Bushnell Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch

Bushnell Ion 2 Golf GPS Watch Review: Is it the Best Golf GPS Watch?

November 2022 Update: If you’re interested in the iON 2 watch, check out the Bushnell iON Edge, which is the newest version of this watch. You might also consider the Bushnell iON Elite which is Bushnell’s best GPS watch. 

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.

NOTE: As of November 2022, it appears as though this watch is no longer supported by the Bushnell app. Consider the Edge or Elite Watches from Bushnell.

Looking for more GPS Golf Watches? These are our picks for the best currently on the market.

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 watchband 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.

Note: Looking to step it up in features without going too much higher in price? Consider the Garmin Approach S42.

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.

Clear distances, comfortable watch.

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.

The iON 2 comes with a reversible band, which is a nice touch.

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.

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 pinpoint 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

Check out the new Bushnell iON Edge watch for the latest version of this golf watch.

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There are 11 comments

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  1. Andre

    When you mentioned that it is Bluetooth capable does that mean your phone has to be in close proximity to the watch? I never bring my phone on the golf course and this could be a problem if this is the case!

    • Sean Ogle

      Andre, no you don’t need to have it close to your phone. But there is some complimentary functionality if you’re using the Bushnell app. But don’t worry, the watch is totally standalone.

  2. Jeff

    I bought a Bushnell ION 2 golf watch earlier this year and it worked fine for the first 3 months of use. Over the past month, however, I’ve noticed that yardages are consistently 10-25 yards less than posted yardages on sprinkler heads and tee boxes. This is true across at least 6 different golf courses. I ensure the golf watch is fully charged between rounds of play, and am at a loss as to why the underestimations have cropped up. Are there any other options to ensure accurate yardages with this device, or does it need to be replaced/serviced?

  3. Jack Sparks

    I got the Ion 2 last fall, have played 20 -30 times. Works great. BUT, I am having trouble with the charger. I have 2, both giving same results. Through trial and error, and reading reviews, I found using a small clothes pin type clamp to hold the charger tight, works pretty well.

  4. Billy Donnachie

    Hi Sean

    I recently purchased this watch. One of the main reasons I chose this one was due to the reversible strap. However, when I tried to reverse it today i
    found that the catch the strap goes through isn’t reversible and so the option isn’t actually there!

    Did you not try this out before you did your review or am I missing something here? 🤔

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