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Green Bushnell Phantom 3 GPS handhelds stuck by the magnetic mount to golf reviewer Marc's golf cart at the course

Bushnell Phantom 3 Slope GPS Review: For Golfers Who Appreciate the Simple Life

Bushnell Golf made distance simple with their line of Phantom GPS handhelds. Now they've made simple distance even better with the Phantom 3 Slope. Read Marc's review to learn all about the upgrades and if this golf tech is worth it!

Video of PlayBetter Golf Reviewer Marc Getting Intel on 2024 Bushnell Phantom 3 Slope!

There’s nothing exciting about a golf GPS device that doesn’t do too much more than report distances.


That’s outdated. No longer relevant.

Isn’t it?

If it’s not a golf rangefinder or watch that can read wind speeds, help with club selections, and triangulate distances, all while keeping track of your fitness and storing your emails, what is there to be excited about?

I mean, this is 2024. Golf technology has zoomed well past plain golf GPS devices.


Well, not so fast.

It’s easy to write off basic GPS devices as outdated, or at least no longer cutting edge. But I’ve come to discover something beautiful about the simplicity of a handheld or cart-mounted GPS. In fact, I think Bushnell really nailed it with the tagline for their new Phantom 3 Slope GPS: “Distance Made Simple.”

Bushnell’s third generation Phantom GPS strikes a really nice balance between adding a few perks and features to what was available in previous models without compromising what makes this product brilliant—its simplicity.

So while it might not be as thrilling as a cutting-edge golf watch or have all of the features of the latest-and-greatest rangefinder, the Phantom 3 could be a really nice option for a golf minimalist who still wants at least a little technology in their bag. This just might be the perfect middle ground of introducing a touch of modern advantage to your game without becoming a slave to gadgets while out on the course.

Relative to what’s out there in golf tech, the Phantom 3 is a basic device. Which always calls into question price. Is the $149.99 retail of the Phantom 3 a fair value? And are the new features worth the $30 increase over the $129.99 Phantom 2? Or should you just save some money and buy that model while they’re still available?

That’s what we’re going to cover in this Bushnell Phantom 3 review. I can already tell you that I like this product, especially when I want my golf fast and easy. But as for how much I like it, whether or not I think it’s fairly priced, and for the things about it that I wish were better, well, you’ll have to read on.

Getting Started with the Bushnell Phantom 3 Slope Handheld Golf GPS

The Bushnell Phantom 3 box 

Bushnell always does a great job with packaging and presentation, and the Phantom 3 is no exception. The device comes neatly boxed with a USB-C charging cable, a belt clip, a carabiner, and some simple instructions.

The first impression of the Phantom 3 — available in black, blue, orange, and green — upon unboxing is that it’s slightly larger than its Phantom predecessors, but it still fits comfortably in the hand. It’s a couple millimeters taller, wider, and thicker than the Phantom 2. As we’ll get into further below, the larger screen is a welcome upgrade because it allows for even bigger numbers that are that much simpler to read out on the golf course. Also, Bushnell added those few millimeters without increasing the 78-gram weight, which is a plus. 

The contents of the Bushnell Phantom 3 GPS package next to the empty box

If ever there was a product that I predict almost nobody will read the instructions for, it’s this one. This is a simple device, and Bushnell does a good job of presenting it simply. It’s obvious from looking at it that operating it is going to be intuitive. As soon as you see it, you just want to turn it on and start swiping the screen and pushing the buttons because it has the look of being something you can’t really screw up. And as I’ll discuss later, that’s exactly the case.

Physically, the Phantom 3 device itself is totally solid. It gives the immediate impression of a well-constructed product that can withstand repeated handling. The textured surface provides a firm grip, reducing the chances of accidental drops.

My overall first impressions of the Phantom 3 were very positive. It’s a great-looking, solidly built, simple device. Everything is completely straightforward, and it’s the type of product that you can start using within minutes of unboxing.

But all of that could also be said about Bushnell’s previous model, the Phantom 2. So, what is special about the Phantom 3?

Bushnell Phantom 2 vs Phantom 3 

Front view of the green Bushnell Phantom 3 GPS handheld sitting on a wooden table with the distance numbers showing on the display

In 2019, Bushnell released their first Phantom handheld GPS. It was immediately well received because of its size, simple front-middle-back distances, and its built-in cart magnet. In fact, the original Phantom was the first Bushnell product to include their proprietary BITE magnet, which has become a popular addition to their rangefinders and golf speakers.

