Garmin Z82 Review
The Garmin Z82 golf rangefinder transforms the highly versatile rangefinder into a truly dedicated golfing tool by providing exacting detail of every hole on just about any reasonably accessible golf course on the planet. That is no small feat. The Garmin Z82 gives you the exact location of the hazards, traps, rough and tree lines on virtually any public and a lot of the private golf courses around the globe. It even provides a color GPS flyover of every hole that you are about to play.
Garmin Z82 Review: Tech Backs the Outstanding Rangefinder
Garmin International is a highly regarded electronics brand that really made its mark using global positioning satellite systems to pinpoint locations on Earth after the company’s founding in 1989. Garmin is among the first to apply laser technology to the golfing industry and has remained among the top innovators ever since.
In many ways, the Garmin Z82 represents the pinnacle of golfing rangefinder technology. Instead of adding slope-compensating technology and a couple of other bells and whistles and declaring it a golfing rangefinder, Garmin applies current laser range-finding technology in a package that is fully dedicated to golf and virtually no other purpose.
Garmin Z82 Review: Tens of Thousands of Golf Courses Preloaded
The Garmin Z82 combines the best elements of virtual reality with real-time golfing tools to deliver an exceptional user experience. Garmin preloads two-dimensional color digital maps of more than 41,000 golf courses located around the world. You get the exact dimensions and layout of every hole prior to playing it, which greatly reduces the need to scan a hole prior to playing it.
No matter where you might travel, if there is a golf course that is available for public play, you likely have a digital color map of every hole with GPS flyover information. Many private courses also are included. You can preview one or more golf courses and see which ones have the most interesting and challenging holes that compel you to give them a try.
Garmin Z82 Review: Exceptional Accuracy at Your Fingertips
The Garmin’s laser range-finding rivals the best in the industry with accuracy to within 10 inches of the target. Many competitors rightfully boast about accuracy to within a half a yard, but the Garmin Z82 bests them all. Range is limited to 450 yards, which is all you really need due to the preloaded course information.
Odds are the hole you are about to play already is loaded in the Z82, which provides the exact distances from the front, middle or back driving tees to the hole as well as every hazard. You can use the GPS flyover to see exactly what lies between your exact location and where your ball likely will land based on your choice of club and swing.
- Truly dedicated golfing technology.
- Exceptionally accurate to within 10 inches of the target.
- Preloaded maps of every hole on tens of thousands of golf courses.
- Detailed views of every hole.
- No more hidden hazards.
- Costs more than most rangefinders.
- Relatively limited range.
- Wind metering function is not very accurate.
Garmin Z82 Review: Design and Construction
The Z82 has the familiar elliptical design with a viewing lens at top and the laser measuring device at the bottom. The ergonomically designed unit measures about 1.7 inches wide by about 3 inches tall by 4.8 inches in length. It weighs about 8 ounces and has a durable polymer body that resists water while protecting the internal electronics.
The Z82 has a nicely contoured thumb rest underneath and three operating buttons on top. Whether you use your right or your left hand, the same fingers generally rest on the same buttons, which makes it even easier to use at your favorite golf course or while playing an entirely new one.
Garmin Z82 Review? No More Hidden Hazards
You can use the GPS flyover function to view the hole and learn the exact location, size and shape of every sand trap and water hazard and their distances to the tee. It gives you a true bird’s eye view of what lies before you so that there are no hidden hazards, like a low-lying sand trap or pond. The Garmin will tell you the exact distances to each and help you to play your shot correctly.
The wind compensation feature can help you to know just how strong the wind is blowing and its general direction, which greatly affects your shot choice. A strong wind makes a pitch shot nearly impossible to use, for example. While you can get a general feel for the wind just by standing outside and using time-proven tricks when you just have a gentle breeze, knowing the exact direction and wind speed can help you make a smarter choice about your pending golf shot.
Garmin Z82 Review: Pin Locator and Flag-Lock
When you are in close enough to use your short game, the pin locator and flag-lock functions give you the distance to the hole with no more than 10 inches of measurement error. The Garmin will disregard background objects, like trees and ball washers, that many other rangefinders lock on when you want a simple distance reading to the flag. When it locks on the flag, a short and gentle vibration tells you.
The Z82 can tell you wind speed and direction so that you can adjust the shot accordingly. Current owners generally say the feature needs work for what are generally obvious reasons. Golfers seldom stand still while playing a golf course that generally has holes facing in just about every direction.
Garmin Z82 Review: Slope Angle Compensation
While it is great to know the precise distance to the hole, you need to know the effect that elevation plays on the approach shot. While the straight-line distance might be 150 yards to the hole, if the green is located at a higher elevation the effective distance is further in order to clear the terrain’s rise. Likewise, if the hole is located at a lower elevation, the shot will carry further and could overshoot the hole.
Garmin refers to the rangefinder’s slope angle compensation as the “plays-like distance” to let you know how the hole’s relative elevation will affect your shot. It accounts for the distance and the upward or downward angle to the hole the tells you the relative distance. That helps you to pick the best club and swing to get the ball nearest to the hole for an easy putt.
Garmin Approach Z82 Review: Tournament Mode Ensures Compliance
While the Garmin rangefinder does an awful lot and can really make your game much better by giving you a lot of very useful information, you need to shut off some features to make it legal for tournament play. A tournament mode does that for you and makes it possible to give you highly accurate range data based on a straight-line measurement. It is up to you to decide how the terrain the relative angle to the hole will affect your shot and play accordingly.
Fortunately, while practicing for a tournament, players still can use all the great features and learn the course well enough in advance that much of those extra features really are not needed during actual tournament play. But they sure do help an awful lot beforehand with perfect preparation and practice.
Garmin Approach Z82 Review: Accessories and Battery
The rangefinder also is marketed as the Garmin Approach Z82. That name emphasizes the Z82’s outstanding ability to deliver accurate and useful information that improve approach shots and helps to lower your golf score. An included lithium battery provides about 15 hours of use between charges done via an included USB cable and outlet adapter.
Garmin Z82 accessories include a separate 10-inch viewing tablet that gives you a better view of all of the great functions via a USB cable. An optional Garmin Z82 cart mount lets you secure it to your cart while playing and share the information with your playing partners.
Is the Garmin Z82 the Best Golf Rangefinder?
The Garmin Z82 certainly is a leading contender for the best rangefinder on the market. In pure functional terms, you cannot beat its combination of accuracy, hole preparation and outright fun factor. It is like having a highly detailed video game in your palm that superimposes your live game for a truly virtual experience while enjoying an actual round of golf. Leading competing rangefinders, like the Bushnell Tour V5, cannot provide the full breadth of features that you get with the Z82.
Should I Buy One?
Those who travel a lot and take their golf clubs with them will find this true golfing tool to be especially useful and likely will not mind its high purchase price. It gives players the ability to learn a new course quickly and better prepare for competitive events.
Golfers who just want general range info with some slope adjustment can find affordable alternatives that do less but still serve their needs. But with so many great features and a long-lasting rechargeable battery helping to save on ownership costs, the Garmin Z82 certainly offers a very distinct value for truly serious golfers.