Garmin S40 vs S60 [Which One Is For You]

This discussion will compare Garmin’s flagship GPS watches, the Garmin S40 vs S60. For some time, the S40 has held that status, but with the release of the S60, it has been replaced by the newer model.

The primary difference between the S60 and Garmin Approach S40 are the latest features like Pinpointer, Touch Targeting, and PlaysLike, more fitness tracking features, and some added golf-specific features like Swing Tempo and Tempo Training.

We’ll take a deeper look at each flagship watch and how their features compare, pricing and style, so you have a complete overview of each, and you can then pick which one is going to suit you better.

Garmin Watch– Price

Let’s get the business side out of the way and look at the different pricing on these golf watches. The Garmin Approach S40 usually retails for a bit less than the S60.

However, once you have read this discussion on the S60, you may decide that the extra money may not be a deal-breaker after all – it’s THAT good!

Before we get into the features, you need to be clear on the features on these golf watches you can and cannot use in competitive play under the revised USGA rules of 2016 pertaining to the use of Distance Measuring Devices or DMD’s.

garmin golf app with gps mode

The USGA changed its rules around the use of GPS watches that featured slope and elevation readings so that players that had bought DMD’s that had those features built-in could still use the watch, BUT ONLY for yardage measurements.

You had to disable the slope and elevation features during competition, and failure to do so would result in disqualification.

Not only that, but any feature that offered club selection recommendations and wind measurements also had to be deactivated, and if they could not be, then the device was not permitted to be used in play.

Concerning both of these devices, only the S60 offers slope adjustment on the course, while the S40 only provides straight distances from position to target.

Therefore, you can use the Garmin Approach S40 in competitive play and the S60, provided you either deactivate the slope and elevation features or you don’t select that mode when you are playing.

Garmin Golf GPS Watch Features

As a flagship product, the Garmin S40 added more advanced features from the S20, and the S60 added even more from the S40. It’s hard to think about what more these devices can add for the golfer, but they keep coming!

Screen Size And Style

Both Garmin watches feature a 1.2-inch circular full-color touchscreen watch face, and both the Garmin Approach S40 and the S60 have a sunlight-readable screen with 240×240 pixel resolution. One of the GPS Golf watch challenges was reading the display in bright sunlight, but that challenge has been overcome with both of these models.

golf watch to use on the golf course in gps mode

One of the concerns golfers have when using a GPS watch is whether it will influence their swing due to the weight, and with these watches, that answer is a very definite no.

Another amazing feature of both watches is setting different types of screens for other applications. This means that you can have your golf GPS green view screen on the course and then set a different screen for that evening’s social activity.

While this is doesn’t add to the golf GPS features, it certainly does add an extra dimension to the watches and almost allows you to go out of the house with a different watch every day!


The S40 weighs in at 1,5 ounces, with the S60 coming in at 1.6 ounces, and if you can feel the difference in 1/10th of an ounce on your wrist, you should be playing pro golf! These devices are compact and solid and don’t feel clumsy or cumbersome when you are swinging; in fact, you may not even know that they are there at all.

entire watch with advanced features to become the best golf watch

Quick Change Wristbands

When it comes to wristbands, both have quick release bands that you can swap out easily and quickly without needing precision screwdrivers as you may need for a conventional sports watch.

This feature does not assist in the game itself. Still, these days golf GPS watches also function as time-keeping accessories. Having one that looks sophisticated and upmarket and has a variety of color bands to choose from adds that extra bit of value.

The steel bezels also add that sense of class and style to the watch, and this has proven popular with golfers looking for a more upmarket feel on their golf watch.

Now that we have covered the aesthetics, let’s look at the business end of the Garmin Approach S40 vs Garmin Approach S60 and see which one offers better functionality and performance on the course.

Course Mapping

Each of these Garmin watches comes with more than 40 000 golf courses preloaded, and the updates and new course downloads are free. There is essentially nowhere on Earth that you would not have golf course GPS data available due to the GPS technology.

all the basics plus more features like swing speed and playslike distance feature

One of the more significant and noticeable differences between the Garmin S40 and S60 golf watch is the course mapping, as the Garmin S60 has taken this up a level as it provides aerial views of the course and holes in full color showing traps and hazards. In contrast, the S40 has the usual two-dimensional flat view.

The S60 gives you a birds-eye view of the hole and course and allows you to use your finger to click and drag your target on the map. With this view, you can see the shape of the hole and features like dog legs and other aspects of the hole that may be hidden from view.

Being able to pinpoint target locations and get accurate distances at your fingertips adds a whole new dimension to hole strategy. This feature was only available on the greens with the S40, and this is a really good reason to look at the Garmin S60.