Then in 2021, Bushnell made some improvements and released the Phantom 2. The magnet was stronger, there was now the opportunity to view the green and to manually move pin locations, and the battery life was increased to 18 hours. Those were the main improvements between the original Phantom and the second generation model.

Now, with the Phantom 3, we’ve got another round of significant upgrades. In fact, I think this time around, Bushnell has really knocked it out of the park.

Slope Compensated Distances

The Phantom 3 introduces slope-adjusted distances, something not previously available in their handheld GPS devices. Slope is a feature that’s become somewhat commonplace on higher-end golf rangefinders and golf watches. To now have that increased accuracy available in a handheld GPS unit is a fantastic addition. Especially on hilly courses, being able to get a yardage that factors in incline and decline of the terrain can have a big impact on club selection and shot strategy.

Just like on the Bushnell rangefinders, you can easily disengage Slope for tournament play where that advantage is not allowed.

Touchscreen and User Interface

One of the most noticeable upgrades in the Phantom 3 is the new touchscreen interface. The Phantom 2 had a more traditional button-based interface, which, while functional, did not offer the same level of ease and intuitiveness. The Phantom 3’s touchscreen is responsive, with large, easy-to-read numbers that are especially beneficial to golfers with eyesight issues. The intuitive UI of the Phantom 3 makes navigating through features really easy.

Magnetic Cart Mount 

Rear view of the green Bushnell Phantom 3 laying facedown on a table showing the BITE magnetic mount

As noted, both the Phantom 2 and Phantom 3 feature the BITE magnetic cart mount. But the Phantom 3’s version is even stronger.

How much stronger?

I can’t say for sure, but I will say that this thing isn’t going anywhere. At all. Period. I intentionally drove my golf cart over some seriously rough terrain, and if the Phantom 3 could have laughed at me, it would have. It was not budging at all.

I will say this: At some point, you’re going to forget your Phantom 3 and leave it behind at the golf course. I hate to tell you that, but that’s my prediction. For as securely as this thing attaches to the cart and for as sleek and almost unnoticeable as it is once you have it there, I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before you forget about it when it’s time to unload your cart and head home. My suggestion: Put a little sticker or something on it that has your name and phone number with the hopes that whoever finds it will be honest enough to return it.

Distances and Hazards

There are no real changes in this category from the Phantom 2 to Phantom 3, but there’s not really anything to improve.

With the Phantom 3, not only do you get front, middle, and back distances to each green, but you can also swipe over to get a close-up view of the green itself. You can also manually drag the pin around on the screen to approximate that day’s pin location. And what’s really cool is that your view of the green and the distances you get change depending on where you are on the hole. So, if you’re coming into the green from the right rough, you’ll see the information presented to you specific to that location.

You also get up to six hazards per hole displayed on the Phantom 3.

While none of this information is new to the Phantom 3, I do think that the touchscreen interface makes navigating through all of your information options that much easier.

The green Bushnell Phantom 3 GPS stuck on golf reviewer Marc's golf cart by the magnet at the golf course

Additional Features

The Phantom 3 includes a few other goodies, including:

  • Shot Distance Calculator: Similar to some golf watches or in-app experiences, you can manually input what club you hit, and then the Phantom will keep track of the distance from where you hit that shot to your next shot so that you can learn how far you hit each club.
  • Auto Course and Hole Recognition: The Phantom 3 will automatically recognize what hole you’re on, so there’s no need to manually make that change as you move throughout the course.
  • Auto-Prompt Score Entry: The Phantom 3 will prompt you for your score after each hole, making it effortless to use your GPS as a scorecard.
  • Round Timer and Odometer: Tracks the duration of your round and the distance you walked, adding a fitness tracking element.

For as nice as some of these advanced features are, it’s the basics that I find most appealing. To me, you buy something like the Phantom 3 because you want a fast, hassle-free way to get your distances. And, man, does the Phantom 3 deliver in that regard.

I Like Big Numbers, and I Cannot Lie

Closeup of numbers on the display of a green Bushnell Phantom 3 GPS handheld in golf reviewer Marc's hand

As I, um, advance in age, one thing that’s hit me recently is trouble reading small print. I’ve graduated to regularly using “cheaters” or “readers” whereas I’ve never otherwise worn glasses. It’s an adjustment, to say the least.

