Nobody expects to get many things for free these days, when it comes to apps for your smartphone device or tablet however, free is often the only thing you’ll consider. I myself can’t remember the last time I paid for an app, my son’s may say I’m a cheapskate (probably cos I am), but why spend money on apps when you can get very high quality ones for free? Since my SkyCaddie packed out on me, I thought I would give the free GPS applications a fair try.
I have both an Android phone and an iPhone, so I’ll be looking at the top 3 for both. Not expecting much for free? Let’s see…
Below is a run-down of some of the best free golf GPS apps (in no particular order):
Top Golf GPS Apps
FreeCaddie Golf GPS (by Mobile Software Design, LLC) – *Available on Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows
Has over 28,000 mapped courses with distance measured to the front, middle, and back of the green. Hole information included too such as full yardage, par and handicap info. Users have to manually advance through holes. There is no scorecard or statistics tracking with this app, but if you upgrade to the Pro version for $5.99 you can. The pro version also comes with satellite images, which the free application does not. FreeCaddie offers an estimation of the accuracy of the reading given, so a reading of “high accuracy” is within 19 yards accurate. For more casual golfers this can be enough, but for those who play regularly, those 19 yards can equate to a difference of 1-2 clubs.
Once you’ve downloaded a course, the app saves these for use again, which is handy if you play the same course and want to get things set up quickly. The latest update (16/04/2013) has added compatibility for the Pebble Smart Watch, which I think is very smart add-on, making things very convenient. I don’t have a Pebble Watch, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to test this out.
I didn’t experience any bugs with FreeCaddie, and thought the no frills display and limited features were a nice change. Instead of relying too much on data, I found myself relying on my instincts. The yardages given are obviously not accurate, with around 10 yards or so short, though I found them accurate enough to make the right choice of clubs.
Swing by Swing (by Swing By Swing) – *Available for Android and iPhone
This app received rave reviews in both Play Store and Appstore, with an average rating of 4 1/2 stars from over 6k reviews. Swing by Swing is an all in one GPS range finder and scorecard. It has an unbelievable amount of golf courses in its system. It states it has over 35,000 worldwide, but I believe it is much much higher than that. The range finder calculates both the distance to the center of the green and to every obstacle on the course.
Its scorecard can be used to track your performance as well as 3 others. Your score is automatically updated to your website account with Swing by Swing, so you can log on and view your game shot by shot, and share your scores with your playing partners. They also provide neat little graphs online for you too, so you can watch as your game improves over time.
Its range finder also provides the most accurate distances of them all, in fact, its accuracy could rival some of mid-higher end GPS devices. You can view satellite pictures of the hole you’re playing and point anywhere on the screen to judge the distance from where you’re standing. You can also track the distances of shots hit and take pictures any time that will be uploaded to the page for your round on the Swing by Swing site.
Swing by Swing also run a yearly subscription with their Pro Looper. For $129/yr you receive access to a PGA Golf Pro who is on hand to evaluate your swing and offer advice on your game. You also receive a number of other benefits that I think are really awesome as well. You can see a full run down of what the Pro Looper offers here.
Golf Pad GPS (by Contorra) – *Available on Android
The Golf Pad GPS boasts over 27,000 courses worldwide with range finder, scorecard, shot tracker, aerial maps, statistics tracking, and the ability to save rounds. As with most free apps it does come with ads, however you can opt for the paid version to remove those.
The scorecard can track 4 players’ games with strokes, putts, penalties, G.I.R., and distance walked. You can track up to 8 players with the premium version of the app. You can judge distances to the center of holes, as well as to any bunkers, water hazards, or any other point on the hole. You also have the ability to share your scorecards and stats on Facebook or email.
The premium version of this app will set you back $19.99 one time fee. For this you get the ability to track up to 8 players, automatic online backup of your rounds, and an ad-free interface.
I personally found the app great, however some people report that it’s a little buggy. But it looks as though some of these may have been fixed in the latest update which was April 14th 2013 at the time of this writing.
To get your hands on a very useful Golf GPS, you don’t have to spend the big bucks. The three apps I’ve looked at above are a good free alternatives to the dedicated devices available, and I must say, I was very surprised at just how good these free golf GPS apps were. I for one don’t think I’ll be buying another range finder any time soon! Which will make both myself and my wallet very happy indeed!
I hope you find the info useful, and you’ll be better informed now when you delve into the apps stores. If you have any golf GPS apps that you’re using please let me know in the comment section below.
All the best,