(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) From the birth of golf-specific GPS devices until recently, manufacturers have piled more and more features into their units: color displays, better graphics, statistics, and yardages to every conceivable landmark on the course. Of late, however, the GPS market has turned back towards simplicity and ease of use. The Shotmate Voice GPS by Matrix is one of these new, simpler devices. So, is less really more? Can it perform with accuracy while allowing you to keep a steady pace of play? Read on, spies…
Ease of Use/Set Up
Since all the courses are preloaded, the only thing that the Shotmate asks you to do is charge it. You can charge the Shotmate through your computer’s USB port or with the dedicated charger. Once the Shotmate has been charged, it’s as simple as turning it on, letting the unit locate the course that you’re on, and pressing the button when you want yardages. Additionally, Shotmate is very light and can be clipped to your hat, shirt, belt, or pants without it being a distraction.
To test accuracy, I brought the Shotmate to the course with my Leupold GX-3. I found that when the pin was centered in the green, the Shotmate gave me yardages that were plus or minus one or two yards when compared to my laser. That difference can be attributed to the pin not being perfectly centered or a small margin for error in the GPS. In either case, the accuracy is more than sufficient for 99% of the golfers on the course.
With regard to overall performance, it’s important to understand what the Shotmate does and does not do.
So what does the Shotmate do? It gives you the yardage to the center of the green and it can measure the distance of your drives.
Where is Shotmate lacking? There are definitely instances where yardages to the front and back of the green would be nice. Also, switching holes is a bit laborious. This can come into play not only when you hit the ball into the wrong fairway (not that you would ever do that), but also when there is a tee box near a green. Finally, if you are not standing in an area that the GPS knows is a tee box, you will hear, “Cannot find the hole” (insert your own joke here, this is a family website). With other GPS devices, you can force the unit to recognize what hole you’re on, but that isn’t possible with Shotmate.
Now, don’t take that list to mean that the Shotmate is a bad device because it’s not. It’s a very good device that’s easy to use, but I want to make sure that you, the reader, know the advantages and disadvantages of this new breed of GPS.
Overall, I enjoyed using the Shotmate. There were plenty of times where I found myself walking up to the ball, checking Shotmate, and leaving my laser in the bag. I enjoyed how much it sped up my round. The primary drawback is that there are times when you want more than the yardage to the center of the green.
The Shotmate retails for around $150 (I was able to find it as low as $135). Given that the accuracy is quite good, and that it is $30-40 less than Golf Buddy’s new voice GPS, I would say that the Shotmate is a fairly good value.
The lone caveat that I have is this: you need to understand what you are getting with the Shotmate. As stated before, you are getting the yardage to the center of the green only, with the convenience of never having to look at the unit. If this is what you want, it’s a good deal. If you’d prefer more information, you can get GPS units with front-center-back yardages for similar prices, but the distances will be displayed, not announced to you.
The Peanut Gallery
Since the Shotmate is one of the first of a new breed of GPS, it definitely sparked the interest of the Peanut Gallery. The group definitely liked how Shotmate could speed up play, but they were skeptical about all the information they would be losing out of: front and back of the green, distances to bunkers, etc. Most of the golfers in the Peanut Gallery are laser rangefinder users, and they were even more skeptical about the usefulness of Shotmate. Though everyone felt that the price was fair and that the idea was interesting, no one expressed a strong interest in replacing their current GPS or laser with Shotmate.
In a nutshell, Shotmate is a simple, accurate, easy-to-use GPS device that will give you the yardage to the center of the green. My feeling is that it does not offer as much information as the avid or competitive golfer would want, but that it would be a solid choice for the recreational player. Regardless of who is using it, Shotmate definitely has the potential to shave a few minutes off of your next round.
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