Garmin’s status as one of the world’s premier providers of golf GPS watches and rangefinders is further cemented with the Z80 and the Z82 golf rangefinders. Although introduced two years apart, the Z80 and Z80 delivered unparalleled performance and accuracy.
The Garmin Z82 brings a whole host of features to the golf course that the Z80 golf rangefinder doesn’t have, like greater distance to flag yardages, external tournament mode indicator, enhanced views, digital scorecard, shot measurement, and Garmin app compatibility and wind speed & direction.
With the introduction of the Z82 with more features, app compatibility, smartphone pairing for more info, and the much-improved viewfinders and longer yardages, it may seem that the Z80 has been made redundant, but that may not be the case here at all.
Garmin Z80 Vs. Z82 GPS Devices– Are They Tournament Legal
Under the revised rules of golf governing the use of Distance Measuring Devices (DMDs), any GPS watch or golf rangefinder can only be used to provide yardages, and any other information on slope or windage is not permitted.
However, the USGA’s change in rules in 2016 allowed devices with those features to be used if those features were deactivated.
Both the Z80 and Z82 golf devices offer slope adjustment, and they can be disabled during tournament play, making them legal to use in competition.
The Z80 golf rangefinder can turn the elevation feature off as needed so that it would have no trouble in your bag for tournament play, but it does not have a tournament mode feature as the Z82 does.
Garmin has not left that stone unturned as the Z82 laser rangefinder has a tournament mode feature with an external indicator light that shows that the unit is in tournament mode. This means that features like slope adjustment and wind readings are automatically disabled.
The external light shows the players around you that the unit is not using any features that would give an unfair advantage, and so you can rest assured that whether you have the Z80 or Z82 golf equipment, you can use either in competitive play.
Before using your laser rangefinder, check the local rules to ensure that DMDs in play is allowed, as clubs can ban rangefinders or GPS watches for events if they choose to.
Remember that illegal use of a rangefinder or features will result in immediate disqualification.
Yardage Range And Accuracy
When it comes to accuracy on the golf course, not even the best GPS functionality golf watch can compare accuracy to a laser rangefinder. The Z80 and Garmin Approach Z82 take that accuracy to extraordinary levels!
This is because the use of satellites to calculate distance against a laser on the course is less accurate. If you need accurate yardages without compromise, the rangefinder is the only way to go.
The Z80 can measure yardages at 350 yards using its laser, while the Z82 has increased that to 420 yards and both units are accurate to within just 10 inches! Whether you’re playing scratch or just weekend golf but want to improve your club selection and have more feedback on your club distance, these units will deliver that.
When it comes to yardage range, the Garmin Approach Z82 claims first place.
On Course Features
Garmin has consistently looked to produce superior quality products for their players, and the on-course features of the Z80 and Z82 golf laser rangefinders enforce this philosophy. Firstly, each unit has 41 000 golf courses pre-loaded and so regardless of where you are playing around the world, the laser rangefinder technology enhanced Garmin Approach will know where you are and what course you are on.
Both units quickly pick up the course locations and will lock onto the first tee as you step up to play your first shot. Because Garmin was the first company to incorporate cutting edge technology with GPS technology with their rangefinders, you have the best of both worlds.
The GPS features aren’t used to measure distances but to enhance locational accuracy and course identification. Many other rangefinders simply provide yardages on the course you are on.
Flag Lock-On Features
The Garmin Approach Z80 laser rangefinder has a visual indicator when you are locked onto the flag. At the same time, the Z82 gets a little more excited about that and provides a vibrational confirmation of lock-on. With that bit of extra vibration, you KNOW you are locked on target!
Compared to the Z80, the Z82 laser rangefinder locks on target faster and has a little chime and visual and vibrational confirmation, this is due to the improved software in the Garmin Approach Z82, and that software brings more than just quicker acquisition.
Looking Through The Viewfinder
While the Z80 and Z82 golf laser rangefinders have similar views, the Z82 does have a far more precise and more defined image due to the use of OLED technology in the viewfinder. OLED is well known for producing high-quality crystal-clear images on televisions, and now Garmin has applied that same technology to the Garmin Approach Z82.
You get a high-definition image, but you also get hidden hazards view that you don’t get on the Z80. The Z80 has the laser range arc views giving you those easy-to-read yardage lines on the course, but the Garmin Approach Z82 takes that view to another level.
Similar to the GPS marker you see on your phone, the Z82 position you on the course and shows you hazard distances and the wind data overlay on the screen during your golf game. Both devices offer the yardages to the front, middle, and back of the green as expected and the hole number and par information.
Another improvement seen in the Garmin Approach Z82 is the ability of the device to distinguish more accurately between the flag and similarly shaped objects like small trees at the same distance.
This was one of the main criticisms leveled at the Z80 as it sometimes ‘confused’ the flag with other targets on the course; now, with the improved Garmin Approach Z82 software, the device is more adept at identifying the pin.
