Laser Test: Bushnell Hybrid v Garmin Approach Z80
The Bushnell Hybrid and Garmin Approach Z80 are unquestionably two of the best laser rangefinders 2018 has to offer.
The Bushnell Hybrid comes in at £399 and not only provides exact distances to the pin, but also displays GPS distances both in the viewfinder and on a small screen on the side of the device.
The Garmin Approach Z80 retails at £549.99 and does things slightly differently, providing 2-D overlays of the hole and green in the viewfinder display. When the flag has been detected, the Laser Range Arc will be drawn on the green at the distance ranged to the flag, so the golfer can see if the pin is in the front, middle, or back of the green.
The Z80 has some other useful features. You can programme your driver distance, and then an arc will be shown on the hole at that distance off the tee so you can see which hazards are in play. If you target something else, a new arc where this target is will also appear on the 2D map.
The PinPointer feature comprises an arrow on the screen which will point to the centre of the green, and give a distance to it, on blind shots. This is not legal for competition use but it can be disabled, along with the slope-adjusted PlaysLike distance feature.
The GPS and laser technologies on the Bushnell Hybrid work in tandem, both being useful in a variety of situations. Off the tee, the GPS provides hazard information while the laser picks out trees or bunker lips that need to be avoided or carried.
Into greens, the front and back distances reveal how far on the green the pin is positioned, which helps with club selection and is something a traditional laser can’t tell you.
The Bushnell Hybrid provides hazard information on the screen and it can also measure shot distance, all accessible via the labelled buttons on the side of the device.
The Bushnell Hybrid is unquestionably the simpler offering, although it took a while to detect the course we were on – about a minute, which admittedly was heavily wooded. The Garmin Z80 has many more bells and whistles and is certainly more fun to use, also the image stabilisation feature takes some getting used to and for us, to more time to lock down the flag.
The display on the Bushnell is clear in a variety of light conditions, while on the Z80 it has more of a television feel, which takes some getting used to initially but doesn’t effect the user experience. Controlling all the settings while looking in the viewfinder does mean you have to squint your eyes for a long time, which can make them feel a touch tired.
If money was no object, the Garmin Z80 would be the obvious choice because of all the great visual features it offers, while the Bushnell Hybrid is still a step up on a traditional laser, offering useful additional information at a more modest price.