Finally I am able to bring you the SkyCaddie Linx GT Game Tracking GPS watch review. I say finally as I was first briefed on this watch last year, but it has taken until now for it to reach the UK market, something which happens with a lot of GPS products from many different brands. However here it is, so is it worth the wait?
There are several angles on the SkyCaddie Linx GT as it is a GPS watch that links to an app on your phone to become a handheld GPS and also uses tags to become a shot tracker to record every club used on the course. So let's take these one at a time.
SkyCaddie Linx GT Tour Watch Edition Review
As a GPS watch, the SkyCaddie Linx GT is a reasonably stylish affair that is comfortable and light to wear on your wrist as you play.
Like most decent GPS watches it is quite bulky due to the GPS antenna inside and that is your trade-off between size and accuracy and the Linx GT is pretty well proportioned in this respect.
It is charged using a mini USB adaptor that is attached to the supplied cord and clicks magnetically onto the back of the watch. It works well and charges the watch quickly, but I would keep the adaptor on the cord as otherwise it could be easy to lose.
The Linx GT is controlled by six buttons on each side of the watch that are solid and responsive, giving the whole watch a feeling of being well put together.
To do most things you need to start by pushing and holding the bottom left button to bring up the main menu and then scroll using the top and bottom right buttons and select using the middle right button.
This is all fair enough, but the fun of pushing and holding for 2 seconds to bring up the menu loses its appeal very quickly and the menu structure itself could be better.
For instance Bluetooth is required for pairing with your phone, but to turn it on and off is Menu (hold 2 secs) > Settings (scroll) > Basic > Bluetooth > scroll On/Off > Select, which again is a pain to do regularly.
Even going from Golf mode to Time mode is Menu (hold 2 secs) > scroll to Time > Watch > Select, which I am sure could be done in one or two less steps.
Having the Bluetooth on and paired with your smartphone will also enable you to get alerts that you have received a text or email, but not the ability to view them on the screen, which some other GPS watches allow.
Anyway in Golf mode the watch displays hole details and front, middle and back yardage information clearly. The auto-advance works well and to scroll between holes is easy using the up/down buttons.
Scoring is initiated by pushing and holding the middle right button so you can enter your score, fairway hit or side missed and number of putts. It defaults to the par for the hole and you scroll up, or preferably down, from there.
Scrolling between holes in scoring is also very easy using the up/down buttons if you are entering the score for the previous hole as you walk down the next fairway.
The yardages are based on SkyCaddie's in-depth maps where they walk every course. Pushing the middle right button in yardage mode brings up the hazards on each hole to scroll through two at a time. There are a few abbreviations to learn for each hazard, but it is obvious enough with the graphics to work out what everything is.
Scroll another couple of times and you get the green shape view where you can scroll the flag through a few pre-defined options to change the displayed middle yardage, but this really doesn't help that much and a laser will still be the best option for the flag yardage.
As well as being a GPS watch, the Linx GT can also record your shots, which it does automatically if you are wearing the watch as you play. This will only record the position of each shot so you have to add the club manually using the SkyCaddie app in real-time.
As you play, the watch works in tandem with the SkyCaddie app so you can see the yardages for each hole, where you took your shots and your position as a little watch on the map.
If you don't want to be disturbed during the round the Linx GT will automatically store all the shot data and then you upload it to your SkyGolf 360 online account at the end of the round by syncing with your smartphone. You can then add in the club details on your smartphone, or better still on a larger computer screen, as then you can also edit and drag the position of shots more easily.
This is the quicker and less interfering way of tracking your shots as the watch does a very good job of realising when you have made a swing. The Linx GT Tour Watch Edition comes with one SmartTag which I would put on the end of your putter grip so you can tap it against the watch on the green to mark where your approaches land. If you don't do this then the watch will default to the middle of the green, which will mess up your approach yardage stats.
SkyCaddie Linx GT Game Tracking Edition Review
However if you want the fully integrated experience, then for an extra £50, or $50 in the USA, you can upgrade to the Game Tracking Edition of the Linx GT that comes with 15 SmartTags to screw into the butt of your grips.
Setting them up takes around 10 minutes so that the SkyCaddie app knows which tag is in which club. Then before or after each shot you just tap the tag on the SkyGolf logo above the screen on your watch and it vibrates to tell you it has recorded the club you used at that GPS location.
If you forget to tag then, unlike some other systems, it records the shot position anyway using the built in Autoswing feature described above.
There is also a pitch fork with a sensor on it that you can assign to any club. I would recommend setting this up as your putter tag as it makes tapping for putt locations much easier and less conspicuous than tapping the club against your wrist.
Try to remember the first putting tap as otherwise it will default to the centre of the green and you will get inaccurate data for your approach shots unless you edit this afterwards
Like most other score tracking systems it hasn't got around marking where the flag is on the green so putting stats are limited to putts per green rather than by distance. It also doesn't allow for marking a shot as a chip shot so that it doesn't affect your overall club distance average.
