The Garmin Approach S12 is a good beginner-level golf watch with essential features and a reliable battery life that lasts for multiple rounds.
The Garmin Approach S12 is a reliable beginner-level golf watch with essential features and a strong battery life that can last for multiple rounds. While it may not be the most fashionable Garmin golf watch, it still has the dependable Garmin GPS technology and can be used with other Garmin golf accessories.
|Most affordable Garmin golf watch|
Dependable GPS accuracy
Long-lasting battery life
|No heart rate monitor|
Simple design without color screen
Garmin Approach S12 Price
The Garmin Approach S12 is currently available for purchase at a price of $199. It is offered in a single 43-millimeter size, with color options of Black, Granite Blue, and White.
Garmin Approach S12 Design
The design of the Garmin Approach S12 is somewhat plain. Compared to the Garmin Approach S42, which features a color touchscreen display and metallic details, the S12 has a more pared-down appearance.
I believe that the S12 prioritizes function over form. The 43-millimeter size fits well, and the watch’s weight of 1.2 ounces does not interfere with my golf swing. After all, the last thing I want is for an accessory to get in the way of my game.
When I first tried on the silicone straps that came with the watch, they felt fairly basic. Garmin offers replacement straps (opens in new tab) that can help personalize the S12 to better suit my style. Additionally, leather and nylon bands are compatible with the watch, allowing you to enhance both its appearance and comfort.
Garmin Approach S12 Display and Interface
The Garmin Approach S12 is operated using buttons. There are four buttons on the watch, two on each side of the watch face. If you’re used to a touchscreen, it may take some time to get used to the buttons. If you’re new to using a golf watch, I think you’ll find the navigation to be very user-friendly and easy to understand.
As expected from a golf watch, the Garmin Approach S12’s display is designed to be easily viewed outdoors in direct sunlight. The data on the 176 x 176-pixel screen consistently appeared clear, and while the graphics may be basic, all the numbers are easy to read. There is no confusion about the metrics displayed on the screen.
In addition to golf-tracking features, the Garmin Approach S12 also includes some typical smartwatch features. The clock features, such as the alarm and stopwatch, can be quite useful. While there are no third-party apps available, you can pair the watch with your iOS or Android smartphone to receive mirrored notifications.
Garmin Approach S12 Features
Despite being Garmin’s entry-level golf watch, the Garmin Approach S12 includes many of the company’s advanced golfing features. The watch comes pre-loaded with 43,000 courses and can accurately identify your location when you start a round.
Many of the watch’s features can be accessed through the Garmin Golf app. While the app is not necessary to use during a round, it does provide a comprehensive overview of any course in Garmin’s database. Only the most tech-savvy golfers may not be satisfied with all the tools provided by this watch-and-app combination. However, for someone like me who has used ultra-techy golf watches before, the S12 has all the essential features I need.
In fact, it is the simplicity of the Garmin Approach S12 that makes me a fan. Whenever I start golf mode, the satellites quickly identify the course I’m playing, even if I’m starting on a hole other than the first, which is common at shotgun golf outings. I have used the watch at multiple courses in different time zones and was never disappointed by the course’s availability or accuracy, even when I traveled far to play.
During the round, the watch allows me to keep score on my wrist; I found it easier to keep score on the Garmin app on my smartphone, where my total can be adjusted for handicap. The S12 also provides distance measurements for your shots, but it does require you to scroll through some options.
When playing golf, I usually start by checking the total distance of the hole on my Garmin Approach S12 watch. Then, I would scroll to find the distance to any sand or water hazards. After taking my drive, I switch to shot-measuring mode and travel to my ball. At this point, I can gauge how well I hit it and switch back to GPS mode to see what my yardage is to the green or next hazards.
I can change the pin placements to the front, middle, or back of the green on my watch, but this feature is a bit redundant since the main screen already displays good information on the total size of the green. If needed, I could also add lay-up yardages quickly. I found this more helpful when simultaneously looking at the hole’s layout on my smartphone.
The yardages displayed on the Garmin Approach S12 watch to both the pin and hazards are almost always accurate, which is crucial for any level golfer. In my testing, the readings on the watch were never off by more than a yard or two compared to my reliable laser rangefinder, allowing me to put the rangefinder away and keep the round moving quickly.
As someone known as the “gadget guy” among my usual group of golfers, I am frequently relied upon to provide carry distances and course advice. With the Approach S12, I was never at a loss to provide accurate and quick information to my partners, adding to the enjoyment of our rounds. While golfers with low handicaps or who play in tournaments might desire some additional features, my mid-handicap group and I were always satisfied with the information provided by the Garmin watch.
One of the best options available for players is to add the Approach CT10 sensors. These sensors attach to the grip of your clubs and provide more specific swing data. They are able to map virtually any shot, record them for future reference, and use the information to make course and club-selection choices. Garmin offers the S12 packaged with a set of the CT10 sensors as a purchase option.
The Approach S12 golf watch doesn’t try to replace your smartwatch or fitness tracker with any other sport features. If you’re looking for a golf watch that can be worn all day, I recommend checking out the Garmin Approach S42 or Garmin Approach S62. If you prefer to disconnect from the outside world and stay focused on your game, the S12 can be a great option.
Garmin Approach S12 Battery
The battery life of the Garmin Approach S12 is a significant reason to suggest the watch. As per Garmin’s estimates, the watch should last up to 10 weeks in regular watch mode and up to 30 hours in GPS mode. In comparison, my Garmin Approach S42 only lasts for 15 hours in GPS mode.
In my testing, the S12 lasted for two weeks, including five rounds, before I needed to recharge it for another outing. Not having to worry about battery life allowed me to bring the watch on an out-of-state golf trip without a charger, which gave me one less thing to think about while packing up my equipment.
Garmin Approach S12 Verdict
The Garmin Approach S12 is not the most expensive or technologically advanced watch that I have tested. I played more rounds using it than I usually do in a testing cycle, and I was never disappointed with its performance along the way.
The thing that really impressed me was when I played a round with a new golfer, and I had him wear the S12 for the whole experience. He was able to start the round easily, know where we were on the course, and receive accurate and relevant information effortlessly. He was sold on it immediately and even bought his own S12 afterwards.
The reasonable price and long battery life also make this watch an excellent choice. It’s priced at under $200, which makes it a fantastic gift or an upgrade from an older model. With basic yardages displayed on my wrist and notifications synced from my smartphone, the Garmin Approach S12 has enough features to get me through a game. I highly recommend it to anyone except for avid or tech-loving golfers.