Garmin Approach S3 is the follow up to the hugely popular S1. The S1 was the first golf gps watch. Let's take an
in-depth look at the ins and outs of the S3. This is not so much a summary as a reference guide. What
you need to try and take away from this is if this unit has the features and functionality that will mesh with your
golf game. Let's take a look now.
Distances for Front, Middle, and Back of Green, Layups, Doglegs, and Customizable Yardage Points
Green View will display for you the shape and layout of the green. If you know the location of the pin you will
be able to manually drag the flag with your finger to that point. The S3 will then show you the exact distance to
Weighs 2.06 oz. -- Waterproof -- Touchscreen is glove friendly -- USB interface
Front and Back pictures of the S3 before it is opened
Unboxing the Garmin Approach S3
The S3 is well packaged in a strong and sturdy box. Everything in plastic bags except for the watch which had a
thick piece of foam behind it and a form fitting plastic on top. The contents include the watch, USB charging
cable, AC adapter, and manual. The USB charging cable can plug either in to your computer or the AC adapter.
The Garmin Approach S3 Unboxed
The watch is easy to put on and it is quite comfortable. It is a little thicker than most watches
but it doesn't feel overly big on my wrist. The wrist band is very flexible and easy to get the right size. There
is plenty of extra room if playing in cold weather should the need arise to put the watch over a long
sleeve shirt. Another note on playing in cold weather. I own a Garmin Forerunner 210 running watch and once it
locks on to the satellites I am able to run with my jacket covering it and the watch stays locked on the
satellites. The S3 should be the same, but we'll need to test it to see.
Charging Your Garmin
When you have your S3 unpacked the next step will be to fully charge it. Plug the USB charger either in the
computer or AC adapter. The charger is magnetic and will easily attach itself to the bottom of the watch. The
charger will basically be cradling the watch. There is only one way that will connect properly. Make sure that the
connectors on the watch line up with the connectors on the charger. The first time you connect it the display
should list the different languages available. Scroll through the screens until you find your language, then select
it. The language can also be changed in the setup screen. The watch screen now displays the time and date. The unit
should now be charging. If it is charging properly the status bar in the upper right should be blinking. If the bar
is not displayed and blinking, then adjust the charger so that the connectors are properly in place.
The screen has been designed to work with both your finger tip and with a golf glove. It is responsive but you
will need to apply pressure for it to accept. This is to prevent accidental touches which can easily occur on the
Start a Round
To begin a round you simply press the three bar symbol on the watch to go to the main menu. From there you
select Start Round. The gps will then locate the satellites to lock in your position. Once the S3 has locked in the
satellites, it will display the closest courses to your current location. Select the course that you will be
playing. Once the course is loaded it will display the 1st hole. On your display will be the distances to the
front, middle, and back of the green. Garmin has enlarged the display of the middle of the green distance to be the
most prominent. To the left will be the hole # and par for that hole. The watch features automatic hole advance but
you can also manually change holes forward or backward by tapping the arrow at the top or bottom of the screen. You
may just want to look ahead to see what's coming.
After your drive, you proceed to your ball and the numbers will recalculate in real time. Once at your ball the
Approach S3 will simply and quickly provide you with the numbers you need to make your next shot. On the main
screen you will still have the newly calculated distances for the front, middle, and back of hole. Just tap the
middle of the screen and screen with layups and doglegs will display. Depending on the length and type
of hole, will determine how many distances for layups, doglegs, and custom locations are displayed. For
example, a par 5 will show you any doglegs plus layups for 100, 150, 200, and 250. Three distances show up for
screen, if additional ones are available just use the arrows at the top and bottom of screen or flick your finger
up or down. In addition, you can save up to 5 custom locations per hole. These custom locations can be for
any point you would like to mark, simply stand at the location and mark it. Press the return button and you are
back at the main screen.
From the main menu you can press the three bar symbol for the menu list which include End Round, Green View,
Odometer, Save Location, and Lock Screen.