As far as magnification goes, both devices provide 6X magnification, and the higher quality optics of the Z82 bring a crisper and more precise image through the viewfinder.
2D Course Displays
Both devices offer 2D course displays on the right side of the viewfinder, with the Z82 giving a hazard view while the Z80 does not. Each provides distance to doglegs, layups, and green view, which is automatic once locked onto the flag, and you also get the drive distance arc on both the Z80 and Garmin Approach Z82.
A Quick Word On Waterproofing
Both devices are rated IPX 7, meaning they can be submerged in 3,3ft of water for up to 30 minutes; longer than that, you will need a new one. The IPX7 rating means that your device will be able to resist rain or other water exposure without issue.
Unlike GPS watches that are often waterproof to 165ft, rangefinders aren’t meant to go swimming, so keeping your Z80 or Garmin Approach Z82 dry in a waterproof procket or compartment would be advisable.
Z80 Vs. Z82 Battery Life
It’s hard to describe the frustration when your rangefinder low battery indicator lights up two-thirds of the way through your round. Both units have rechargeable batteries, unlike some of the earlier models and competitive brands that have replaceable batteries.
The replaceable batteries tend to last longer than rechargeables, with some running for a season or more depending on how much golf is played and how often the rangefinder is used.
The Garmin Approach Z82 has a longer battery life as after two rounds of play, the Z82 still had almost 40 battery life remaining, while the Z80 lost the battle just before the end of the second round.
Logic would dictate that any device with a better display, GPS capacity, and other features would burn battery life faster than one that didn’t have those features. Still, Garmin has produced a better battery and more efficient software that enhances the battery life on the Garmin Approach Z82 even with all the additional features.
Weight And Size
If you want a rangefinder that you almost can’t feel when you have it on you, then the Z80 would be the better option as it is lighter and more compact than the Garmin Approach Z82 and many golfers prefer a less bulky device where possible.
Bear in mind that the added bulk on the Z82 is not there for show; the vastly improved visual display, enhanced camera and OLED technology, and better battery life contribute to a marginally bulkier device.
However, the weight difference is negligible, with the Garmin Approach Z82 weighing in at 8.2oz and the Z80 at just 8.0 oz.
One feature that most middle to high-end GPS watches have is the digital scorecard, and this feature is also found on many golf scoring apps but is generally absent from rangefinders.
The Garmin Z82 has now added the scorecard feature, and this is again thanks to the enhanced software, which means you don’t have to have both a GPS watch and a physical scorecard while playing. You can use the rangefinder to input your scores while you are playing.
This scorecard will tally your strokes total at the end of the round and give you a final net score based on your Handicap Index and Course rating. The scorecard also offers round tracking for GIR and FIR stats to see how well (or poorly) your round has gone- although you generally don’t need a scorecard to tell you that!
Find My Garmin Feature
Golf rangefinders and GPS watches tend to go missing, and whether they fall out of golf bags or are lifted out, the loss of a $500 device is never a good thing. So, Garmin has added the ‘find-my-Garmin’ feature to the Approach Z82.
In the event of misplacement, you can use the feature to locate your device and recover it, and hopefully, it’s at the clubhouse or lying at the Par 3 14th on the tee box where it fell out of your bag.
The Z80 laser rangefinder does not have this feature, so it may be better to secure it in your bag to keep it in your pocket to ensure you leave the course with it.
It is odd that despite the full features of both units and the prices of each one, Garmin doesn’t see fit to add the option to fit a lanyard to either of these- perhaps their next model will offer that.
Wind Speed And Strength
The Garmin Approach Z82 laser rangefinder offers the option to connect to your smartphone to provide additional meteorological data like wind direction and intensity while on the course. Remember that this function must be disabled if you are playing tournaments.
When connected to your smartphone, the Garmin Approach Z82 will display this data on the main screen, overlaid on the course view in the viewfinder, and this allows you to accommodate the impact of the wind strength and direction on your shot choice and club selection.
Shot Tracking & App Compatibility
The Garmin Z82 can link to the Garmin golf app and provide more info and tracking from the round than the Z80 can. The Z82 also offers the shot tracking feature, which is present in their GPS watch devices like the S62.
Shot tracking is a valuable feature that permits the device to track shots from a distance and directional perspective and provide post-round feedback to see where and how far shots went on any particular hole.
Garmin Z80 vs Z82 Conclusion
For the extra features the Approach Z82 brings to the course, it would be a preferred choice for many golfers, even at a higher price. While only slightly larger in size and weight, the extended battery life, better optics, and faster and more accurate acquisition of targets will be worth the expense.
Not only that but the longer range and GPS features mean you only need the Approach Z82 for all your on-course requirements. But, if you prefer something more straightforward and want to spend the money saving on other golf apparel or the 19th hole, it will still be money well spent!