The Garmin Approach S70 has just been released, and it might be the most incredible golf watch I’ve ever seen. It’s a marvel of form and function and the feature set is truly a giant level up from what has come before. In short, the Garmin s70 is just simply all kinds of gasp-inducing!
In this article I’ll discuss the improvements to the design of Garmin’s top of the line golf watch and explore the groundbreaking upgrades to the virtual caddie (which picks the best club to hit in any given situation), the slope function and health and wellness features of this watch.
Importantly, I’m going to try and help you decide if it’s worth it to upgrade from your older Garmin devices to this new Approach S70 or if you can stick with what you’ve got.
Let’s dive right into the most exciting features of this new Garmin S70 golf watch. We’ll start with the obvious stuff first and then move along to some features that I thinks are downright magical!
Garmin Approach S70 Screen
The most noticeable difference you will see is this incredible AMOLED screen which I think rivals anything I’ve ever seen on any smartwatch (Apple and Samsung included), and is certainly the best ever for a golf watch.
In addition to the crisp, bright, colorful screen, the watch now has updated graphics to go along with it. Here’s a look at the incredible detail and shadowing they’ve added. It’s even more impressive when you look at the evolution of Garmin golf watches over the years (check the video above). The S70 truly now has the most detail and precise mapping I’ve ever seen on a golf watch.
Approach S70 Case
You can only really appreciate the updated design and form factor of this watch when you compare it to it’s predecessors. So I’ve dug up both the Approach S62 and the Garmin Marq 2 golfer so we can see what has changed.
Starting with the weight: The S70 is considerably lighter than the S62 (63 grams) on wrist and it’s significantly lighter than the Marq 2 Golfer which (87 grams). The S70 comes in at just over 57 grams, I mean, that’s just crazy!! This is going to make it feel like a feather on your wrist compared to its predecessors.
In terms of case dimensions, the new S70 is similar to the older s62 in case width. The standard model measures 47mm from edge to edge. However, as you can see in the image below, it’s about 75% as thick.
If we move on to case shape: Garmin has beveled the case edges making this the most comfortable golf watch I’ve ever tested. The tapering of the edges makes the S70 simply melt on the wrist, providing a full range of motion in your wrists and and really feeling as if you’re wearing nothing at all.
There is also a new more petit size available for those with smaller wrists. It comes in at 42mm. This finally makes the watch accessible to both male and female golfers. It’s going to wear much like the s42 model from a couple years back.
In terms of water resistance, the S70 is in line with other modern Garmin watches. So you won’t have to worry if you get caught in the rain, the s70 is rated to a generous 50ATM. That means you can safely shower & swim with this watch.
Garmin S70 Watch Band
Lastly when it comes to aesthetics, you’ll see that Garmin has opted to include an integrated style strap. This curvature offers great drape across the wrist and adding to the smaller feel on wrist.
But while glamorous, these are simply aesthetic upgrades, the real exciting stuff for me lies in the feature set and functionality the S70 possesses.
Golf Features of the Garmin S70
Improved Slope Functions
Garmin has had a slope function built into all of their watches for many years, but this year there’s a major leap forward in how this works and it’s super exciting.
In the past, the slope number was determined by the elevation of the course – weather you were aiming uphill or downhill, but now we’ve got a much more accurate calculation that includes the wind direction, as well as the air pressure and weather conditions.
And the way this works is so cool! With a simple swipe you can visually see how all three elements go into the equation. I don’t know about you, but this gives me a lot more trust in what I’m seeing.
In real life, I found the distances scarily accurate. Most times it was within a yard of my rangefinder. Even at times when I didn’t want to trust it. It was still right.
The Approach s70 This even a barometer that is now built into the watch so it an measure air pressure and give you a more accurate “plays like” distance. What’s even more exciting is that the watch knows what your “normal” conditions are and it uses this data in the improved Virtual Caddie feature …. More on this soon. It’s quite frankly, mind-blowing.
Approach s70 Virtual Caddie
Now the last incredible feature of this watch are the updates that have been made to the virtual caddie. It’s not even more accurate than its predecessor and provides better advice on club selection for any given shot on the course.
Just like the S62, you’ll need 5 rounds recorded to start getting caddie tips, and once you do, it really takes t this watch to new heights. You’ll get AI assisted club selections and even recommendations on the best ways to play a hole, complete with probability calculations. For instance, is it better to take a 3 wood off the tee and leave a long iron, or better to smash a driver and get a wedge in your hand? The s70 will tell you exactly what your probability of making par would be. Crazy!
One of the ways the virtual caddie’s accuracy is improved is that it’s determining not only the best club for a given distance, but also calculating the probabilities of you hitting a shot from a certain point on the course – like a bunker for instance. While you might hit your 7 iron 165 yards from a good lie, you might be much less long and accurate from the sand and a 6 iron would be a better choice. The virtual caddie will tell you.
Another major improvement for me is how the dispersion is visualized. Here on screen you can see this box and this is the expected dispersion of your shot with any given club. It’s an invaluable piece of information and it directly affects the virtual caddie’s recommendation. For instance if there’s a good amount of water within that box, it’s going to recommend you a different club to hit. Truly next level stuff!
