REVIEW / Garmin Approach Z80 Laser Rangefinder and GPS

Garmin have launched their first-ever golf laser rangefinder – and they’ve added in a GPS device.

We were pretty excited to get our hands on the new Garmin Approach Z80 because, well… it’s Garmin and they have a great reputation for making great sport and fitness devices. But also because it was their first foray into the golf rangefinder market – and they included a GPS system to add to the distance finding capabilities.

On the golf course

The hybrid nature of the Z80 is clear as soon as you begin.

Switching on the rangefinder via the main button on top, the view finder presents you with a screen asking you to select the golf course you’re playing – found courtesy of the in-built GPS system. With over 41,000 pre-loaded courses there won’t be any issues there.

From then on each time you look through the device it will display a 2D map of the golf hole you are playing on to the screen including the par for each hole.

Pressing the button on top to find the distance to the flagstick, or a point on the hole results in the map overlay updating to display the distance, with a red arc across to show other points of equi-distance.

Further information is also displayed including the distance to the back and front of the green, as well as other key distances.

What we loved

The amount of information coming out of the Z80 makes it one of the best pieces of golf tech on the market and we found ourselves targeting all parts of the golf course to get an idea of everything that lay ahead.

We saw nothing to think that the +/- 25cm laser accuracy wasn’t spot on and the Z80 is so lightweight (226g) that the image stabilization feature does a great job is making it easy to pick out your intended target.

The red arc that appears on the course overlay after you’ve targeted a point is fantastic and makes for getting more information much more quickly. The instantaneous distances to the front and back of the green after targeting the flagstick were superb and a welcome piece of information.

And if you can’t pin-point the flag the aptly named PinPointer mode shows you the exact direction to the green and a distance to the middle, back and front of the green. Perfect for those of us who stray on to the adjoining fairway from time to time.

What we didn’t love

The Garmin Z80 fits very tightly into the pouch making it tricky to to get in and out, and while you’ll easily get a couple of rounds of golf in before the need to recharge, the fact it needs a cable to charge rather than a battery could be an issue for the forgetful among us.

But the biggest change is looking at a screen in the viewfinder.

Nearly all other laser rangefinders have a direct, telescopic view of the target while the Z80 has a digitised screen. This is obvious when you consider the very cool GPS overlay but it may take some getting used to for some golfers.

Summary

In short, the Garmin Z80 Laser Rangefinder and GPS is one impressive piece of golf technology that gives you every bit of information that any distance finding device has ever provided.

If you don’t have a GPS golf watch or a laser rangefinder thiswill cover the benefits of both. But with it comes a hefty price tag and is probably information-overload for most golfers.

The Garmin Z80 Laser Rangefinder and GPS retails for $849 and now available in Australia.
The Garmin Z80 was provided for review purposes only. We voluntarily reviewed this product in accordance with Aussie Golfer’s review policies.

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