Hands-on: Garmin Approach S2 review

It's golfing season and just as The Masters 2013 gets under way, Pocket-lint played a few holes with Garmin and its latest Approach S2 GPS golf watch.

GPS golf watch, eh? You may be wondering why you'd ever want such a device, as smartphones seem to do everything GPS these days. But the Garmin Approach S2 - the latest mid-level model, which sits below the top-spec Approach S3 - has 30,000 golf courses that it can plug into in order to act a little like your personal electronic caddy.

It won't carry your heavy bag of clubs, but for the practising golfer there are a number of appealing on-board features.

A tap on the bottom-left menu button launches the watch menu, where it's possible to search out the nearest golf course to your location. Give that the ok from the list - which failed to locate the course on only one occasion in our testing - and within about five or so seconds the watch will know which hole you're at, what the par is and your position on the green.

A glance at the watch shows these figures alongside the key front, middle and back distances which are displayed in yards or metres - whichever you prefer, as adjusted in the set-up menu - which will help you figure out which club makes best sense to use.

The S2 doesn't have the on-board "green view" to see the contents of the green - as the older S3 model does - so you'll need to learn the course and use your intuition. It's not always possible to drive the green so you may also want to load lay-up distances - again accessed via the menu - where desired distance to the flag can be displayed in conjunction with how far you'll need the ball to travel. Useful for getting into good positions and avoiding those big hazards.

Elsewhere there's an odometer which will measure how far you've walked throughout the course, while similar technology can measure a single distance walked - useful for measuring a drive, for example.

The Approach S2 knows where you are on the course so it automatically updates as you cross from one green to the next - no faffing around pressing buttons to bring up the next hole's par or middle distance.

If you want to keep score then that can be done too. Just access the option through the menu and using the other function buttons it's possible to tally up how many shots you take per hole. We're disappointed there's no expansive sharing or social media functionality, however, with other devices offering such facilities. Sounds like there's room for an "S4" in the future.

The design of the Approach S2 is a little less premium than the S3. It sits flatter on the top side of the wrist, but the flexible strap is comfortable to wear for long periods - it's very much like wearing a watch.

The S2's arrival seems, in our eyes, to be for the sake of introducing a more-affordable product to Garmin's golfing segment. It's an expensive game, and the Approach S2's RRP is close to £300. However, many shops hold it for nearer the £210-250 mark, which is a little more reasonable but still a lot of cash for a device designed around one very specific task.

But that's the S2's trick, really. It delivers something that's not just specific but also very useful to those learning the game or club members practising under their own steam at the weekends who could do with a few figures to help. It's not possible to become a Master overnight, and if tech can help then we say why not.