Garmin Approach S70 Golf Smartwatch Review

50 Words or Less

The Garmin Approach S70 golf smartwatch brings together a myriad of life enriching and golf-centric features in one sleek, easy to use watch.  Stunning AMOLED touchscreen face.  Available in two sizes.

Introduction

I had the privilege of playing a round of golf and learning about the new Garmin Approach S70 golf smartwatch with Scott Moore, Product Manager at Garmin International.  Working our way around Payne’s Valley [course review HERE] in Branson Missouri, Scott helped me discover a host of amazing features that had me saying “Wow, that’s cool” over and over.  As I learned about off the course functions the wows continued and even now, after weeks of use, I’m still finding new wow moments.

Setup & Ease of Use

Like most devices these days, the Garmin Approach S70 is incredibly intuitive and simple to set up.  In the box you find the smartwatch itself, a 4-pin USB-C charging cable, a safety and warnings booklet, and a super simplified diagram for getting started. The watch face is a stunning AMOLED touchscreen, and there are just three buttons on the right side.  The middle button turns the watch on/off when held for 3 seconds, the top button engages the golf mode, and the bottom button is the “go back” function.

I followed the prompts to pair the Approach S70 with my phone and added it to the Garmin App I had previously installed when I got my Garmin Approach Z82 [full review HERE].  A push of the golf mode button brought up the nearest courses super quickly (the smartwatch comes loaded with over 43,000 courses), and I was ready to go.

For each shot, you can toggle between actual front/middle/back distances and PlaysLike distances, where elevation, wind, and air density are all factored in.  Plus you can see the impact of each of those with a simple swipe up on the screen – one of my initial “wow, that’s cool” moments.  See that white line arcing across the fairway?  It represents driver distance that I inputed during setup, and it really helps with shot planning on the tee box.

Tapping on the course graphic takes you to that spot where you can get more specific distances to hazards or an exact spot of your choosing.  A slide bar at the top right of the screen allows you to zoom in and out.  Some of these features took some exploration to discover but are incredibly useful.  The more I tapped around and engaged with the Garmin Approach S70, the more I appreciated the depth of intel.  Best of all, it’s easy to “go back,” so I never worried about messing something up or finding the base screens.

Leaving the green, the Approach S70 automatically prompted me to enter my score and advanced to the next hole.  Another cool feature I noticed was the small 18 hole tracker around the face perimeter that fills with green for par, yellow for bogey or more, and blue for birdie or better as you post your score.  It’s a subtle visual, but great for seeing how your round is going and another excellent example of the details Garmin has incorporated into the smartwatch.

Speaking of which, I need to comment briefly about the non-golf features that really set this unit apart from others.  You can add health monitoring features (pulse, stress, etc.), fitness (steps, workouts, etc.), smart notifications, music, weather, and even contactless payments.  For someone like me who didn’t wear a smartwatch before, all these options further the “wow.”

Accuracy & Performance

The amount of data available is amazing and it’s super accurate.  I spot checked bunkers and green fronts on multiple occasions with a laser rangefinder and never found more than a yard difference from what the Garmin Approach S70 stated – and typically the numbers were identical.  Being able to factor in the wind has been very rewarding and educational.

Playing a new course like Payne’s Valley, the shot planning aspect was exceptionally beneficial.  Seeing where I could expect my typical drive to end up not only allowed me to aim smarter, but encouraged me to hit my fairway wood on a few tricky par 5s.

The Garmin Approach S70 also includes a Virtual Caddy that recommends a club based on environmental factors, and more importantly, your actual swing data.  That feature requires using Approach C10 sensors for at least 5 rounds, which Scott had been using so that I could see that feature in action.  The Virtual Caddy also displays a box depicting your dispersion, which again assists with aim point.  Not happy with where the box is?  Move it on the screen and see what club might be better – serious “wow.”

The final feature I’ll highlight is the green view with contour data.  Seeing the topographic slope in vivid color really helped me read some subtle breaks that I had not picked up with my eyes.  I see more and more recreational, yet serious, players pulling out yardage books with similar data.  Having all that right on your wrist seems like a great complement to the distance and shot planning aspects of the Approach S70.  The contour data does require an active Garmin Golf membership.

Battery life of the Garmin Approach S70 is excellent.  After playing eighteen, messing around with features, and general wear over a week, the smartwatch still had around 40% of its power remaining.  Garmin states the Approach S70 is good for 10 days in smartwatch mode and 15 hours in GPS mode. 

Value

The Garmin Approach S70 golf smartwatch retails for $650 in the 42mm size featured in this review (consider supporting Plugged In Golf by buying it HERE).  For normal wrists (mine are small), the 47mm version is $700.  Either way, the Approach S70 is a serious investment.  Value – always subjective – will depend not only on your wants and needs, but also what devices you own or plan to buy.

