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Garmin's latest golf GPS can throw you into virtual tournaments

The Approach G80 also has new launch monitoring skills.
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Garmin doesn't just want to help you improve your golf game -- it wants to enable golf matches with players who are nowhere near a course. It's launching an Approach G80 golf GPS that includes new game modes, including a Virtual Tournament option that pits you against players at the driving range and at home on recreations of famous courses. It's not going to have the slick presentation of a video game on its 3.5-inch touchscreen, but it could feel more like the real thing. If you're looking for simpler contests, a one- or two-player Target Practice mode can help you improve your accuracy.

The G80 is useful when you're on the real green, of course. It adds launch monitoring capabilities that can track the speeds of the ball and club head, the estimated distance, swing tempo and even the "smash factor." You can touch specific points on the screen to get precise yardage and help you make better club choices. Green View lets you adjust the day's pin location or move the flag to where you see it, and a PlaysLike Distance feature automatically tweaks yardages to targets based on your elevation. You'll even have a compass of sorts (the PinPointer feature) to find the green when shooting blind, and a divot on the back can even rest the GPS unit on a golf ball.

Be ready to pay a premium: the new Approach is available now, but costs $500. This is primarily for serious enthusiasts who are determined to refine their skills, even when they can't tee off in a real game.

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