Swami Golf GPS
By Kickntrue on 2/27/09
Izzo Golf has jumped into the GPS market with an inexpensive lightweight unit, the Swami Golf GPS. For $150, plus $35/yr for course downloads you can get simple and accurate distances to the front, center and back of the green for up to 10 courses at a time. What the Swami lacks in fancy displays and functionality it makes up for in size, weight and cost.

After a couple hiccups in getting started, I actually really enjoyed playing a round with the Swami Golf GPS.

The Good
The best part about the Swami is its simplicity. There are only 4 buttons on the entire unit. One button rotates through "front, middle, and back" readings while two of the buttons sift up and down through the holes. The fourth button turns the unit on/off as well as helps sort through some options on the unit.

The Swami uses it's GPS to know what course you're playing and automatically starts you on hole number 1. Once I was at the course- it was all very simple and convenient. It is lightweight and fit easily into your pocket, without bothering you. I was actually playing with a gentleman carrying a SkyCaddie and noticed he put it down between every shot because it has a little more bulk.

I thought the unit did a great job at giving accurate distances. I carried a laser as well as compared it to the SkyCaddie readings my playing parter was getting and they were almost dead on every time. This is especially interesting because SkyCaddie's biggest pitch is that they walk the courses versus a lot of other GPS companies that use satellite images to set GPS coordinates. On this course on this day it didn't seem to make a difference, at least to green readings. What SkyCaddie and other more expensive units do have that the Swami doesn't is readings to other markers on the course, like traps and water. The Swami only gets you to the green.

The Bad
The biggest hassle by far was setting up the unit. Out of the box, I had to download a program onto my computer and then find the courses I wanted to download. Swami boasts over 12k courses in it's database, but the courses I wanted weren't in it. Now, it is a new product so maybe they started in the south where there is more golf being played, but the course I played in the Washington, DC area should have been in there. It's not the nicest course in the world, but would certainly crack a top 15 or 20 list for the area.

To Swami's credit, there is a quick way to request a course to be mapped, and within 2 days I received an email that said it was ready to go. Adding the course to the unit was simple and after charging the unit I was ready to play. I realize there's always going to be a little hassle with a new toy and getting it set up, but I was hoping this would be a little simpler and less time consuming. Overall though, not bad- and doable by anybody but the most computer illiterate.

Final Thoughts
I think the Swami Golf GPS is a great little entry level GPS for those who want simplicity and a little help. Anyone who's added a distance measuring device to their game knows how ridiculously off the distance markers are on the course sometimes and how nice it can be to get an accurate distance reading. I think the $35/yr for course downloads is a little steep but since the unit is only $150 I can understand it. I think I'd try to download the 10 courses I play the most and then cancel my subscription for the 2nd year and just hope the unit can provide me round after round of help on those 10 courses. The only real advantage I can see for buying a more expensive GPS unit is to have layup distances and a fancy display. For the few times the situation calls for a layup, I'll trust the course markers and my intuition and save the couple hundred dollars.


[ comments ]
mbills1015 says:
Just got one for my birthday... early impressions. Very easy to set up and download onto your computer, easy to navigate to the site as well. My biggest thing is that I have had to request around 7 courses be mapped. Not a huge deal since they will get it done, but it would be nice if they had a larger inventory of already available courses. I guess the nice thing is, the more users they have the more courses get requested. Give it a year and they should easily double the number of mapped courses.
wordent says:
Just bought one and am waiting for it to arrive. I will have to request about 7 courses to be mapped as well. Not a huge deal as I have heard they take care of it pretty fast. I can't wait to get the help with distance...all of the courses I play seem to be off on thier markers...now I will know for sure what club to hit!
jpohl says:
Although I hear the Swami is decent, I have seen much better reviews on the Bushnell Neo. You can get the Neo for less than $75 after a $50 rebate but the rebate ends Dec 31. If you are interested in the rebate, you can get it at www.GolfGPSDevice.com
youbetterduck says:
I second jphol - here is one additional Neo review to check out (I didn't see one here): criticalgolf.com/golf-gps-reviews/
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