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GOLF GADGET REVIEW: Callaway upro mx+ GPS

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Where We Need To Begin…

(Written By: GolfSpy Dave) I need to start this review with something that Callaway would likely rather I not bring up again.  Some of you may remember from about a year ago that the last incarnation of the Callaway upro mx GPS unit had some technical issues.  We’re not talking minor issues, like how I sometimes forget good nutrition and eat an apple fritter.  Mmmmmm.  Instead, the issues with the previous upro mx were a trifle more severe.  More like getting an apple stuck in your windpipe.  That stuck apple would probably prove fatal, just like the serious issues with the upro mx.  The problems with the unit were so serious that Callaway recalled them, issuing refund checks to those who returned the second-generation units.  You can see the original MGS forum post HERE.

So you see, when Callaway released the upro mx+ earlier this year, it was more than just a release of the latest generation of the unit.  Due to the face-plant of the previous unit, this upro not only had to be good, but it had to make people forget about what happened with the previous upro.  That’s a pretty tall order for any product, but especially for a product in a category (dedicated GPS) that already faces potentially fatal competition from the smart phone/app market.  Get your game face on upro mx+.  You’ve got a battle ahead.

AESTHETICS & DESIGN

Aesthetically, this is a slick looking unit.  The overall size is right around palm-sized.  You can see in the photos how the size compares to my “old school” iPhone 4S (pictured below).  The material on the back of the unit is a nice feeling plastic-rubber compound (plubber?).  The unit stays put in your palm as you access the three buttons and touch screen.  It is likely better suited to right hand operation as the two side buttons are located where the right thumb naturally rests.  The lower scroll button on the face is also within easy reach of the thumb.  Ergonomics are good.  The unit has an attractive look to it.  Overall, it has a feeling of quality, something that I appreciate in my expensive purchases.

The only real gripe I have about the design is the a-bit-too-small size of the touch screen buttons.  Obviously the screen size fits the unit size, that’s not the issue.  The screen size issue comes up more in the performance of the unit on the course.  Some of the small buttons on the touch screen are just a bit small to hit easily.  I would almost like to see another pair of hardware buttons on the left side of the unit that could be dedicated to some of the features associated with the touch screen buttons.

AESTHETICS & STYLE SCORE = 18/20

PERFORMANCE

So what do you need your GPS to do for you on the course?  These are the first things that came to my mind:

  • Give accurate yardages to multiple important targets (front, middle, back, traps, doglegs, & etc.)
  • Be fast
  • Have a strong enough battery
  • Have data for all of the courses I play.
  • Keep my score and play statistics
  • Be easy to use.
  • Have something extra to separate it from my iPhone or laser rangefinder

1.  Give accurate yardages

This has to be the first order of business.  The whole point of using a rangefinder of any kind is to know the correct yardage to your target. Without this, your unit is worthless.  You might as well just listen to your technophobic playing partner who bases all of his yardages on sprinklers and squirrel spoor.  I want a number I can trust so that I know what club to hit.  My game is inaccurate enough without faulty numbers. <end rant, sorry>

After all of that, I am happy to say that the numbers provided by the upro mx+ are excellent.  As always, I check the GPS yardages provided with direct laser measurement.  Distances were never far off, and the variation between laser and upro mx+ would have always still resulted with me selecting the same club.  In addition to being accurate, the upro mx+ provides distances to front/middle/back of green, bunkers, doglegs, and other course features.  Some of these you can shoot with a laser, others not so much.

2.  Be Fast

On the course, the unit is very fast.  It wakes from sleep mode quickly, needing only the touch of a single button.  A quick press of the mode button on the side will swap the display between the BasicMode, GoMode, and ProMode.  BasicMode and GoMode are the options come standard with the unit.  (If you want to upgrade to ProMode it will cost you a premium of $29.99 for 25 ProMode downloads, or $49.99 for unlimited ProMode downloads.) In general, operations on the course move along at an acceptable pace.  The unit quickly switches to the next hole as you move from green to tee.  Out on the hole, the ranges update quickly when you walk up to your ball.  You can get yardage and select your club long before you are put on the clock for slow play.  Navigation to the various features, like the video fly-over feature requires a bit of directional sense, but is not too confusing once you have done it a few times.

