Jonathan Taylor is normally a laser fan. Does the SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch win him over? Read on to find out.
Golf distance measuring devices (or DMDs) were first used in 1995 with the introduction of laser technology. GPS devices arrived about five years later. And nowadays, almost every golfer seems to have one or both of these devices.
My DMD of choice has always been a laser, and I’ve had my current one for about five years. I do tend to play most of my golf at my home course, which has just one blind hole, so I’ve never really felt the need for a watch. However, I was excited to try out the SkyCaddie LX5, which boasts a whole range of features, including an ultra-fast multi-core processor with an AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diodes) display.
- RELATED: Skycaddie SX550 GPS review
SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch review: NCG Summary
The SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch is billed as golf’s most powerful smartwatch. After some initial ‘getting used to’ I found it reasonably easy to use, and it was certainly packed full of features.
- Accurate measurements.
- Large and clear screen.
- Useful hazard warning screen.
- Timer and fitness features.
- Tricky to get best out of hole maps.
SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch
Check out the best deals on the SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch
Out of the box, this watch looked big and bold. I liked the large and bright screen. The rubber strap didn’t have a particularly premium feel but was comfortable and easily adjustable. Although I felt the watch looked just a little large for my slender wrist, it felt ok. Considering the number of features in the package (essentially the same as in the SkyCaddie SX550 GPS handheld) I think this is a pretty impressive feat of engineering. It weighs in at a reasonably lightweight 65 gms.
There are two buttons to the right of the watch. The first is just an on/off button, and the second accesses all the features and settings. Now I have to say that this watch took a bit of learning and was not as simple/intuitive as others I have tested. I did find myself referring to the instruction manual in the early days of testing. But perseverance is rewarded because this piece of kit is jam-packed full of features and detail.
As well as the standard Front/Middle/Back distances, there is a so-called dynamic holevue system that gives detailed preview of the hole with suggested drive placement. This comes with a small adjustable (touchscreen) target to enable you to plan lay-up distances, and then green distances. The graphics are really good, but the touchscreen can be a bit fiddly to operate accurately.
The dynamic rangevue screen features multiple yardage arcs off the tee, and also to the green. There is an Intelligreen feature which ensures that greens are accurately shaped. You can also enter pin sheet information into the SkyCaddie for more accurate yardages. I admit that I didn’t get as far as testing that feature, but it just illustrates this watch’s capability. There are also fitness features, including a heart rate monitor. There is a timer and alarm. 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 35,000 courses preloaded onto it. All courses are hand-mapped out by experienced technicians, ensuring you get unrivalled accuracy from SkyCaddie kit. The GPS satellite can take a few minutes to identify where you are. This may be an issue if you’re the type to head straight from the car park to the first tee. But front, middle and back yardages are probably irrelevant as you try to find your game over the first few holes.
I only had the opportunity to test the LX5 over my home course, which meant that I didn’t really need to use a number of the features that might be particularly useful when playing an unfamiliar course.
The configurability of this watch via the settings feature is most helpful. This enables you to have the information you want in the order you want. For example, you can filter hazard warnings to the yardages that are relevant for your game.
Out on the course, the LX5 recognises when you have reached the green. It will ask you if you have 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.
Although the graphics are absolutely first-class, the touchscreen did not always respond, and occasionally required a few taps to wake it up. There’s also an auto-dim function, presumably to protect battery life. One of the competitor watches has a motion function which automatically brightens the screen when you turn your hand to look at the screen. That would be a useful feature.
Regarding battery life, I’m not convinced this would be good for 36 holes, admittedly a rarity these days, but that might be a relevant consideration for some.
I found the scorecard straightforward to use. It captures details of fairways hit and greens in regulation if you’re more of a Matthew Fitzpatrick than a Dustin Johnson when it comes to data. You can also measure how far you have hit a shot. I only really did that after I’d nailed one.
Otherwise, there are features such as a step counter, alarm, timer and, of course it’s also a watch. In fact, it has quite a cool selection of watch screens which can easily be altered to suit your taste.
The 19th Hole
I found myself somewhat conflicted regarding the LX5. The screen is excellent. The technology packed into such a small device is incredible. But I couldn’t help the feeling that, if I wanted this much information, then I’d prefer it in the form of a handheld such as the tremendous SkyCaddie SX550.
Of course, it is a personal choice. Certainly, if you are in the market for a GPS golf watch, you won’t go far wrong with the LX5. Just read the instruction manual carefully and check out the various low-cost subscription options required to maintain full functionality.
SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch review: The Details
More Information: SkyGolf
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