What’s new? How much does it cost? And how does it perform? Nicola Slater brings you the low down on the new Bushnell Ion Elite GPS golf watch
Bushnell is a brand that is renowned for its laser rangefinders. The Ion Elite GPS golf watch is one of two watches that the company offers. I took it out on the course to see how it performed.
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Bushnell Ion Elite GPS golf watch review: NCG Summary
If you’re a fan of golf watches and are after a little more info than front, middle, and back, this is the one for you.
The Ion Elite is the premium golf watch that Bushnell offers. The 1.28 inch, touchscreen display allows you to fully explore the holes with a full-hole layout. The interactive setting lets you zoom and out as well as pinpointing specific areas on the hole you require a distance for.
On top of all of this, the Ion Elite features slope technology!
- Great whole hole view
- Looks great
- Loads courses quick
- No subscription needed
- Fiddly pressing specific area on hole
Bushnell Ion Elite GPS golf watch
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I’ve been lucky enough to test out Bushnells latest laser rangefinder, the Tour V6 recently as well as the new handheld Phantom 2 Slope and so when I got the chance to test the Ion Elite I was interested to see what Bushnell could do with a watch.
As golf watches come this one looks pretty good. I tested the white version, which looked great with a large round screen that has metal detailing around the edge. The Ion Elite is also offered in black, which is a little tamer than the dazzling white.
In terms of fit, the 1.28″ screen didn’t feel overly big on my wrist, which was good. The strap is a silicone feel which was fairly wide but was plenty long enough and secure. As it’s a touchscreen device, there was only a singular button on the top left of the screen that turns the watch on and off.
Arriving at the golf club, the Ion Elite was extremely straightforward to set up. Pressing the golf option sets the watch off searching for courses, which in some cases was instant, and in others, it took a couple of minutes, but I think this was dependent on the GPS signal. I like that you don’t need to pay extra for a subscription and that this is a stand-alone device, pre-loaded with 38,000 courses.
With that said, Bushnell does offer the Bushnell golf mobile app alongside this watch that can be used to view courses remotely (great for mapping courses before your round). Other than that, the app is used to view your scores which you can input on the watch as you play.
For a golf watch, there were a lot of functions. I have only ever used watches that exclusively provide front, middle, and back numbers, and so it was amazing that Bushnell squeezed in a whole hole layout that you could move and select specific areas to get distances to. At times navigating this function wasn’t the easiest on longer holes as it required zooming in a lot which can be done using the + symbol. I specifically liked how you could pick an area on the hole, and it would provide a distance to and then how far from there you would have left to the hole.
In terms of the front, middle and back numbers, they very much match the Phantom 2 Slope and my laser. The Ion Elite also has a built-in slope function that, like the Phantom, automatically calculates the distance, including the slope. This function can be turned on and off for tournament and casual play.
The watch also has auto hole advance, which is very handy, especially if you don’t use the hole view and just want the basic distances provided.
The Ion Elite seemed to take a while to charge. According to the Bushnell website, it should take around 3 hours to charge, which seemed about correct from my testing. It also says it should last around 12 hours or two rounds. When not in golf mode, it seemed to retain charge well, but out on the course it did seem to drain quite quickly, especially in comparison to the Phantom which lasts around 4 rounds.
Overall, this watch is pretty straightforward in terms of setup and loads courses in a reasonable time. If you’re after a golf-only watch that gives a little more than front, middle, and back this a great option.
Bushnell Ion Elite GPS golf watch review: The Details
More information: Bushnell Golf
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