Bushnell Ion Elite Vs Garmin Approach S42 Watch Comparison

Bushnell Ion Elite Vs Garmin Approach S42 Watch

The Garmin S42 is about $100 more expensive than the Bushnell Ion Elite.

Is it worth the extra money? Find out which golf watch comes out on top in the following comparison.

Bushnell Ion Elite Overview

Bushnell Ion Elite

“The Bushnell Ion Elite has a 1.28” color touchscreen display.”

It also boasts features like a dynamic green view, hazard distancing, distance readout to specific targets on any given hole, and slope allowance.

It also automatically detects the course you’re on and has 38,000 preloaded courses. All of these features are helpful and you can even track your round data and send it to the Bushnell app for analysis.

But the plastic bezel feels a bit flimsy which is to be expected at a price point of $199. The Bushnell Ion Elite also lacks any fitness tracking features.

Garmin S42 Overview

Garmin Approach S42 Watch

“The Garmin S42 has a metal bezel and a 1.2” color touchscreen display.”

The battery of the S42 also lasts a couple hours longer than the Bushnell Ion Elite when in GPS mode.

The S42 has all the golf features that the Bushnell Ion Elite has with the additions of handicap scoring and Truswing compatibility.

The S42 also has fitness tracking features for running, cycling and a pedometer. I also liked the fact that the S42 can display push notifications from my phone.

But the S42 does sit rather heavy on my wrist at 43 grams. It’s nice to feel the substance of the metal bezel; but the added weight made it a bit cumbersome.

“Comfort counts for a lot to me so I give the Bushnell Ion Elite the slight edge in this comparison. It lacks a lot of advanced features but if you are simply trying to improve your game, it will work for you.”

Bushnell Ion Elite Overview

Bushnell Ion Elite1

The Bushnell Ion Elite is a color touchscreen golf GPS watch.

The display size is 1.28” and has a mostly plastic bezel. These specs are the first thing I want to talk about because comfort is very important to me when I’m golfing.

If I have a heavy ceramic bezel that houses a 2” display screen, I’m not going to be comfortable and my swings are going to suffer.

So while the plastic bezel and relatively small display screen of the Bushnell Ion Elite don’t feel very substantial, they make it lightweight.

The Bushnell Ion Elite sits very comfortably on my wrist and during testing, I often forgot it was there.

The battery life is about 12 hours and it took just under 3 hours for me to charge from completely dead to full charge.

It charges with a nice, magnetic USB cable that latches onto the back of the watch. The wristband is made of a pliable plastic and is also comfortable.

You can connect the Bushnell Ion Elite to the Bushnell app on your smartphone via bluetooth for stat tracking and round analysis.

The Bushnell Ion Elite costs just $200

Bushnell Ion Elite Key Features

Dynamic Green View

This was probably my favorite feature.

The Bushnell Ion Elite watch allows you to see the exact shape of the green and the distances to the front, back and center of it. Big deal, this is a feature we see in almost all golf watches.

But the cool thing about the Bushnell Ion Elite green view is that it gives you green distances based on what side of the fairway you’re approaching from.

An arrow will indicate the direction you are approaching from and adjust the green distances based on what side of the fairway you’re on.

This simple yet genius feature makes for very accurate green distances.

And of course, you can manually place the pin to the correct position.

Slope Calculation

The Bushnell Ion Elite also features slope allowance.

This feature gives you adjusted distances to the green and various targets on the course based on slope and inclines on that particular hole.

So it’s basically the “plays like” distance feature on Garmin watches.

This is a very handy feature because it will give you the true distance based on the portions of the hole that are pitched and inclined so you know exactly what distance you need to hit and what club to play.

Of course, this feature isn’t tournament-legal but it can easily be toggled off.

When this feature is on, an orange circle will flash on the watch face to indicate that it is in use. The flashing orange ring goes away when it’s in tournament-legal mode.

Full Maps

This is another feature that I always like a lot in golf watches. The Bushnell Ion Elite’s full hole maps give you an aerial view of each hole.

But you can zoom in on any part of the hole, click a specific point and see your current distance from that point.

This is a really helpful feature because it gives you exact distances to specific areas on the hole.