The Garmin Approach S60 also has the Touch Targeting Feature for manual pin placements, which allows you to get accurate distances to ANY point on the course map that you want and the usual front, back, and middle of the greens, traps and hazards.

The Touch Targeting Feature offers the lower handicap players the opportunity to play more accurate and strategic golf using the S60.

Playing Features

The S40 and Garmin S60 have some truly impressive features that will give you good data for analysis and improvement focus in your game.

The Autoshot feature automatically records your shot distances and provides an average distance for each club you hit. The Garmin S40 will need the Garmin CT10 to keep accurate club stats.

green view for a better watch

The Auto Detect Shot feature lets the golf watch know when you’ve hit a shot from the impact vibration through the wrist and hands.

The Manual Pin positioning allows you to move the pin to its actual location on the green and give you more accurate yardage. The Auto Hole feature will automatically progress you to the next hole.

Custom Targets gives you the option to select any point you wish on the hole and save it for future rounds, so you can add distances to layups and hazards as you see and play them.

You also have the digital scorecard feature, so trying to find pencils and decipher scribbled numbers is a thing of the past. You will also have stat tracking to analyze your performance post-round and shows you putts per round and greens and fairways hit in regulation.

Transferring the round data to your compatible smartphone is super simple using the app.

S60 Additional Playing Features

The PlaysLike Feature is the elevation mapping that will take the distance to the hole, compensate for any elevation, and provide you with the actual distance from your position on the spot.

For example, if you are playing uphill from 150 yards out, it may advise that this ‘plays like’ 160 yards and give you a better-informed choice on club selection, and the same applies for downhill shots.

The Touch Targeting feature allows you to pick any point on the course or hole and receive precise yardages.

Another great feature is PinPoint which will give you the green location if you are playing a blind approach, whether from below the green or from behind trees or bushes where the green itself is not visible.

As far as distance accuracy goes, each has the accuracy to within 3-6 yards. While this is not laser rangefinder accurate, it certainly is more than sufficient for all playing levels.

Garmin S60 Swing Tempo And Tempo Training

Exclusive to the Garmin S60, these extra features allow you to work on your tempo for the backswing and downswing and achieve better ball striking and consistency. This would be used at the range, and for more data, you can connect it to the Garmin TruSwing wrist sensor.

Fitness and Sports Apps Features

One of the benefits of multi-functional watches is that they offer additional fitness tracking features like tracking your sleep, odometer, pedometer, and other sports profiles for running, cycling, and swimming for excellent fitness features.

highly accurate golf watch

It should be noted that neither the S40 nor S60 have heart rate monitors, so if you are looking for one that does, you are out of luck on these two for that fitness features.

The Garmin Approach S60 has more sports apps than the Garmin S40 and includes rowing, skiing, cross country skiing, and snowboarding, and making use of these is like having your coach on your wrist. Both fitness watches allow you to track fitness goals and calories burned during the round and at the gym or any activity you pursue.

They also incorporate smartwatch technology, bringing you incoming calls, messages, and emails.

Battery Life

You may expect the Garmin S60 to have the edge here, but the S40 comes out on top in this department with longer battery life. Both will last around 10 days in normal mode, but the S40 has a 15 hour battery life or about three rounds in golf mode, while the S60 only has 10 hours of power or two rounds.

This is mainly due to the extra battery life drain from the far better course mapping features the S60 has, keeping it from long battery life. So remember to charge it overnight after each round or even second round to ensure that it’s ready to go for every round.

Are The S40 And S60 Waterproof

Both the S40 and Garmin Approach S60 are rated to five atmospheres in terms of their waterproofing, which means that they will survive quite well unless you are planning to play golf underwater at a depth of more than 165ft.

With that kind of protection, you won’t have to worry about the S40 or S60 suffering water damage in the rain or if you happen to lose your balance and fall into the water hazard while trying to fetch one out of the water.

Should I Get The S40 Or S60 Golf GPS Watches

This does depend on whether you need the additional features and want to spend the extra $130-$150 for that or not. If you need a golf GPS watch that will give you more than just two-dimensional course info and mapping, then the Garmin S60 would be for you.

However, bear in mind that the Garmin S40 will last longer, and while it may not have the extra features and data, it has 90% of the features that matter, so ask yourself whether you REALLY need that at your level of the game and if that extra money would not be better spent elsewhere.

But, you should also consider that paying more and getting more may be better in the long run if you are only planning to use a GPS watch and not acquire a rangefinder as well, as then you may be better off with the S40.


There is no doubt that either of these superb devices will be of great service to you on the course as well as off it, and it does depend on how you intend to use the device during play and in your active life.

One wonders what the next round of features will be as technology develops, but it is certain that golf GPS watches like the Garmin S40 and Garmin Approach S60 will continue to impact all the golfers that use them positively.

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