On the plus side the sensor is on your wrist and doesn't have to be attached to other parts of your anatomy or clothing, although you could conceivably attach it to your bag, but then you would not have the Autoswing back up.
SkyCaddie Linx GT App Review
So you have your scores and stats in your watch and you want to do some analysis. Well, that is where the free SkyGolf 360 app comes in.
Available for Android and iOS phones, it easily pairs with the Linx GT watch once you have created a SkyGolf account, which you will have to do to activate your one year's membership that comes included. Thereafter there will be annual fees currently at £39.99 or $49.95 to continue to get map updates and use the other services.
You will also need to download the SkyCaddie's Mobile GPS app if you want to use the GPS maps on your smartphone. You can of course just go this route anyway, but you will need to buy some sort of SkyCaddie membership package startiing at £22.95/$19.95 to view the information, so this is really a bonus extra as the watch should give you the same general yardage information in a low-res form.
Syncing the watch with the phone is quick and simple and then your data is available to view on the phone or online. Editing the information is probably easier on a larger computer screen, especially if using the maps with the shot tracking.
As these things go it is quick and easy to add, edit or remove shots from the maps. To get a score accepted into the stats though, you will need to know the course rating (SSS) and USGA slope rating, which most courses globally should have now, but it may involve or having a scorecard to hand or Googling the course website.
With all these shot tracking systems it really depends what you do with the data once you have it and the SkyCaddie stats area does a reasonable job.
Clicking on My Game in the app or the online account area brings up a decent summary or fairway, GIR, putts and scoring. Most compare you stats to the SkyGolf360 community which seems a bit pointless as you can't filter this to the same handicap level of player as you.
Fairway percentage is the most useful as it shows how many you hit and then whether you missed left or right. In the Game Analyser the Game Tracker section takes this a step further and the Tee Shot Scatter Plot allows you to filter by club so you can see how good you are off the tee with a driver compared to a 3 wood for instance. This and the Approach Shot Scatter Plot are the most useful bits and can really help you see how you get round the course.
The Advanced Section enables you to drill down into stats by date, but the date fields have to be selected using the drop down calendar. Typing in the date would be more user friendly as I had 5 years' data and I just wanted to see the last year and I had to manually scroll through 4 years on the calendar.
This is a minor thing, but symptomatic of the whole stats analysis service. If everything was as useful as the Scatter Plots then it would be brilliant, but there are too many 'could do better' areas to make it stand out. Finding a way to ignore chips with your 8-iron or recognising an outlier like an uphill, into the wind driver so the average distance is not distorted would make the service more useful.
However online software is an easy fix for manufacturers so hopefully this will be improved over time.
SkyCaddie Linx GT GPS Watch Summary
The SkyCaddie Linx GT watch really needs to be viewed as one part of the SkyGolf 360 ecosystem. For instance your watch membership gets you access to the SkyCaddie Mobile App so you can get a better visual overview of each hole.
This sort of thing leads to some doubling up of services, but really the watch, the app and other SkyCaddie devices can talk to each other or stand alone and this gives you more choice.
For instance if you like to use the tags, but don't want to wear a watch then there is also the separate GameTracker GT2 sensor that you wear on your belt and tap to record the shot position or to use for auto shot tracking instead. If you want to record shots but don't want to tap tags, then you can do so using the Linx GT watch.
As a GPS watch, the Linx GT does a solid job, although as with all SkyCaddie products, the membership renewal at the end of the free first year can be a surprise for some. However you can continue using the watch with their Goplay option where you only get front, middle and back yardages for free but you would still need to pay to activate the Mobile App to use it for shot tracking.
Clarity is not a strong point of the SkyGolf360 pricing system, but if you do your research or contact SkyCaddie then you can find the right set up for your needs based on the devices you have.
Whilst the menu navigation could be better, the GPS distance navigation is good and the display is clear and the watch seems well made.
For those who like tagging then the SmartTags option is easy to use as you are already wearing the watch and the extra sensor in the pitch fork is genius. Buy the SmartTags with the Linx GT watch in the Game Tracking Edition and it will be cheaper than getting them separately later.
To be honest though, I preferred the Tour Watch Edition with the AutoSwing recording and using the single tag to record the first putt position as it required less effort during the round. Then I would use the app to manually add the clubs after the round on my smartphone and tidy it up on a larger screen computer. Not only is this less intrusive into your game, but it also saves you the cost of buying the tags, which is almost the equivalent of a two years' SkyGolf 360 membership.
The syncing of results via the app is quick and easy and the stats, with the exception of the fairways analysis, don't really make the most of the collection system to really dig deep into your game to offer more valuable insights or solutions to improve.
It's all good, but this is where that year delay comes in because if I had reviewed this a year ago, this would have all been cutting edge. Now the market has moved on and there are tags everywhere and some score tracking devices that don't even need you to tap to know the club you used.
If you don't mind remembering which club you used and entering it manually then the automatic shot tracking may be enough to make the SkyCaddie Link GT GPS Tour Watch Edition combined with the app a hands free and more financially viable option.