, you can track and store your round to keep track of your golf game and become a better player.

Bushnell Golf Mobile does not have the same depth as other apps that offer things like social media or coaching and advice. However, they take the basics of what golfers need on the golf course and display it clearly and cleanly for you to see.

There is something to be said for simplicity!

I think one of the best uses and applications of the Bushnell Mobile app is the combination of a rangefinder with the GPS app. If you already own a Bushnell laser rangefinder, having the Bushnell GPS open while you play a round is a great combination of information and benefits to help you succeed. You will have all the distances and numbers you need to go low.

Golf Insider Verdict

Bushnell has always stood out when it comes to laser rangefinders, but don’t overlook them for one of the best golf apps in the game. If you want simplicity, round tracking, and the ability to see the entire hole, give the Bushnell mobile app a try.

Easiest To Use: Golfshot Golf GPS and Caddie

One of the things that I have come to value in a golf GPS app is the ease of use. I like the tools that these apps offer, but if they take more than a few seconds of my time or make it confusing to maneuver and operate the app, it’s not worth it.

Golfshot Golf GPS and Caddie spent a lot of time and money to put together an impressive golf app that is one of the easiest to use. It’s fairly priced and has GPS, shot tracking, and the ability to work with your watch as well.

Most golf GPS apps give you access to a wide range of golf courses; with GolfShot, there are 45,000 to choose from. You should not have trouble finding one of the courses you play the most.

If you are an Apple Watch user, you will have the ability to track your round with GolfShot and Apple Watch compatibility.

I like to get my yardage from a rangefinder. Maybe it’s because it took me a long time to even get started with the rangefinder (yes, I was the one still pacing off my shots). Since I’m a rangefinder person, a GPS has to be really cleanly laid out and simple to work with for me to enjoy it, and I found that was the case with GolfShot.

The pro features of GolfShot include things like a coaching tool, and you will need to pay for the extra membership to access the Apple Watch features. However, if you already have the app, this is probably something worth investing in.

If you download the GolfShot app, make sure to use all the features it comes with, you will likely be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can incorporate all of this into your golf game.

Golf Insider Verdict

Most golf GPS apps have to offer more than just a GPS to compete with other options on the market. Golfshot does a lot, and Golfshot Pro does even more. If you really want to ramp up the way you use technology on the golf course, the Golfshot GPS is one of the best golf GPS app options for you.

Best For Golf Game Advice: Arccos Caddie

Arccos app and smart sensors

Some golfers just want a yardage to the center of the green, while others want all the features they can find to become a better golfer. If you want a golf GPS tool that also works like having a caddy with you out on the course for the day, then the Arccos Caddie app is a great option. The Arccos technology has been around for a while, but it keeps improving. To get the benefit of the Arcccos app, you will need to have the sensors installed on your clubs.

The sensors are installed at the grip end of your golf club, and they do not change the weight or the performance of the club in any way. The AI technology from Arccoss helps you make great decisions about the club you will need to hit into the hole. Combining what Arccos knows about your game with the stats and details Arccos has in their system is a really strong combination.

The Arccoss technology is our favorite app for tracking your golf game. However, you will need to have the Arccoss sensors in your clubs to fully benefit from all this app has to offer. Arccos uses A.I. technology to help golfers make smart decisions and become better overall players.

One of the best features of this golf phone app is that if you don’t want to look at your phone constantly while you are on the golf course, you don’t have to. The golf GPS app requires you to look and observe the distance, but the entire time you play, Arccos collects data. This data then automatically transfers to your smartphone.

I like the fact that Arccos picks up on my activity on the golf course without me having to input anything into the app; it’s a very hands-free way to enjoy the game and see the differences that technology can make in game tracking. 

Arccos is used by some top manufacturers in their grips, so you may have this ability to track already stored in your clubhead. The bottom line here is that the AI technology from Arccos can be like playing with a caddie. 

Golf Insider Verdict

The Arccos app takes a little extra investment because of the sensors needed in the golf clubs. However, if you can make that extra purchase, the technology, and benefits you get from this app will be well worth the extra money you paid. Instead of Arccos being considered a golf GPS app, it’s more like a golf tool that uses GPS to help you improve. 

How To Choose A Golf GPS App

If you were looking at golf GPS apps years ago, you might have had to choose based on accuracy, load times, and information offered. However, at this point, all of these golf GPS apps tap into the same GPS system. 

They will often display the information differently, but you can really count on getting the same data points from each of these options. 

So how do you choose? 

The answer is features. The best golf GPS apps for your game have the features you need. 

Strokes Gained 

I would pay close attention to strokes gained and the ability to track it. This is an involved way of tracking your performance on the course and comparing it to a baseline. However, with the use of the right golf GPS app, tracking strokes gained is effortless. The benefit here is that you can learn exactly what areas of your game need work. 

Pricing 

I wouldn’t pay for a basic golf GPS app at this point. There are too many free options out there. The pricing starts to go up when you want green reading functionality, club selections, game tracking, and more. If you simply want a golf GPS, don’t pay for it. 

Stat Tracking 

Some GPS apps like the Arccos Caddie will use sensors in your club to help you track your game without you having to input anything. Others will offer a prompt at the end of each hole to put your stats and details in. I like stat tracking, you don’t have to do it for every round, but if you can get some data, you can use it to help you improve. 

Coaching and Swing Advice

Another avenue that some golf GPS apps take is coaching and swing advice. If you want to keep all your information in one place and get drills and recommendations from teachers, you must pay a premium price. 

I encourage you to look at some other golf apps that are great for coaching and swing analysis and not always expect your golf GPS to do it all for you. 

Visuals

Every golf GPS app company has different visuals. Some have more realistic graphics, while others go with a cartoon-style look. When you download the golf GPS, you will almost always get a free version or a free trial. 

I recommend downloading two different options and looking at the visuals of the golf GPS. Sometimes a color combination or a certain design makes one much more appealing than another. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the best free app for golf?

One of the best free apps for golfers is the 18 Birdies app; you get access to a free golf GPS and some game tracking, all included in the free version. 

Are golf GPS apps any good?

Golf GPS apps are very good, they are accurate, and they provide a lot of valuable information that golfers can benefit from on the golf course. With the proper smartphone and a quality app, a golf GPS app can help you take your game to the next level. 

What is the most used golf app?

A few of the most used golf apps are Golfshot, GolfLogix, and SwingU. 

Is there a free golf GPS app for iphone?

Several free golf GPS apps for iPhone included 18 Birdies and even GolfLogix. Most of these apps allow for a free download and a free GPS. You can then pay for extra features if you choose. 

Final Thoughts 

As I’ve mentioned, I’m kind of a rangefinder person. However, when testing out all of these GPS apps, I did notice that the quality of the data I got on the golf course was greatly improved. For me, the combination of a great golf GPS app like Upgame or GolfLogix really helped me keep track of the important stats. All golf GPS apps can give you yardage to the center of the green; the trick is to find the one with the features you like to use on the course. 

Happy golfing.

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Britt Olizarowicz is a former teaching and Class A PGA professional with more than 25 years spent with a golf club in her hand. Britt is a small business owner, author, and freelance golf expert that knows this game inside and out. She lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.

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