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Best Triathlon Watches for Golf

by Marc Lagace

Blog ▸ Best Triathlon Watches for Golf

Marc Lagace

Marc Legace has been a technology and gear reviewer for some of the world's most well known websites. If you've ever searched for something about your smartphone odds are good you've read one of Marc's articles.

These are the best Triathlon watches to wear on the links

For many, playing golf is one of the best ways to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and to enjoy a warm and sunny day. The beauty of golf is that you can enjoy it throughout your entire life, whether you're just playing for fun or revel in competition.

One of the benefits of investing in a multisport smartwatch is that they're typically packed with a ton of extra features that you may or may not ever use. Most triathlon-focused watches include a good variety of activities and sport tracking modes that go beyond typical triathlon races and training, but not all of them cater to golfers. So, we’ve researched the best watches that offer really neat features like course maps and convenient ways to track your round right on your wrist, along with the ability to read text notifications or accept calls without fishing your phone out of your bag.

Now, some golf purists say that you really shouldn’t be distracting yourself with technology while golfing, as keeping focused on your game is way more important than any benefits you’d get from a smartwatch. Newsflash! It’s 2021, and technology is here to stay, so you might as well ensure your daily tech gear is helping and not hindering your training efforts.

Without further ado, here’s our roundup of the best triathlon watches that will let you transition from the pool to the tee box with ease.

Garmin Forerunner 945

If you’ve done any amount of research into finding the very best training watch for triathletes, you’ve no doubt come across the Garmin Forerunner 945 at the top of most lists. From its rugged yet lightweight design and the insane battery life that supports training for Ironman races, the Forerunner 945 is the latest in Garmin’s storied line of triathlon training watches -- and it shows.

Garmin has designed this watch to be easy to wear all day and track every workout, bike ride, swim or run and then transfer all of that crucial data back to Strava or most other popular apps. It also supports onboard music and phone notifications. The Forerunner 945 battery life averages two weeks between charges in smartwatch mode and up to 36 hours in GPS mode. 

Key Features for Golfers:

Deep within Garmin’s software is a surprisingly robust golf mode. Garmin uses GPS to locate your favorite golf courses, download all the relevant course data right to your wrist, and then tracks your shots and scores as you play.

Before each hole, your watch displays the hole's par, a map of the green with a movable pin, distances to the front and back of the green, and your custom pin location. Your Garmin also measures your shots and keeps track of your scores with just a few taps on the wrist as you play through 18 holes. 

After your round, you can dip on over to the Garmin Golf app ([iOS]/[Android]and dive into Garmin’s dedicated app for golfing, which lets you compete in virtual tournaments with friends or see where you rank on the Garmin leaderboards.

What you need to know: The Garmin Forerunner 945 is an outstanding training watch that will also serve you quite well on the golf course.  

Pros: 

  • One of the best smartwatches for triathlon training
  • Features a robust Golf Mode
  • 36-hour battery life in GPS mode
  • Jam-packed with sensors and useful features
  • Vibrant, sunlight-visible color display 

Cons

  • A big investment for your wrist

$599.99 USD, amazon.com

Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 is the latest wrist accessory from Cupertino that has stepped up the health tracking features once more. This time around, Apple’s biggest marketing features include LED blood oxygen sensors, one-touch EKG readings, and an always-on altimeter tracking your elevation. These are all great features for tracking your workouts, recovery and monitoring your day-to-day health. Apple also offers options with premium build materials, including stainless steel and titanium cases, ideal for swimming and ruggedness to combat everything else life throws your way.

This option is for iPhone users only, however, as there’s no good way to connect an Android phone. It’s all part of Apple’s closed ecosystem strategy, so if you're committed to the look and functionality of Apple products, it's good to know that the Apple Watch has come into its own in these later generations as a great fitness watch.

Part of that is due to Apple Watch's intelligent design that lets you do more.  Combined with great third-party app support, the watch is great for golfers with options to track and assist your golf game.

Key Features for Golfers

The Apple Watch is jam-packed with handy features on the golf course, which starts with the basics like checking texts and answering calls, so you won't have to dig your phone out of your bag. You can also work at closing your activity rings as you walk the course (because who *really* needs a golf cart, right?).

