Garmin Approach Z82 Laser Rangefinder With GPS Review

50 Words or Less

The Garmin Approach Z82 seamlessly integrates a laser rangefinder and full featured GPS into one amazing unit.   Very accurate, wonderful graphics and a host of additional features.

Introduction

Back in 2018, I declared the Garmin Approach Z80 the “Biggest WOW factor of the year” and the same could be said of the new Z82.  Although the units look nearly identical (a blue tournament mode indicator light was added to the top), the Approach Z82 has numerous new features inside plus expanded capabilities when paired with the Garmin Golf app.  Garmin calls the Approach Z82 a “laser rangefinder with GPS” but the technology goes even further.

Setup & Ease of Use

Although there’s a ton of technology associated with the Garmin Approach Z82, I found it fairly intuitive to use.  Anytime I got confused, all I had to do was remember there are only three buttons – up, down and select.  If you’ve used a laser rangefinder before, the select button will be familiar.  Getting distance to an object is as simple as holding down one button.

The Z82 has a built in 15 hour lithium-ion battery that charges via a USB port.  A flashing blue light under the eye piece lets you know when the unit is in standby mode, and you can wake it up by pushing any button or by simply wrapping your thumb around the bottom – ingenious.

One of the coolest new features of the Approach Z82 is the wind speed and direction graphic.  To use that function, you need to have the unit paired with your phone and the Garmin Golf app open.  Pairing was simple as was filling out the basic user info in the free app.  The app offers a bevy of options for stats and group play plus Find My Garmin for those golfers who tend to leave their rangefinders in carts.

Selecting PLAY GOLF engages satellites that find the nearest course (there are more than 41,000 preloaded) and asks you to select/confirm and then which tees you are playing.  After that, the unit automatically identifies the closest hole and displays it on the left side of the screen in stunning color.  Transition to the next hole is automatic.  I tried to trick the unit by doubling back to replay a hole and the Z82 knew exactly what hole it was.  Along with being able to keep score on the unit, you can also keep stats on fairway hit/miss left/miss right and number of putts.

Accuracy & Performance

The photo above is a great example of the informative data the Garmin Approach Z82 provides.  The black arc on the left represents the driving distance you enter during initial setup and the amazing graphics reveal the vast fairway just beyond that arc – something that’s not obvious to the naked eye standing on the tee box.  And that “225” in the top right?  That’s the last measurement sighted.  Maybe not so important on this hole, but a great feature for me on a par 3 where I often have to re-shoot because I forgot the distance on the way back to the cart to grab a club.

HAZARD VIEW is a new feature that provides front and back yardages to individual bunkers.  It’s engaged by using the up/down buttons.  In the example above, hitting the down button would take you to the bunker below the one outlined in red.  It sounds cumbersome, but it’s very easy to navigate and a feature I found very useful on protected doglegs.

As you get closer to the green, the display changes to GREEN VIEW with Front, Center and Back figures populated across the bottom.  In the example above, the flag is at 176 yards, but is slope adjusted to a PlaysLike distance of 168.  The Z82 also adds a yellow arc for a visual indication of what lurks at the shot distance.  Comparing distances with several other quality brands, I found the laser ranging of the Z82 very accurate.

One feature I was glad to see again is PinPointer mode, which displays a large, red arrow that orients you towards the pin and provides yardage to the center of the green.  Not only can this be a great feature for blind approach shots, but it can add some excitement for big hitters who want to cut a corner and attempt to drive a green.  Number 9 at Spirit Hollow (full review HERE) is a fun example as Matt Saternus can attest.

With wind being a significant factor in shot selection, I was intrigued with the prominent new wind speed and direction indicator that Garmin included in the Approach Z82.  I didn’t have a method to check speed, but the values seemed believable.  Direction was generally accurate per grass toss comparisons.  As any good golfer knows, wind can be fickle and inconsistent, but for general purposes I found the indicator helpful, especially in sheltered areas.

Value

The good news is the Garmin Approach Z82 is the same price as the previous generation.  That means it still retails for $600 (support Plugged In Golf, buy it HERE), which makes it a sizable purchase.  But with quality laser rangefinders and GPS units each costing in the $300 – $400 range, the price of the hybrid Z82 is a little easier to justify.  If you need a bit more rationale, factor in the number of times you check distance throughout a round – it’s many times more than you hit that $500 driver.

Conclusion

I wasn’t looking to set the mark for longest PIG review, but the features in the Garmin Approach Z82 seem endless.  It’s amazing how much technology Garmin can fit into a hand held device.  The ergonomic shape fits my cadet medium size hand nicely, and the unit feels solid.  For golfers who want all the data they can get before executing a shot, there’s no topping the Approach Z82 – it’s a technological gem.

Buy the Garmin Approach Z82 HERE

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Matt Meeker

Matt - aka 'Meeks' - is the Senior Writer at Plugged In Golf based on both tenure and age. Matt lives in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina with his wife who allows his golf obsession to stretch the limits of normalcy.