The only speed knock on the unit is that it takes a good bit of time to get set with the satellites when you first turn it on.  If you press the “Play Golf” button on the touch screen, you will have to navigate manually to the course you are playing, starting with the country you are in.  The unit is basically blind and lost at this point.  Once connected to the satellites though, the upro mx+ knows where you are and has already likely figured out where you are playing.  I found that I powered it up right when I drove into the course parking lot that it was more than ready to rock by the time I reached the first tee.

3.  Have a strong enough battery

No sweat here. There is plenty of juice in this unit when fully charged.  Though I have not played 36 consecutive holes with the upro mx+, I do not doubt Callaway’s claim that it would make it.  Lots of battery life after 18 holes.  Charging is easy via an included USB cable.  You can either charge from a computer, or using the enclosed USB to wall outlet adapter.  The receptor for the charging cord on the unit is a bit irritating to access though.  First it is covered by a sort-of rotating rubber “door” that I kept thinking I was going to tear off whenever I opened it.  The receptor is a bit off to the edge of the now open compartment, sitting a bit deep inside.  It wasn’t impossibly difficult to get the plug in, just more so than your average cell phone charger and thus worth mentioning.

4.  Have data for all of the courses I play.

Right off the bat you get access to 25,000 courses worldwide.  As I mentioned previously, if you want the ProMode features, it will cost you a bit of coin.  The upro mx+ has data for every course that I have ever played.  There may be some out there that are not included in the course library, but I can’t imagine there are very many.  Also, because the foundation of the unit is satellite imagery, I bet there is a way to get a course added should it be missing.

5.  Keep my score and my play statistics.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was not initially able to figure out how to keep my score on the upro mx+.  When I first received the unit, I read somewhere that you entered the scorecard mode by turning the unit 90° to its side.  I figured out how to set up my account, and get a round going, but entering hole-by-hole scores seemed frustrating and impossible.  I mentioned this issue in an email to my contact at Callaway, and the next morning, a tech support rep from Callaway gave me a call to help out.

Short story was “you’re doing it wrong”.  Once the support rep walked me through the actual process, and not the one that I had somehow come up with, scorekeeping was easy.  You just press a symbol on the touch screen to get to a screen where you push (+) or (-) buttons to enter strokes and putts, clicking boxes below to record fairways hit and GIR’s.  Once you plug the unit into a computer, the unit will upload the data to the uxplore online database for you to peruse and identify your scoring trends.

I think that Callaway’s uxplore website definitely adds to the usefulness and value of the unit.  One of the main advantages to keeping track of your score digitally is that you can also seamlessly track your play statistics from round to round.  Once you sync your upro mx+ with the uxplore site, you can track your scores from round to round, your putts per round, greens hit, and fairways hit.  All of this information can definitely help you to improve your game, but I think that the data set collected by the upro mx+ is a bit incomplete.  I have been tracking my play for a few years now using an app on my phone.  In addition to the data that the upro mx+ collects, I have been able to record club selections, miss direction off of the tee, sand shots, and penalty shots.  I feel that the app that I have been using has given me a more complete view of my play than that provided by the upro mx+.  I would assume that Callaway could upgrade the software in the upro mx+ to collect more data in the future versions.

Callaway’s uxplore site does have some interesting features that I have not encountered before.  You can see what the upro mx+ “community” scores are for the courses that you play.  It was interesting to see how my play compared to others.  One of the best features on the uxplore site is the “Start Exploring” feature.  You can sit at your computer and figure out how to play the different holes on your course using the virtual rangefinder.  I know that a lot of amateur golfers (myself included) waste shots through mismanaged holes.  With this feature, you can work out a better play strategy before you ever hit the course.  You can also use this feature to check out the holes on courses that you wish you could play.  There is a very expensive country club right by my house that I have never played.  With the uxplore site, I was able to have a bit of a virtual round there, including the flyover videos of the holes.  Should I ever get the invite, I’m ready!

6.  Be easy to use

Overall, the upro mx+ is quite easy to use.  I was able to get the software up and running on the computer without issue.  Syncing requires you to hook up the upro mx+ to a USB connection and press one button.  Course searching and downloading is also very straightforward, though downloading the ProMode courses will take a minute or two.  On the course, operation is also very easy.  As mentioned before, you should wait for the unit to find the satellites before hitting the “Play Golf” button.  That way your course is shown without having to go hunting for it.  Rangefinding is easy, especially if you are using the basic features of the unit.  In BasicMode, you can see front/middle/back and with a flick of the touch screen, you can see hazard and other distances.  Finding some of the other features takes a bit more navigation, but not so much that you should slow down pace of play.  Especially after you have had a few rounds practicing with the unit.

