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If you have not had a chance to try out a Golf GPS unit, now is the time. It seems as though every time you turn around now, a new GPS unit is coming out for golfers to better their game. Some are full of features such as a color screen and come with a big price tag, while others are smaller and affordable. But the most important thing to consider when buying a unit, is just how accurate the GPS is. There is really no reason in purchasing a device that is made to make your golf game better by giving you yardages if the measurements are not accurate. I have always thought of IZZO as a company that produced some nice golf bags and some very popular training and fitness aids. When The Hackers Paradise got a call from them saying that they had come out with a GPS and asked if we would review it, we jumped at the chance.

From IZZO
SWAMI is everything a golfer needs in a GPS unit. Featuring Insta-Lok Technology & powered by the latest SIRFStarIII chip, the SWAMI instantly calculates distance to the Front, Center and Back of the green of 12,000 US courses*. SWAMI stores up to 10 courses at a time and automatically recognizes the course you’re playing, on power-up. Easy to use buttons and a large display allows you to quickly cycle from hole to hole for quicker play. The rechargeable Lithium Ion battery holds a charge for a minimum of 12 hours at a time for extended play.

About a week after speaking with them a box arrived and in it was the new tiny little GPS that we had been waiting for. The IZZO SWAMI GPS is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, however has nice big numbers on the LCD to make it easy to read. One of the issues that a few of our senior testers have is that they have had trouble reading the LCDs that some of the other units we have tested have built in.

The box comes with everything you need to get started. Charger, USB cable, instructions, software CD, and belt clip. We decided to jump right in and get everything setup for the testing to begin. We must note here that there is a yearly fee of $35 for unlimited course downloads. While THP has always been on the fence about annual fees with GPS units we understand that there are two sides. If you play a ton of courses, the annual fee GPS units work great, due to unlimited downloads. We still prefer the no annual fee units for our personal use though. According to IZZO, they have about 12,000 courses in their catalog right now and are adding more all the time. (more on that later)

The software is a breeze to use and we had no problem setting the unit up. Our first test was my local club. This would be our accuracy test in some ways since my club has the GPS units built into the carts and we could compare the accuracy of the two units side by side. Once out there we powered up the device and noticed a really cool feature that is built into this little guy. No more fumbling for what course you are at. The GPS unit automatically figures it out for you. We even tested it out at a club with two 18 hole courses and the SWAMI had no problems figuring out where we were. That feature was well liked by everybody that tested it. Out on the course, the GPS accuracy was dead on. For 5 rounds of golf we compared it to both a SkyCaddie and our built in GPS at the club and each and every time it was within 1 yard. One issue we had with this device though is that it DOES NOT give any other information other than measurements to the green (front, center, and back). We would have liked them to include a few of the other things on holes such as bunkers or carry distance over water. We played a course that we did not know and struggled a bit off the tee due to not having those readings.

Conclusions after a few weeks of using the device differed a little bit. The IZZO SWAMI is by far the easiest GPS to use on the market. You really only use 2 buttons while playing. One is to get the different readings to front, center, and back of the green and the other is to move to the next hole. We mentioned earlier about more courses being added all the time. Well, this company is FAST. One of the courses we were playing was not listed, so we put in a request. With in 3 days it was mapped and on our device and ready to use. However the downfall of this unit is that it just does not give you enough info per hole. If I am going to invest in a GPS I want something that gives me a little more. Without more info per hole, I think the $35 annual fee is a little steep. However our senior testers that tried this unit out raved about it because they play the same course most of the time and really just want distances into the green and simplicity. For the cost of only $150 it is a solid device if it has the features you are looking for. You can read all about it at IZZO SWAMI.

Till Next Time

Josh B.

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Category: Accessories, Equipment

About the Author ()

Josh is the Publisher of The Hackers Paradise and co-founder of THP Media with his wife Morgan Babbitt. Together they share a passion for golf, and they travel the country along with their two dogs in the THP Tour Van bringing their love and knowledge of the game to golfers everywhere.

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  1. Save on Izzo’s Swami GPS Unit | February 10, 2011
  1. Smallville says:

    Sounds like a decent budget-priced GPS. I agree that you need more than just yardages to front-center-back of the green. I also prefer to not have a built in rechargeable battery. I like being able to replace them on the course if it goes dead. And I have run into that situation. If I had the built-in battery I would be SOL.

    Overall, though, sounds good for a basic GPS.

  2. Administrator says:

    You will not need to worry about the batteries. These seem to last forever. We played 4 full rounds on one charge.

