Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review

In this Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch review, we put this high-tech piece of equipment to the test to find out how it performs

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)
Golf Monthly Verdict

Contained in a sleek package are a number of extremely useful and easy-to-use features for golfers of all levels. Ideal for wear on and off the course, we would highly recommend the Garmin S42 Approach to anyone.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very clear and easy to use

  • +

    Lots of useful features

  • +

    Can easily be worn away from the course

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Takes a few rounds to get on top of all the functions

Why you can trust Golf Monthly Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch Review

Go to any golf club on a busy day and you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a few groups in which there are no GPS watches in use. And most prevalent among them will likely be a Garmin. Undoubtedly one of the best golf watches on the market, we recently put the Garmin S42 Approach to the test and weren’t disappointed. 

Fitting between the Garmin S12 (opens in new tab) and premium S62 (opens in new tab) options, we trialled the S42 watch for the first time on a sunny (but cold) day at Essendon Golf Club. It was a previously untrodden course so came in very handy. At the set-up stage, it offered us the option of course A or B, which had us flummoxed initially, but goes to show the level of detail involved. We've since had it out on two other occasions, allowing us to form an opinion based on things like accuracy, functionality, ease of use, style and value.

Garmin approach s42 golf watch

Andy Wright testing the Garmin S42 GPS Watch at Essendon Golf Club

Starting with the usual features, yardages to the front, middle and back of each green were very useful, especially at a course we’d never played before. More than a few times, the shot at hand looked shorter than it was, so having that reassurance really was priceless. Additionally, when off the beaten track, it's great to have such easy access to accurate numbers. This is definitely an advantage when compared to a laser device.

The 1.2-inch color screen is also extremely clear, adding to the ease of use. In fact, just this feature alone we think makes it a worthwhile investment. And what’s more, it actually shows you the true shape of every green, rather than just the generic.

But it doesn’t stop there. As well as more than 42,000 preloaded courses worldwide, there is also the option to pair with the Approach CT10 club sensors for automatic club tracking. When used in conjunction with the Garmin Golf app, this allows golfers to take advantage of the AutoShot round analyzer that records shot distances and plots your way round the course. And once you’ve finished, you can look through your scores and review various performance stats that help to target potential areas of improvement. It is features like this that separate watches from the best golf rangefinders (opens in new tab), which purely involve zapping the flag in a matter of seconds. 

Garmin Approach S42 GPS Watch

The S42 is one of the best looking watches in the golf sector

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Away from the course entirely, it’s a sleek and stylish watch that can easily be worn in social settings and also comes packed with fitness and wellness benefits. For example, the S42 can be used to track steps, sleep and calories. 

Another important thing to highlight is that we barely noticed we had it on. People can often be reluctant to try a GPS watch because they think it'll interfere with their swing but this is absolutely not the case. Other than checking yardages, it's like it isn't even there.

One thing we would say is that it takes maybe five or so rounds to really get to grips with all the features and get the most out of what’s on offer. And although it comes in at a loftier price point than more basic models, based on our testing, we would certainly recommend seeing this process through as it’s worth it. It is definitely one of the best Garmin golf watches (opens in new tab) currently on the market.

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as,, and

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1