Should you buy a new GolfBuddy GPS watch or spend your money on more golf lessons and green fees? Here we review the GolfBuddy AIM W12 GPS watch and let you know how accurate it is, how useful it is and some of the questions you should consider before buying.
The GolfBuddy AIM W12 is a hassle-free way of plotting your way around a golf course. The graphics and responsive yardages are great.
The graphics when you are on the tee or hitting into the green are really useful. The GolfBuddy AIM W12 also boasts 3D green mapping on most golf courses.
This is a great tool for golfers who want hassle-free yardages and a simple way to collect stats.
Golf Insider UK readers can get 10% off at GolfBuddy with the code: GOLFINSIDERUK
- Pre-loaded courses: 40,000
- Slope function: yes
- Waterproof: yes
- Lens size: 45mm
- Weight: 50g
- Battery hours: 10 (in golf mode)
Let’s jump into our full GolfBuddy AIM W12 review.
The GolfBuddy AIM W12 is an advanced GPS smartwatch designed specifically for golfers. There are a lot of features that come along with the GolfBuddy AIM W12. Some of the most important features are:
- Touch screen to help you pinpoint distances to hazards and more.
- Automatic course and hole recognition.
- Green undulation maps for certain golf courses.
- Up to 10 hours of battery life while in Golf Mode.
- Accurate distances to the front, back, and centre of all greens.
- Slope calculation that can be turned on and off.
- IPX7 Waterproof technology to play a round in the rain without issues.
- Standard clock with several different display options.
- Pedometer and calorie counting function.
- More than 40,000 golf courses are preloaded with continual and free updates.
Please note, the courses where we played didn’t have undulation green maps. This seems to be mostly for courses in the USA.
GPS watches have a smaller screen than a handheld GPS unit and many GPS watches don’t have very good graphics. Things may be black and white, blurry, or hard to read. That’s not the case with the GolfBuddy AIM W12.
When you look at the watch screen, you can keep the display just pure numbers with front, middle, and back. Other options include a full view of the hole where you can plan out some of your course management strategies.
In the background, you will see these lines showing where you would need to put the ball to be about 50, 100, or 150 yards from the hole. These also show distances off the tee and can be customised based on how far you tend to drive the golf ball.
You can also touch anywhere on the screen to find a yardage from any location. This is a great idea in theory, but in practice is a little fiddly with the screen size
At the start of each hole, the watch does a flyover to give you an idea of where you are headed. It’s a nice feature and a little more interactive than a traditional hole map.
So far, we know this is a cool tool for golfers, but is it accurate? We compare the distances of GPS units to rangefinders that we know to be incredibly accurate (under 1 yard).
This can be a little tricky, as rangefinders can track flags, slopes and trees. Whereas, GPS watches measure to the middle, front, back and to the front of hazards. However, it does provide us with the best measure for on-course accuracy.
Over a few rounds of play we compared many distances to hazards, tracked distances into the greens and left a golf bag at the front of the green to perform a few side-by-side comparisons with the GolfBuddy AIM W12 and a premium rangefinder.
The results showed the W12 was always within 1-3 yards, and often measures within 0-2 yards compared to a laser rangefinder. This is better than we expected, and better than most GPS devices we’ve tested previously.
Based on this we’d suggest you can have great confidence in the yardages the GolfBuddy AIM W12 offers you. Another point to note is that the W12 yardages update very quickly as you walk forward down the fairway (or into the trees to find your golf ball).
Top marks to GolfBuddy for this level of accuracy.
Comfort & Looks
The watch is very comfortable; it has a soft strap that does not get in the way when playing golf. If you are a player who is particular about wearing a watch and having it impact your swing, we don’t think this one will be a problem.
This watch is not heavy either, weighing just 50 grams (1.76 oz). Some larger watches give you the feeling they are weighing down your golf club, but I don’t think you will find that with the GolfBuddy AIM W12.
As far as looks are concerned, the watch is relatively sleek. The face is large, which helps with looking at the entire hole layout and getting information about the golf course. It’s probably not a watch you will wear off the golf course often, but it can definitely pass as a standard fitness watch if you want to have this with you off the golf course. It comes with a black and white strap allowing you to mix things up.
