The golf industry has witnessed a blast of smart gadgets to aid training, improvise swing with simple data correlation.
Golf launch monitors are just an addition to such gadgets which help golfers perfect their swing by analysing the ball flight angle with each shot along with a host of other data analytics to help perfect ones teeing shots.
A rightly chosen launch monitor is sure to help you raise your lower scores with the golf swing and the present-day equipment you own. A launch monitor is the deciding factor to show how far you can accurately hit the ball using each club.
BUT some of these are crazy expensive, bulky, need additional apps or arn’t that user friendly.
Today I am talking about all those golf launch monitors that fall under the category of $200, $400, and $500. After much investigation, suggestions of some real users, and golf teachers the best launch monitors that are amazingly affordable are listed down:
3 Best Golf Launch Monitors Reviewed
Best Personal Launch Monitors Reviewed
1. PRGR Black Pocket Launch Monitor
The launch monitor comes battery powered and you just need to turn it on, position it on the ground, and go for the hit. What you can witness is: ball speed, swing speed, smash factor, distance with every club, and more.
The automatic shut-off feature aids in preserving battery and the launch monitor works for right and left handers alike keeping a history of your recent 500 swings and measurements. You can also use the PRGR with the tennis, soccer, & baseball.
With just a weight of 4.4 ounces the monitor can measure the club head- speed on practice swings. Over all a great pocket launch monitor that is appreciated by its users and offers the major stats you require.
2. Ernest Sports – ES12 Portable Launch Monitor
You can pair it with your smart device (Ernest Sports App) for saving and storing your range session and can be a participant in a skills Challenge and others. This is suitable for all level golfers with expertise.
You can conveniently track and inspect your practice sessions for future improvements. You get the data from the ES14:
This is also lightweight with just 1 pound and you require 1 Lithium ion batteries that come included with the pack. Users appreciate about its easy set-up and good results. Overall the ES 14 from Ernest Sports makes your golf game practice purposeful in many ways.
3. Swing Caddie SC200 Plus
This golf launch monitor is affordable, portable, and stays to be at the golfer’s advantage in retrieving complete ball flight and swing metrics that are found in the pro launch monitors such as the:
- Carry distance
- Swing speed
- Ball speed
- Smash factor
This features a new practice swing mode which improves club head speed and swing speed numbers. Doppler Radar Technology & Barometric Pressure Calibration forms part of the launch monitor resulting into a rigid precision for all players. You get extra AAA batteries included with the pack.
4. Voice Caddie – SC 200
1. Practice mode – Swing speed, ball speed, shot distance, ball speed, and the time you consume while playing is displayed by this mode.
2. Target Mode – This allows you to start a target distance by challenging your consistency. You just need to inform the device what distance you are planning to hit. After you hit it will give you a score out of 10.
3. Random mode – This sets random target distances to question your accuracy.
What all is measured by the Voice Caddie SC 200?
- Carry distance
- Smash factor
- Swing speed
- Ball speed
- Stores average stats for each club
- Overall stats for the last 100 shots
5. Voice Caddie Swing Caddie SC300 & SC300i
- Launch Angle
- Swing Speed
- Ball Speed
- Smash Factor
- Carry/Total Distance
My Swing Caddie app facilitates you to see ball spin no’s, swing video recording capability, and the potential to draw overlaying reference lines for analysis.
The Voice Caddie and Swing Caddie launch monitors make use of Doppler Radar Technology. You also get instant feedback through LCD screen. The package comes with SC3001, USB cable & cover, remote, and a user’s manual.
6. RAPSODO MLM
Instant feedback is possible due to the real-time video with the short trace and data overlay which makes understanding convenient. You can access your stat history to witness:
- Standard deviation
Make use of the phone GPS to view all shots land on the course or actual range. With certain devices like iPhone and iPad models, can be used hitting into a net indoors or outdoors.
7. FLIGHTSCOPE MEVO
It can be used either in outdoor or indoor parameters as it carries distance, ball speed, smash factor, spin, apex height, clubhead speed, vertical launch angle and flight time.
It further optimizes your game and save and compare your previous data results with the new results allow you to keep track of coming changes in your game.
Plus, the ability to store videos and data allows you to review every session with your coach or for your self-analyzation. It can also be connected to your mobile device using the mevo app, which helps you preview the clip either on your tablet or mobile.
Choosing FlightScope Mevo as a launch monitor, you are practising with a purpose as this machine is light-weighted that tends to enhance portability. Plus, it further uses 3D doppler radar. To check the benefits of choosing 3D doppler radar.
Which Is The Perfect Budget Launch Monitor For You?
I had been receiving loads of messages from the golfers who are just swamped by so many options and do not have a clear cut picture as what to buy when selecting a launch monitor. So, I have actually simplified the entire process by categorising different launch monitors based on their prices.
You can select the launch monitor that suits you and your pocket the best.
- For just an entry-level purpose you can go for the PRGR – Black Pocket Launch Monitor. This comes under the $200 category and with bare-bones offering this is pretty accurate. If you are training with the super speed golf then you can use this as a swing-speed radar.
