Review: Callaway Upro GPS

Your Handheld Caddie

Caddies have had a long tradition in the game of golf.  They serve the golfer in more ways than just carrying the clubs; they typically have insider knowledge of the course, understand the shots needed to accomplish the lowest possible score and are there to make the game more enjoyable.  Many US golfers haven’t played with a caddie and have little desire to do so.  While that is unfortunate, uPro GPS can very well make up for a caddie.

With a slew of yardage devices out on the market right now, it can be hard to know which one to pick.  They all offer roughly the same basic function, they let you know the yardage from where you are to the pin.  After that basic fact, what else they can do varies from unit to unit.  I found the uPro to be full of well thought out additional functions.

After opening the well-packaged uPro unit, I was surprised but pleased with the size of the unit.  I guess I was expecting something big like the GPS unit in my car, but this one is closer to the size of a cellphone or Ipod.  I was a bit uncertain if the small size would bother me, but it didn’t at all.  Once I powered up the unit, I found a very bright, crisp screen giving me two selections, Play golf or Settings.  Of course I wanted to play golf.  After selecting “play golf” mode, it takes you to your course selection screen.  There listed are the courses you have downloaded.  One comes free with purchase, after that you need to pony up some $$$ for each additional course.  Now to be fair, the basic mode for all courses are free, but the pro mode costs about $3-$5 a course, depending on how many bulk points you buy.

After going online and downloading a new course, which by the way worked seamlessly with my iMac, I went to play a local course I knew pretty well.  This first round out was a bright sunny fall day.  As I walked up to hole number one, I powered up the unit.  It took about ten seconds to fire up, and another ten seconds to find the GPS signal.  From start to finish and ready to play hole one, was about 30 seconds.  After letting you know that it is on hole one, it starts this really cool fly over.  It includes 200, 150 and 100 yard markers on its way to the green.  The fly over lasts about 15 seconds. I have read complaints on various websites that the screen isn’t bright enough; I didn’t find that to be true of my unit.  The fly over is a bit tricky, not because of the screen but because everything is green.  I still found it very easy to see and understand even in the bright fall sun.  The directions explain how to use the sunlight to make the transflective screen easier to read, and voila, clear as can be.  (I wonder if those complaints were from people who read how to use the unit?) I found that on a high-end course, especially if there is color contrast in the greens of the fairway and rough, or a pattern cut, it is very easy to see and use.  Some munis with the same green grass wall to wall make it a bit harder to frame the hole. 

After the fly over it gives you the basic GPS mode telling you the distance to the middle of the green, framed by front and back of the green.  (Which you can change to picture pro mode if you want)  This screen is extremely bright and easy to read in any light.  Clear, bold numbers made even the quickest glance easy to see and read. In the lower left corner there is a hazard tab.  If that is selected, every hazard is shown with front and back yardages.  The list can be long on some of those holes with lots of hazards.  (I couldn’t imagine how long that list would be at Whistling Straits.)  If you want to map a spot on the hole and see what the distance is to a specific point, you can press the pro button on the side of the unit.  The aerial view ill appear with a movable cursor.  This feature is extremely beneficial when the pins are tucked in the corners or you want lay-up yardages.  I found it to be spot on with my range finder.

I found a few other features that I really liked too.  It has an automatic advance from hole to hole or it can be turned off.  This is so nice if you aren’t using the unit on every single hole for every single shot, when you power it up again off of power save mode, it goes right to the hole that you are now on.  I also liked how it has a video tutorial right on the unit so even while you are out on the course, you can listen using the included headphones to learn a little bit more about the uPro. 

With so many fancy features, it takes quite a battery to handle all the video and audio.  I found that it does power save pretty fast, helping it maintain battery life for 36 holes.  I am not sure you could get another 9 in, much less 18.  So all you marathon golfers out there that think 54 holes in one day isn’t enough, get the car charger, or find a few minutes to plug it in while having a hot-dog at the turn.

I was happy to learn that I wouldn’t have to shell out more $$ every year just to keep the courses I have already downloaded, but it might get expensive to download the pro mode for every course I play.  I play a lot of different courses each year.  I can’t really even say I have a home course.  I like the idea of the bulk rate, but I’m hoping that time will make them a little cheaper.

I appreciate how the firmware of this unit can be upgraded online.  I have heard rumors that in the near future: there will be a scorecard feature and shot tracking ability.  If and when this comes true, this would be the ultimate GPS.  It also has voice recognition that is integrated into the unit for future use.

My only complaint is minor, but worthy of note.  After spending $400 on a brand new GPS unit, I think most people would appreciate a case of any kind to keep the unit in.  I know you can buy one off their site or at a retailer, but then its another $24.99 to keep my GPS safe.  I think that should be included with any golf GPS.  (I know many other companies don’t include them either.)  The other accessories seem on par with other GPS manufacturers.

If you don’t want to hire a caddie, then buy a uPro GPS.  It will cut strokes off your game.  You will have a better feel for the layout of each hole, and you will be able to get exact distances to anything on the course, most importantly the pin.  You’ll have the knowledge of a caddie in the palm of your hand.

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