A Garmin Golf membership is $10/month or $100/year.  Beyond green mapping, the membership also offers upgraded features for the Approach R10 launch monitor [full review HERE].  A full set of Approach C10 sensors is $300.

Having headed down the rabbit hole of trying to compare certain aspects of the Approach S70 (smartwatch, GPS golf watch, shot tracking, etc.) on their own to other offerings in the market space several times, I’ll leave it to you to make your own conclusions on value.  That said, for all it does, the Approach S70 can easily justify its price tag. 

Conclusion

If you’re a golfer who loves technology and wants it all in one place, the Garmin Approach S70 deserves your attention.  The AMOLED touchscreen is worthy of a “wow” all on its own.  And I love that I could customize the display of the watch face.  The golf-centric features provide all the data a golfer needs on the course – and then some.  Plus the non-golf features that truly make the Approach S70 a smartwatch are vast and impressive.  The Garmin website sums it up the Approach S70 golf smartwatch perfectly:  “for your life on and off the course.”

Buy the Garmin Approach S70 HERE

Visit Garmin HERE

Matt Meeker
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19 Comments

  1. Bagger Vince

    Does it require the C10 trackers? My S62 has the virtual caddy and only prompts me for what club I used to record distances; has that feature been removed?

  2. Richard Barajas

    Post lottery win purchase! You know after helping people and trying to make the world a little better place and then this Garmin!

  3. 700 bucks for a smart watch! Will it show me where the money is? Lol
    I’ll stick to old school technology if finding the 200, 150 and 100 yard markers

  4. Hi Matt – you say that to do the shot tracking and using the virtual caddy “requires using Approach C10 sensors for at least 5 rounds”. But other reviews and the website state that the S70 will capture shots even without the sensors. The watch then prompts you to enter which club you hit. Could you please clarify?

    • Matt Meeker

      I pulled up the Owners Manual pdf and you appear to be correct. Here’s what it states: “Before you can use the virtual caddie feature, you must play five rounds with Approach CT10 sensors or enable the Club Prompt setting, and upload your scorecards.”

      – Meeks

  5. Hi Matt,

    Fantastic review, I currently have and use the Z82 which is an amazing tool on the course. What would you say would be your go to, if you had to choose one to use on course daily?
    Thanks!

    • Matt Meeker

      That’s an ongoing discussion I’m having with myself. I’ve been a laser rangefinder person for so many years now, but I’m enjoying the watch more and more. We were cart path only last week and I used the watch exclusively and it was super convenient. I was also able to help my playing partners with yardages once out and away from the cart.

      – Meeks

  6. Tee Lassar

    Too much putzing around with golf smartwatches with little used extraneous features. Just buy a $100-$200 dollar rangefinder and play golf on the course instead of on your wrist.

  7. Matt . Do you need to hook this up to a computer, for any reason?
    Thanks,
    Robin.

  8. Not sure about the S70, but my last 2 Garmin golf watches had to be plugged into a laptop to download software and course updates. Thanks for the review. Love Garmin products plus Garmin customer service is second to none. Going to pull the trigger on the S70.

  9. I wish it didn’t have any of the non golf features and they would shave $100 off the MSRP. Would be perfect. We have other watches to wear on a daily basis — no golf watch is going to be an everyday watch no matter how hard Garmin tries.

  10. Voice Caddie offers undulation for free of charge. Reason why I switched from Garmin to Voice Caddie T9. Also has auto score recording feature.

    $10/month subscription fee seems unnecessary in my opinion.

  11. I have being using garmin products for 30 years and find them to be outstanding. There customer service is by far the best. The old adage of you get what you pay for is true. I agree 700 Dollars may be pricey for some people but my opinion is Garmin has never let me down and they don’t nickel and dime you with add ons. I cant say anything bad and there technology is always state of the art. No I don’t work for Garmin.

  12. Catherine murphy

    Will the s70 automatically
    Go to the next hole ???

    • It sure does Catherine. Another one of those “wow” moments for me. The watch knows you have been on the green and when leaving prompts for your score (if you have that option on) and moves to the next hole.

      – Meeks

  13. The watch is just a gimmick, that I find difficult to use. It doesn’t always prompt to input what club I used, and if I forget to do so, then I can’t go backwards and input, which means I might hit a 400 metre four iron ! This renders all the info for that round useless, because it will build a data base including the 400 metre hit. Takes no notice of trees and has asked me to hit a lob wedge over a 200 foot high tree from 2 metres away. !! Good luck with that ! My local course is not up to date, and includes bunkers that are not there, trees or no trees where they should be, etc. The watch has become a distraction to playing golf, trying to input data instead of concentrating on playing. Might be okay with the CT10s attached to all of your clubs, but that is another expense on an already expensive watch. All the other workouts, strength etc are also difficult to operate and just confuse me.

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