- Right now I really like the SC200 Plus from Swing Caddie which is priced at $359.99. This boasts of some augmented features such as a wireless remote, practice games, and the capacity to use it as a swing-speed radar.
- If you have a budget that’s close enough to $500 then we have two picks the Swing Caddie SC300 and Rapsodo –Mobile Launch Monitor which make two great options. If we talk about the hardware then Rapsodo is somewhat more accurate and strong but needs some additional hardware like the iPad or iPhone. In search of something extremely simple to use then SC300 is an unmatchable choice.
2022 Golf Launch Monitor – Buyer’s Guide
You can find the launch monitors everywhere. They form an essential part of every teaching session and every club fitting. For validating their work, even the club designers rely on these. There has been no PGA tour event that works without Flight scope, Trackman, and Foresight.
In other words, we can say that Golf has become a data-driven game, where some of the data come from the launch monitors. Even the best players worldwide use these devices to drive both on-course decisions and equipment. If the best ones are doing so, then we can expect this from the average golfers too.
So, here’s the rub…. Every aspect of swing and ball flight is used by the gear and pros to scrutinize. This depends on the model and the bundled features and the clubhead data and the full complement of the ball to set you back $12,000 to $25,000.
There is a much-attached curiosity with the portable and personal launch monitors as these are not only amazing but compact pocket-sized devices that provide you with the immense data and in just less than $500. As compared to their counterparts this is just pennies on the dollar and this is not less than a holy grail for a hungry golfer.
What was apparent in just no time is that these devices were not efficient enough like the expensive units in providing data. The metrics provided by them are significantly less and these devices don’t provide clubhead data, and fewer attempts to give spin numbers. The dispersion data is provided by SkyTrak.
If the data is limited, this is perhaps okay but the accuracy is of main concern. So, this is kind of a mixed bag and can be considered as a generous characterization as some of them tend to do a better job than others.
Some of the upsides are that the device which we tested has many additional features that may elevate your experience from just the data collection and reading numbers. If your focus is not just on the data, then these are some fun to experience.
If you are keen to own a personal launch monitor soon, then you are in the right place.
LAUNCH MONITOR TECHNOLOGIES
The launch monitors of today are powered with either the radar technology to the technology of a camera.
The systems that are radar-based make use of a doppler in order to follow the flight of the golf ball. If we look at it the other way, these are basically a smaller version of the technology which is used by the meteorologists for tracking the weather patterns.
The doppler works by bouncing the microwaves of the objects and here it is a golf ball. The devices that are powered by doppler can easily track the movement of the ball through space by sending the waves continuously and receiving the reflections.
The entire flight of the golf ball is tracked by the enterprise radar launch monitors such as the FlightScope X3 and Trackman. The less expensive consumer-grade units have doppler units that are small in size and may lack the power to track the full flight of the golf ball.
What you get out of using the Trackman in the limited flight mode does not match with the capability of the consumer-grade radar systems, be it outdoors.
The size of the radar system is limited and this is why the inexpensive units require the golfer to specify the club being used. The designating if the club enables the device to know where it should look out for the ball.
This serves to improve the consistency and accuracy of the readings and the shots that are launched outside the normal window are missed by the smaller units frequently. It is important that the golfers understand that the consumer-level radar units, be it any, aren’t capable of tracking anything that is close to the typical golf shot’s full flight.
Except for the SkyTrak, all are radar-based models. And we can confidently say this as we have tested them personally.
As per the category designation, the camera-based launch monitors flaunt of high-definition cameras for measuring the ball data and following spontaneously after the impact. Since everything is measured at the impact and the camera-based systems can easily take this.
There are things such as the launch angle, azimuth, key spin metrics, ball speed, for calculating the flight distance. The full flight of the golf ball can’t be measured by the camera-based ones they tend to provide more accurate spin measurements, axis tilt, and are supposed to be more reliable in the limited flight scenarios.
How these deal under the lighting conditions and the highly reflective environments is entirely dependant on the camera quality.
Over here the SkyTrak is probably the only one system that is camera-based.
RAPSODO MLM – BEST OUTDOOR LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $500
The golfers who are happy to be informed about the carry distance, launch angle and ball speed then the Rapsodo MLM is a good option for outdoors for less than $500. With the limited data, this comes with more accuracy but lacks some of the meaningful metrics such as the azimuth, and the spin.
When you don’t have access to the clubface and path info then this one can help to visualize shot shape/ curvature with its shot tracer feature. The MLM is not suited to work indoors or with a net, so the wide-open spaces need to be your target.
Some More Features That Matter
A plethora of ball data is provided by the enterprise-class units while the personal launch monitors provide limited data. As compared to the guesses the swing speed measurements appear to be more and none of these tend to provide the data more natively.
The information they give is not in totality with the professional-grade hardware. The metrics you want to look in your device should be clear to you before you invest in the best one.
Don’t confuse with one thing that the launch monitor that gives numbers is accurate. There are many shortcomings and the metrics provided by these are not accurate or can’t be measured reliably. Backspin values are not offered by most of these devices.
Though others tend to provide data that is always at the risk of diminishing accuracy. Any device that is incapable of providing accurate and consistent data is considered to be virtually useless.
