Bushnell Wingman Review: The Most Unique Bluetooth Speaker in Golf
It was interesting because it’s truly unlike any product I’ve seen on the market – and coming from Bushnell – it seemed like kind of a surprising move.
What is the Bushnell Wingman?
It’s a golf bluetooth speaker.
What exactly is a golf bluetooth speaker you might be wondering?
Aside from the obvious function of playing music, it also serves as an on course GPS – giving you distances to the front back and center of each green.
Interesting concept, but does it actually live up to it’s potential – and is it worth considering adding to your golf arsenal? Read on to find out.
Bushnell Wingman: First Impressions
As I’ve come to expect with all Bushnell products, the packaging is very high quality and makes you feel like you’re truly getting a premium product straight out of the box.
Inside you’ll find the speaker itself, a standard mini-USB charging cable, instructions, and it’s most unique feature: a little remote with a single button.
The Wingman is a cylindrical speaker, that’s about in line with many other portable speakers I’ve used – if not a little on the larger side.
It’s certainly not as convenient and small as the JBL Clip, and slightly larger, but more versatile than the Bose Soundlink Mini 2 I use at home.
Overall my first impression of the Wingman is that it’s a great looking Bluetooth speaker with a reasonable size. The magnet on the back of it, using Bushnell’s “Bite” technology is incredibly strong, and stuck well to whatever metal surface I tried to adhere it to.
So overall we’re off to a good start, but it doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t work.
Setting Up the Bushnell Wingman Bluetooth Speaker
As with most Bluetooth speakers, pairing it to my iphone was a breeze. I literally turned it on, my phone recognized it immediately and within seconds I was listening to music.
When you purchase other Bushnell products you get access to their GPS golf app, but unlike those products where using the app is optional, the app is a crucial piece to the Wingman.
I downloaded it and was very quickly and easily able to register my device and setup my account.
And after taking a few minutes to familiarize myself with the app, I gotta say I was pretty impressed with the features of the GPS capabilities.
Just as you would with any other GPS golf app, you select your course and your tees, and it will give you all the distances you could want. You can enter your scores and keep track of your statistics if you’d like as well.
But we’re not here to talk about the app specifically.
When you go into the settings, you have all kinds of settings related to use with the Wingman.
Just a few of the options the app gives you:
- Choose whether you want Golf Mode or Music Mode. Essentially this just makes the remote change functions based on whether you’re on the course or listening somewhere else
- Change voices. There were close to a dozen different voices from different locales around the world (but all still sound pretty robotic).
- Auto Advance Hole Message – Set it to say the hole statistics when you get to each new tee box
- Include water hazards in GPS distances
- And plenty more
Overall setup is easy and exactly how you’d expect it.
The only issue I had was during one round I had Arccos enabled, and I couldn’t get sound to come out of the speaker. It was paired, but wouldn’t play.
This was something I also ran into with the JBL Clip 3 and thought Arccos had fixed it on their end but apparently not. So as of now I have yet to be able to both use Arccos and listen to Bluetooth music.
Bushnell Wingman – GPS Performance
Before we talk about sound quality, which is obviously a big deal with any bluetooth speaker, let’s talk about the thing that makes it truly unique: the golf GPS.
Overall I found myself surprised how well this worked, and how convenient it is.
There’s a round magnetic remote that attaches to the top of the speaker which you keep in your pocket when you play.
Hit the button, and it will give you distances to the front, back, and center of the green (or whatever features you have it setup to tell you).
In practice it works really well. It simply dims the music rather than pauses it, which I like, and gives very accurate readings.
And Bushnell has invested enough into their app and other GPS products, that as expected, accuracy was not at all an issue here.
My only real concern is the fact that it’s just a matter of time before I lose this remote. Either it’s going to fall out of my pocket, get buried in my golf bag somewhere – or some other mishap is going to happen which will eventually leave me remote-less.
This is not a “if” this is a “when”. It may be 5 years or 5 days, but I know eventually I’ll misplace this remote!
As of now, it doesn’t look like you’re able to buy a replacement – but I imagine this is something Bushnell will make available sooner rather than later.
But How Does the Bushnell Wingman Sound?
So now the million dollar question, how does the Bushnell Wingman sound?
Short answer, it sounds really good.
It has good bass response, which I’d expect given its decent size.
The mids and highs aren’t quite as clear as some of the Bose speakers I’ve used, but it’s certainly good enough for casual listening on the golf course.
The Wingman also gets plenty loud, so I don’t think anyone will complain about that.
Especially on a golf course where you’re usually trying to keep your sound concentrated to your group, there’s plenty of punch there to keep everyone jamming out.
