This Rangefinder Is Never Leaving My Bag

There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.

What We Tried:

The Garmin Approach Z30. The latest and (hopefully) greatest rangefinder from Garmin.

Who Tried It:

Connor. Director of Content and resident sneakerhead. I’ve never been a rangefinder guy. But when I heard the new Z30 works in tandem with my current watch, the Approach S70, I figured I’d give it a go.

About the Approach Z30

Did you know it’s been four years since Garmin released a new rangefinder? Not to say the Z82 is dated, but we’ve been long overdo for a new laser. Right from the jump, there are too things that really speak to me; price and performance.

Let’s start with price. The Z30 is just $399, a far cry from the $599 price tag of its predecessor. That sub-$400 price point puts it into firmly in line with other mid-tier offerings. That’s a win.

On top of the lower price, the Z30 has a few tricks up its sleeve, including a new feature: Range Relay.

We’ll get to that in a minute. If the Garmin Approach Z30 delivers on its promises, it should punch well above it’s price into the flagship performance stratosphere.

Range Relay in the Real World

On paper, Range Relay sounds great. It’s a communication between the Garmin Z30 rangefinder and your compatible Garmin watch. Here’s how it works: You shoot the flag with the rangefinder. It then communicates the pin location to your watch, which pulls up an interactive green map with the precise location of the flag.

But it’s only helpful if it actually works as promised.

Luckily, it works flawlessly. I was very impressed with how quickly the Range Relay functioned. Not a second after shooting a pin, I could look down at my watch and see its precise location in relation to the green.

Range Relay fixes the biggest flaw with using only GPS. It provides an entire new dimension to how you use technology on the golf course … and I absolutely love it.

No lie, I’ve never seen a need to carry a rangefinder. But after using the Z30 for the last few weeks, I don’t think I can go back to using only my Garmin GPS watch.

Better Together

In my original post about the Garmin Z30, I made it a point to talk about the Garmin ecosystem. What Garmin is building here is not dissimilar to what Apple does with say, the iPhone and Apple Watch. They work independently of one another, but their real strengths are apparent when paired.

The Approach Z30 is no different. It’s a solid rangefinder on its own. It’s fairly fast, has a nice vibration motor and clear optics. It does what you need it to do without a problem (though, it did occasionally struggle to pick up the flag amongst heavily wooded backgrounds).

Once you add in a watch and the Range Relay? It becomes one of the coolest and most helpful pieces of technology I’ve ever used on the golf course.

For as long as I wear a Garmin watch, the Z30 will be my rangefinder of choice.

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