When it comes to getting distance readings on the course, I use both a GPS watch and a laser rangefinder. This way I can get the specific distance readings to my target, and the course overview yardages, identifying hazards along with front, middle, and back measurements on the green.
Today I’ll be reviewing a device that claims to combine the best of both a GPS and a rangefinder all in one.
Recently rated the ‘Best Overall Rangefinder’ in our list of Best Golf Rangefinders the Garmin Approach Z82 uses cutting-edge technology to help you improve your golf game.
So, let’s get into the Garmin Approach Z82 rangefinder review and find out about its features, specs, and whether you need to trade in your GPS watch and laser rangefinder and upgrade to this device.
Garmin Approach Z82 Key Features
Here are some of the Garmin Approach Z82 Key Features, I’ll also dig into these in more detail to show how they can help your game:
LIDAR-Lite Technology: This gives you a laser reading within 10 inches of the flag.
Built-in GPS: Taking the Z82 features beyond traditional rangefinders.
Full-color 2-D CourseView Mapping: Usually only found in top GPS watches now on your rangefinder scope.
Laser Range Arc Feature: This is an excellent feature and displays an arc on the map at the measured laser distance for better course knowledge.
Smartphone Pairing: Allows viewing of wind speed/direction and receives notifications directly on the rangefinder.
PlaysLike Distance Feature: This is a must for any rangefinder, it adjusts for uphill or downhill slopes to give accurate distance data.
PinPointer Feature: Even when you can’t see the flag, the Garmin Z82 shows you the direction to the green.
Full-color 2-D CourseView Mapping
The first thing you’ll notice when you look through the scope on the Z82 is that on the left side of the display, you will see a bird’s eye view 2-D course layout map, with key distances marked out.
This is a bit like having a course guide with yardages on the rangefinder screen.
You often only find this style of course mapping in top-of-the-range GPS golf watches such as the Garmin S70 or the Golf Buddy W12, but with the Z82 you’re also able to see it on your rangefinder.
It allows you at a glance to see the best line to the flag, an overview of distances, and what hazards might be in the way.
Laser Range Arc Feature
Using this 2-D mapping feature, you can also pre-program your average drive distance which is then indicated on the CourseView map as an arc line across that distance. So, when you’re standing on the tee planning to hit your drive, this Laser Range Arc Feature identifies everything at a quick glance within that same measurement in a line across the course.
The device then goes one step further to help your game. When you take a distance reading using the rangefinder you not only get a yardage distance to the target, but the Laser Range Arc Feature provides another line across the 2-D map to identify everything within range of this specific distance, similar to how it did with your average drive distance.
This way, should you push or pull your shot you can see what might be in range from the specific distance. You might see some hazards in range and even decide to lay up – you should never lay up!
PlaysLike Distance Feature
My advice to anyone when buying any rangefinder is you should always choose one that has adjustable slope technology. The Garmin Approach Z82 doesn’t let you down with its PlaysLike Distance Feature.
This means that it has slope adjustment measurements which are shown on the screen when you shoot your yardage.
When you get the yardage from the rangefinder it will also show you any inclines or declines which are indicated by a smaller number below the main laser reading, it will have an up or down arrow to show whether this is an incline or decline measurement.
The PlayLike feature takes the guesswork out of calculating the slope on the course and helps you to get better accuracy. Therefore, if you play on particularly hilly courses, or have no idea how to adjust for slope distance then the PlaysLike feature could be a game changer.
Also, importantly, if you want to use this device in your club competitions then you can – it is also tournament legal. There is an indicator light on the side of the Z82 which identifies when this feature is being used which is excellent.
PinPointer Feature To See Round Corners And Over Hills
One of the downsides with using a traditional rangefinder is that they can’t see around corners, or over hills. Therefore, if you have a blind shot to the flag, you either have to rely on your judgment, or ask a playing partner to give you a line – and if your friends are anything like mine, I’m not sure I’d trust them!
