In about two decades, laser rangefinder technology has improved and become much more affordable and accessible. Nearly anyone can afford a quality model and use it to improve his or her golf game. GPS technology likewise is becoming more affordable and accessible, which is giving rise to GPS golfing aides, like the SkyCaddie SX500 by Sky Golf.
Instead of measuring distances to the pin and various other targets on a golf course, the SkyCaddie uses GPS technology to provide exact ball location. You get a bird’s eye view of each hole in full color with various distances to hazards, fairway turns and the green. The SX500 SkyCaddie automatically zooms in on target areas and the green to give you very detailed and highly accurate information that enables you to quickly choose the right club and swing combination.
Skycaddie SX500 Review: General Use
The SkyCaddie SX500 comes fully loaded and equipped with more than 35,000 regulation golf courses. Each golf course is logged into the Sky Golf system and is based on actual course measurements done by walking the course. Continual course updates and corrections ensure the best possible accuracy for any of the more than 35,000 included golf courses.
- Legal for R&A and USGA events.
- Overhead view of holes and segments.
- Verified and updated golf course layouts.
- GPS accuracy throughout the round.
- Electronic scorecard and golf bag.
- Relatively high purchase price.
- Travel case is optional and not standard.
- Membership is not required but opens more features.
- Somewhat bulky.
The SkyCaddie provides an overhead view of the hole you are playing, including hazards, tree line, green and rough. The unit continually updates your exact location via GPS tracking technology, provides an electronic scorecard and zooms in automatically on the hole and green as you proceed to make the round virtually touch-free. It has several functions that really make it a true golfing caddie.
Skycaddie SX500 Review: Shot Tracking Technology
One of the coolest features produces a digital golf bag and scorecard that tracks every shot that you make with each indicated club. Over time the SkyCaddie provides intimate knowledge of your average shot distance with each club and can help you to choose exactly the right one for a particular distance or shot. That is an invaluable tool that helps to speed up your game by enabling you to make better shots and lower your overall score.
Skycaddie SX500 Review: RangeVue Function
The RangeVue provides a detailed view of each hole and the distances indicated in your choice of yards or meters. Dynamic range rings illustrate the yardage arcs to the points of interest, including the water hazards, sand traps, fairway bends, and the green. The rapid and always reliable distance measurements ensure you can make the correct club and swing choice. You can use a cursor to select your target area and it will give you detailed distances to all relevant objects.
Skycaddie SX500 Review: HoleVue Function
Ground-mapped holes and a great zoom feature give you exact detail of each hole you are playing. When you are on the tee, you can tap the touchscreen twice or use a pinch-zoom to enlarge different sections and get a better idea of the situation before you. The SkyGolf crews walk each course and get exact geo-references for the fairway, every bunker, water hazard and other pertinent course items. You can trace your finger to your preferred landing area, and the SkyCaddie will tell you which club that you use to typically reach that distance.
Skycaddie SX500 Review: IntelliGreen Pro Function
The patented IntelliGreen Pro feature tells you the precise shape of the green and surrounding terrain. Color-coding tells you the relative elevation changes on the green so that you know the higher and lower spots and can better choose the best approach shot. The green rotates based on the angle of approach so that you always have the best possible view of what lay between the ball and the pin. That helps you to make the smartest choice for your approach shot and the best chance at beating par.
Does the SkyCaddie require a membership?
You do not need to buy a Sky Golf or SkyCaddie membership or subscription to use the SkyCaddie SX500. The technology backing the system uses cloud-based technology to continually update course maps with corrections and changes. All that you need for the course updates is an active Wi-Fi connection.
An optional SkyCaddie SX500 annual fee does deliver additional services. Those include access to Sky Golf’s library of ground-mapped golf courses and more advanced interactive features, like an Interactive HoleVue and the IntelliGreen Pro that give you even greater hole information and analysis tools. It even can help you to hone your game with personalized ClubSG hole-analysis tools.
Construction and Dimensions
The SkyCaddie SX500 is a truly rugged electronic device as affirmed by its look and feel. It generally resembles a large cellphone with one of the best impact-resistant cases. A rugged polymer outer shell has thick pads angles at all four corners to deflect jarring drops or other damage.
A sturdy and water-resistant cover contains a 5-inch high-definition LCD touchscreen that you can use very easily with one or two fingers. The entire unit is about a half inch thick by 3 inches wide by 6 inches tall and weighs a pound. It includes a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery that provides between 12 and 14 hours of continual use. An optional mount secures it to the cart for easier use.
Is the SkyCaddie SX500 tournament-legal?
All technology provided with the SkyCaddie SX500 meets the requirements of USGA and R&A regulations, so it is legal for most tournament play. Both golf sanctioning bodies approve of distance measuring devices that only provide straight distance measurements. Slope- and wind-compensating technologies remain outlawed for use in events sanctioned by the R&A and the USGA, but GPS technology does not offer either.
Because the GPS only shows the straight distance to objects and your ball’s location on the course, it is legal to use in most tournaments. The SkyCaddie is the first electronic device used in tournament play after the organizers of the Adams Golf Tight Lies Tour adopted a local rule enabling its use during tournament play.
Because other local tournament rules might outlaw the use of distance-measuring devices, including GPS units like the SkyCaddie SX500. So checking in advance always is the ideal way to ensure full compliance with local golf tournament rules.
Why Should I Buy One?
The SkyCaddie SX500 is an ideal golfing tool for those who travel and play a lot of different regulation golf courses. It also is a great tool for highly skilled amateurs and professionals who play a lot of regulation tournament games and want to have the best-available information on a particular hole at just a glance.
If you love high-tech gadgets as well as the game of golf, it is a fantastic tool for working on your game and improving your handicap. It also will spark a lot of conversations that might help with networking.
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