Bushnell Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch Review: Is it the Best Golf GPS Watch?
Updated May 2020 to reflect new price.
These days there are no shortage of ways to measure distance on a golf course. You’ve got traditional rangefinders, smartphone apps, standalone GPS units, course markers – and of course, you’ve got GPS golf watches.
It’s tough to say any one is better than any other, because frankly, it all comes down to personal preference and what you want for your style of play.
When it comes to golf distances I’m not sure there is any company out there that has a broader range of products than Bushnell.
And today we’re going to put their latest golf watch to the test: the Bushnell Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch.
This replaces the Bushnell Neo Ion 1 watch, and adds bluetooth technology for wireless course updates, a reversible band, and compatibility with the Bushnell app. So relatively minor updates on the surface.
First Impressions of the Bushnell Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch
As with all the Bushnell products I’ve reviewed, the packaging is done very well. The box is sturdy, and upon opening it the watch is front and center.
Under it comes with the custom usb charging solution that you’ll need to power the watch.
I won’t lie, I was kind of hoping this one would be battery operated, rather than a standard USB option. It seems like nearly all of the golf gadgets I have require a custom charger. And even the ones that do have a standard USB, I forget to charge.
This is more of a “me” problem than a problem with any of the devices, but for how many times I’ve shown up to a round or to practice and realized my device was dead – I’d love to see more battery operated tech.
Ok, sorry for the rant, let’s get back to the watch!
The watch looks great, with mine coming in a dark grey and blue motif that looks very nice.
As a nice touch, the watch band is reversible, so you can mix up colors over time to keep the look fresh.
The screen is ample, but feels slightly smaller than my 44mm 4th gen Apple Watch that I usually wear on the course.
Now that the watch is charged up, time to get it out on the course and see if it performs as well as I’m expecting it to.
Bushnell Golf GPS Watch Performance
After charging the watch and turning it on, it only took me about 2 minutes to become familiar with the functions and what it does.
It’s very easy to use and with just a couple minutes of tinkering you’ll have a pretty good grasp of it – no instruction book needed.
The first thing I did was use the GPS to set the time, and I will say it was a little slow in doing this. It could have been because I was in my home office in the basement and there were signal issues, but it took about 5 minutes just to set the time.
Fortunately, that was just a one time thing and hardly a big deal. I could have set it manually as well, but wanted to test out this feature.
Upon arriving at the course I once again used GPS to have it auto-locate the course I was on, which it did beautifully. It took a couple minutes, but then immediately recognized I was at Witch Hollow and had me on the first tee box.
There’s a backlit display which I’ve never really needed on the course, but it’s nice to have if you keep it on after the round.
The display shows you the hole, the par of the hole, distance to the center of the green in big text, and distances to front and back of the green right below it.
With the click of a button you can get distances of up to 4 hazards on each hole, which I realized about 3 holes in to my first round – and was a huge help.
On the course the watch works exactly how you would want it to.
The distances seemed very accurate when measured against my rangefinder and course yardage signs.
After two rounds on two different courses I’ve had zero issues with it getting lost or not recognizing where I am on the course. It automatically switched from hole to hole, like you’d expect, and there hasn’t been a single time that I looked down for a yardage and wasn’t immediately met with exactly what I was looking for.
There’s a built in pedometer, and after my first round it showed me I’d walked 4.9 miles and played the round in 4 hours and 2 minutes – a nice bit of additional information.
One other unique feature is the tee time function, where you can set the watch to turn on and be ready to go at the exact time you’re set to hit the course.
Should You Buy the Bushnell iON 2 GPS Golf Watch?
Overall the Bushnell watch performed exactly as I expected it would.
It’s comfortable and non intrusive on the wrist.
There are a few features the Bushnell doesn’t have, like more of a visual representation of the hole or automatic scoring ability, which it’s main rival the Garmin S20 has – but these aren’t features I necessarily missed.
We’ll be doing a more in depth comparison, but what I loved about this watch was it’s simplicity. It didn’t get bogged down in too many features, that look great on paper yet aren’t practical.
It gives you the distances you need quickly, and clearly, and in the end that’s exactly what you want to see from GPS watch like this.
Update May 2020: Bushnell dropped the price of the Ion2 from $170 to $100, making this a strong contender for the best budget GPS watch.
The bigger question is what exactly are you looking for when it comes to distances? If you ride in a cart and don’t like wearing a watch? Check out the Bushnell Phantom. If you’re a good player and need pin point distances, check out the X2 or the new Bushnell XE.
And if you’re debating between this or a proper rangefinder, check out our detailed review of the best golf rangefinders.
If you’re a total stat nerd (and especially if you already have an Apple Watch) check out Arccos Golf.
But if you’re someone who likes to keep things simple and likes the idea of a golf watch, I think you’ll be very pleased with the Bushnell iON 2
This page contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and buy one of the products on this page, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you!) This doesn’t effect or opinions or our reviews. Everything we do is to benefit you as the reader, so all of our reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.