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Garmin vivoactive 3? Anyone have a hands-on?


35 replies to this topic

#1 kidrobot

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 12:50 PM

https://buy.garmin.c...-US/US/p/571520

New release from Garmin. Does anyone know if the golf part is similar to the vivoactive HR or if it's better?

I know it's not a dedicated golf GPS watch, but it's easier to justify spending the money when it does more than just give me distances and swing metrics.


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#2 ThinkingPlus

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:57 PM

Used mine today for the first time for golf.  Seems to work ok with a couple of issues.  Watch ran out of battery after about 12 holes.  Wasn't fully charged so need to check if it will make a full round if 100% charged.  Second problem was it seemed to jump way ahead to other holes.  Not sure why.  I might should have locked the screen.  I might have been activating the change hole function when swinging (left wrist).  Have generally been happy with fitness tracking and watch function.  Keeping screen locked helps a bunch.
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#3 ThinkingPlus

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:09 PM

Used it today again.  Started with a full charge.  Did not make 18 again.  I would not recommend this for golf.  A bit disappointing actually.  Locking the screen did not help either.  For some reason it would not stay locked as it still kept jumping to the wrong hole.  Sad.
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#4 jeffc

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 04:27 PM

looking at one of these. Any updates from anyone. Golf is kinda secondary for me as I have a rangefinder I like so it's a bit more of a nice to have rather than a must but it would be good if it worked well and lasted 18. Will use mostly for fitness, running, biking as well.

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#5 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 01:51 PM

I'm looking for more info as well. Thanks!


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#6 jeffc

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 05:26 PM

so I have used it twice now for golf and for the life of me I can't get an accurate yardage reading. Today we had GPS on the carts and my rangefinder and it was way off (40 yds on the tee at some points). I have checked that it should be recording yards, not meters so that's not it (unless there is a bug). As a fitness watch I love it but still not sold on the golf.

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#7 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 03:55 AM

View Postjeffc, on 29 May 2018 - 05:26 PM, said:

so I have used it twice now for golf and for the life of me I can't get an accurate yardage reading. Today we had GPS on the carts and my rangefinder and it was way off (40 yds on the tee at some points). I have checked that it should be recording yards, not meters so that's not it (unless there is a bug). As a fitness watch I love it but still not sold on the golf.
Thanks for the update. Might I suggest that you call garmin tech support... They are very good.

Keep the updates coming and thank you!

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#8 jeffc

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 08:22 AM

good idea. I will do that and let you know

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#9 jeffc

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 09:50 AM

just painful trying to get someone on the line. The VA3 guy was no help, put me through to the Golf guys but was on hold for 40 minutes and no one answered. So much for customer support

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#10 Stuart G.

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 10:02 AM

That's too bad - I've always had very good service from Garmin C.S.


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#11 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 10:06 AM

Agreed that is unfortunate as I've received great support from them including replacing a product.



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#12 jcorna01

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.

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#13 ThinkingPlus

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 10:18 AM

View Postjcorna01, on 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM, said:

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.
Guess I will have to try using it for golf again. I have never made it past 12 holes on a charge.  It has been 4 months or so since I last tried though.
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic 9° w/Project X HZRDUS T800 65 gm 6.0 flex
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#14 jeffc

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 11:44 AM

View PostThinkingPlus, on 04 June 2018 - 10:18 AM, said:

View Postjcorna01, on 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM, said:

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.
Guess I will have to try using it for golf again. I have never made it past 12 holes on a charge.  It has been 4 months or so since I last tried though.

I haven't had a problem with the charge, I find it lasts forever. Played 36 on friday with lots of juice to spare.

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#15 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 05 June 2018 - 01:37 PM

Thanks for the updates. I'm really thinking of getting one of these.


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#16 jcorna01

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 07:52 AM

View PostThinkingPlus, on 04 June 2018 - 10:18 AM, said:

View Postjcorna01, on 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM, said:

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.
Guess I will have to try using it for golf again. I have never made it past 12 holes on a charge.  It has been 4 months or so since I last tried though.


One thought....what is your brightness setting at?  I keep mine at 40% (and could probably go lower and be fine), which is plenty bright for me.

Edited by jcorna01, 06 June 2018 - 07:53 AM.


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#17 ThinkingPlus

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 08:01 AM

View Postjcorna01, on 06 June 2018 - 07:52 AM, said:

View PostThinkingPlus, on 04 June 2018 - 10:18 AM, said:

View Postjcorna01, on 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM, said:

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.
Guess I will have to try using it for golf again. I have never made it past 12 holes on a charge.  It has been 4 months or so since I last tried though.