My only knock on ease of use comes from the ProMode visuals.  I thought that the screen was much easier to see and use in the BasicMode and GoMode settings.  The ProMode was just not bright enough for me to see without tipping and tilting for the correct angle.  This was also true for the hole flyover feature.  I think that this feature is very cool, and helpful if you are playing a course for the first time.  Outside of that though, I can’t see wanting to check the flyover all that often except because it is cool.  Like ProMode, the flyover was a bit tough to see under all light conditions.  The screen is designed to be the brightest in direct sunlight, meaning that you may have to turn around a bit to get the best image.  In BasicMode and GoMode, this turning for the best light is not necessary.  Most of the time, I just left it in GoMode and it gave me everything that I needed on the course.

7.  Have something extra to separate it from my iPhone or laser rangefinder

The upro mx+ has a very useful AnyPoint feature that you can access in ProMode.  With AnyPoint, you can get the yardage at any point on the hole.  You just press the reticule symbol on the bottom of the touch screen and then touch the screen.  Coupled with this is the ability to plan how to play a hole, a huge boon to the average golfer.  With AnyPoint running, you can select lay-up targets based upon how far this shot will be and how long will the next shot be.  Course management can help one shoot better scores as much as knowing distances.  I remember being the golfer who always hit 3W as the second shot on par 5’s.  Most of the time, the 280 yards left after the tee shot would have been better played going 6i/AW instead of 3W/delicate 50-yard pitch.  The upro mx+ makes seeing the possible shot combinations easy and should help one to see that there are lots of ways to cover the yardages.

So what else separates the upro mx+ from the other rangefinders in the market? I think that the dedicated GPS market is a tenuous one.  The laser vs. GPS argument has gone on for a while.  Any GPS will likely give you yardages that you can’t really measure with the laser.  Every hole has things to measure that may be out of your line of sight or too flat to bounce back the laser (bunkers for example).  The laser, of course, gives you a direct measurement to target.  Your play needs will push you in either the laser or GPS direction.  I don’t think that the laser is really a threat to the dedicated GPS rangefinder.  That threat comes from the smart phone.  Does a golfer need a piece of GPS hardware when his or her phone does the same thing?  Does the upro mx+ give you something that a GPS phone app does not?

Well, the obvious advantage comes if you don’t own a smart phone or you don’t want to take the phone out on the course with you.  Hole flyovers are cool, and the scorekeeping/statistics are beneficial, but many apps have similar capabilities.  Maybe I am missing something, but I see the features of the upro mx+ paralleling the best golf GPS apps that are out there, but not surpassing them.  The phone app is a legitimate threat to the whole GPS industry.

PERFORMANCE SCORE: 50/60

VALUE

I think that it is only really fair to look at the value of the upro mx+ vs. the other GPS units in the marketplace.  The upro mx+ costs $198.00 on the Callaway site with the ProMode upgrade coming in at up to an additional $49.99.  Even at the $249 price point, the upro mx+ comes in well below the price of the majority of other GPS units on the market.  Go do a quick search at Golfsmith to see what I mean.  If Callaway would include the ProMode courses in the $198 package, they would have the GPS with the most punch for price.

Most of the units priced around $200 don’t come close to the features of the upro mx+.  If you want to argue value vs. the “free” GPS app that you have on your phone, you are welcome to do so.  However, I would suggest that you remember that your smart phone was likely not free and that you are paying a monthly charge for the phone and data.  Since you are already paying these costs, the app cost is cheaper.  If you are comparing the total purchase price of the phone to the GPS unit though, I think it is fair to say that this is not a $200 vs. free argument.  Yes, I know, your phone does other stuff too.  Ignoring the apps, the upro mx+ is very competitively priced in the GPS market, even if that market as a whole is seriously threatened by the smart phone app.

VALUE SCORE: 20/20

IN CONCLUSION

Callaway has definitely rebounded from their issues with the previous upro mx.  The upro mx+ is a solid GPS unit with a good batch of features that could possibly be “great” with a bit of software expansion.  If you are in the market for a dedicated GPS unit, the upro mx+ is definitely one that you should check out.  Its price is very competitive and the unit also comes with Callaway’s fantastic customer support.  To a potential buyer, I would say that you should forget what happened with the old unit, the upro mx+ has definitely shaken off the stigma of its predecessor and would be a fine addition to your bag.

