I’ve been a golf laser rangefinder guy as opposed to a golf GPS guy. Thanks to my using the Izzo Swami 1500 Golf GPS I can now appreciate the advantages of a golf GPS versus a laser.
Swami 1500 Golf GPS Overview
In case you have been under a rock for the last few years, “GPS” stands for “global positioning system.” Basically a GPS uses a satellite to calculate your position and provide you with information. In the case of golfers, GPS devices give players yardages on the golf course.
Swami says: 149 front, 161 middle, 183 back
The Swami 1500 is a very basic, no frills golf GPS. While some units give you yardages to hazards or the end of the fairway, the Swami only gives you yardages to front, middle and back of the green. By not including all that other information, the Swami cuts you some slack on the price of the unit, which is $150. Less basic golf GPS units can be hundreds more.
The first thing I noticed, and liked versus other golf GPS units, is the size of the Izzo Swami 1500 GPS. It is considerably smaller and more conveniently configured. It fits easily in your pocket or on the included belt clip which you can attach to your bag or your body.
Inside the Swami 1500’s brain is enough storage space to hold 10 golf courses. That would cover me for a few days. Courses are loaded from a Windows based computer via the included Izzo software. As an Apple Macintosh user, I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t load the unit with my Mac. Then it dawned on me that I can run Windows on my Mac. After booting XP, I was able to load up the Swami with my Mac.
12,000+ courses available
Currently there are over 12,000 courses available for the Swami, so it is very likely your course is already available. A yearly subscription fee of $35 gets you access to the courses. So the model is to sell you the unit for cheap and get a recurring subscription. Pretty smart on Izzo’s part and not too heavy of a financial hit on the user’s end.
The Swami has a rechargeable internal battery. The battery can be charged via USB when plugged into your computer, or by plugging the unit into a wall outlet with the USB AC converter.
|Swami 1500 Golf GPS Accessories|
|Accessories included with the Swami:
1. USB Cable
|Additional accessories available for purchase:
1. Wall charger
On the course
When you power up the Swami at the course, it automatically figures out what course you are on and loads it up. You don’t even need to select the course from your list of 10.
I have a buddy who has a Sky Caddie GPS and as I mentioned I also have a golf laser rangefinder. My buddy and I compared yardages for a few rounds between the Izzo and the Sky Caddie. The yardages were either exactly the same, or only one yard different. The laser was more accurate on “to the pin” yardages as both GPS units only give you the basic front, middle, back yardages.
The speed with which the Swami gives you yardages is super fast. No waiting like on iPhone GPS apps.
Laser versus GPS
Having used both golf GPS units and golf laser rangefinders for a while, I can say each has advantages.
Lasers have advantages because you can shoot anything. You can shoot the beverage cart to see how many yards away you are from the hot beer cart girl and a frosty beverage. You can shoot the players in front of you from the tee to see if they’re within range of your drive. You can of course, shoot the pin.
Where GPS units have the advantage over lasers is when there are objects in the way. With a GPS you can get an exact yardage to the green no matter where you are. With a laser you have to have a clear shot between you and the target you are shooting. So if you are shooting over trees, buildings, outhouses or other obstructions, GPS’s can still give you yardages.
I have a couple of critiques on the Swami. My first is that the letters screened onto the buttons wear off very quickly. On my 2nd round using the 1500, the screening on the power button was halfway worn off, just from putting it in and taking it out of a pocket on my golf bag for about 27 holes.
My 2nd critique of the Swami relates to saving the battery. Every round I’ve used the Swami, I’ve forgotten to turn it off. The unit stays on indefinitely, until the battery is totally drained. It sucks to get to the course two days after your last round to find that the Swami’s battery is dead. I’m sure in an upcoming firmware revision, they could add an auto power off feature. If a round of golf takes about 4.5 hours, the Swami should turn off automatically if no buttons are pushed in say, five hours.
Rental program for grass roots shops
A recent development with Izzo is the introduction of a rental program. Some courses are now renting Swamis for $5-$10 per round. This is a good way for the course to generate some revenue with a new offering. Revenue and player enjoyment can also increase as the pace of play will be improved. Great idea.
The Izzo web site has a great support section with very helpful information on using the unit and on troubleshooting.
If you don’t want to plop down $200, $300, $400 but still want to bring GPS capabilities to the golf course, check out the Izzo Swami 1500. The unit is accurate, easy to use, fast, and has a convenient size.
I have more images of the Swami and accessories in the Hooked On Golf Blog Swami Gallery.