One thought....what is your brightness setting at?  I keep mine at 40% (and could probably go lower and be fine), which is plenty bright for me.
Made all 18 yesterday with more than 40% battery left. Must be a recent update that fixed my earlier issue. I still had some issues with it bouncing to the wrong hole occasionally, but it worked pretty well otherwise.
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic 9° w/Project X HZRDUS T800 65 gm 6.0 flex
3W: Callaway Rogue w/Project X Evenflow 5.5 Graphite R-flex
Hybrids: Callaway Apex 3h, 4h w/MR Kuro Kage 80HY S-flex
Irons: Maltby DBM 5i w/TT XP95 R-flex, Callaway Apex 6i - AW w/UST Recoil 680 F4
Sand Wedge: Mizuno S5 54/08 w/True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge Flex
Lob Wedge: Titleist Vokey SM5 58/07 w/True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge Flex
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Ball: Titleist AVX in yellow

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#18 jeffc

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 10:01 AM

View PostThinkingPlus, on 06 June 2018 - 08:01 AM, said:

View Postjcorna01, on 06 June 2018 - 07:52 AM, said:

View PostThinkingPlus, on 04 June 2018 - 10:18 AM, said:

View Postjcorna01, on 04 June 2018 - 10:11 AM, said:

I have one as I was looking for a running/golf hybrid and this is the one that most fit my needs.

I've played 27 holes on a charge no problem.  Distances are in line with my handheld Garmin G5 (older model).  It gives you layup/clear distances to hazards as well as the 200/150/100 distances.  Overall, the depth of information and usability is not as smooth or detailed as what ive seen, but it fit what I was looking for nicely.  Again, I wanted a running watch that also had golf, and this has worked out great.

If I could transfer one feature from my handheld to my watch, it would be the ability to measure point to point from anywhere.  When I play a new course, i'm flying partially blind regarding doglegs.
Guess I will have to try using it for golf again. I have never made it past 12 holes on a charge.  It has been 4 months or so since I last tried though.


One thought....what is your brightness setting at?  I keep mine at 40% (and could probably go lower and be fine), which is plenty bright for me.
Made all 18 yesterday with more than 40% battery left. Must be a recent update that fixed my earlier issue. I still had some issues with it bouncing to the wrong hole occasionally, but it worked pretty well otherwise.

I'm struggling with the yardage accuracy. anyone else? I played last week with a laser and cart gps and it was 20-40yds off from the cart gps and off as well with the laser as I used that as I got closer to the pin. I have checked that it is in yards and not meters but somehow I think it's recording in meters as it seems to be about 10% off....

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#19 Stuart G.

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 10:14 AM

View Postjeffc, on 06 June 2018 - 10:01 AM, said:

I'm struggling with the yardage accuracy. anyone else? I played last week with a laser and cart gps and it was 20-40yds off from the cart gps and off as well with the laser as I used that as I got closer to the pin. I have checked that it is in yards and not meters but somehow I think it's recording in meters as it seems to be about 10% off....

With my garmin's,  sometimes I'll find my home course seem a bit out of whack after updating the course maps.  I find that usually re-installing those course maps usually corrects the problem.   Likely some corruption when the data was loaded.    Can't say if that's your problem or not - but couldn't hurt to try it.

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#20 jeffc

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 11:57 AM

View PostStuart G., on 06 June 2018 - 10:14 AM, said:

View Postjeffc, on 06 June 2018 - 10:01 AM, said:

I'm struggling with the yardage accuracy. anyone else? I played last week with a laser and cart gps and it was 20-40yds off from the cart gps and off as well with the laser as I used that as I got closer to the pin. I have checked that it is in yards and not meters but somehow I think it's recording in meters as it seems to be about 10% off....

With my garmin's,  sometimes I'll find my home course seem a bit out of whack after updating the course maps.  I find that usually re-installing those course maps usually corrects the problem.   Likely some corruption when the data was loaded. Can't say if that's your problem or not - but couldn't hurt to try it.

I can try but I've tried it on 3 courses now, all with the same results - the VA3 is under reporting distances.


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#21 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 05:48 AM

In spite of some concerns I decided to pull the trigger on the Vivoactive 3. It potentially offers too much to be ignored. As a techie I'll be willing to work with it to meet my needs as long as it's accurate on the golf course. The device is light, attractive and fairly thin. It's actually appreciably thinner than my garmin x40.

I'll post an update in a few days when I get a chance to use it for golf.

One thing I did observe relevant to comments here about backlight, seems there is absolutely no reason for backlight when golfing or anything outside during the day, so turn it all the way down if you want to save battery with no impact on performance.

Edited by BlackDiamondPar5, 15 June 2018 - 11:29 AM.


