Garmin Approach S20 Golf GPS Watch Review 

 June 12, 2019

By  Golf Rangers

Golf is a 24/7 obsession for most of the golfer, and your next golf shot strategy is usually not so far from any amateur hacker’s thought. However, that’s very much at odds with the way we are using golf GPS watch currently, which tend to be strapped the watch just before starting a round and immediately remove afterward.

Exceptions are there, Garmin VivoActive has made quite a good golf watch impression, but the features have appeared in a host of other sports, and it does little more than basic range finding. If you need a complete list of features with shot detection and hazards, it has returned to a pro golf watch for you.

Garmin Approach S20 golf watch is the entry level golf GPS watch from Garmin. And it aims to be the golf watch for an everyday watch. It offers to operate the basic functions for yardages using buttons instead of a touchscreen. Also, similar to other Garmin watches, it’s light, rubber straps easy to adjust, and comfortable.

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Key Features

  • It’s an entry-level golf GPS watch with basic smart features.
  • The elegant watchband design blends with high-resolution display and activity tracking.
  • It can count distances, steps, burnt calories, and monitors sleep.
    AutoShot round analyzer measures and auto-records shot distances.
  • Can pair it with Garmin TruSwing™ sensor for metrics to improve your swing consistency.
  • CourseView feature automatically updates frequently played courses for free.
  • It can receive smart notifications like incoming calls, texts, and other alerts by synchronizing with the smartphone through Bluetooth or ANT+.
  • It displays the distance to the front, back, and middle of the greens in large, easy-to-read numbering.
  • Battery life: up to 15 hours in GPS mode; up to 8 weeks in activity tracking mode.


Garmin changed the watch face design for Approach S20 and has moved away from the circular design of their earlier models. The body entirely built from plastic, and available colors are Black, White and Midnight blue with a matched rubber strap. And you can change the watch straps easily as they are interchangeable.

The result of the plastic construction is that it’s extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. The strap designed to fit perfectly, and it’s necessary to spend a long day on a golf course.

Approach S20 has 1.3-inch bright sunlight readable, square shape high-resolution display. The dimensions of the watch is 0.4 x 1.5 x 1.9 inches, and weight is only 45g. Also, it’s water resistance device, and its water rating is 5 ATM (50 meters).

It has four buttons to access in menus, and it is very easy to use the operating system, even in a few more obscure features.

Overall, it’s stylish much like other golf-specific GPS watches such as Garmin Approach S10 out there. Slim design and graphics on the time screen will feel you comfortable to wear it inside or outside of the golf course.

Garmin Approach S20 Golf Features

All best features are available in the Garmin Approach S20 that you expect to find in a golf GPS watch. However, when you are in a golf course, the data you need is all about distance. In here, Approach S20 acts similar to other ordinary GPS golf watch. When you start the round, it starts searching nearby golf courses. Choose yours and start the round.

Three distance will be displayed on your watch screen when you are on the first tee; distance to the front, middle, and back of the green. Also, the map of the green will be shown in front of you. So, you now know what you are dealing with if the target is out of sight.

This watch will not just give the pin distance, tapping the top right menu button will also show the distance information on layups for dogleg and hazard. This however fairly standard for golf watches nowadays, and essential features for any golf GPS watch worth its value.

A built-in digital scorecard system is an excellent addition of Approach S20, and it’s a feature that truly stands out for its simplicity and ease of use. The watch will promptly notify you to enter the shots number for the previous hole when you walk off the green to head to the next tee. You just need to scroll the button up/down to enter your score and press “OK”, it will show you the yardages for the next hole. It’s tough to say it a replacement of a decent golf app such as Hole 19, but it’s really helpful for them to keeping the data safe who are still using pen and paper for scoring.

Your data will then imported to the Garmin Connect app including data on your shots that collected automatically from your watch. This is Garmin’s new AutoShot round analyzer feature that measures each shot distance automatically for post-round analysis on your Garmin Connect account. This AutoShot feature claims to offer a record of each shot you have taken on the course.

You can get metrics to improve your swing consistency by pairing your watch with Garmin TruSwing golf swing sensor. Also, you can download course updates from CourseView (40000 courses pre-loaded). It will show you the true view of the shape and layout of the green. And also will get all smart notifications including incoming calls, text email, and other message alerts when connected with your compatible smart device.

Surprisingly Garmin doesn’t add the watch customization feature with Connect IQ platform in this watch which is available in their all other sports GPS watch.

Probably they want more development time for Connect IQ platform to add golf apps and widgets.

Garmin Connect Golf Community

Garmin Connect is an online community for golf that allows you to play, then share and compare. Download your round then compare it with your last round, track your game improvements for each course you play. The Garmin Connect golf community even can assemble your optimal round, mixing your best scores for each hole to get your ideal 18 for that course.

Smartwatch features

Obviously, it should be a question, what is the other usability of Approach S20 if not playing golf? And it tries this through fitness tracking and smartphone notifications.

The same move bar style used in Approach S20 that similar to the Forerunner family, which starts through inactivity and ends up by moving around. In addition, it will record your steps and distances from your round, also act as other general activity trackers, and will display at the bottom of the watch screen.

Once you have connected your smartphone with your watch via Bluetooth (you will need the Garmin Connect App to connect your smartphone with the watch), you will receive notifications to your watch from your phone. This by default takes any pop-up message and shows it on the watch face, allow you to read texts and messages, even 3rd party social networks in full as well. That’s mean, Approach S20 will work like as a wireless extension device of your compatible smartphone. In reality, it makes a lot of sense not only in the golf course but also in your daily activities. So, just keep the phone in your golf bag, and you are not going to miss anything important.

The activity tracking and notifications both do what they say on the box. But the activity tracking is not even near as useful or complete like any of Garmin’s dedicated models such as Forerunner 235 or Vivosmart HR. However, they will add an additional dimension to golf watch using experience, and be more helpful for golfers than any of its predecessors.

Battery Life

Another impressive part of the Approach S20 is its battery life. You can complete at least two decent rounds before it requires recharging. And Garmin’s predicts around 8 weeks in normal watch mode is considerably impressive.

Garmin Approach S20 Review


  • Affordable Price
  • Most golf courses preloaded
  • Display layup and Hazard Distance
  • Can pair with Garmin TruSwing sensor
  • Can measure shot distance
  • Easy to use digital scorecard
  • Activity tracking
  • Battery life


  • Inaccurate distance measurement issues
  • Quality control issues
  • Sometimes smartphone pairing issues
  • No maps of the entire hole

Final Thought

Garmin Approach S20 golf GPS watch is full of all useful features that require for golfing. So, it must be a good choice for golfers who are looking for a GPS watch at an affordable price. Activity tracking and smartphone notifications is another good reason, although some will choose to sport the boxy looks all day daily. Occasional inaccurate distance issue may hurt top performance. But overall a good mix of features at a reasonable price.

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