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By Robin-Leigh Chetty 17 February 2015

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TomTom's certainly been making a big play within the sportswatch market of late, with their TomTom Runner series of watches proving to be impressive aids in the efforts of fitness-focused users. The TomTom Golfer however is a slightly different prospect, putting the companies GPS knowledge and technology to use as a handy aid while negotiating the greens. Is it worth buying however, especially when one's smartphone is littered with apps that aim to deliver the same sort of experience? We put it to the test.

Tried and tested

Before we delve into the golfing aspect of the this sportswatch, let's deal with the TomTom Golfer's look and feel. For the most part, TomTom has not offered much in terms of a facelift or design changes for the Golfer compared to its Runner series. In fact, the Golfer looks an exact carbon copy of the first TomTom Runner (review) we encountered a little under one year ago. That being said, the Golfer should not be confused for its Runner counterpart in terms of functionality since it does not feature any tools to measure one's movement and therefore does not fall into the same category as TomTom's multi-sports watch offerings.  

The same square aluminium frame is present, housing a 1.3" LCD display (144x168) which remains clear for the most part under direct sunlight. Below the display is a square navigation button for users to cycle through different settings and profile options. This allows wearers to plug in their own vital statistics (age, height, weight, etc.). As with the TomTom Runner offerings, the Golfer can pair with one's smartphone via the TomTom My Sports app, which too allows users to change settings and download any necessary updates. On the whole setting up the TomTom Golfer is quick and painless, and in about 10 minutes after unboxing, you're ready to start striking the ball.   

Pulling double duty

The watch itself sits quite comfortably on the wrist, with TomTom's dual strap fastening mechanism ensuring that this R4 000 device stays safely secured. I was happy to see that TomTom opted for a slimmer design for the Golfer, as the Runner Cardio tested last year felt a little bulky and became slightly uncomfortable to wear after long stints. As with its cardio-focused forebears, the Golfer features a charging/connection node located beneath the navigation button.

Sticking with battery life, the Golfer should deliver an estimated 10 hours of constant use with GPS mode engaged according to TomTom. Should you be heading to golf once every seven days though, the Golfer will see you safely through a work week with no need for charging. This is a rather important factor, as it means you can sport the Golfer in your normal day to day. It also looks a bit like a smartwatch, and can certainly become somewhat of a conversation starter, hopefully distracting people from your terrible short game.      

GPS tech at play

Now we get to the important stuff, which is how well it performs on a golf course. But first we need to find one, and this is where TomTom's GPS knowledge comes into play. With a whopping 34 000 international courses data preloaded onto the Golfer, you're local country club should definitely feature. When I tried this function out, it was a short wait until the Golfer identified Leeukop Golf Club and Kyalami Country Club as the closest to my location, with the distance to each being shown as well.

Once the course is chosen (Leeukop in my case), the Golfer performed expertly well. TomTom designed it to hinge off of the company's existing GPS technology, and deliver an enriched experience for golfers in particularly, and to that end, it does precisely that. It brings all the necessary course information into a simple and easy to access format, while looking sleek and refined on one's wrist.

The accuracy in terms of course layout, green position and situation of hazards could not be faulted. The one downside of the 1.3" display, means that constant scrolling is required when dealing with longer fairways and far off greens. For the most part however, the fact that all this course information is readily available with a glance to one's wrist certainly holds more sway than pulling out one's smartphone or digital course guide. Added to this is the ability to track up to 20 scorecards on the watch itself, before syncing to the My Sports app is required.

Only for the pros

On a side note, it made feel like I had a secret weapon on the course, imbuing me with the sense that I had an advantage over the other golfers. Sadly though, if your golfing skills are not up to snuff, then the TomTom Golfer can only do so much.

The TomTom Golfer therefore seems well catered to the more experienced golfer, who spends a good portion of time analysing the lay of the green and carefully selects their clubs based on course conditions. In the hands of more amateur golfers (like myself for example), this new sportswatch from TomTom is nothing more than a gadget to show off to your buddies. If however golf plays a significant part in your life, the Golfer is a welcome aid. At R4 000 it is a tad expensive, but it's par for course when playing a sport like golf, where accessories often go for thousands of rands.

PROS
Sleek and comfortable design; Good battery life; Highly accurate course info
CONS
Screen a little difficult to manage; A tad expensive
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