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#22 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 07:17 AM

First round impressions:
1. Yardage excellent. Typ 0-3 off, only 1 instance of 5 off. Exactly as expected from GPS.

2. Battery- started at 94%, the round was a bit slow at 4:20, battery ended at 57%. Turned off backlight because it provides no function outside in daylight.

3. Display is highly readable.

4. Scoring and putts easy to enter. It pops up when you get close to the green. Though I didn't have it turned on for the first three holes, once I diagnosed the issue and turned it on there were no issues.

5. No issues with hole advance or jumping holes. I also have turned off side swipe as I don't need it and I hear this can be an issue with undesired hole jumping.

6. Toggling to the hazards, dog legs display or displaying 200, 150, 100 yardages is easy.

7. Very light weight and not noticeable on my wrist.

8. The PinPointer function was pretty much useless. But I have no need for that.

Only real issue I had was uploading my end of round data didn't work and I couldn't find my scorecard or stats. I tried it again sitting in my house and it worked. Maybe I inadvertently did something wrong so I'll have to try again later this week when I play.

Hopefully it will work great as a fitness tracker.

More review to come.

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#23 jeffc

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Posted 19 June 2018 - 01:46 PM

View PostBlackDiamondPar5, on 18 June 2018 - 07:17 AM, said:

First round impressions:
1. Yardage excellent. Typ 0-3 off, only 1 instance of 5 off. Exactly as expected from GPS.

2. Battery- started at 94%, the round was a bit slow at 4:20, battery ended at 57%. Turned off backlight because it provides no function outside in daylight.

3. Display is highly readable.

4. Scoring and putts easy to enter. It pops up when you get close to the green. Though I didn't have it turned on for the first three holes, once I diagnosed the issue and turned it on there were no issues.

5. No issues with hole advance or jumping holes. I also have turned off side swipe as I don't need it and I hear this can be an issue with undesired hole jumping.

6. Toggling to the hazards, dog legs display or displaying 200, 150, 100 yardages is easy.

7. Very light weight and not noticeable on my wrist.

8. The PinPointer function was pretty much useless. But I have no need for that.

Only real issue I had was uploading my end of round data didn't work and I couldn't find my scorecard or stats. I tried it again sitting in my house and it worked. Maybe I inadvertently did something wrong so I'll have to try again later this week when I play.

Hopefully it will work great as a fitness tracker.

More review to come.

thanks - good to see that it is working well for you. As a fitness tracker I love it - for runs, walks, biking, etc. it is great. Gotta figure out why the yardages are off on mine. I think before Tuesday's round I will switch everything to imperial and see what happens.

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#24 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 24 June 2018 - 11:15 AM

View Postjeffc, on 19 June 2018 - 01:46 PM, said:

View PostBlackDiamondPar5, on 18 June 2018 - 07:17 AM, said:

First round impressions:
1. Yardage excellent. Typ 0-3 off, only 1 instance of 5 off. Exactly as expected from GPS.

2. Battery- started at 94%, the round was a bit slow at 4:20, battery ended at 57%. Turned off backlight because it provides no function outside in daylight.

3. Display is highly readable.

4. Scoring and putts easy to enter. It pops up when you get close to the green. Though I didn't have it turned on for the first three holes, once I diagnosed the issue and turned it on there were no issues.

5. No issues with hole advance or jumping holes. I also have turned off side swipe as I don't need it and I hear this can be an issue with undesired hole jumping.

6. Toggling to the hazards, dog legs display or displaying 200, 150, 100 yardages is easy.

7. Very light weight and not noticeable on my wrist.

8. The PinPointer function was pretty much useless. But I have no need for that.

Only real issue I had was uploading my end of round data didn't work and I couldn't find my scorecard or stats. I tried it again sitting in my house and it worked. Maybe I inadvertently did something wrong so I'll have to try again later this week when I play.

Hopefully it will work great as a fitness tracker.

More review to come.

thanks - good to see that it is working well for you. As a fitness tracker I love it - for runs, walks, biking, etc. it is great. Gotta figure out why the yardages are off on mine. I think before Tuesday's round I will switch everything to imperial and see what happens.

I had an opportunity to play my second time with my VA3.  A different course from my first round.  Once again and most importantly the yardages were right on.  Typ 0-3 yard difference from embedded yardage markers.  Can't say I saw any worse than 3 yards delta.

Scoring is much easier than with my X40 given the display size.  But it's equally unnoticeable on my wrist and thinner than the x40.

Battery life: seems to consume about 30% per round, so 2 full rounds should be a slam dunk.  I do keep my backlight at 20% and I did turn it off during golf because you don't see it nor need it when in daylight.

