Garmin Approach S12 Watch Review

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The Garmin Approach S12 GPS golf watch is an affordable golf GPS designed for someone who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.  Stylish and functional enough to wear on and off the course.

Check out the new Garmin Approach S70 GPS watch HERE


I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of items I have to carry with me during a round.  Less clutter helps clear my head.  Can a GPS golf watch can rid me of my laser rangefinder forever?  Let’s find out.

Check out the affordable Garmin Approach G12 GPS HERE

Set Up & Ease of Use

There were a few steps to get the Garmin S12 ready for the course.  Downloading the Garmin golf app and charging the watch took about a hour, but it didn’t deter my level of excitement.  One thing to note is that the charging cable is unique to Garmin.  If you want or need a second charger or happen to lose the original, you’ll have to get another directly from them.

The Garmin app easily syncs to the watch, and the setup was fairly simple and easy to understand.  The hardest part was learning the button press combinations to get to what you need on the watch itself, especially with four different buttons.

The black and white display isn’t going to “wow” you but it’s “sunlight-readable” so you can easily see the screen even in the brightest conditions.  This simpler display allows for an increased battery life.  I used the watch three rounds before having to re-charge it.  It may have lasted longer, but I wore it to work a few times just for keeping time.

Accuracy & Performance

For the first few rounds, I wanted to compare the accuracy against my laser rangefinder.  With the laser in hand, I hit every target and compared it to the watch.   The biggest difference was that a laser hits the pin, and although I can adjust the pin location on my watch, it’s only estimating the yardage.  Of course, knowing the front, middle, and back yardages is typically enough information for most of us regular weekend warriors.

Standing on the tee, the watch uses give you yardages for most hazards between you and the green.  There is a bit of a learning curve, but once I figured out the mapping and distance system, it was helpful navigating both familiar and unfamiliar courses.

The most useful part of the S12 was when I was way offline or had a blind shot into a green.  Or both.  I couldn’t hit the pin easily with my laser or even use sprinkler heads to gauge distance, but the S12 gave me the confidence that I had the right club.  Some other features I was fond of were “measure shot” and the scorecard.  Neither required my phone, and I could navigate both easily right on my wrist.


The Garmin S12 is listed at $199.99.  Please consider supporting Plugged In Golf by buying it HERE.

What is included?  The watch itself, a charging cable, and a choice between three colored wrist bands – black, grey, and white.  You can also add the club sensors for shot tracking (not included with the watch) which can add a lot of value to using this system.  What is it replacing?  Likely a laser rangefinder which can cost at or above that price point.  Other comparable watches start at the $200 mark and only go up from there. This includes the more robust Garmin S62 [review HERE].


Simple, efficient, and affordable, the Garmin Approach S12 is a stylish option to have on the course to help navigate every hole.  Whether you need help with new, unfamiliar courses or just need a replacement for the laser rangefinder, give the S12 a shot.

Buy the Garmin G12 HERE

Zack Buechner
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  1. So Zack you never said, would you , did you ditch your laser for the watch?

    • Zack Buechner

      I haven’t fully committed to getting rid of the laser as I still find myself double checking on certain hazards, flags, etc. But I’ll say this, my best score so far this year has come without using the laser!

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