And one area where that adjustment has been most pronounced is on the golf course. Because I don’t wear my reading glasses while I play golf, it can sometimes become an issue when I want to access information but the letters and numbers are too small. With some golf watches, for example, I have a difficult time reading all of what’s on the watchface. Some models allow you to choose a larger font, but that usually comes at the expense of not getting all of the ancillary information that would otherwise be displayed.

Let me tell you, for someone whose eyesight is “transitioning,” the Phantom 3 is a godsend! The numbers on the display are huge, which is to say, they are awesome! I love how, even with less than perfect vision, I can get my distances at a glance.

I can’t be the only one who has these eyesight challenges out on the course. If what I’m describing sounds familiar to you, I’m telling you, you’re going to absolutely love the Bushnell Phantom 3!

And even if you do have perfect vision, it’s not like you’re not going to still appreciate the large numbers. Let’s say you’re getting ready for a shot and you're several feet away from your cart where your Phantom 3 is mounted. You’ll be able to easily see your distances without having to walk closer to your cart.

What’s Not to Like about the Bushnell Phantom 3?

One pet peeve I’ve got about the Phantom 3 is that it’s a little on the slow side when it comes to loading course information when you’re getting ready to play.

Whereas things like the Arccos Smart Sensors and Link Pro combination and the Garmin Approach S70 — systems I use with most every round — typically are ready to go within 15 seconds of me searching for a course, the Phantom 3 takes closer to a minute. I’ve found this to be a tiny annoyance when I’m ready to get my first distance and have forgotten to fire up the device.

The only other thing that comes to my mind as a potential issue for some people is price. Is the Bushnell Phantom 3 worth $149.99?

Look, it is a basic device relative to the other golf tech on today’s market. But it works so flawlessly and reliably. There aren’t any subscriptions. And the Phantom 3 gives you most of the information and features that you’d pay twice as much or more for if you stepped up to a golf watch or rangefinder.

But… There are competing devices. The most obvious is the Shot Scope H4. For the same $149.99, you get not just a golf GPS handheld, you get 16 shot-tracking tags and the software to keep track of all of your stats. The Shot Scope does not include slope-adjusted yardages, however, which is one of the big add-ons for the Bushnell Phantom 3 model.

So is the Phantom 3 worth $149.99? To me, that’s easy. I actually think it’s a steal at this price. Yes, the Phantom 2 was $30 less expensive. And, yes, the Shot Scope H4 gives you shot-tracking ability much more elegantly than with the Phantom 3, which if you don’t already have a means of doing that could be a big plus for the H4. But to me, the brand quality, build quality, slope-adjusted yardages, and best-in-class magnet and display all make the Phantom 3 worth the asking price.

The green Bushnell Phantom 3 stuck on the pole of a golf cart at the course

Is the Bushnell Phantom 3 Handheld GPS Right for You?

There’s a lot of amazing golf technology available in 2024. Compared to features available with the most innovative products, the Phantom 3 isn’t really that impressive.

But that’s not what the Phantom 3 is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a simple alternative for golfers who are tired of a bunch of technology that doesn’t really excite them or that they are not willing to pay for. The Phantom 3 is for golfers who want their yardages fast and easy in a device that’s at a price point they can justify when their spouse looks at the credit card statement.

Especially when you play most of your rounds on the same golf course, I think the Phantom 3 is a great choice. When you’re playing somewhere new where you’re not familiar with the things you can’t easily see, you may benefit from a more advanced GPS that gives you a full-fledged map of the hole with lifelike detail. But when you’re playing somewhere that you know, a lot of times you just need a quick number to the middle of the green.

For those types of scenarios, or for any other time when you just want your distances quick and simple, I don’t think you need anything more than the Phantom 3. In fact, I don’t think you’d want anything more.

About PlayBetter Golf Reviewer Marc Sheforgen

Marc Sheforgen is a golf writer whose passion for the game far exceeds his ability to play it well. Marc covers all things golf, from product reviews and equipment recommendations to event coverage and tournament analysis. When he’s not playing, watching, or writing about golf, he enjoys traveling (often golf-related), youth sports coaching, volunteering, and record collecting.

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