Beyond that, you'll discover many great golf apps with Apple Watch support in the App Store. We recommend Golf GPS SwingU, which offers distance tracking and quick scoring, or GolfLogix, offering GPS distance tracking along with full-color course maps, 4-player scorekeeping, and more.

With an abundance of available apps—many of which are free to try with premium features unlocked with a one-time purchase or as part of an ongoing subscription—you'll surely find a golf app that works for you. No guarantees that any of these apps will improve your play, but they should make scorekeeping and calculating distances more convenient.

What you need to know:  The Apple Watch Series 6 is the jack-of-all-trades in the smartwatch segment, which includes apps and support for both triathletes and golfers.

Pros:

  • Titanium casing offers the durability for triathletes
  • Apple’s iconic design and ease of use
  • Upgraded EKG reader and blood oxygen sensors
  • Growing number of golf apps with Watch support

Cons

  • Not compatible with Android phones
  • Titanium models are over $1000
  • Battery life will only last for Sprint and Olympic distance events

$399.00 USD, amazon.com

Garmin vivoactive 4

The vivoactive 4 by Garmin is an ideal fitness tracker for those not looking to spend too much money but still looking for a swim-proof watch that can track your runs and bike rides with little fuss. While not as robust or full-featured as the Garmin Forerunner 945 or the Apple Watch Series 6, sometimes simple is better.

In terms of training features for triathlon, you can track all your runs, bike rides, and pool swims with the vivoactive 4, and it also includes handy features such as playback controls when tethered to your phone and onboard music storage for when your phone is not nearby. There’s also Garmin Pay for contactless payment, convenient at the best of times and all the more valuable during these unprecedented times

Battery life is decent, with up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and up to 18 hours when in GPS mode, although playing music through the watch will drastically reduce it, as you’d expect. Still, the vivoactive 4 offers many great features at a great price that won’t break your budget.

Key Features for Golfers

Along with all the standard fitness tracking and heart-rate monitoring that we’ve all come to expect from fitness trackers, you also get dedicated golf features that mirror a lot of what’s available on the Forerunner 945.

To start, you can use the Garmin Connect app to download your local golf course right onto your watch. Then, the next time you tee off, you can select the course you're playing to track and manage scoring right from your wrist. You'll get hole information, including the hole par, distances to the front and back of the green, and a map of the green with a movable pin location. You can also view a list of layup and dogleg distances for par 4 and par 5 holes as you approach them, as well as distances to upcoming sand traps or water hazards. 

There’s also Garmin AutoShot that uses vivoactive’s sensors to detect each time you connect with the ball and then calculates the distance of your last shot when you make your next hit. And, of course, you’re able to keep score and then view your shot history and round summary on your wrist or in the Garmin Golf App on the 19th hole. 

What you need to know: The Garmin vivoactive 4 is the most affordable way to track triathlon training sessions and enhance your golf experience with a single device.

Pros:

  • Garmin has included many convenient daily features
  • Slim and lightweight for daily wear
  • Effective at recording your runs, bikes, and swims
  • Well-rounded golf mode offers plenty of features
  • The most affordable option on our list

Cons

  • Not specifically designed for triathletes

$350.00 USD, amazon.com

Which triathlon watch for golf should I buy?

Another triathlon watch roundup and another example of the Garmin Forerunner 945 topping our list. Frankly, if you’re in the market for a rugged training smartwatch that “just does it all,” then the Forerunner 945 is the best option out there.

If you function in the Apple tech ecosystem and want to enjoy the option to pick and choose the right golfing app for your needs and budget, then the Apple Watch Series 6 is worth considering. Apple continues to step up its health and fitness tracking features, and its latest watches are legit.  

And if you’re a more budget-conscious consumer who feels more at home on a public course than the country club, the Garmin vivoactive 4 is more than capable of supporting you through your triathlon training and also tracking your score through the front and back nine.  

But which watch serves you well, whether on the bike, in the pool, or playing golf? Let us know in the comments or sound off on social media! 

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Marc Lagace

Marc Legace has been a technology and gear reviewer for some of the world's most well known websites. If you've ever searched for something about your smartphone odds are good you've read one of Marc's articles.