Hole19 Free Golf GPS Rangefinder App Review


Golf rangefinder apps are one of the best uses of smartphones, because they make the most of the devices' capabilities, including built-in GPS, high-res color touchscreens, data analysis, review, and storage, graphics features and access to large databases of golf courses around the world. They also provide good alternatives to much more costly dedicated, hand-held golf GPS devices. That's pretty much a checklist of these apps' strengths.

Smartphone golf GPS apps don't replace dedicated handhelds completely, though, because handhelds are waterproof and rugged – you can throw them into a golf cart dashboard compartment or toss them to another player with no worries.

However, smartphone apps provide plenty of bang for the buck, and a newer entry to the category, Hole19 (iPhone only), provides a lot of bang for no bucks – it's free.

I recently played a few rounds with Hole19, and I found it comparable in many ways to other excellent apps on the market.

The core of Hole19's functionality is its flyover view and distances screens. The flyover screen includes an aerial view of the hole, with total distance to the pin displayed in the top right. You may tap at a target icon and drag it to any point on the hole to get a distance to a fairway bunker or water hazard, for example.

From the flyover screen, you may pull down a menu that presents simple numerical readings to the front, center, and the back of the green (as well as the hole number and par). You may also tap to set a starting point for shot distance tracking.

After you complete the hole, if you wish, you may tap a special screen to log your number of putts, which is handy for analysis later. 

Speaking of stats, after your round, you may review stats and graphics for fairways hit (you may select the number of holes analyzed), round duration, distance covered, best hole, longest drive and total putts. You may also upload all of your stats and scores to Hole19's "online clubhouse" for storage, review and analysis from your desktop.

Hole19's golf course database includes more than 40,000 courses, making it competitive with others on the market. I had no trouble finding even smaller local courses. There is no fee for full course database access although there is an option for users to upgrade to a paid, premium subscription that offers access to even more game-improving features. I found it quick and easy to identify and download courses based on my location.

You may personalize the app with your photo, and set your handicap as part of the setup process. You will also want to enter all of your clubs with the app's bag function. 

The app includes a scorecard feature and the ability to add buddies to your list if you wish to keep a set of scores. After each hole, enter strokes for each player, and at that time you may also enter details about the hole for your personal record, including putts, sand shots, penalties and fairways hit. The scorecard presents in a nice traditional format when you turn the phone sideways into landscape mode.

If you need to change the hole you are viewing, it's easy to do so by selecting by hole number, or simply swiping at the bottom to advance or go backwards.

Overall, I found Hole19 to be a highly competent golf GPS app that is free with no strings attached for subscriptions or other upgrades.