Green Contour Maps
Another super cool feature of the s70 is the option to see the green contour maps. This will help you avoid those nasty false fronts and multi-tiered greens and you’ll get an idea of how your putt should break as well. This is a $99 software subscription which seems like it’s excessive if you’re just buying it for the maps, but if you have other devices like the Garmin R10 for instance, that same subscription unlocks Home Tee Hero simulation features. So basically it’s an all-in-one Garmin universe subscription. If that’s the case, it might be worth it to you. Right now about 1/2 of the courses have been green-mapped with more being added all the time. So take that into consideration.
Just like the prior generation, it’s very easy to position the flag on the green to get super accurate numbers. In my testing against a rangefinder, I find the yardage to be within a 3 yard cirlcle, and most often about 1 yard give or take. Pretty amazing accuracy if you ask me.
Some other features carried over from the prior models are the pin-pointer, which shows the direction of the flagstick at all times – super handy for blind shots, club statistics to track how far you hit each club and help p you gap your bag, shot measurements, weather, wind direction and more.
S70 Health & Wellness Features
The health and wellness features are truly next level. If you’re familiar with the Epix or Fenix line, this will look familiar, but this is the first time these amazing features have appeared in the golf watch line for Garmin.
Like most smartwatches this S70 includes a step counter and heart rate monitor. Basic stuff these days. However, once you look past the basics, you’ll realize just how incredible this watch can be to your performance on and off the golf course.
For instance the Approach s70 measures your sleep, it will tell you if you’ve gotten, Excellent, Good or Poor sleep each night. It measures your REM cycles, and will tell you how deeply you’ve rested. I’ve found there is a significant correlation to my performance on the golf course based on how well I slept the night before.
This watch will track your stress level. And yeah, its scarily accurate!
It will also track your blood oxygen level, which to make a long story short, is a measure of your body’s ability to process oxygen and your level of fitness.
All of those calculation goes into what I think one of the coolest features of this watch – Garmin’s body battery indicator. By measuring your vitals it gives an accurate picture of your energy level – and again I’ve seen direct correlation to my focus, energy and ultimately performance.
In addition to golf, you can track all sorts of exercises you participate in as well from running to skiing to pickle ball.
Battery life on this watch is quite frankly incredible. When testing, I had the watch a week and I still never needed to charge it. I played golf 4 times – two 18 hole rounds, and two 9 holes rounds – and it still had over 20% remaining. Garmin claims you’ll get 4-5 rounds out of this watch with a single charge.
Speaking of charge, this watch uses Garmin’s proprietary charging connector which I like because it securely snaps into place. But new for this year is a cable with a USB-C connector, a more modern standard – kudos to Garmin here.
What Could Be Improved?
OK, so you know that I believer there is no perfect piece of golf technology out there. And the Approach S70, while being what I think is the best golf watch I’ve ever tried, still has a couple kinks I’d like to see worked out.
The most important one is the shot detection. I found the s70 missed more shots than I think it should have. While most golf watches, including the S62 can struggle picking up short chips and putts, the s70 doesn’t seem to have improved in that regard . In fact, the watch I was given to test seemed to miss full shots more frequently than the S62 or S42 I’ve tested in the past.
Now, it’s important to mention that the watch I tested was a beta release, and there will likely be a firmware update before launch which I imagine will fix this. But that’s definitely an issue I’ll be keeping an eye on.
There’s also good news in the fact that this problem is for all intents and purpose easily resolved by attaching Garmin’s CT10 sensors to the club. These screw into the butt end of your shaft and much more accurately detect shots. They automatically detect the club used, so you don’t have to input it each time either. So I highly recommend adding these on for the best experience.
My other gripe, and this is ridiculously minor, is that I’d love to be able to lay the watch flat, and the integrated style band prevents that from happening. Again, there’s some good news, because the band can be swapped out easily and Garmin provides a variety of options including ones that will lay flat like my S62’s strap.
So this watch, being the flagship model for Garmin, comes at a price. The MSRP at launch is $699. That’s enough to make some jaws drop, especially since it’s a full $200 more than the S62. But of course we’re 3 years, and lots of inflation down the road. So while at a glance that seems high, considering the improvements, and the fact that most drivers cost nearly this much now, I think there’s still a lot of value here.
And if this watch can shave a stroke or two off my game, that’s 100% worth it to me.
My Verdict on the Approach S70
Let’s start with my rating of the new Approach s70. I am going to rate it a full 5 out of 5 stars. Yes, that’s right, 5 out of 5. If I could give this watch 6 stars I would, because Garmin made all the improvements I was hoping for, and it went beyond it to give us some truly futuristic features.
If you are a current S62 or S42 owner, is it worth upgrading to this watch? Yes, 100% I absolutely think it’s worth it. The screen alone might be enough, but the improvements are significant enough to justify it.
If you are an Epix or Marq 2 owner, I’s say stick with what you’ve got. You’ve already got a great AMOLED screen and most of the features we discussed. On top of that, you should see some firmware updates rolled out to include the new features debuting here at some point soon.
If you are a first time golf watch buyer, should you start with this model, or another more budget friendly option? Well, that’s up to you to decide, but luckily for you I put this guide.
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