As with most things in life, you do get what you pay for. In the field of GPS devices SkyCaddie is at the quality end of the market in terms of the devices and the content they display.
They feature an annual membership fee, that is included with purchase for the first year, to cover the cost of updating the courses as they are the only people to physically walk every course on their database to ensure that it is as accurate as possible.
I say all this up front because either this will be important to you or it won't. If you play a lot of different courses in a year then ensuring they are up to date will make a big difference as there is nothing worse than turning up at a course you don't know and the green has moved in real life but not on your GPS.
The SkyCaddie Touch GPS is one of their more compact full screen devices at 6cm wide by 10cm tall and can easily fit in your hand.
Turning it on via the robust button on the right, it quickly located the course I was on within a minute. SkyCaddie claim that you can still wear a glove and work the touch screen, but in reality the naked finger was much more successful.
Once you click to start the round, the Touch displays an overview of the hole that you can zoom in and out on using the buttons below the screen or by tapping the screen itself.
On the hole view, you have 'Dynamic RangeVue' distance rings to give a guide to the length of the hole relative to driving distance, but the distances to hazards are not marked on the overview.
To see the hazard information you have to enable the Target function in the device settings and then scroll through the other screens using the Eye button in the bottom right to get a list of hazards and their distances, which is not particularly user friendly.
The Touch will automatically switch to the green view when you get there or you can use the Eye again to scroll to it. The green view uses the excellent Intelligreen system that calculates the distance to the front, middle and back relative to the angle you are approaching the green.
You can also move the centre marker to where the flag is so you can get revised numbers on the direct line to the flag, but that can be a little fiddly as the screen is not the most responsive.
Perhaps the clearest green view is the AutoView, which again has to be enabled manually and appears when you rotate the Touch to the right.
If you turn the Touch to the left you get the full scorecard, which has a smaller typeface so is a bit hard to read, but it does have information on the par and stroke index of every hole on the course, plus your score if you are recording it.
By now you will probably have experienced main drawback of the Touch and that is the speed, or lack of it. Switching between hole views is not too bad, but going between holes or switching to the scoring can take several seconds to load, which seems like an age if you are used to a smart phone touch screen. The side buttons are also built to last, which means they can take some effort to get a response.
However, the Touch does have one of the best hole changing menus I have seen on a GPS as it gives you all 18 numbers on one screen so you can jump to any hole on the course instead of having to scroll through 1 to 18 in order.
The scoring function is pretty good when it arrives as it defaults to the par of the hole with two putts and you edit it from there. You can also record whether you hit the fairway or if you missed it left or right and all this is quick to enter.
I would strongly recommend enabling the Prompt Score option in Settings > Scoring so that the Touch gives you the score input screen before moving onto the next hole, as otherwise it very promptly jumps onto the next hole and you have to scroll back a hole to enter the score.
The Touch is small enough to put in a pocket or you can use the supplied bag clip that the Touch clicks into and can be easily released from using the button on top if you want to get a closer look.
Also in the box is a Quick Start guide and a USB charging cable that you can use with a computer or the supplied mains adaptor.
So far, so average, but what makes the Touch stand out is what the device can do if you get your head in the cloud. The Touch is equipped with Bluetooth so if you download the SkyGolf360 App to your iOS or Android device you can wirelessly connect to your Touch and download course updates and upload scores.
You can also do this by connecting your Touch to a computer using the USB cable and whichever you do, the results are synced across all devices thanks to your SkyGolf360 account in the cloud.
This is where the scoring function comes into its own as there is some good analysis provided with a lot more thought put into it than most other systems, particularly the left/right fairway miss. Bear in mind that once a score is uploaded it is removed from the device.
Again in the app, speed is an issue as it is downloading the data from the web pretty much every time you use the menu, but if you view on a computer it is quicker and a better experience. That said, the ability to do this at all is a welcome development and means you can get course updates and back up scores wirelessly when you are at the course or on a golfing trip.
I have seen the full SkyGolf360 plan for global domination and it is very impressive. Devices like the Touch use the app and your online account to integrate with other devices and services in time, so if you really want to get a 360° view of your game, scoring and courses then the Touch could be your gateway to this promised land.
And that brings me to my dilemma over the Touch. As a standalone GPS device the quality and accuracy of the maps is offset by the clunky, glacial menu and the lack of hazard information on the hole view, so it is tough to recommend it at what is a premium price.
However the SkyGolf360 service is very good and a big step towards the future. As computers are replaced by tablets and smart phones, wireless updating is almost a pre-requisite now.
If you like recording stats then the scoring function with online stats analysis is also really good because again it is all done wirelessly, so you can upload your scores and do some post-round analysis in the bar immediately after each round.
Once they get a slicker device to work with this system then it will be well worth the investment to be part of the SkyGolf network as they take your golf game through 360°.