Garmin G12 Handheld Golf GPS Device Review

Golf GPS devices come in many shapes and varieties. No matter which you prefer though, the goal should be the same: improve your game and shave strokes off your score. To do that, you may not need all the bells and whistles of more expensive watches or GPS devices that double up as launch monitors.

Take the Garmin Approach G12 for example. It’s a simple, affordable, reliable GPS device that has what you really need to play better rounds. So in today’s review, we wanted to shed some light on this oft overlooked golf GPS device from Garmin.

The Garmin G12 comes as part of the new 2021 line in the S12 and S42 watches and also the S62 from 2020. The G12 looks to build on the success of the G10 and iron out all its weak points, so let’s see how it stacks up.


A Brief Intro to the G12

The Garmin Approach G12 is the successor to the G10. It’s a handheld GPS device that fits neatly in your pocket or golf bag. You can also clip it to your belt, bag or cart.

It sports a very simple design and interface so it would be perfect for beginners as well as seasoned players.


Garmin G12 Key Features

The Garmin Approach G12 comes with a good amount of golf features – not enough to overwhelm the player but still enough to improve your game.

These features include a handy digital scorecard, green view which shows you the shape of the green, and manual pin positioning.

It also provides performance data tracking like number of strokes and a round timer. There are also some nice quality of life features like Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone compatibility and a battery that can last up to 30 hours in GPS mode.

The Garmin Approach G12 is also water rated as IPX7 which, means that you can use it safely in the rain. Don’t submerge it in water or anything but also don’t be afraid to use it in a downpour. You can also use the G12 with Garmin club sensors for more robust club and swing data.


Garmin G12 Vs. G10

Every experiment needs a control so we put the Garmin Approach G12 up against the older but still relevant Approach G10.

For this, we compared the G12 and the G10 in key areas.



The G12 is a little longer but thinner than the G10 but they have the same display size: 0.9” x 0.9”. The G12 is also slightly lighter at 0.9 ounces while the G10 is 1 ounce.



The key design difference between these two devices is that the G10 has a squared display while the G12’s display is rounded.

They are both operated with 4 buttons mounted on the side. Both pretty much look like stopwatches.



There’s no deviation here: both the G10 and the G12 are available only in black.



Garmin made sure to improve the battery life from the G10.

The G12 can last up to 30 hours in golf GPS mode as opposed to the estimated 15 hour lifespan of the G10 battery.



One of the biggest differences between these two devices in terms of features is that the G10 has no smartphone compatibility.

You can’t pair it with any apps and you can’t connect it to your smartphone in any way (like Bluetooth).

The G10 and the G12 have many of the same golf features though.

In fact, the only significant feature that the G12 has over the G10 is that you can connect it with club sensors to track club/swing data.


Screen Resolution

Lastly, the G12 has slightly better screen resolution than it’s predecessor with 175 x 175 pixel display.


What About the S12?

A lot of people get the S12 and G12 mixed up which, is understandable since they have a lot of the same features and a similar name. The S12 however is actually a watch. The S12 is basically the G12 in watch form.

It has many of the same golf features like hazard, layup and dogleg distancing, a digital scorecard and green view with manual pin positioning. There are a couple of pretty big differences, though. For one thing the S12 is not tournament legal.

For another, the S12 has outstanding battery life. It can last up to 10 weeks in golf GPS mode. The S12 also features a silicone watch band but unlike the G12, it is not compatible with the Garmin Golf app.


Who is the G12 for?

The Garmin Approach G12 would be a great device for any golfer looking to be more competitive at pretty much any course. It provides in depth course information like your distance from key course hazards and layups.

If you don’t like the idea of wearing a watch while you play, the G12 provides a nice alternative for you as well. It comes with a clip and a lanyard so you can use it in a wide variety of ways without disrupting your stroke.

Finally, it’s for anyone that doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a golf GPS device with features that have nothing to do with golf.


Garmin G12 Pros & Cons


  • It sports a thin design
  • You can connect it to the Garmin Golf app
  • Provides all the important performance data
  • It’s tournament legal
  • It’s affordable
  • The screen is bright and easy to read even in direct sunlight



  • It doesn’t have a touchscreen display
  • No smartphone alert display
  • Doesn’t have a tempo training mode
  • Club tracking data requires additional accessories

Overall Score: 96/100

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Other Golf GPS Devices to Consider

Garmin Approach G10

Garmin G10 1

The Garmin G10 is very affordable and like the G12, can be clipped to your belt or bag.

It comes preloaded with 42,000 golf courses from around the world and provides distances to the front, back, middle of the green, hazards, doglegs and layups.


  • Tournament legal
  • You can use it in the rain
  • Very affordable


  • It has a shorter battery life than the G12
  • Small display

Overall Score: 92/100

Check Out More Reviews Here:



Garmin Approach S12

This is actually a golf GPS watch. It sports a clean, lightweight design that won’t intrude on your swing.

You can use it to manually input the exact location of the pin and to keep score. Like the G12, you can use the S12 to see the exact shape of each green you play.


  • Automatically updates course information
  • You don’t have to carry it around in your bag or your pockets
  • It has incredible battery life


  • It doesn’t provide any fitness or training data
  • It doesn’t have a handicap calculator

Overall Score: 96/100

Check Out More Reviews Here:



Garmin Approach G30

Garmin G30 4

The Garmin Approach G30 has some nice quality of life features like a color, touchscreen display.

It’s a handheld golf GPS device that’s 3” long and just over 2” wide so it can fit easily in your bag or pocket.

It’s also Garmin TruSwing compatible and tournament legal


  • Very compact design
  • Provides full vector maps for courses
  • Provides handicap scoring


  • It’s significantly more expensive than the G12
  • It’s tricky setting the pin on the relatively small display

Overall Score: 96/100

Check Out More Reviews Here:



Final Thoughts On The G12

Whether or not you choose the G12, remember that any golf GPS device you buy should be able to improve your performance on a wide variety of courses.

These types of devices should at the very least, provide you with key course insights that will help you play more precisely and score with fewer strokes. When I started track my yardages personally, my game improved very quickly.

In our opinion, the Garmin Approach G12 does just that. It is a compact and handy GPS device that offers everything a golfer needs to play better. While it doesn’t have a lot of the fancy feature that newer devices do like fitness tracking, it’s still ideal for players who are serious about the game.

If you are looking for an affordable golf GPS device that’s easy to operate and provides vital course information, we highly recommend the Garmin Approach G12. Check it out soon!