However, with the Garmin Approach Z82, you can now get a reliable reading to the flag using the PinPointer Feature. Through the scope, you can see the pin distance inside a big red circle with a directional arrow showing the direction to aim. This way if you’re offline from the tee you can still find your way back to the green.
As you get closer to the green and aim for the flag, the combination of a GPS and laser in one device can really help your game. You can use the GPS reading to see what the front, middle, and back yardages are, but then using the LIDAR-Lite Technology laser reading to the flag you can get a highly accurate distance to the flag – within inches!
Once the flag is locked, you’ll get a vibration to indicate you’ve found the target, this is especially useful if you’re golfing in bad conditions, or if you’re playing a hole with lots of trees behind the green, the Z82 can easily distinguish the flag.
This is the reason why I use both a GPS watch and a laser rangefinder on the course, to get front, middle, and back readings, along with a specific pin position distance. Choosing the Garmin Z82 means I’ll now be able to do this all from one device and get the accuracy I require – it’ll also save me a lot of time rather than switching between the two devices.
Wind Speed & Direction – (Bluetooth Connected Features)
You will need to connect your phone to the Garmin App when using the Z82 if you want to access additional course information. One of the standout features when doing this is the rangefinder’s ability to display wind speed and direction. This is so useful, and it can genuinely help you make even better decisions on the course.
If you want to invest a little more money, you can also subscribe to the Garmin Golf membership which will unlock green contour data. This is a cool feature that you’ll usually find in more expensive GPS golf watches. It allows you to see the slope direction readings to help with approach shots onto the green or even your putting.
You will need to decide if the membership is worth the money just to unlock this one feature.
Garmin Approach Z82 – Any Downsides?
I really like the Garmin Approach Z82 and know it can help your game. There are so many amazing features, however, to ensure this is a balanced review let’s take a look at any downsides with this device.
Firstly, the Z82 carry case looks great with its drawstring opening, but in reality, during a game it’s a real pain, when you’re trying to pull it out to get a reading for your shot it can be quite fiddly to get in and out.
I’m a fan of devices that have a simple flip-open case. I can overlook this minor issue due to the quality of the device, and it might not even bother you, but it is worth a mention. On top of that the Garmin Z82 doesn’t have a cart magnet built into the device, this is pretty standard nowadays. This would have been useful to have as an option, especially as the carry case isn’t great.
The final downside is that the Z82 isn’t compatible with the Garmin C10 tags. These tags are only compatible with the Garmin GPS watches. I would have thought that as it has so much of the Garmin GPS technology, they might have found a way to make them work together.
How Much Does The Garmin Approach Z82 Cost?
The price could also be seen as a downside, but it reflects the top-quality features and state-of-the-art technology in this device.
Currently retailing at $599 it will be at the top end of the budget for most golfers, but when you factor in that this is a laser rangefinder and GPS device all in one it’s actually a very reasonable price.
Also, you’ll easily pay this amount on a driver or putter to improve your game – and as this is also going to help your golf, why not invest in this too?
How Does It Compare? The Garmin Approach Z82 vs The Bushnell Pro X3
The Bushnell Pro X3 Rangefinder is a direct competitor to the Garmin Z82, there are lots of similarities, the premium price as one example, but the Pro X3 does not have any GPS function built into the rangefinder.
If you’re unsure which one might be for you I’ve added a table below to highlight the key similarities and differences:
It really is the GPS features that take this up beyond the Bushnell Pro X3 in my opinion which is why it takes the crown in this match up.
Should You Get It?
So there we have it, the Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder Review and in my opinion, the Garmin Approach Z82 although expensive, is definitely worth the investment if you’re serious about your golf.
With its GPS integration, a huge course database mapping over 42,000 courses, along with its wind and slope features, it will give you no excuses with the amount of data at your fingertips.
I love it and this device, it’s an excellent product, if it’s within your budget then I recommend you add this to your golf bag!
Want to check out which other Rangefinders made our favorites list? Click here to check them out now.
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