Bushnell Ion Elite Vs Garmin S12 Golf Watch Comparison

Bushnell Ion Elite Vs Garmin S12

For many, Garmin represents the apex of gold watches.

But the new Bushnell Ion Elite may have something to say about that.

Bushnell Ion Elite Overview

Bushnell Ion Elite

“The Bushnell Ion Elite comes with a 1.28” color touchscreen display and weighs 38 grams.”

The Bushnell Ion Elite has a mostly plastic bezel that sits light on the wrist. It was comfortable during my swing which is vastly important.

But my favorite feature by far was the dynamic green view which gives you accurate distances to the green based on which side of the fairway you’re approaching from.

But the Bushnell Ion Elite also provides distances to any point on the green, manual pin placement, digital scorecard, distance tracking, slope calculation, auto-course detection, bluetooth connectivity and full hole maps.

It charges easily with a magnetic USB charger that simply latches onto the back of the watch face.

Garmin S12 Overview

“The Garmin S12 weighs 34g but does not have a color touchscreen.”

But the display is clearly readable in the sunlight which is very convenient on the course.

The S12 is preloaded with 43,000 courses, gives you distances to the front, middle and back of the green, distances to hazards and course targets, manual pin positioning, times your round and offers a digital scorecard.

As far as features go, the S12 and Ion Elite are very similar save for the dynamic green distance of the Ion Elite. But the S12 is operated entirely by buttons flanking the bezel – which is not ceramic.

“The Bushnell Ion Elite costs only about $30 more than the Garmin S12 and in my opinion, that extra money is worth it.

The touchscreen is much more convenient than buttons and the dynamic green distancing is a unique and helpful feature.”

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 S12 Golf GPS Watch – First Impressions

The first thing to notice about the golf gps watch is that the watch is slim and sleek with black and white .9″ x .9″ screen.

The watch is easy to use with 4 buttons, 2 on either side and the watch comes with either white or black straps.

The features are stripped down on this so it is perfect for anyone who just wants fast and accurate distances to the front middle and back of the green, hazards and lay up options.

Key Features:

The watch comes with 42,000 courses worldwide and we have noticed that Garmin loads the courses much faster than most of the competition.

You get all the basic features of the Garmin watch without any of the extra bells and whistles which might be distracting, unneeded and even troublesome for some less tech savvy players.

You do get green view which allows you to attack the pin more aggressively, autoshot which tracks the distance you struck the ball and a digital scorecard which asks for the amount of putts you had before auto progressing to the next hole

There is no advanced fitness features and this could be used just for golf or perfectly in conjunction with a golf rangefinder as you navigate the course.

The watch can hook up to your phone via bluetooth and display calls and messages but one of the key selling points with this one is that the battery lasts 30 hours in GPS mode.

A very nice upgrade on the S10 with incredible performance and a competitive price tag.

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

Check Out More Reviews Here:


Who Are The Garmin S12 Watches For

The Garmin S12 is for anybody who wants the best entry level golf watch and perhaps anybody who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on their watch.

The watch has everything you need to lower your strokes on the course without packing in any unnessasary features that can distract you from your game. This will be perfect for senior players.

This is perfect for someone who just wants the basic features and accuracy without spending a fortune.

Garmin S12 Pros And Cons


  • .9″ x. .9″ Black And White, High Res screen
  • Distances And Length Of Any Hazards
  • Fast, Accurate And Effective
  • Easy To Navigate Interface
  • Free Connection To Excellent Garmin App
  • Incredible Battery Life


  • Perfect For Technophobes
  • Could Be Cheaper, Look Out For Future Deals

Overall Score: 95/100

Check Out More Reviews Here: