For the longest time, I’ve been an old school, laser range finder kind of guy. To me, they always seemed like the best and most accurate yardage solution. And they probably are if all you seek is the pin. You put it up to your eye, steady your hand, shoot the flagstick and then go through the process of convincing yourself that you can muscle a wedge 150-yards into the wind to a pin that’s five paces off the front of the green. Rinse and repeat (with varying results, because you’re a goddamn amateur and golf is a game that loves to remind you of that).
It wasn’t until this summer, when I started playing with more and more people who relied on GPS watches, that I became curious about considering other yardage equipment. For one, people who were wearing their GPS played a lot fast than I did. Their process of determining distance was much quicker. This was especially true during those rounds when I was sharing a cart and also my range finder with another member of the foursome. Secondly, I found myself asking them questions that my laser couldn’t answer as quickly as their watch could. If I needed to know how far a bunker or water was off the tee, I never felt one-hundred percent confident in relying on the hazard stake I was trying to shoot from 270 yards away. It always felt like a crapshoot. Maybe I hit the stake, or maybe I shot the tree 20 yards behind it? I never knew.
Those reasons are why I was eager to give the NEO XS a spin when Bushnell reached out — well, that and because I’m a golf junkie. I used the NEO XS during my last round and I actually wound up tying my lowest round of 2014. Could it be coincidence? Sure. But it could also be the confidence that comes in knowing the exact club to put in my hand on a course I’ve never played before and the ability to swing it without fear, because with the NEO XS, I was able to know the exact distance to hazards off the tee just by looking at my wrist. Not to mention it tells you the yardage to the front, center and back of every green. AND the thing comes preloaded with 33,000 course so there isn’t much to figure out. Which I love, because I hate figuring shit out.
If you’re like me, the idea of playing golf with a watch on your wrist might be a deterrent to give a product like the Bushnell NEO XS a shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package to not only feel how light the watch was, but it’s band is made in such a way that it almost feels non-existent, something that was probably done intentionally.
As for how I would grade the product, I would give it an A-, only because I still yearn to know the exact distance to every pin. Otherwise I would make way too few mistakes and golf is no fun when I’m not screaming expletives.
- Pre-loaded with 33,000+ courses in more than 30 countries
- Long Battery Life – over 3 rounds between charges
- Auto Course Recognition and Auto Hole Advance
- Easy-to-read Front/Center/Back Distances
- Hazard/Layup Distances (up to 4 per hole)
- Comfortable Sports Band
- Round Odometer
- Shot Distance Calculater
- No Membership or Download Fees
- The Black Model (368550) features a Reverse Display for easy readability in bright sunlight