I'm a golfer and some would say a gadget guy. I had won a $100 gift certificate for Golftown in a Beauties and Beast Golf contest for nominating a hole in Saskatchewan that is both, beautiful to look at, and a beast to play. It seem that the Bushnell Yardage Pro GPS was the perfect fit. Originally I had considered the Bushnell NEO.
Recommend this product?
Golftown (Canada) had these on sale for $179, down from $250, so I picked one up. Well I got it home and open the package up. Along with the unit (battery was already installed), the package also contained a USB cable, a wall charger, a snap holder, and a neoprene case with a draw string to close it. Also included were the quick start guide, manual and warranty card. My first thought was where is the software? No software disks to be found.
Upon reading the quick start guide, it seems you need to download the software from the website. This could be a problem for those who are on a slow internet connection. We are on high speed lite (not quite high speed) and it took about 15 minutes to download. You are instructed to charge the unit. I use the the wall charger, but the wall charger requires the USB cable in order to charge.
Once the software has been downloaded, you are then instructed to start the installation but not to connect the unit to the computer as yet. This is where things get a bit complicated, even for me, and I have worked with computers for most of my life. The downloaded file is in Zip format. Therefore you need to have Windows XP unzip the file before you can install it. I recommend that you create a separate directory for holding all of the files. If you don't, it will create a folder for you, but you must remember and know how to access it.
Once all this has been completed, you can then run the software (must know where the executable file is). To simplify things for myself, I created a shortcut on my Windows Desktop. Once you run the program you can connect the unit to the computer via the USB supplied cable (that is if you are not using it with the wall charger to charge up the unit). Fortunately, the unit can be charged through the USB port on your computer. Once the unit is physically connected to the computer, the software will recognize this and show that a connection has been made.
However, the first time I tried this, the software application would not recognize the unit. I thought something was wrong and kept trying to connect, but it wouldn't. The instructions were no help. What you need to do is run another program that converts the USB connection to a Serial connection. There is a little program found in the same folder as where the application is installed. You need to run this program in order for the unit to be recognized by the software. NO WHERE IN THE MANUAL OR QUICK START GUIDE does it mention this, so beware. Once this was done, the Unit will be recognized by the software everytime.
I then proceeded to download golf courses. The software actually brings you to the iGolf website in order to downloads courses. You must register with iGolf before they allow you to download courses. Registering with them in Trial mode is free and allows you to download one golf course for free. You must upgrade your membership if you wish to download more than one course. The fee to upgrade to a one year membership is $35 US and this allows you to download any number of course up to 100 for the year. I registered and upgrade and have downloaded various courses in the Saskatoon area. If there is a course missing, you can request to have it mapped. You are only allowed to request one course to be mapped for free. As I haven't requested more than one, I'm not sure what the cost is, or if, they even allow you to request more.
When you download courses, the initial step is to download them to your computer. You have to "Send" them to your unit. The Unit will hold only 10 courses at any one time. This area is reasonably designed and works well. After downloading the course I needed and sending them to the unit, I turned everything off and disconnected. After disconnecting I turned the unit on to check to make sure that all the course were there. They were.
Next morning I turned the unit on and to my surprise all of my course disappear!!! The battery meter showed full so it couldn't have been a problem with the battery. Since the course were still on the computer (thank God), I connected once again and sent the files to the unit. Checked to make sure that the file were on the unit. They were. I was planning on golfing after work, but checked at noon to see if the courses were still on the unit. Once again they had disappeared. I believe something was very seriously wrong with this original unit. Being very frustrated, I returned the unit to Golftown and they gladly exchanged it.
I charged up the unit overnight, connected it and sent the files to the new unit. I am very happy to report that this unit has worked very well for me. I have had it for about a week now and have used it at several courses in the area. The unit works as designed and advertized. No more disappearing courses.
One problem that I had was that I didn't know how to turn on the backlighting on the LCD screen. After several calls to various support number in Canada and the US; someone finally emailed me back with the instruction of hold down the Down key for 2 seconds or more. This works perfectly and I can now see the display in low light (dusk or shaded areas).
The unit itself is about 4 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 1 inch thick. Not small but it fits comfortable in your hand. It is fairly hefty, so putting in your pocket probably won't work. When walking, I keep it in one of the top pocket in my bag. When riding a cart, I keep it in one of the drink holder inside the neoprene case. The face of the unit is mostly made up of the LCD screen with four buttons located at the bottom of the unit, up, down, Power, and Page. The back just contains the door to the battey.
Once you turn on the Unit, the main menu displays, PLAY, SETTINGS, and POWER OFF. When PLAY is chosen, you can choose from between three types of displays, the first is the Back, Center, and Front (to the green) distance from where your ball is. Once a hole has been played, you need to press the UP key to move onto the next hole. The second (if you hit the PAGE key while in PLAY mode) shows you the score card of the hole, hole #, Par, Handicap, and yardage. The third mode allows you to find out how far you hit a drive or shot. This would be good to find you the lengths of your clubs. There are other functions here but you can discover them on your own.
The SETTINGS mode allows to to choose between courses, mens, ladies, or championship tees, setup the LCD screen contrast and to setup up time. There is also a clock that allow you to time your games. The POWER OFF setting need no explanation.
On the whole the software in the unit works as advertised and essentially provides very basic information. There are a couple of quirks that I have found. When playing in dark conditions where the screen is hard to see, you will appreciate the backlighting. However, using the DOWN key to turn the backlighting on, also move you to the next hole. You will need to hit the UP key to put you back on the right hole. While madding, it still works and works well.
The GPS unit itself is very accurate, I would say within 1 - 3 yards. This is very good. Battery life is reasonable as I have not had any problems at all playing a full round (usually 5 hours). The battery meter only showed one bar down, so there must be lots of battery life left (although I haven't played two or more round without charging it).
Overall, the Bushnell Yardage Pro GPS works as advertized if you can find a unit that works. My first unit had to be returned, but the second unit works great. Bushnell support was confusing but they eventually were helpful. The computer software should be included on a disk and the installation should be made simpler. The software should be designed so that the unit is recognized right away without having to run a small obsure program. The $35.00 registration fee for iGolf should be unlimited.