A Couple Issues with the Wingman
Overall I’ve really been enjoying the Wingman after two rounds with it. Especially when you have a twilight round, with beers in hand, and good company? This speaker very much adds to the experience.
But it’s not perfect.
The biggest problem I have has to do with Bluetooth range.
Multiple times throughout every round I’ve played with it, the Bluetooth will start cutting out if I have my phone in my pocket and get too far away.
Now obviously this is one of the limitations with Bluetooth and you’ll see it as an issue to varying degrees with any speaker.
But at times I felt like this one really didn’t give you enough leeway. There were a few times where even walking 10 feet away I’d notice the speaker would start to cut out.
Other times I’d be able to go 50+ and be fine, but the range did not seem to be fantastic generally speaking.
If you leave your phone close to the speaker in the cart or on your bag? No problem, this won’t be an issue.
But if say you’re using the GPS app on your phone, or using something like Arccos (once we figure out that connection issue I mentioned above), this could end up proving problematic.
It would always recover once moving back in range, but it definitely cut out regularly when I had my phone on me and would walk to greens or teeboxes.
GPS Consistency (Not Accuracy)
The other thing was that occasionally I’d hit the button for GPS distances and wouldn’t get any reading. I’m not sure if this happened due to my phone not being close enough or something, but there’s been 3 or 4 times where I’ve hit the button and didn’t get a reading.
For the most part I’d say no big deal, move on, and then when I’d try it a few minutes later – it’d work fine.
I imagine there’s a simple reason for this, I just haven’t figured it out.
A Few Other Things I Liked that Are Worth Mentioning
So those are really the only two complaints I have about the device, but there are a few other things that really stand out that make the user experience better than I expected it to be.
Battery Life and Charging Abilities
First is there’s a 10 hour battery life. This is great because I can get 2-3 rounds out of it before it dies.
There’s also both an “in” and an “out” USB port.
You use the in port for charging the device, but the out port serves as a USB charger for your phone or any other device on you. I LOVE that they included this. We’ve all had our phone die on the course before, and to be able to have a charger built in without having to carry a separate brick for it? Fantastic feature.
For the Rider AND the Carrier
Before receiving the Wingman speaker, I had one major concern. On paper it really seemed like this was a device that catered to the person who takes carts for most of their rounds.
I almost always have a push cart or carry – so I wasn’t sure this would be a worthwhile option for me.
And frankly? It’s much more user friendly for the non-cart golfer than I expected it to be.
They include a little hook on the bottom of the speaker that you can use in tandem with a clip or carabiner to attach to your golf bag – which works great! If you’re using a push cart, it’s also very easy to just put in the little mesh basket that most carts have.
While the speaker isn’t big it is considerably bigger than the JBL Clip 3, which up until now has been the gold standard for golf bluetooth speakers.
So if you’re carrying your bag, you may not be stoked about the extra weight this adds – but it really isn’t terrible. And if you’re in a push cart, then it really doesn’t matter.
The magnet is incredibly strong, and I wouldn’t have any concerns about it being attached to a golf cart. Unless you’re doing some truly rocky off roading, it’s going to stay on.
Bushnell Wingman vs JBL Clip 3
If you’re looking for a golf bluetooth speaker I think these are the two you need to be looking at.
They’re both great, but they serve different purposes depending on what you want.
Objectively the Wingman is the better speaker. Sound quality is similar, but the Wingman is louder, has the built in GPS features, the magnet for easy adhesion to a cart, and so on.
It’s also less friendly for the walking golfer and three times the price.
So if you’re looking for the most unobtrusive speaker, carry most of your rounds, and are price conscious? The JBL is the better bet.
If you want something more full featured, ride in a cart regularly, and love the idea of a mostly hands free, audible GPS? Then you’re going to love the Wingman.
Bushnell Wingman Final Thoughts
I was about to write that “I was pleasantly surprised by the Wingman.”
But then I realized, that no, I’m not surprised by the fact this is an excellent device for the golfer.
I’ve reviewed enough Bushnell products over the years to realize that they make really quality products. I can think of only one Bushnell device I wasn’t overly thrilled with (the Tour V4 rangefinder), and they’ve crushed it with the updated Tour V5.
This speaker is no different.
The unique combo of speaker and GPS is actually super useful, enjoyable to use, and my playing partners thanked me for it.
It’s more versatile than I expected it to be, working for both walkers and riders.
And the sound quality is very good. Not best in class, but given the portability and additional golf specific features – it makes for a great package.
You’ll likely have the occasional hiccups with range or the GPS announcing, but overall I love this speaker and believe it’s going to be a staple in my bag for a long time to come.
- Unique GPS Features
- Works well for both rider and walker
- Sounds good
- Bluetooth range issues
- A little on the pricey side at $150