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23 Comments

  1. Jerry Garbett

    Sounds like a excellent device but once again made for the people who has money to afford. Less fortunate people like me would like to have a tool in my bag to improve on distance control. 😠

    • Matt Saternus

      Jerry,

      There are many reviews of more affordable lasers and GPS units on this site. Cutting edge technology is not cheap in any industry.

      -Matt

  2. Great review. I currently have the Z80, is there a trade in value if I chose to get the Z82?

    Thanks

    • Matt Meeker

      You’ll need to check with Garmin or your local retailer for that Jude.

      Thanks for reading.

      – Meeks

  3. Tommy Badowski

    Great review, how was the speed of this unit? Z80 was very slow and sluggish and i always had to wait a second or two too long.

    • Matt Meeker

      I thought the speed was fine Tommy. Not instantaneous, but I never felt like seconds had passed.

      – Meeks

  4. What are the Red, White, Blue dots on the overview? Distances from different tees?

    • Matt Meeker

      They represent 50 yard spacing Bobby. Most views will populate with yardages – hazard view being an exception.

      Hope that helps, and thanks for reading.

      – Meeks

  5. It seems I read somewhere the viewfinder is actually displaying a digital image (picture) rather than an actual line of site; similar difference to that of an SLR versus digital camera perhaps. Is this information accurate and, if so, did you notice any loss of functionality versus a traditional laser rangefinder reticle? Did you attempt to use the Z82 in an off-course scenario; e.g. driving range as purely a rangefinder? Understanding the added functionality provided by the integrated GPS data, how would you compare the basic rangefinder functionality to that of some similarly priced competitors (e.g. Bushnell Pro XE, Leupold GX-5i3)?

    • Matt Meeker

      You’ve been doing some research Brent – always smart on significant purchases. Yes the unit uses a digital image. It’s not obvious and functionality is equal to a pure optical unit. Once while driving a golf cart with the unit to my eye (extreme testing), the screen whited out coming out of the shade into bright sunlight. The unit quickly adjusted. Yes, you can use it on the range, in your back yard, etc. I haven’t spent any time with those units. Hope that helps some.

      – Meeks

  6. Have you noticed any inaccurate “last measurement sighted” readings? I find that the reading is about 10 to 15 yards less that what I would expect. If so, any suggested ways to recalibrate the Z82?

    Otherwise the Z82 is THE best!

    • I have not Ed. Thanks for reading and enjoy your Z82.

      – Meeks

    • Joe McPhillips

      Hi Ed, I have just purchased my new z82, whilst i am very happy with the purchase there does seem to be an issue with it reading the green, i have found on a number of occasions that it will give me a pin number of more than the back of the green (not using slope mode as i’m in competition mode) example pin reads 175, back of the green reads 170?

      Has anyone else found this or is there an explanation for it?

      • The explanation is quite simple: GPS devices are not 100% accurate. The satellites have a deviation up to about 5-10 yards. And yes, 10 yards would be an entire club in most cases. In your case the flag is probably all the way in the back and the GPS is 5 yards off. Trust the laser measurement and take the GPS measurement with a grain of salt.

  7. Joe McPhillips

    great review Matt, answered a few questions for me. overall its a massive advantage especially when playing new courses.

  8. John Delrio

    Such a great device, really loved it. I bought it last week after reading the review. You shared the best review I have ever seen. Hearty thanks to you for the well detailed, great review.

  9. Stephen E Mccullough

    Matt
    Great review. I appreciate your perspective and invite. I thought your review touched on the details of the Garmin that golfers care about. I purchased a Z82 yesterday and am even more excited about trying out this combo of GPS and rangefinder. Will report back and keep reading your reviews!

  10. stephen finnerty

    I bought Z80 18 months ago and found it very slow to pick up satellite and sometimes it just didn’t work. I brought it back to place of purchase and I’m delighted to report that Garmin are replacing it without question with upgraded Z82. Having read your review and the comments from fellow golfers I can’t wait to get my hands on it and will comment after use

  11. Bruce Lowe

    Another great review and always highlighting the stuff I need to know about the product. Garmin are good and looks like they have nailed another great device. Question now is, is there a newer version in the pipeline before I commit? 🤣😂🤣 Nice one Matt.

  12. Richard Barajas

    Price points for these just do not make sense for us working mortal/weekend hackers. I’m envious of those that do not see this price as prohibitive.

  13. Patrick Patterson

    Best rangefinder ever had a few lost a few but this one is awesome better than I expected only issue I have with it is when you look through it the image looks computer generated and is kinda grainy on short yardages that’s ok but on longer ones little iffy

  14. Charlie Boyajian

    Have you done a head-to-head between the Z82 and the Voice Caddy SL2? I love to hear your take on which has the edge.

    • Matt Meeker

      Sorry Charlie, but the other Matt reviewed the SL2. If you get the chance to try them side by side, let us know your thoughts.

      – Meeks

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