Garmin Approach G80 GPS Review

50 Words or Less

The Garmin Approach G80 GPS blends a strong handheld GPS with a basic launch monitor.  Priced to give you two devices for the price of one.

Introduction

When they were first introduced, handheld GPS devices were pocket-sized miracles.  Now, with GPS built into every smart phone, we take the technology for granted.  This has forced GPS companies to step up their game, and Garmin has done just that with the Approach G80.  By pairing a quality GPS with a launch monitor, they’ve given golfers a reason to leave their phone in their bag.

Set Up & Ease of Use

The Garmin Approach G80 has a touchscreen and two physical buttons.  It takes a little time to power up and find a signal, but once it’s on it works very quickly.  The touchscreen is accurate and responsive.

To use the GPS on course, just tap “Start New Round” and you’ll be given a list of courses near your location.  Select a course, and you’re good to go.

Using the launch monitor is just as easy: choose your mode, set the G80 next to your ball, and fire away.

One feature that needs to be highlighted is the battery life.  In GPS mode, the G80 runs for 15 hours on one charge.  Most other units give you two rounds at best.  This is a huge plus for the G80.

Performance & Accuracy

GPS

As a GPS, the G80 is accurate and very fast.  Even riding in a cart at full speed, the displayed distances never lag.  Combine that with the fact that the G80 doesn’t go dim or shut itself off between shots, and you have the perfect tool for boosting pace of play.

The G80 offers multiple ways to view the course.  You can see “Big Numbers” which is great for getting distances to the green at a glance.  There’s also a more detailed view with all the hazards listed.  Finally, you can get a Green View that allows you to specify the pin location.  Toggling between these options is quick and easy.

Finally, the G80 has a feature that’s unique among GPS devices – PlaysLike Distance.  This adjusts yardages for uphill and downhill shots – Garmin’s answer to slope-adjusting rangefinders.  I found that it produced numbers very similar to my laser, and, like everything else on this device, was easy to flip on or off.

Launch Monitor

It would have been easy for Garmin to throw a basic launch monitor into the Approach G80 and call it a day.  They went far beyond that, creating four different practice modes.  Warm Up Mode gives you ball speed, club speed, tempo, smash factor, and estimated distance.  Target Practice focuses on hitting certain distances.  Tempo Training helps you find your ideal backswing and downswing timing.  Finally, there’s Virtual Round where you can load any one of the 41,000 courses and hit the shots you would on the course.

I found the G80 to be similar to the VoiceCaddie SC200 in terms of accuracy.  It doesn’t measure spin, but it’s solid at measuring speed and estimating distance.  The G80 does not measure dispersion or accuracy, but neither do other monitors in this price range.

Value

The Garmin Approach G80 retails for $499.  With some basic launch monitors costing that much, the Approach G80 is essentially giving you the GPS for free.  Alternately, you can view it as a fairly expensive handheld GPS with a free launch monitor.  Either way, the Garmin Approach G80 is a strong value.

Conclusion

As much as I love gadgets, what I really crave these days is simplicity.  The Garmin Approach G80 allows me to shed one piece of gear by combining a GPS and launch monitor in one.  If you’re on the fence about adding a launch monitor to your kit or upgrading your GPS, get both with the G80.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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3 Comments

  1. Great review! Thanks. Running to the shop… Not joking. Seems perfect blend of GPS, birdie card, and doppler type of launch monitor… maybe one question, you reckon that as a launch monitor, is it at least as accurate as Mevo?

    • Matt Saternus

      Pete,

      I haven’t tested the Mevo personally, so my answer is a little second hand. That said, I think so, yes. Mevo does measure spin if you mark the balls, but I don’t know how practical that is for most people.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Great review! I’m intrigued.

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