50 Words or Less
The Bushnell Excel GPS watch is one of the best wearable GPS devices on the market. Excellent display and ease of use highlight a long list of positives.
There are many GPS options available to golfers – watches, handheld devices, and a myriad of apps on your phone. The Bushnell Excel doesn’t make you choose: it gives you a high quality app to pair with the watch. For this review, I took both to the course to see how they stack up to the competition.
Set Up & Ease of Use
The Bushnell Excel GPS is pleasantly short on accessories. In the box you’ll find the watch, a USB charging dock, and a brush for cleaning the contacts on the watch.
After opening it up, I threw the watch on the charger to get it to 100%, and I downloaded the Bushnell app to my phone. Once the watch was charged, I paired it with the phone in a couple clicks.
During my first round with the Excel, I was able to get everything up and running quickly without benefit of instructions. There are only five buttons which makes it easy to trial-and-error your way to whatever features you need.
Finally, one of the major advantages of the Excel is wireless updating. It comes with over 35,000 courses pre-loaded, but eventually you’ll need an update. If you pair your Excel to your phone, it will update courses without the hassle of plugging the watch into your computer and going through a long series of menus.
Accuracy & Performance
After powering up and switching into golf mode, the Excel took a couple minutes to get a GPS signal and list the nearby courses. Once I selected the course, there was no need to touch the watch again. It quickly and accurately changed holes and yardages as I walked.
If you want more information than the yardages to the front, center, and back of the green, that is available. One push of a button brings up the distances to hazards. You need to decode some abbreviations, but I found them all fairly intuitive. You can also use the Excel to measure the distance of your shots.
I found wearing the Excel on the course to be acceptable. It’s very light, but it isn’t small. As someone who normally golfs without anything on his wrists, the Excel was noticeable to me but not bothersome. The size is a plus in that it makes the display larger and easier to read. The display also auto-adjusts its brightness for readability in all light conditions.
Bushnell’s golf app is one of my favorites. I really like the arcs at 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards, and you can tap the map to get the exact distance to any given point on the hole. Perhaps the best feature is the flyover view of the hole. This is particularly valuable when you’re playing a hole for the first time. Finally, the app allows for score keeping and shows you all the data you could otherwise find by scrolling through menus on your watch.
In addition to providing distances, the Excel can measure your swing tempo, count your steps, show you the weather, and give you notifications from your phone. With all of these features, the Excel can easily be your everyday watch or a replacement for a FitBit.
The Bushnell Excel GPS watch retails for $250 (support PluggedInGolf, buy it HERE). A quick search of the current GPS market reveals this to be on the upper end in terms of price, with many watches and bands at or under $125.
Having reviewed a handful of these lower priced GPS units, my feeling is that you get what you pay for. There are a number of things about the Excel – wireless updates, larger display, extra non-golf features, and the app – that make it superior to the cheaper products.
If you want to improve your pace and play (and make better course management decisions), a wearable GPS is hard to beat. On the fundamentals – speed, accuracy, display quality – the Bushnell Excel is near the top of the class. The additional functions push the value over the top.