Let's look at the Green View screen. Press the Green View and you will be shown an image with the actual shape of the green with the pin in the middle. With your finger you can
manually move the pin to the location it actually is. When you do this the new distance to the pin will show
up on the screen. Also, when you hit the return button to the main screen the distances to the front, middle,
and back of the green will reflect the adjusted distances based on the new location of the pin.
On the right side of the S3 there are 2 dedicated buttons with top right used for measuring your shots. It's
really quite simple, you press the Measure button when you are at your starting point. When you get to your ball
the watch will be showing you the distance. Hold the button down to reset. It will also reset when you go to the
next hole. Use this to measure shots for all your clubs. Once you learn how far you hit each club,
course management and club decisions will be much easier.
The built in odometer measures both time and distance. It will automatically start when you begin a round. It
will stop when you end the round. You can also start and stop it manually, which means it can be used outside of
golf for walking/running.
Scorecard and More
The Approach S3 has a digital scorecard that can track scores for the 1 player. To enter your score make sure
you are on the hole view screen. Press the dedicated button on the lower right side of the golf watch. The scoring
screen will then display. It will show you the hole # and the par for that hole. To enter your score, press the +
or - at the bottom of the screen and the par # will increase or decrease. At the top of the screen you will be
shown a running total of your score as either over or under par. Press and hold the score button and you will be
displayed a list of the holes with your scores. If needed, you can choose a hole and edit the score.
Your golf watch can be setup for 2 types of scoring methods. You can choose either Stroke play or Stableford.
The Stableford method uses points instead of strokes. See the chart below for the strokes to points conversion.
Strokes Taken Relative to Par
2 or more over
When you end your round your digital scorecard will be saved for you to view it on your
View Saved Scorecards on Your Computer
Connect your S3 to the usb cable. Open up Windows Explorer. The unit will be listed as a
removeable device. Double click on it and when it opens, the files above should be displayed. When you double
click on the ScorecardViewer file it will open up your internet browser and display your saved
This is a list of all the saved scorecards. Click on your course of choose to view the
scorecard. See example below.
Customize Your Golf
When you go to the settings in your S3 watch you will have quite a few different settings to customize the
unit to your likings.
Tones - Audible tones can be turned on and off
Display - There are 2 display options: White Background w/Black Text or Black Background w/White
Scoring - Set scoring method to Stroke or Stableford
Time - Set time to automatic or manual
Format - 12- or 24-hour time format
Language - Set desired language
Units - Set to measure in yards or meters
Approach S3 Watch Course and Firmware
Updating your watch is very important. Garmin has an update software that you can download to your computer to
accomplish the updating task. This will not only update the courses on your watch but will also keep the firmware
current. Even though your S3 comes pre-loaded with courses from around the world, using the update software will
not only add new courses but will include any changes to current courses in the database. Most watches will not
ship with the most current firmware and course database. At the end of your update the last screen will give you
the opportunity to submit your email address to Garmin so that they can notify you when new updates are available.
The following is not only a step by step on how to update your watch for the first time, but also to show you how
easy it is. There are a number of sceens below but take it one screen at a time and most of the processes are
After downloading the Updater file from the Garmin website, find the file on your computer and double
click it to install and the screen above will appear.
Now connect your watch to the USB cable. Once the device drivers are loaded the program should
find your device and list it like you see above. If everything loads and it doesn't show up, then click the search
If a firmware update was required then this screen will appear after the update is
downloaded. From here you need to disconnect the watch from the usb cable. The watch will then automatically begin
the update process. Once updated your will see the main watch screen with Date/Time. You can now reconnect the
watch to the usb cable to continue the course update process.
If course updates are available then this screen will display and have a check mark on the
regions available. Click Update.
The courses are then downloaded.
The software will then automatically begin installing each update by region after it is
When the updates are complete you will see the above screen with the optional notification