Golfers will do anything to gain an advantage. Every year the latest and greatest clubs come out and we all line up to gain that extra 5 yards. What if the key to saving shots wasn’t a club? If you could not only save shots but save time using GPS? What if this also helped focus your practice? would you be interested?
Garmin has been a name in GPS for many years. Car GPS units were all the rage in the mid-2000s. I remember Garmin made a unit that was ‘only’ $700 at Future Shop and it was amazing cause it gave you turn by turn direction. Back then this was wild. Now GPS in a car is basically commonplace and Garmin has entered the golf world. Today we look at the Garmin G80 which is not only a 3.5” diagonal touchscreen which is super responsive but it is also a launch monitor
The GPS in this unit is everything you could ask for. G80 is preloaded with 41,000 golf courses from all over the world. Simply turn the unit on then select ‘start a new round’. The GPS will find the closest courses and from there you are off to the races. The correct hole will be selected and if for some reason it isn’t then just click the correct hole.
From the tee, the Garmin uses a responsive pinch and zoom so that a proper target can be found. I like that this will let you know how far will be left into the green should you execute properly. Once you reach the fairway an accurate image of the green will appear. You are able to move the ‘pin’ around to best guess where it will be. Distances to the front, middle, and back are right at your fingertips at all times.
Other features exist in the G80 like scoring. You can mark down your score in real-time should you wish to keep it for the purposes of tracking your handicap.
What sets this unit apart is the ‘Launch Monitor’ function. I was skeptical as a launch monitor will go for between $20,000 – $50,000 if you want a good one. We tested this feature out on the golf course and it was surprisingly good as it uses a form of radar. This allows you to hit the ball freely without telling the unit what club you are hitting. We tested it on the range against a Flight Scope system. The unit sells for about $25,000. After a good amount of testing the conclusions were as follows. The distance numbers were about 5-7 yards different. However, the interesting part was the clubhead speed and ball speed were within 1-2 mph. All in all the Garmin stood up to the expensive competition very well.
G80 also helps with practice. The launch monitor feature allows you to do things like setting up target practice. You can pick yardage and work on that number specifically. This is an amazing feature to help focus your practice. You can also work on your tempo as the Garmin will measure the pace of your backswing vs your through swing and put that up against the averages for Amateur or Professional golfers.
Garmin G80 made me a believer. At MSRP $680 CAD this GPS offers great value. Having 41,000 courses pre-loaded makes the unit virtually maintenance-free. The battery is rated at lasting 15 hours per charge which is enough to play 4 rounds of golf between charges. I liked the pinch and zoom and how responsive the touch screen was. The launch monitor performed above my expectations. On the course, the data is sent to be very accurate to my numbers on the course and it worked with very little error.
For practice, I really liked the target practice feature. It’s challenging to work on specific yardage on the driving range and the golf course doesn’t like when you are out there beating balls on a hole. This provided great feedback and I can see how it would help you practice those specific yardages.
Although the price is pretty high for a golf GPS you do get the benefit of not having a membership fee. The main competitor in this category is Sky Caddie which is less money but you do need to spend between $30 and $80 for a subscription. The cost difference between Garmin and the Sky Caddie SX500 is about $150 at the time of purchase.
If I could say anything negative about it, it would be that the screen needs to be bigger. 3.5” in my opinion just isn’t big enough with what we are spoiled within smartphones. I would love to see a 5.5” or 6” screen come out with these same features.