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The Loop

Hot List: GPS Devices

December 31, 2008


Dear Editor, Golf Digest:>




Love your magazine.

Ashley Mayo's endorsement of GPS ranging devices in the latest issue (Digital Caddies, January 2009) was okay, but she glossed over the accuracy of the devices.

I've been a Skygolf SG2 user since the device was introduced and to tell the truth the $30 to $50 a year upkeep cost is getting old. However, nobody seems to want to compare the top devices and tell us golfers which units were the most accurate. For instance, the Golf Buddy Pro and Tour get great reviews and have no annual fee, but are they as accurate as say the Skygolf or Golflogix units?

At the end of the article Ashley put up the question "Just how accurate are these things?" Then she wrote "The best device measured the yardage to within three yards 90 percent of the time." Which unit was this and how did the other units measure up? This is the information your readers/consumers need to know.

Mike Carpenter

A second letter came from Cheryl Donohew in Rochester:


Dear Editor:>

Review or Endorsement?>

I was happy to see that you had reviewed gps units until I actually read it. How did the SkyCaddie SG5 win gold? Is there a sponsorship connection? I've read endless posts to gps forums in and have heard personal accounts about how poorly the SG5 functionsâ¿¿ What was your criteria for this comparison? It's very hard to believe that this was an unbiased evaluation. >

Enough said. You also didn't include an unit that is only available through direct sales, but available just the same: the Golf Guru. I can't vouch for it personally, but again it's mentioned numerous times in the forums, getting great reviews and can be checked out on their website. Since you were reviewing current units, it should have gotten equal space. My point being that if you're going to review equipment, please do so in an unbiased way, so that those of us in the market for the item and make a truly informed decision. In this case, I've not decided what GPS unit I will buy, but I know for sure which one I won'tâ¿¿the one you rated gold! Good thing my research includes more than your review.


Cheryl Donohew

Rochester, NY

I asked Ashley to reply:

The ratings in the GPS Hot List take into account ease of use, accuracy, innovation and buzz factor. So while accuracy was certainly a major factor, it was not the only one. And the reason is simple: all the devices are pretty darn accurate, averaging from 2 to 6 yards off. In a nutshell, two parts of each unit determine accuracy: the microchip within the device that receives GPS signals, and the way each company maps golf courses. The reason we awarded SkyCaddie with the gold medal is because it is the only company that pays a team of professional mappers to walk every single course, unlike the others which depend largely on satellite imagery and existing course maps. The SkyGolf mappers measure almost every nuance of every hole. When I mentioned that "the best device measured the yardage to within three yards 90 percent of the time," I was referring to the only device that earned a gold rating, the SkyCaddie SG5. We decided not to include the unit in the Hot List because a lot of the Guru's software was still being updated and developed. We felt we should feature only completely finished products on the List.

Thanks for the letters, Ashley Mayo.

--Bob Carney