TOTAL SCORE: 88/100

Review Summary

B+
88.00

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

hckymeyer September 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

I still have the original uPro and use it every time I go golfing. It seemed like during this review you were describing all the features that my original unit already has. I’m curious what the real benefit would be in upgrading to the mx+? Bigger screen? Touchscreen?

I love my original uPro, and I still get “oohs and aahs” when showing off the AnyPoint feature even though it’s probably 4 yr old technology.

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Golfspy Dave September 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

AnyPoint is probably my favorite feature. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the differences between te new unit and the original uPro.

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BlkNGld October 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Screen size is the same, only change is the touchscreen versus the buttons and a more modern looking case vs the ipod nano esque original.

In fact, if you go to the upro web site your old unit will get a software update to the same functions on the mx+, just without the touch capability.

I have the original and feel no need to upgrade. The touchscreen makes navigating some functions quicker than the original, but I find using anypoint to be easier with the original model.

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longduckdon September 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

There isn’t a fee for the pro mode courses. They are free and you just have to download them from the upro database.

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Craig September 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi, for these pro mode courses that require download.
Are you forced to specify individual courses to download…something I hate. Or once you pay the extra $50 bucks do you get the 25000 Or whatever number…all automatically synced? If it requires manual choice it’s a pain.

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longduckdon October 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

it’s free.

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Yohanan September 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Replaced a golf buddy pro with this right when it became available end of May. I guess i have to get out of pro mode all the time? I did get it for the pro mode but my biggest complaint is screen brightness. The score fairways gri and putts via the web site is nice and has helped me be or get better. Which is still my #1 goal. You do have to select the courses you want to load. No big deal.

I am waiting for a device or app that has green contours and slope with yardages add the aimpoint feature to move the pin location and i think you have it all?

Call it Usee. And throw an odyssey logo in for good measure?

By the way i love my metal x Dart with callaway chrome. If you are reading this callaway?

CHEERS

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David W September 30, 2012 at 8:12 am

If you have an Android I highly recommend GolfLogix. About 10% of the cost with all the features. I have a friend with the app on his iphone and sometimes his yardages are off. I emailed golflogix about it and they say that the GPS feature on iphones isn’t accurate sometimes and that causes problems with the software.

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RYAN October 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

I find once in a while GolfShots is off too on my iPhone 4. It can be as much as 12-15 yards once in a great while. Sometimes it needs too much time to calculate and I get the wrong number.

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sporto22 August 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

thats bull about the gps, I down loaded the pga tour and it is way more accurate and faster than the golf logix. I wish i didn’t waste my money on it

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RYAN October 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

How did you get on Del Paso to play?!?!?!

I need to find an in!

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Scott T October 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I think you left off an important category: Customer Support. I was very anxious to use my new uPro MX+ for an upcoming tournament but I experienced problems registering it. When I went to log my issue on Callaway’s Customer Support site, I read that the average response time was 5 busines days. I thought Callaway was being conservative and logged my issue. Within 2 business days, I received a cryptic 2 line response and was unable to complete the registration process. I returned it and vowed to never buy an electronic product from Callaway again. I have since downloaded the iphone Golfshots apps for 1/10th of the price and have been happy with it.

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dean October 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Ryan-go to NCGA –Membership –Member Only Outings –and sign up for Nov, 12. I play in a lot of these outings and they are fantastic. Have played a lot of private courses I never could get on.

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Stan June 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Just got new version. Works well Amazon and Rock bottom golf have great deals

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Debbie W June 13, 2013 at 12:03 am

I got my upro mx+ the beginning of April. June 11 the plug would no longer insert into the upro as the inside of the connection pushed into the unit and the plug is not able to recharge. Has anyone else had that problem. A friend has had that same problem on her Kindle Fire (3 unites replaced and the company knows it is a problem)

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vince todaro July 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Debbie, I am having that same problem with my uPRO mx. My son tried to recharge it food me
and bent the connectors inside the charging port. Is there any place or anyone who can either repair the unit, or sell me the entire charging port?

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Larry Hill July 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Am I to understand there are no monthly or membership fees with the purchase of a Callaway Upro MX + ?………….Thanks

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Christopher Kee August 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

MX+ is free ProMode.