Now for the odd stuff:
--- For whatever reason the scoring option doesn't always show up on the first or second hole of the round.  But once I enter a score manually, then it seems to prompt me to enter a score at each subsequent green.  I need to keep an eye on the exact sequence of this oddity so I can submit a bug to Garmin.

--- Auto shot--- I have stat tracking turned on, but it never prompts me for what club I hit. So I just end up (after uploading round) with a shot by shot tracing with yardages but no club info.  To me this isn't a big deal since I really didn't use this feature much on my X40 once the novelty wore off.  But it seems like it should work differently.  Also autoshot is not nearly as reliable as it is on my X40.

---It has happened twice now that a final scorecard did not upload to Garmin.  The first time I played a full 18 the round didn't upload to Garmin.  When I played my second 18, I ended the round after 9 then started a new round for the second 9.  The first 9 never uploaded but the second round uploaded just fine.  Another bug.


For non-golf:
---Heart rate seems very good-- much more accurate and responsive compared to my X40. Worked perfectly on the elliptical and compared nearly identical to the electronic heart measure on the eliptical.
--- Steps seem consistent with my x40 which always seemed accurate.
--- Activity mins works well.
---Tracking exercise like walking works great.  Worked well on the elliptical. Haven't used it running yet.
--- Worked decently counting the reps weight training.  Though figuring it out took a bit of trail and error because Garmin's documentation is worse than lacking.
--- I do swim but unfortunately the watch does not recognize lap swimming for pools under 18 yards which is bigger than most residential backyard pools so that is unfortunate.

Another thing you may want to try if you are having trouble.  When my watch came out of the box it needed numerous software updates.  Also the built in altimeter was way off and would not autocalibrate. I waited a couple days and it still was never right--- like off by 100 feet..  So I performed a "reset defaults" found under the settings menu and now the altimeter has been good for days.

Also I wasn't receiving text messages on the watch from my android phone.  I uninstalled the Garmin Connect app on the phone and reinstalled it and it works just fine now.

I'll keep the updates coming but so far in spite of a few bugs I think this is going to be a keeper.

Edited by BlackDiamondPar5, 24 June 2018 - 06:41 PM.


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#25 NativeTX

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 08:40 AM

Good info on here. I appreciate it as I'm in the market for a new watch and this one caught my eye.

One question on these VA3s...Do you have to have your phone on and connected via Bluetooth? Are the course preloaded or do you have to download them prior to playing?


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#26 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 09:05 PM

View PostNativeTX, on 26 June 2018 - 08:40 AM, said:

Good info on here. I appreciate it as I'm in the market for a new watch and this one caught my eye.

One question on these VA3s...Do you have to have your phone on and connected via Bluetooth? Are the course preloaded or do you have to download them prior to playing?

Unlike some of the other Garmin products the Vivoactive 3 only holds around 10 courses at a time (as I recall from the poorly written Garmin documentation).  The courses are loaded through the Garmin Connect App from the phone via Bluetooth.  It works well and they are loaded to the watch when you Sync the watch to Garmin Connect via the Bluetooth App.  I tested it tonight for you and once they are on the watch then no phone connection is necessary.  I'm guessing you can load and sync using the computer app as well.

I'll be playing my third round with it later this week and will report back again.

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#27 Fourcooks

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Posted 27 June 2018 - 12:02 PM

On my Garmin S20 you have to have club tracking turned on along with stat tracking. With club tracking it will initially ask for driver distance then will ask for which club after it detects a hit. Don’t know if it is the same for the vivoactive.

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#28 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 27 June 2018 - 02:09 PM

View PostFourcooks, on 27 June 2018 - 12:02 PM, said:

On my Garmin S20 you have to have club tracking turned on along with stat tracking. With club tracking it will initially ask for driver distance then will ask for which club after it detects a hit. Donít know if it is the same for the vivoactive.
That's how it is on the x40 as well. I see no such option on Vivoactive 3 unless I'm missing it, which seems silly considering it has autoshot and all shots are viewable at the end of the round in Garmin Connect.

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#29 BlackDiamondPar5

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 09:49 AM

Played my third round with the VA3. Yardage again was superb, typ 0-3 yards from embedded markers.

Used about 33% battery.

The bug I've found, tested for repeatability, and reported to garmin-- If you "pause" a round such as you may if you take a long delay between the front and back 9, the score file/stat file becomes corrupted and will not upload. So until it's fixed, just end your round and start a new one. Auto shot history also stopped functioning when you pause a round.

I really like this as a fitness watch as well, so all in all I'm quite pleased, bugs aside.

Edited by BlackDiamondPar5, 30 June 2018 - 09:50 AM.


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#30 NativeTX

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:49 AM

I finally snagged one of these.

Amazon had them (and still does) on PrimeDay sale for $200.

Thanks for reviews and input!


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