Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder Review

Laser and GPS; Is This The Ultimate Combo?

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Ryan Heiman
Founder and head author at Independent Golf Reviews

I used the Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder for 10 rounds of golf.  Garmin has long been known as a leader in GPS technology.  They combined GPS and Laser into one amazing rangefinder.   Is it the ultimate combo?

This is the definitive Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder Review for 2022.

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The laser vs GPS for on-course distances continues to rage on year after year.  There are pro and cons of each one.  I have gravitated toward laser personally mainly because I often forget to charge a battery which is pretty much never a problem with my lasers.  Many laser rangefinders will last and entire season on 1 battery.  But what if a laser rangefinder also had GPS, and not just on the side, but augmented reality GPS right in the laser.  This combo seems pretty hard to beat.  The Garmin Approach Z82 laser/GPS rangefinder is almost the ultimate combo.

Garmin has been known for their outstanding GPS for years, so their jump into the laser market is interesting and certainly unique.  The Approach Z82 is a laser rangefinder with GPS.  It requires some connection to GPS satellites like every other GPS, but doesn’t require a smartphone connection.  Once you acquire a GPS signal you are ready to play golf.  It will ask you the course, the tees, and away you go.  From there on out, it will function like other GPS with a map of the hole, distance to front back and middle as well as other detail yardage to hazards, bunkers, and water.  You can see all of this visually as you look through the eye piece of the rangefinder.

If you connect the Garmin Approach Z82 to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you enable features on the app like scorecard, wind speed and direction, find my Garmin and “true” PlaysLike distances.  This unlocks many more features that really raise the bar in terms of rangefinder features.  The app is easy to download and use and doesn’t seem to be a major battery drainer. 

The Garmin Approach Z82 also functions just like a rangefinder.  Once you turn it on, you point the circle aiming mark at any target, press the button and it shows the line of sight distance as well as the adjusted for slope distance.  There is a tournament mode so you can turn all of those features off.

The Garmin Approach Z82 differs from most laser rangefinder in the view screen.  Most are optical viewers much like binoculars.  The Garmin Approach Z82 uses a video screen like a GPS that reproduces what is seen through the eye piece.  You can tell it isn’t perfectly clear optics like lenses, but the reproduction of what the laser “sees” is really clear and vivid.  It has just a touch of “motion” as it tries to keep up if you scan side to side or up and down.

The Garmin Approach Z82 is a hybrid between laser and GPS.  The battery life is much better than expected.  I’ve used it for multiple rounds and only charged it 1 time.  It uses a standard USB plug to recharge the battery.  You don’t need to charge it after every round, but it certainly won’t make it all season either.  To me this is a win since you get both technologies with great battery life.

If the Garmin Approach Z82 used true optics and just AR (augmented reality) imposed the GPS on top of a normal laser eye piece, I would call this the greatest laser/gps rangefinder of all time. 

The Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder has a different case than most laser rangefinders.  The plastic case with a cinch top allows you to slide the rangefinder in easily and tighten it with a quick pull.  Even if you don’t cinch the top, it is a tight fit for securely keeping it on your bag.  The snug fit also means it is slightly more difficult to retrieve than other cases.  The case has both carabiner and belt clips.

Summary

The Garmin Approach Z82 is the combination of laser and GPS.  It does it extremely well and will be the perfect fit for someone who can’t decide which one they want to stick with.  I’ve been incredibly happy with it on the course because even if I miss the flag with the laser, the GPS reminds me of the front, middle and back yardage. This double check is a really nice feature too.  You get great battery life for a GPS and all the distances/course layout you can’t get with a laser.  I’m impressed by Garmin with the seamless blend of the 2 technology into one unit.  It is almost the ultimate combo.  (to be fair, no one else offers anything close to as good as this combination of both technologies)

For more information: Garmin.com

Garmin Approach Z82 Rangefinder – KEY POINTS
  • ℹ️  About: Garmin is a big name in GPS. They combined that expertise with laser technology to create a hybrid golf rangefinder.

  • ✅  Pros: GPS and Laser, Accurate, Easy to use, Good battery life, True Play option, Vivid display.

  • ⛔  Cons: Video screen not as clear as normal laser optics, different case, limited battery life.

  • ⛳  Verdict: Garmin brought the best of both worlds to this rangefinder. It is almost the ultimate combo.

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About The Author

Ryan Heiman – Founder and Head Author of Independent Golf Reviews
Ryan has over 10 years of experience testing and writing golf reviews of nearly every brand out there.
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