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Jyka September 11, 2013 at 2:26 am

I have windows 8 & cannot download info to my UPRO MX+.
Am told do not have a ”devise driver ‘
Anyone know how / where to get a ‘driver ‘
My attempts to contact Callaway for support has been absolutely hopeless. I get told they would contact me in 2-4 days. One month later …nothing.
If anyone can help will be most appreciated

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Russ November 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Jyka did you ever get an answer, because I’m currently experiencing the same problem?

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Jyka November 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Russ…no I haven’t heard one word from “Callaway ” their service leaves a lot to be desired 0/10 rating.
If anyone from Callaway reads this its about time you improve your game & listen / respond to your customers.
Very disappointing that you can’t even reply

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Mike December 28, 2013 at 11:47 am

The reason Windows 8 and 8.1 will not load the drivers is because they are not signed. If you open the charms bar and select change pc settings, Next update and recovery, then recovery and finally under advance start up restart now On the next screen select advance options, then startup settings, then restart. Windows will reboot and provide you with a list of startup options, select number 7 allow unsigned drivers or something to that effect. You will then get two warning boxes during the loading of the program about unsigned drivers, allow them and the program will load. I have been successful in loading pro courses and managing the device. I do have trouble connecting to the device on a regular basis, and often have to try 2 or 3 times before I get a sync. Another issue is you have to load java to update the firmware version.

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Kris September 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

I just bought a new MX+ and used it for a round of golf this weekend. I loved it. Took me a couple of holes to get used to the functions, but once I figured out how to access everything I found it simple to use and very accurate. Before I went out to play I registered the unit and downloaded 10 courses in Promode from the Calaway web site. the whole process took about 30 minutes including the software update that was downloaded automatically. So far I tind this unit to be excellent. I was skeptical about the small size at first, thinking that I would not be able to see the course features very well, but I learned to like the small size quite well while playing. I fit neatly in my pocket without being bulky like my last GPS allowing me to keep in on me the whole round. The graphics were readible though a modestly larger screen would be nice. I found myself using the GO Mode most of the time, switching to the Pro mode whenever I needed to know what was beyond my visual range. That worked very well. Overall I give this unit a 9 out of 10 rating.

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Ray October 8, 2013 at 5:51 am

Here in Australia we are not allowed to use smart phone apps during competition rounds. It being against the rule that says you can’t use a device that measures other data, such as weather conditions or temperature. Therefore we have to use dedicated golf gps devices. Just unwrapped my Callaway upro MX+, all looking good and at US$45, a real bargain. Will post after I have used it.

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Peter October 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Also in Australia
Have you used it yet
Where did you purchase
Has it got charger suitable for use in Australia

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SAS October 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I don’t know if I just have a lemon, but mine sucks in every area and Callaway just ignores me when I ask for help.

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Sam January 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

Purchased Callaway MX+ from from an individual. When trying to register I run into problems that will not allow me to get updates. When logging in, the system takes my email and pass word but then just reverts back to the original screen. Have tried customer service with out
getting any help. Any help out there?

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Al February 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

If your having problems with Upro and Windows 8 or 8.1, Callaway emailed a set of instructions to solve the problem. And every time I call, someone answers right away.
All and all, I’ve had great customer service from Callaway.

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STAN February 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

AFTER DECEMBER 2014 CALLAWAY NO LONGER SUPPORTING UPRO. NO MORE WEBSITE TO DOWNLOAD,UPDATES,NOTHING. IF IT BREAKS THROW IT AWAY. FOR US THAT PAID FOR PRO-MODE COURSES YOU GET NO REFUNDS. THANKS A LOT CALLAWAY! NO MORE CALLAWAY BALLS OR CLUBS FOR ME.

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Jyka March 17, 2014 at 1:10 am

Mike, Thanks for your feedback . I followed your instructions & was able to load the program.
Will now try to load further golf courses ???
cheers Jyka

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Marvin Nalick March 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

Unless your not aware, calaway is discontinuing support for this gps at the end of the year. I think your readers should be informed of this

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Everett Kovach March 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm

All I wanted was the distance for front, middle and back of green. Extremely accurate, and used less than 50% of battery, 99.9999999999% of you clowns don’t need all that flyover crap.

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Bill Klassen July 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I have the callaway upromx+ myfirst on the charging part of the gps pushed into the unit. I phone callaway and the sent me a ne one. I do like the unit however, I can only do 18 holes and then the battery needs recharging. I have tried a different battery with the same results. This to me is frustrating as my old bushnell gets 5 rounds of golf. Is there a different battery I could try that may last longer

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