Review: Garmin Approach Z80 Rangefinder

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Garmin Approach Z80 Rangefinder.

Is the Garmin Approach Z80 the king of the hill?

Let’s dive right in and find out together! I received this unit from Garmin about a month ago. I’ve gotten to know it quite well (considering I play/practice pretty much daily). Upon unboxing and browsing through the manual, my first impression was that I would have to attend night school to figure this thing out. Definitely not the case. Even though the unit is slam-packed FULL of tech and features, it is surprisingly user-friendly (after a round or two).

Garmin Approach Z80

After owning pretty much every reputable ranging device over the past ten years, this ONE stands entirely on its own. It is, in almost every regard, on a different level. Garmin put out some seriously good claims about the Z80, and for a good reason. They’re right!

Let’s start with the basics.

Size: coming in at 4.8” L x 3.1” H x 1.7” W, it’s not the smallest on the market by a long shot. Nor is it the largest. I do love the weight of the unit, which is coming in at only 8 oz. Next up, battery life. Your days of searching for those pesky little uncommon batteries are over! That’s right. It’s a rechargeable only unit. No more buying CR2 batteries (which is a plus). It utilizes a micro USB port for recharging. Charging time from zero % is approximately 1.5 hours (not bad at all). Ahhh, but how long does the battery last, you say? 15 hours of runtime! Meaning, you could easily play 14 holes with J.B. Holmes or 5 rounds with B.K. LOL.

Garmin Approach Z80

Before we get real techie with it, let’s talk about the view through the device itself.

It does not look like your typical 6X zoom viewfinder; think more, artificial intelligence. The viewfinder is LCD; it’s a lot like looking through television, which took some getting used to, but it’s incredible in low light conditions. When you click the viewfinder button, it pulls up a map of the entire hole on the left side of the ‘screen.’ This map includes the detailed yardages to every point of interest on that particular hole. In essence, if you’ve never played that course before, you can now see that course in an aerial view with yardages to everything needed. To put it another way, it’s simply awesome! Blind shots are now a thing of the past.

Garmin Approach Z80

Let’s say you are on a tee box on a short par four, and you can’t see the green because trees are blocking your view due to a dogleg. What do you do? You toggle to pinpointer mode, and it will bring up a compass. When the compass needle is pointed directly up, that is the exact path to the green. Another benefit is on the left side of the viewing area; there will be a graph that moves as you move, which means now you know which tree to hit the ball over to cut out the dogleg. It is genuinely a GPS/satellite experience. The unit knows where everything is on the course even though you can’t see it, and it’s 600 yards away.

Garmin Approach Z80

How about accuracy?

Well, it leads the industry in accuracy also. If you are shooting a pin 350 yards away, it is accurate to +/- 10 inches! That is a massive ordeal for a tour player such as myself because accurate to +/- 3 yards ain’t going to cut it. Of course, you can change the measurement unit between standard and Imperial, and you can choose from 20 different languages.

Garmin Approach Z80

The Z80 comes out of the box pre-loaded with 41,000 golf courses.

Everywhere I have played, I get to the course, I turn on the unit, and it knows where I am. Garmin has also incorporated ‘plays like distance.’ Which happens to be the best slope compensation measurement I’ve seen thus far. You can disengage it for tournament play. Where I find it to come in extremely handy is when I am creating a yardage book for a tournament I no longer have to walk the course, I can stand on the tee box with plays like distance engaged and make notes to every point of interest for the entire hole. Some may consider the rangefinder a tad on the pricey side; however, when you factor in everything that the Z80 does and the time that it saves me, it’s worth every penny in my personal opinion.

Garmin Approach Z80

Also, a company called Tusita makes a silicone cover for the unit if you were to drop it from more than a two-story building. You also may be asking, is this rangefinder waterproof? Not only is it waterproof, but it’s also IPX7 rated. This means if you want to know how far away that shark is while snorkeling, you can find out. (for up to 30 minutes).

In a nutshell, This thing is brilliant. It’s how high-end future rangefinders will be based. You get all of the technology mentioned above and then some, plus a 2-D LCD monitor, which is pretty awesome. Now, if you could only read the green for me, maybe Garmin’s next version, lol.

Real talk, if you put forth a lot of time into this game, you owe it to yourself to at least try this unit. In my humble opinion, you will be thoroughly impressed.

Garmin Approach Z80


Dimensions – 4.8” x 3.1” x 1.7”
Weight – 8 ounces
Slope – Can be turned off for tournament play.
Waterproof – IPX7 can be submerged to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
Battery life – 15 hours (runtime)
Display – 2-D LCD Monitor
Awesomeness – HIGH
Personal rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Recommend – Hell Yes!
MSRP – $600.00

I am not affiliated with Garmin in any way, shape, or form. But, let’s face it, when something is awesome, it’s awesome! The Z80 is essentially two devices in one. It’s a handheld GPS map of the course and a dedicated laser all-in-one small package.

Garmin Approach Z80

Find a Garmin retailer nearest you to check it out for yourself, or head on over to their WEBSITE for more information about the Z80 Rangefinder.

Also, be sure to follow along on their social media channels:

You can view our other Rangefinder review HERE

Follow Stephen Noland:

Hello, world! I found it to be a great honor when asked to be a contributing writer for the Breakfast Ball! My goal is to provide unbiased reviews and experiences of ALL things golf.

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