This allows you to strategize your approach, avoid hazards, navigate dog legs and informs you as to which clubs you should be using on any given hole.

Automatic Course Detection

Once you put the watch into golf mode, it will automatically detect which course you’re on.

The Bushnell Ion Elite comes preloaded with 38,000 courses from around the world so the odds are pretty good that it will have information for your courses.

It picks up your position pretty quickly. Once in golf mode, it took about 15 seconds to determine which course I was on.

Distance Tracking

Another pretty basic feature but essential nonetheless.

The Bushnell Ion Elite uses GPS tracking to determine the distance of your last shot (based on how far you walk or travel to your ball).

Digital Scorecard and Stat Tracking

The has a digital scorecard feature. And with the smooth touchscreen interface, you can easily input your scores on each hole.

Once you’re done with your round, you can submit all your stats to the Bushnell app on your smartphone.

The Bushnell app keeps your score, your swing information, GIRs, fairways in regulation, round time and more.

It’s pretty handy when you want to evaluate your performance on each hole and the course overall.

Garmin S42 Golf GPS Watch – First Impressions

Garmin Approach S42 Watch1

It is immediately apparent that the S42 is a beautifully designed color touchscreen golf gps watch that can be worn at all worn at all times, not just for golf.

The watch is less bulky than the S62 and as such will look better at a nice restaurant than the premium S60 or S62.

The watch comes in White, Grey and Black with downloadable interfaces and quick change bands which allows you to have a completely different looking watch to suit your clothing or any occasion.

Key Features:

This watch has 42,000 courses around the world and when you pull up to the course, it loads quickly. Usually minutes faster than their competition.

The watch will give distances to the front middle and the back of the green but also distance to any hazards with layup options included which can be excellent on dog legs and longer holes.

You get green view with the watch and manual pin position to get the exact distance you need for the  pin hunters among us.

There is no slope or plays like feature with the watch, making it completely legal for tournament play which is handy and a selling point for many golfers.

Tru swing is included to iron out any swing problems you may have. The watch connects to the Garmin App to track your shots and build up your stats. You can take this to the next level by attaching the CT10 sensors to the golf clubs to track your performance in detail with each club.

The watch also hooks up to your phone via bluetooth to display any message and calls you receive although it drains the battery a bit quicker.

The Garmin pay feature on the watch is also excellent, you can pay in the clubhouse or in your local shop when wearing the watch which is easily stylish enough to wear at all times.

Bushnell Ion Elite Pros & Cons


  • It sits very light on the wrist
  • It comes in black or white
  • The dynamic greenview feature yields very accurate distances
  • It takes just under two hours to charge
  • The charging cable it comes with is long (about 39”)
  • The course lists are updated automatically and for free
  • It’s affordable


  • Doesn’t display smartphone notifications
  • The display is a bit difficult to read in direct sunlight

Is it Worth it?

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bushnell Ion Elite doesn’t have any fitness tracking modes – not even a pedometer.

But if you are looking for a straight-up, no-nonsense golf watch, Bushnell Ion Elite is definitely worth it.

It gives you all the essential golf GPS watch features, it’s easy to navigate and get the hang of and it’s an affordable alternative to many Garmin products.

I definitely recommend the Bushnell Ion Elite to anyone who really wants to focus on their golf game.

Bushnell Ion Elite2

Overall Score: 96/100

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Who Are The Garmin S42 Watches For

The S42 is mid level watch, perfect for any body who wants the best looking watch with advanced features but without the heaviest of price tags.

The S42 is less bulky than the S60 or the S62 and it doesn’t have slope, making it legal for tournaments and easier to navigate.

This one is also for those who want the maximum style and is probably not for those who want a simply watch to get the distances on a budget.

Garmin S42 Pros And Cons


  • 1.2″ Sharp And Durable Color Touchscreen
  • Fast, Accurate And Effective
  • Sleekest and Nicest Looking Garmin Watch
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Fitness Tracking For Many Sport Profiles
  • Bluetooth And CT10 compatible
  • Connection To Excellent Garmin App
  • Quick Change Bands & Faces


  • Expensive
  • Almost Identical To The Now Cheaper S60

Overall Score: 93/100

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