You certainly get what you pay for with this feature-packed laser rangefinder. The full hole map is a unique feature that stands out from anything else currently on the market. Pricey as it is, the Garmin Z82 feels worth every penny out on course by seamlessly blending the best GPS and laser rangefinder functionality together.
Unique full hole maps let you see what lies ahead
Factoring in environmental factors enhances accuracy
Genuine wow factor
Fairly complex to navigate
Big and bulky compared to most other rangefinders
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Garmin Approach Z82 Laser Rangefinder Review
While it is one of the most expensive rangefinders on the market, the Garmin Approach Z82 is also one of the most unique and feature-packed offerings on the market and takes what a laser rangefinder can do to the next level. (However if you are more of a watch person, also take a look at our guide on the best Garmin golf watches (opens in new tab) because the brand makes some of the best in the business.)
Watch as Joel Tadman tests out a number of different laser rangefinders
Bak to the Z81, the absolute stand out feature on this device is the 2D hole map overlay that is displayed on the side of the view as you look through it. The map provides you front, middle and back distances as well as a full view on the hole ahead to give you a picture of what lies ahead. Furthermore, if you enter your driving distance before you play, the device shows you via the hole map where you should roughly expect a good drive to end up. This was an incredibly useful feature, especially on courses we hadn't played before, and adds a whole new dynamic to what we consider is capable of a laser rangefinder.
Other features include a slope functionality (opens in new tab) - which can be easily turned on and off at the press of a button - and distances to lay up or carry hazards. All this was also available on the prior Z80 model (opens in new tab), but new in the Approach Z82 is the ability to link to the Garmin app and gain access to live wind direction. This, along with the Slope adjusted-distances, can be disabled for competition use and there is now an external tournament mode indicator light to show your playing partners it is legal for use.
It genuinely is one of the best golf rangefinders we have ever tested but what we also loved about the Approach Z82 is that it does the basics really well. The screen is clearer than the prior version and a small vibration lets you know you're locked on to the pin. When you do so, a line on the green in the map shows you how far on the green the pin position is - something you can't normally see from where the shot is being played from.
It's certainly a bit heavier in the hand that some other rangefinders, but we didn't find this an issue when using it out on course and it fits in the hand really nicely thanks to its well designed shape. The battery life has improved somewhat, although in full GPS golf mode it drains it more than most - such is the wide functionality on offer. Now we should mention it does not make our guide on the best budget golf rangefinders (opens in new tab), because it does come at the premium end of the price spectrum, but we think the performance is worth it.
Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 87 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 3.3.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: Titleist TSR3, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSR3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: TaylorMade P770, 4-7 iron, TaylorMade P7MC 8-PW
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x
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