Ease of Use
In addition to great graphics and impressive features, the GolfBuddy AIM W12 is super easy to use. It takes a few minutes when you first start up the AIM W12 to download the local courses, but then it is really simple to locate local courses and click to play.
The on-course experience is even better, we’re always dubious when we hear that tech will automatically update and know what hole you are on. However, the GolfBuddy AIM W12 really did perform here. We were testing on a small, fiddly golf course, but as soon as we walked onto the next tee, the hole information was updated and ready to go.
You can dive in a customise a lot of your experience, but for those keen to just get out and play golf this watch is a great pick.
This feels and performs like a top-of-the-range GPS watch, with this in mind the pricing of the GolfBuddy AIM W12 feels like great value. The watch has a sporty look and updates with new courses without you having to do much.
There is also no ongoing subscription needed to keep using this watch over time.
It is tricky to test longevity or know what golf tech is around the corner, but this watch feels like it will hold up well for many years of golf.
On Course Experience
Although we have covered a good portion of the features already, it’s important to have a general idea as to what the experience is like when you are on the golf course with the GolfBuddy Aim W12.
When you arrive for a round of golf, your GolfBuddy AIM W12 will automatically determine where you are located and find your golf course. It does take a few minutes to find the GPS signal and get dialled in if you are out in the wilderness, however, after that, the updates from one shot to the next happen fast.
When you move from one hole to the next, you can look at the hole view, hazard view, and also the yardage readings to the center, front, and back of the green.
The entire watch is touch screen enabled, and by pushing on the green itself, you can look at the green undulation. Essentially, you are provided with a heat map that shows you the area of the green with the most slope.
When you finish a hole with the GolfBuddy AIM W12, it will automatically move to the next hole without you having to do anything. You will also be able to put your score in and record the number of putts that you took on that hole.
On the bottom of the screen, you can see a running total of your score as you make your way through the golf course.
Once you complete your round the GolfBuddy AIM W12 gives you a nice summary of your round, any stats you have put in and data around time taken, steps and elevation.
Overall, the on-course experience is great; the stats input won’t replace fancier golf stats apps like Arccos or UpGame, but for many golfers, it will capture enough detail to help you find out more about how you played and how to improve.
Golf Insider Verdict
This was a product that really performed above what we were expecting. We highly recommend the GolfBuddy Aim W12. From an accuracy and ease of use standpoint, it is superb. The graphics, comfort, and value are also great.
This is a great buy for newer golfers and high-handicap golfers who want more information when playing golf courses. It is also a great option for golfers who want accurate yardages but don’t want the hassle of getting a rangefinder out for every shot.
The flyovers and general hole layouts will be particularly useful if you like to play new golf courses.
Golf Insider UK readers can get 10% off at GolfBuddy with the code: GOLFINSIDERUK
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the GolfBuddy AIM W12. Hopefully, these can narrow down whether or not this is a device that will help your game.
How accurate is GolfBuddy?
When tested against rangefinders and when pacing out yardages based on golf course markings, the GolfBuddy AIM W12 was within 0 to 3 yards each time it was used and was often within 0-2 yards of a premium rangefinder. For the average golfer and even lower handicap players, accurate distances are a major selling point of this tool.
What’s the difference between GolfBuddy AIM W11 and W12?
The GolfBuddy W12 has new hardware and software. It has a cleaner, more updated look that’s to the flat action button. In addition, it comes with a plain white strap made of silicon and a more premium leather strap. In addition, users have reported the GolfBuddy W12 to be easier to navigate.
Is a GolfBuddy AIM W12 watch worth the money?
The GolfBuddy AIM W12 is a great alternative for a golfer looking for an accurate GPS unit without having to deal with a handheld during the round. Shot distances are accurate, the digital scorecard is easy to use, and you can get simple and quick distances from hazards.
Does GolfBuddy AIM W12 have slope calculation?
GolfBuddy AIM W12 does have slope calculation. This can be turned off before or during the round.
Can you use a golf watch in a tournament?
A golf watch can be used in a tournament, but you must ensure that the slope mode is turned off.
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