Review: Bushnell Excel GPS watch
Our Bushnell Excel review took place on the course at Hillsborough in Sheffield.
I played 18 holes while wearing the latest GPS watch from the No. 1 laser rangefinder brand in golf.
Nothing complicated here – just playing a round of golf with a new piece of kit and seeing how it performs.
I do love Bushnell lasers but over the years I have also been very fond of their GPS watches. They are often among the most stylish and comfortable to wear.
Bushnell Excel review – First impressions
I saw this watch for the first time at the 2017 PGA Show in Orlando.
The first thing that struck me was how sleek and stylish this watch is. It’s the sort of watch I don’t think you’d have any problem wearing off the course.
It looks really cool when in ‘time-telling mode’. Or just watch mode. It is a watch after all…
Bushnell Excel review – Getting started
The Excel comes in a solid, premium box and is nicely presented. It’s something that Bushnell often do better than their competitors.
The charging clip is no hassle at all and this watch actually had 50 per cent charge when I took it out of the box. Within about half an hour it was up to 75.
There’s not really a lot you need to learn when getting the Excel set up for golf. Just tell it you are playing golf and it will start trying to find your location.
It did take more than five minutes to locate me. I tried to select my course when in the car park but then made my way over to the first tee and it still hadn’t picked it up.
I decided to tee off and the watch actually beeped to tell me it had acquired a satellite signal at the top of my backswing. Patience is not my strong suit.
So after losing my first ball out of bounds to the left, I selected my course on the watch, reloaded and fired one up the middle. You’re allowed mulligans when playing on your own.
Bushnell Excel review – The results
Once you get up and running with this watch it’s really easy to use and the numbers are displayed really clearly.
It has a soft strap, is nice and light, so feels very unrestricting when swinging out on the course.
Front, middle, back numbers are displayed constantly and the watch seemed to do a good job of recognising when you had moved onto the next hole.
There’s also some useful hazard information which can be displayed with a couple of clicks.
From the tee, if there are no bunkers in play it will tell you how far to the end of the fairway.
When attacking a green it offers yardages to whatever bunkers may be protecting the target.
A bonus feature with the Bushnell Excel is it can be synced via Bluetooth to an app where you can save your scores and data.
But it can also give you detailed flyover maps of the course and send notifications from your phone to your watch.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of these alert features as I like to try and separate myself from calls, texts and emails when out on the course. But if you are waiting for an important call or message it could be a vital feature for some.
And you don’t have to use these. You can just use the watch on its own or use the app and turn off the notifications.
This sort of app integration has effectively replaced the handheld GPS device. I can’t see any reason why you would buy a separate handheld GPS device when there are so many free apps for your phone.
The Bushnell Excel watch and app can also monitor your swing speed and tempo, useful if you are actively working on your swing.
But when trying to play a round of golf, this is just one thing too many for me.
Bushnell Excel review – NCG verdict
The Excel is definitely a step up in style from their previous watch – the Neo iON. That was a GPS watch purely for golf and I don’t think you’d wear it off the course.
The Excel has that added bonus of being light enough, soft enough and stylish enough for people not to point at you in the pub and ask why you’ve got a GPS golf watch on.
This is towards the upper end in terms of price point at £199 but you’ll struggle to get anything decent for less than £150 these days.
The only slight quibble was the time it took to pick up a GPS signal but I know this can vary from day-to-day.
If you turn the watch on as soon as you arrive at the course, I’m pretty sure it will have picked you up by the time you’ve hit a few practice putts and made it to the first tee.
The app integration is a fantastic feature if you like to keep track of your scores and it is also really handy for getting to grips with the layout of a new course.
It’s offering a lot more than you’re average GPS watch so is more than worthy of the price tag in my opinion.
For style, comfort, ease of use and added features this is a fantastic all-round package from Bushnell that will really take some beating.
Colours: Black, white, charcoal
More information can be found on the Bushnell website.