How much does it cost? And how does it perform? Jonathan Taylor has everything you need to know about the Golf Buddy aim W12 GPS watch
Golf distance measuring devices (or DMDs) were first used in 1995 with the introduction of laser technology. GPS devices arrived about five years later. It seems that nowadays just about every golfer has one or both of these devices.
Until last week I’d only ever owned a laser and I’ve had my current one for about five years but it still works fine. So I was excited to try out the latest GPS watch from GolfBuddy- the aim W12. And it was quite timely because I collected this as I was just about to go on a golfing trip to the Highland region of Scotland.
GolfBuddy Aim W12 GPS watch review: NCG Summary
The GolfBuddy aim W12 is a premium GPS watch. As a watch ‘novice’ I found it straightforward to set up and use. It has lots of features, most of which are useful.
I found the watch to be accurate with reliable touch screen technology. It was especially useful in poor weather conditions when using a laser rangefinder can be tricky.
- Accurate measurements.
- Slope function.
- Easy to use.
- Green undulation feature (not all courses).
- Hazard distances not helpful.
- Quite pricey.
Out of the box, this round faced watch looked pretty appealing. I liked the all black appearance. The size of the face (45mm) looks large enough but not too large. There is a premium leather strap which was very comfortable to wear. It also felt pretty lightweight – it’s 51 grams, to be precise. I was pleased to see just one button to press on the right side.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a great one for reading instruction manuals and I can happily report that this watch was mostly a doddle to work out. There’s the usual Front/Middle/Back distances, adjusted for slope, if you aren’t playing in a competition. A touch IP feature allows you to tap on the map of the hole to determine lay up distances. On each tee you get a 2D flyover over the hole you’re about to play. There is a green undulation feature (not available on all courses) which is intended to aid your approach play. The list goes on. So how did perform on the course?
On course testing
The picture above shows an example of the graphic that greets you on each tee. This watch has over 40,000 courses preloaded onto it which sounds plenty. It certainly had no difficulty recognising the four courses we played up in the glorious Scottish Highlands. The GPS satellite can take a few minutes to identify where you are. This may be an issue if you’re the type to screech into the car park and rush onto the first tee. But front, middle and back yardages are probably irrelevant as you try to find your game over the first few holes.
Our first round was at the Struie – the second course at Dornoch, and often overlooked because of the magnificence of the Championship course there. The weather was fine and bright. The LED full-colour touchscreen was clearly visible in the bright conditions and the yardages seemed accurate when compared with my laser measurements. The touchscreen was invariably responsive as you’d hope and expect.
On that first day I did find myself checking the distances with my trusty laser – it’s almost part of my pre-shot routine. However, on the following day at Brora, the weather was absolutely filthy with heavy rain, strong winds and cold temperatures. It was very convenient just to look at the watch for yardages rather than struggling with the laser.
Out on the course, the aim W12 recognises when you have reached the green. It would often ask if you had finished the hole when near the green. If you ignore the question it will automatically progress onto the next hole when you’re on the next tee. This is a really useful feature if you’re using the watch purely for distance. You can set things up on the first tee and just let it run through the round.
What I did find unhelpful is illustrated in the picture below. If you swipe to the ‘hazard’ screen you get distances to every hazard on the hole. So if you are on a heavily-bunkered par 5 for example, you get information overload, such that I gave up even trying to use that feature. It’s a bit of a shame because that information is potentially useful. I’m aware that a competitor watch has a filter in ‘settings’ so that you only get relevant hazard yardages. That, GolfBuddy development team, would be my recommendation for the aim W13.
I didn’t use several of the other features such as the touch IP, but I can see that it is a useful tool. Nor did I use the scorecard feature. I’m interested in the green undulation feature which I think is unique to GolfBuddy but it was not available on any of the courses I played. I think it’s currently limited to courses in Japan, Korea and the USA. You can also measure shots that you’ve hit. It’s a very easy-to-use feature but I just tended just to use it after a solid strike downwind or downhill.
Otherwise, there are features such as a step/calorie counter, oh , and it’s also a watch. In fact, it has quite a neat selection of watch screens which can easily be altered as the mood takes you.
GolfBuddy aim W12 GPS watch review: The 19th Hole
Although I don’t think this will replace my standard wristwatch, the aim W12 was comfortable to wear and not too bulky. I could see myself wearing it on, for example, a golfing holiday and leaving my standard watch at home. And I do think I’ll still be packing my trusty laser – it’s part of my pre-shot routine after all!
GolfBuddy aim W12 GPS watch review: The Details
More Information: Golfbuddy website
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