The Hackers Paradise first got to test drive the OnPar GPS at the PGA Merchandise Show earlier in the year. From that point, we knew it was a device that we could not wait to get our hands on and give it a test run. The OnPar GPS is a unique device in the golf distance measuring device market. A couple of things stand out right away that drew our attention to it and the first is that the device is run completely by touchscreen. The 2nd part that stands out to us is the fact that there are ZERO fees after purchasing the device that includes both course downloads and mapping. After learning about both of those features, we were excited and anxiously awaiting our GPS to arrive for testing.
When the box arrived we quickly ripped it open to find a device that is as cool as we remembered. As a “tech junkie”, the cool factor of the OnPar GPS is extremely high. The back of the device is “rubberized” and the face is one large touchscreen. The box even comes with a “gel like” protective case you see for cell phones, so you do not have to spend any extra money on it. I also want to say that this device comes with instructions that are simple and laid out well to make sure anybody can set it up properly. The OnPar GPS is about the same size as a cell phone (smartphone) and features only one button at the bottom for toggling the device on and off. Our initial impressions were sheer joy and we could not wait to set it up and get started in our testing.
Setup is an absolute breeze after one little issue we figured out fairly quickly. The OnPar GPS is NOT compatible with Mac computers right now, so once we figured out that it had to be connected to a PC it was a breeze to complete.
Step 1 – Download desktop sync software (less than 2 minutes)
Step 2 – Turn on OnPar GPS and connect it to your PC with provided cable.
Step 3 – Register device with MyOnPar (less than 60 seconds) (only done 1st time)
Step 4 – Search for courses you want to load (less than 10 seconds)
Step 5 – Add them to the download list (less than 10 seconds)
Step 6 – Click synch button to load them onto the device (less than 30 seconds with 4 courses)
Step 7 – Unplug device and power it on and the courses load onto the unit (less than 60 seconds)
Step 8 – Start playing with OnPar (endless time limits)
Each step is carefully and clearly laid out in the intructions and a large picture is given as well with exactly what you are doing with each step. The setup is about as easy as any device we have ever encountered. The entire setup (minus the miscue of trying to use a Mac) took less than 10 minutes. THP is all about “multitesting” so we wiped the device and gave it to a person that is not tech familiar with the instructions and let them have at it for a little bit. It took 4 minutes longer for our senior tester to set it up, but the results were the same and they also reported that they had absolutely no problems or issues during the entire process.
While downloading the courses to the device is quick and painless, we did find one major hurdle in the process. The lack of courses. In our area in FL, just about every course we searched for was listed and downloadable. However in our search test, we found far too many courses not available around the country. In further review, it seems as though the OnPar has a significantly smaller library of courses than that of their competitors. However please keep in mind that it is a new device and is being updated regularly. If the courses in your area are not listed, call the customer service and discuss it with them or you can map your own courses with no added fees. THP recommends checking the library of courses ahead of time before making any purchase like this. As of this review, OnPar has a library of about 6,000 courses in the US. We have been told that they will map requested courses in a timeframe of less than 30 days.
The OnPar GPS is the king of features when it comes to golf devices. This one is going to get lengthy.
Shot Tracking – The OnPar has a great, easy to use interface for tracking your golf shots and even recommending what club to use for each shot. If you decide to track your shots for each round, the next time you play that same course, the device not only tells you what club to play, but also shows where your shots were placed and how you played them. After multiple rounds on my home course, I found this extremely helpful to show where I put the ball when I scored well. Others we have spoken with said that they just would not use this feature.
Scores & Statistics – This is a feature that really shows off the touchscreen device. All you have to do to keep score is press the + or – after the hole. Number of putts per hole is tracked the exact same way. It even has both fairways and greens hit in regulation and to track that, it is a simple check mark. There was a small issue with the percentages as it said our eagle percentage was very high despite the fact that we had no eagles. Other than that, the stats feature worked flawlessly.
Club Rec – The OnPar GPS will recommend the proper club for players if they save their distances to it. While this is not USGA allowed for handicap purposes, the feature can very easily be toggled on and off and we were informed that it does NOT keep this device from being legal for tournaments or anything else.
Using the Device
The accuracy of the device is virtually dead on. We tested the OnPar GPS against a Skycaddie, as well as the GPS devices built into the carts at our club and every reading was spot on with both. The OnPar GPS holds 300 courses, so once you set it up, downloading others might be something you rarely have to do, which is a feature that we definitely liked. On the course the device works as described, you pull up to a hole and it gives you the distance to the front, center, and back of the green from the tee box. The screen is bright and we had absolutely no issues in the direct sunlight, as we even tried to find an angle with the device that made it hard to see the screen well. Pin Point accuracy is something we are seeing quite a few devices have recently. Other GPS units are using cursors to “zero in” on an object and give you the measurement to that, such as bunkers, trees, etc… The touch screen works a little differently than that in that all you have to do is touch whatever you want the distance to. For example, if there is a fairway bunker about half the way to the green, touch it on the overhead view of the hole and it will give you that distance, as well as the remaining distance to the hole. The OnPar GPS makes this feature truly easy to use compared to most, however we did find ourselves having to zoom in a few times to make sure we were tapping the right area of the screen. During testing a few players had a tough time using this feature to get it exact, but we really did not have the same issues.
The screen will timeout in between shots and a simple click of the only button brings it back to life. As mentioned previously, the screen is as good as any we have come across. It gets brighter in direct sunlight so you never have any worries of seeing it well. One thing that many have asked about is the OnPar GPS is how is the battery life? The answer to that question is “so-so”. We get just about 2 rounds of use out of it, but as most do, I bring mine in after a round, so I just charge at that point. We would have liked to see a longer battery life, but that is the nature of touch screens and this battery gave us plenty and slightly more than we expected. The device does not have things pre-mapped such as hazards and markers, and we would have liked to see that done on some holes. While the pin point control gives you that ability and a whole lot more, playing a new course could open you up to obstacles you are not aware of and for that reason do not check for. But overall we found that between the accuracy of the device and the touch screen tapping to find distances around the course to all work well and as described.
Mapping on the OnPar GPS is extremely easy to do. Go to the point on the hole you want mapped and press a button. That is it and now that mapped point will remain there for all of the rounds in the future. Once this is done, we had less issues with the OnPar premapping custom points on their courses. However, we would have still liked a few just for those courses you are playing and may not make it back to. We did this to two courses that we play regularly and I can tell you that after you have your areas mapped, this device is even better than it was before.
The OnPar GPS is available from their website (below) as well as most reputable golf retailers. The price we are seeing is around $400. At first that may seem extremely high compared to other options out there. However, further investigation will show that while the original lay out of money is higher, the three and five year costs are quite good. If you purchase another device that costs only $300, but has an annual membership of approximately $30. Within a few years the OnPar GPS will be a cheaper alternative.
The OnPar GPS delivered a very strong contender to the GPS market. Like any device there are a few pitfalls, but the OnPar offers some huge advancements in the GPS market. If their course library continues to expand at the same rate as it has in 2009, this unit will be one of the best available. We want to add a little note that OnPar GPS has one of the best customer service departments we have ever dealt with. It is something we often test, and do not say who we are during the call, but the representatives were friendly, informative, and extremely helpful. Overall, we feel as though this GPS is worthy of consideration if you are looking for a distance measuring device on the market right now. It is packed full of features, no fees after purchase, and delivers on almost all of its promises and claims. For more information on this device, check out their website at www.onpargps.com.
Till Next Time