Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder Review

GolfMagic tests out the Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder.

Garmin Z82 Range Finder
Garmin Z82 Range Finder
The hazard detection feature is excellent for course management, very easy to connect to the Garmin App, excellent build quality and weight.
One of the most expensive rangefinders money can buy, the carry case is impractical, battery life only last about two rounds

Garmin Z82 Range Finder Key Features:

  • 43,000 Pre-loaded courses
  • Hazard view: scroll through each hazard and layup distance
  • Video display: displays wind direction yardages and hole mapping
  • Find the pin: on blind shots, a compass will point you in the direction of the pin

It's fair to say in the world of golf tech, few brands are taking strides quite as big as Garmin. If there is distance or data involved, the brand has a product to measure it. 

The newest rangefinder from the brand, the Z82 is packed full of features, and could probably do your day job for you too, such is the computing power. 

Does that make it one of the best range finders of 2024 though?

We took it out for a number of rounds at Foxhills Country Club to find out.

Let's get into.

Garmin Z82
Garmin Z82

Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder: What's in the box?

When you take the Z82 out of the box, you will find a charging cable, carry case, carabiner, and the rangefinder itself. 

Before we get into the rangefinder, I want to first start with the case it comes with. 

Rangefinder cases are simple things to design and most brands have had it nailed for years. 

A hardened shell with a zip and an elastic chord not only provides ample protection but also ease of access. 

Despite the success of this formula, Garmin has decided to go off-piste and favour a hard shell bottom and soft top with a drawstring. 

Garmin Z82
Garmin Z82

Quite why the brand did this absolutely baffles us. Granted, the case does look cool, but that's just about where the positives end. It's harder to use, more fiddly, and we would argue it provides less protection, which is of particular importance when the rangefinder costs close to £500.

Despite being somewhat let down by the case, we have to say the rangefinder's quality, construction, and looks are superb. 

The black and white design looks fantastic, the weight is reassuringly heavy, and the three-button system is easy to use. 

You obviously shouldn't judge a rangefinder by the carabiner it comes with, however the Garmin one is particularly nice, which is a lovely added touch. 

The Z82 is also fully waterproof, which is remarkable considering the tech inside. It does mean you don't have to worry about rain or puddles if you accidentally drop it. 

Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder
Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder

Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder performance:

While it's always nice to have a good-looking rangefinder, what you're really paying for is the performance it can offer. 

This rangefinder is unique in a number of ways, and to begin when you boot it up, rather than a straight lens that magnifies the real target, you are instead greeted with a small TV screen. 

It's at this point that you can also connect the device to the Garmin App, which unlocks additional features like wind direction.

When booting the Z82 up for the first time, it took a while for everything to click into gear. Thankfully, when you're out on the course, you don't need to turn it on and off every time you want to use it. 

One of the most impressive features of the Z82 is the 2D hole map that sits to the left side of the view finder. 

This map allows you to view hazard distance, gives you an overview of the hole, and, once you've fed it your distance information, tells you roughly where your driver should finish. 

Garmin Z82
Garmin Z82

The screen also provides you with front, middle and back yardages, and it gives you a nice little vibration once you've locked onto the pin. 

Lines across the map will also give you an arc of yardages, which is handy, especially when navigating greens or avoiding hazards. 

The screen also displays the aforementioned wind direction which is an excellent tool, especially when combined with slope adjustment, which can both be turned off for official tournament play. 

The yardages themselves were very accurate, and the speed at which they lock on is also impressive. 

If we were being picky, we would say the image quality on the screen could be improved. Having primarily used optic lenses, we would say we prefer the crisper picture of reality. However, this is an obvious trade-off for the map, which adds some real wow factor to the product. 

Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder
Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder

The features packed into this device are impressive, and it will really appeal to golfers who love to know the exact distances to every spot on the course. 

However, despite the impressive tech, we do have some issues with this device. 

Firstly, it needs charging after every round. Personally, we like to be able to leave our rangefinder in our bag and not have to worry about it until our next round, but as we experienced on one occasion, that will catch you out with the Z82.

The charge will last about two rounds, and personally, we found that to be quite frustrating. If you're someone who likes to have a simple point-and-shoot that can be left in the bag, then this rangefinder probably won't suit you.

The second issue we have with the Z82 is that it's arguably slightly overcomplicated. You're gonna be paying the thick end of £500 for this bad boy, but the overall user experience is relatively confusing and took us a few rounds to really get used to. 

While this is purely personal preference, we actually found the Z82 a bit of a faff to use compared to a simpler system.

Now, we will caveat that point by saying that this rangefinder is ideal for golfers who love detailed data and knowing exactly where everything is. However, for us, it was just more than we really needed or wanted from a rangefinder.  

This particular model also doesn't come with a magnet. Now, if you're walking, that's no issue at all, but when riding in a cart, being able to attach your rangefinder to the side is a handy bonus. 

While this is by no means a deal breaker, for close to £500, it would have been a nice added touch.

All in all, the Z82 was a bit of a Marmite device for us. On one side, it's one of the most impressive pieces of golf tech we've ever seen; however, from a practical and price viewpoint, it just didn't deliver what we ideally want from a rangefinder.

Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder
Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder


Should you buy a Garmin Z82 Laser Rangefinder?

The short answer is maybe. If you're a tech-loving golfer with deep pockets, this rangefinder is well worth consideration. 

The data is great, the features are fantastic, and the construction is first-class.

However, due to the fiddly user experience, high price point, and relatively short battery life, we believe the vast majority of golfers would be better suited to a more simple rangefinder that provides a stress-free point-and-shoot experience. 

Is it for us? No, but that doesn't mean it's not for you. If the Z82 has piqued your interest, we would highly recommend testing one out, as it could be the ultimate course management tool in the hands of the right golfer. 

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