Bushnell and Garmin are two global powerhouse brands, each with a different pedigree before moving into the golf GPS watch market. The Garmin S10 and Bushnell Neo Ion 2 represent entry-level golf GPS watches designed to give the player all the necessary data without excess frills.
Both feature yardage to the front, middle, and back of the greens, but overall, the Garmin S10 brings more to the table with more fitness features and on-course features like the scorecard and layup distance, while the Ion 2 has the exceptional Bushnell app.
While it may appear that the S10 golf watch has the edge overall, the Bushnell Neo Ion 2 has a few tricks up its sleeve, and those may just swing your choice across to the more simple device, but let’s delve into these two devices a little deeper and see what would best suit you.
Are The Garmin S10 And Bushnell Neo Ion 2 Legal
Both golf watches are legal for tournament play as neither has the slope or elevation function that would need to be disabled under the existing rule 14-3 of golf. Since devices that provide only shot distance calculator are deemed legal, there is no issue using any of these for tournament play.
Before you get on the course, especially if you are playing in a competition, remember to check the Local Rules regarding the use of DMD’s for that event, so you are always on the right side of the competition rules.
Garmin S10 Vs Bushnell Neo Ion 2: Pre-loaded Courses
The latest devices from Garmin, like the S62 golf watch (one of the best GPS golf watches on the market), come with 46 000 golf courses pre-loaded to the device, and both Bushnell and Garmin offer free updates to their course database.
The S10 golf GPS watch comes with 41 000 courses pre-loaded, and the Neo Ion 2 has 36 000, but with the existing updates, you may find that there are quite a few more loaded than these numbers suggest.
Regardless, if you are playing golf in the USA or around the world, either of these devices will recognize the course you are on and load it to your device before you tee off, as both feature auto-course recognition.
Both devices can identify the course you are on fairly quickly, locate you on the hole you are playing and advance you to the next one.
One of the reasons I’ve always loved being on the golf course is that it takes you away from the concrete jungle, away from the constant bleeps and blips of our interconnected world, and puts you into nature for a few hours, where the sounds of birds and trees dominate – along with the occasional expletive.
The newer GPS golf watches like the S62 all have total connectivity so that you can receive your email, SMS, WhatsApp, Tinder, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and call notifications on your device.
For me, this detracts from being on the course completely as the whole point is to get away from that for a few hours and enjoy the game!
Fortunately, if you are one of those players that agrees with this sentiment, you will be happy to know that neither the S10 nor the Bushnell Neo Ion 2 come with smartphone notifications, so if you do want to get away and just play golf, you will love either of these!
Golf GPS Watch Golf Features
The S10 and Ion 2 are both a basic GPS watch with black and white screens that are button operated and do not have touch screens, but the monochrome screens have good displays, and the numbers and screen are easy to read in the sunlight.
The buttons are large and quite easy to use, and getting the hang of either -if you haven’t used a GPS golf watch before – is merely a question of playing around for a few minutes.
They give yardages to the middle of the green and front and back, while the S10 allows you to move the pin to its actual position, thus giving you more accurate yardage to target.
The Neo Ion 2 does not offer this feature but, like the S10, will give you yardages to hazards, doglegs, and layups on the course, and each device can track shot distances as well.
How Long Do The Batteries Last
The S10 has 10 hours of battery life or is good for about two full rounds of golf, but the mode will last considerably longer in the watch. The Neo Ion 2 has a longer battery life, running for about 3 rounds or 15 hours in GPS mode and equally long in watch mode.
With the additional features that the Garmin S10 has on board, shorter battery life is not unexpected. It should also be noted that each GPS golf watch will charge reasonably quickly, so if you find that your battery is running low, you can charge it on the way to the course and still be able to get your round in.
Are The Garmin S10 And Bushnell Neo Ion 2 Waterproof
Here we start to see some differences between the two emerge, and waterproofing is one area where the two diverge. The S10 is rated at 5 Atmospheres or 165ft, and unless you plan to play golf in the ocean, your S10 is suitably protected against moisture.
The Neo Ion 2 gps watch is water-resistant, so swimming or submerged exposure would not be advisable. If you play in a location that sees heavy rain or thunderstorms, you may want to opt for the S10.