  3. dssxxxx says:

    I have found that rechargable’s have been great for a full 2 rounds of golf. What more do you need? Friends have found that units that require batteries, run out prior to finishing a complete 2 rounds.

    But, back to comments……without yardages to bunkers, bunker carries, carries over the water, etc. I feel the GPS unit is lacking.

  4. Lee Merriweather says:

    I think you guys are being a little hard on this unit for not having distance to bunkers, etc. While I agree it’s great to have that info, you also have to spend another $150-200 on top of Izzo’s price to get it. For guys like me that can’t afford to drop a C note on somthing I’ll use 10-20 times a year, this is the perfect compromise.

  5. Administrator says:

    Lee,
    That is just not true. For the same price you can pick up the Igolf Neo and it has 4 points of interest as well as the green yardages.

  6. Lee Merriweather says:

    I wasn’t familiar with that model, so I googled it. Their price is competititve, but I guess it’s all about trade offs. Since I play the same few courses most of the time, I already know distances to ponds/bunkers, etc. If I played a new course every week, the additional points would have more value to me. Also, age is catching up with me. There’s no way I would be able to read the iGolf display with that small print without pulling out my reading glasses every time.

  7. Administrator says:

    Lee,
    We agree with you 100%. I think that is why our senior testers loved this device so much. I just found out a few of them are going to be purchasing it since they loved the large LCD and the simplicity.

  8. Jamie Vanse says:

    I love the Swami.. I actually ran a test and the charge lasted 24 hours and Izzo only advertizes 12 hrs? I like it because it fits in my pocket and I can quickly pull it out and it knows exactly how far. I know it uses the new SiRF III GPS and it is extremly accurate. I tested it on my course and it was dead on to the course lazer makers. Actually it was a none hole course and I proved that one on the lazer markers on the course was wrong. this GPS is on !

  9. Kefer Rominger says:

    IZZO Golf Swami is a nice easy unit to use . I have had my unit 5 days and love it. The software is very easy to install and and download courses. The support is great, mapped one of my small local courses in two days. I use the belt clip “which is included with unit” to clip to bag strap on cart so every one in foursome can check distance. Big, easy to read numbers can be seen from 10 feet away. The unit is not always going to sleep, so you can quickly check distance. Internal battery is great.

  10. Jpage says:

    I just saw this unit in an Academy ad for 49.99. A jaw dropping price for a Golf GPS. Are they going out of business?

  11. Dave Burford says:

    Myself and 2 other friends just bought our Swami. Setup was simple and fast, numbers are quite large, and unit is very easy to use. Downloaded our local courses and off we went. Three holes on our course were modified about 6 years ago and the Swami did not reflect these changes. As a result, distance was way off. I also use an IGOLF and had it along. On nearly every hole, the Swami’s distance was totally inaccurate. Actually pulled alongside the actual 150 yard marker on most holes and the Swami showed anywhere from 131 yards to 179 yards. To date, it’s been a total waste. IGOLF far superior!

  12. CJ Waylan says:

    I have had my 1500 for nearly a year. I have used it in Virginia and Florida. I have occasionally played course which had reversed the nines or changed the order of a couple of holes. I have noted this back to IZZO and they have promptly made corrections. I love the charge life. I rarely need anything more than the distances to the F, B & C of the green. A number of my friends have more expensive and capable models of GPS range finders, but I find it hard to read the details. Also, IZZO offers a great bargain for annual fees compared to the others.

  13. Paul W says:

    I have a Swami and like it for two reasons:
    1. It is the perfect size to just leave in your pocket and check yardage as needed
    2. It has the best display for my 67 year old eyes. I can easily see it in bright sunlight. This is a shortcoming of all the other GPS units I have used.

    What I don’t like is that it is not always accurate. I also carry with me a Bushnell Rangefinder when I really want accurate information, including distance to bunkers, players ahead of me, carry over water, etc. I have had Golflogix GPS and found it too complicated, too dim.

    From my perspective, a Swami and a Bushnell make an unbeatable combination.

  14. Paul W says:

    Great device BUT…..IT IS NOT MAC COMPATIBLE!! To even charge the thing you must have a PC (which I don’t have so I have to go to a friends house to charge and update). But it has a feature no other unit has…HUGE YARDAGE NUMBERS visible in bright sunlight! And that is all I really want…I have a Bushnell rangefinder for distances to carts, bunkers, trees. One second glance at the unit and I have the info I need. And very simple to do the math to measure any shot you make.

  15. Opal Chatman says:

    Great information 🙂

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