Garmin S40 Approach GPS Watch Review

By: Golfshake Editor | Fri 17 Jan 2020 | Comments

Review by Golfshake Contributor Kevin Heggie

As a Garmin watch user since the launch of the S1 way back in 2010, Golfshake Contributor Kevin Heggie was really interested in seeing the latest advancements in golf watch technology, which is now available in the S40 Approach GPS, so we dispatched him to take the device for a test on the iconic Brabazon Course at The Belfry.

Tech Information

  • Stylish, lightweight GPS golf watch with a sunlight-readable 1.2" colour touchscreen display and metal bezel, as well as quick release bands for easy change of style or colour.
  • Preloaded with more than 41,000 courses from around the world.
  • AutoShot game tracker measures and auto-records shot locations and distances for post-round analysis on the Garmin Golf app; pair with optional Approach CT10 club tracking sensors for more automatic game tracking capabilities, such as automatic club tracking and scoring.
  • Green View feature allows manual pin positioning; quickly reference distances to the front, middle and back of the green as well as hazards and doglegs.
  • Tracks everyday activities such as steps and sleep, and includes built-in multisport profiles.
  • Battery life: up to 15 hours in GPS mode; up to 10 days in smartwatch mode.

On Course Performance

The spec on this watch is extensive and requires a thorough reading of the instruction manual! However, I was happy to find the watch intuitive and easy to get to grips with, giving me what I was looking for (and more) from GPS device from the very first tee.

As you’d expect, once you've activated the 'play golf' feature the main on-course screen gives you the hole par and yardage, with the shape of the green also included on the 1.2" touchscreen. However, with a few touches of the screen you can zoom in on the green and be more precise with the pin location or view key information for each hole such as layups, bunkers, and water hazards. These features proved invaluable in helping navigate the course, and the yardages were aligned with the Brabazon Course markers giving you confidence in the data available.

Beyond the course management functionality, you can also track scores, and as you play the sensors detect when you've hit the ball and give you distances hit. With the pairing of your phone via Bluetooth you can then analyse your game via Garmin Connect. There is also a further option to capture club data but these are dependent on Garmin sensors, but these were not included in the test.

Finally, in terms of battery life you should expect to get 36-54 holes out of the watch without issue making it ideal for those long summer golf days.

Off Course Performance 

One issue with golf watches is that they can sometimes be uncomfortable and/or ugly to wear off course, which I personally found was the case with the S1. Over time, my S1 migrated to being attached to my golf bag rather than my wrist when in use as it was affecting my swing, and I certainly wouldn’t consider wearing it away from the course. However, these criticisms cannot be levelled at the S40, which is stylish in design and extremely comfortable to wear - you barely notice it on your wrist. It also comes with various faces for when its primary job is to tell the time, allowing you to customise the user interface as you wish.  

On top of this, something which lots of golfers will find useful is the daily view of sunrise and sunset times alongside weather forecasts (via Bluetooth from your phone) allowing you to plan those last minute afterwork rounds with ease. Finally, it has an inbuilt step counter to track your step goals with ease, and again subject to phone connectivity, you can get various notifications sent to the watch allowing you to keep on top of your digital life without accessing your phone.



As a golf GPS watch, this ticks all the boxes and is reasonably priced. Adding on the extras in terms of pedometer, notifications, etc…and you’ve got a great gadget for everyday life.


The number of features can occasionally be hard to find, but over time I'd expect this to reduce as you become more familiar with the watch. 

The Bottom Line

I found the S40 to be easy to use, providing accurate yardages and on course data, and I would highly recommend this to any golfer looking for a stylish GPS watch.

For more information, visit the Official Garmin Website.

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