How Accurate Are The S10 And Neo Ion 2
If you want to pinpoint accuracy within a yard or better, you need a laser rangefinder shot distance calculator. Whether watches or handheld, Golf GPS devices will never deliver the level of accuracy that a range finder can provide simply by the differences in operational systems.
Locating and tracking your position on the planet using a system of satellites will always leave some error margin in the accuracy, while an on-course laser will have superb accuracy.
However, the Bushnell Neo Ion 2 and the Garmin S10 GPS golf watch deliver more than sufficient accuracy within 3-5 yards (and sometimes better), so your club selection will never be compromised.
These devices are great for beginners and mid-to-high-handicap players that don’t require precision yardages and considering this is the skill level where most golfers play around the US and the world, either device will be more than good enough.
Golf GPS Watches – The Major Differences
So far, both watches provide basic and accurate on-course yardages, but at this point, the Garmin S10 is going to streak ahead with some additional functions that the Ion 2 does not offer.
Digital Scorecard and Stats Tracking
As with most Garmin golf devices, the additional feature of the digital scorecard is available on the S10. This allows you to record your scores on each hole and other very useful round data for analysis and tracking.
Not only will the S10 record your scores, but you can also record fairways and greens hit and putts made so you can analyze your round at the 19th hole and compare rounds past and present to track progress.
As you can do this without connecting to your phone, the S10’s data can be accessed quickly and easily, especially if there are specific elements of your round like FIR/GIR stats you need to view post-round.
You should also be aware that the S10 does not have the TruSwing capability and cannot connect with the Ct10 sensors for automatic distance and club tracks.
The S10 also provides the green view and shape and the ability to manually place the pin (as mentioned before) for more accurate distances, and while the Neo Ion 2 does not, it does have an ace up its sleeve that ace is the Bushnell App.
Golf GPS: The Bushnell App
If you were using your smartphone loaded with any golf GPS apps and then decided to get a GPS watch or carry your phone with you in your bag, this bit would get you excited.
While the S10 may have more on-course features, pairing your Ion 2 with the App (which is free to download with any purchase) opens up your GPS experience to a very different level.
Even though it involves using your phone, the advantages of using this technology will outweigh any resistance you may have to use your phone on the course.
Digital Scorecard, 3D Flyovers, And Fitness Tracking With The App
Pairing your Ion with the App gives you full-screen full-color views of the course and the hole you are playing as well as PlayGolf, which allows you to select and get distances from custom points on the course.
Using the App will give you the scorecard function, and entering your score using your phone is much easier than the buttons on the device itself; plus, this integrates the stats tracking function.
One of the truly great features is the 3D Flyover giving you aerial views of the hole, a feature usually reserved for the top-end golf GS devices, and with your phone screen, you get it on a much bigger full-color display.
The App also offers swing training features such as Swing Pro, which allows you to work on your swing and tempo once connected, and additional fitness tracking like the pedometer as well as being able to track and record biking, running, and walking sessions make the Ion 2 far more than just a golf GPS device.
If you haven’t yet looked at the Bushnell golf App, then perhaps do that before making your final decision between the S10 and Neo Ion 2 as.
Which One Do I Get
Ah, the great decision about which one would be better suited for you has arrived. Firstly, if you are playing at 14 handicaps or lower, I would suggest the Ion 2, simply because the App offers you more at that level than the S10.
If you are playing at a higher HI than that and you aren’t particular about using your smartphone on the course linked to the Ion 2, then the Bushnell would also be a better option as the App again gives you that much more info course.
If you only want a wrist-worn GPS device and don’t like to have your phone on you, then the Garmin S10 would be the better option as you get more on-course features for less money.
Since the S10 and the Ion essentially provide the same info with the exception that the ION 2 needs the App to do that and a bit more, while the Garmin alone provides enough fundamental data without the extra addition of the phone.
The final decision here will depend on your personal preferences regarding what device you prefer to use and whether you want to carry your smartphone with you during the round, bearing in mind the notifications that would inevitably interrupt – unless you turn them off.
GPS Golf Watches Conclusion
With either the Garmin S10 or the Bushnell Neo Ion 2, you are getting a fundamentally solid device that will give you accurate and consistent on-course distance data as and when you need it.
The real consideration is whether you are prepared to spend that little extra and utilize the App capabilities or spend that little bit less and rely solely on the device itself while still enjoying the uninterrupted (relative) peace of the golf course.