Ease of Use:
Wasting time configuring, connecting, and setting the device is something that isn’t feasible in any way. The launch monitor should be easy to operate as practice time is limited to any of us. More precise placement at the set-up is the need for some units.
And if you are willing to spare some extra time and effort for getting the highest degree of accuracy then go for it.
The primary purpose of all the units tested by us is measuring the golf ball flight and there is some additional functionality offered by most of them. Some of them include features such as recording your swing, leveraging GPS functionality on the golf course, while some allow simulator play also.
Some of them also add elements such as gamification like the long drive contests and the closest to the pin challenges too. The added features are a charm and compel some to buy such a device with some value-addition and choose one over the other.
Portability is not something as a primary concern if you tend to spend more than $10,000 on a launch monitor. As compared to the consumer-grade units the Foresight and Trackman are full-sized ones and larger too.
As a golfer, if your reach is form home to the range and back again then a compact device is the best to have, and that will fit in your golf bag with ease.
If you go for Garmin and Voice Caddie, then they are self-contained, while the others require an app to communicate with the launch monitor. They tend to relay data with the help of this. Most of the applications are easy to navigate and hassle-free. Rapsodo is proved to be a battery killer when it takes the videos of your swing though like the SkyTrak it stands out for simple and intuitive interface.
Your Budget Matters:
The units we tested are under $400 to just under $2000. Your inclination is towards the enterprise-level accuracy and features then you may be looking at $700+for used Foresight GC2 and more than $25k for a new one with all the features. Then the difference is probably huge.
As considered with today’s technology and getting a launch monitor that too fully-featured only at $500 is a great deal. You should expect what you pay for and these units provide a small subset of the data as compared to the enterprise-class unit.
INDOORS, OUTDOORS, OR BOTH?
If you are on a budget and looking for a launch monitor to use exclusively indoors then SkyTrak is a good option to buy. You can buy a used one if you want. If you have inclined towards a radar-based unit for indoor use then at least a flight distance of 8 ft. should be there. And note that there should be a required room between the hitting zone and the launch monitor.
As per the manufacturer specifications, the Rapsodo MLM is not fit for indoor use but for outdoors its great for under $500.
In case you are breaking the time between outdoor and indoor use then Flightscope Mevo is capable enough of handling any environment. The metal dots can improvise a bit of tracking and the video features that you get are well executed too.
Practice, Business, or Fun?
If your task is as a teaching professional and you are looking forward to increasing sales and add value to your customers then don’t get disappointed as these low-cost won’t fit into your needs. Some fitting capabilities and bag mapping-feature are offered by SkyTrak and this is available in Rapsodo MLM too.
Spending more than $2000 doesn’t make much sense in order to stay behind the industry curve. Clubhead data is being leveraged by many fitters and teachers these days and this should also be considered by you.
If there are recreational golfers then the distance measured by some of the radar units that are of $500 works well. Though you may have to compromise on the metrics or data they provide, as this may be lower than the most expensive options.
In case you are obsessed with the data and are keen to know precisely about the ball speed, launch angle and the degree along with the spin numbers then a one which is at a price of $500 won’t be providing you with everything you want.
The simulator component makes it the SkyTrak probably the best option along with fun. Though this lacks the clubhead data and works well indoors and is head and shoulders with anything that costs below $5000.
If any golfer is looking forward to having a good time with their friends then the units that offer the best are the Mevo, Voice Caddie, Rapsodo, and SkyTrax are some of the ones that do much beyond the data capturing.
It is important for you to understand all the things and see what all devices offer before you buy a personal launch monitor.
THE EXTRA MILE
The amount $500 is not a small amount, and when you invest it you feel to squeeze every bit of it, isn’t it? We have discussed earlier also that many of them come with bonus features and you should consider this important thing also.
Everyone can marvel at your distances and Rapsodo encourages you to publish and show off your swing on their Explore page.
While Mevo offers tools for analyzing your swing and displaying data, similar to that of the enterprise models. This stores your data in the cloud and allows you to toss bad shots.
If you want a unit that comes with the most powerful set of features then SkyTrax is the top-most choice. Be it the bag mapping functions, longest drive, or closest to the pin, there are many add-on features that bring a wonderful ownership experience.
Along with playing the famous courses, killing zombies, your cardiovascular health will also improve with the fitness model it offers.
Real balls or range balls?
If the data you are planning to collect is while banging limited flight, undistinguished range balls, or beat to hell, then maybe you are wasting your time and money both. If you are not getting the data with the ball you are playing, then you need to try with the other ball that is similar to the ball you are playing.
Indoor environments or hitting nets are not difficult but if the ball you tend to hit is not like your next one then you won’t be able to learn much though, be it the numbers keep on appearing on the screen from shot after shot.
In case your typical use-case is the mixed bag of range balls then it probably makes good sense to that will save your money.
FLIGHTSCOPE MEVO – BEST INDOOR LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $500
The FlightScope MEVO is versatile and despite its small size has the ability to capture a wide range of data. This also features an intuitive app that enables us to take your swing videos while the data is being overlaid with the simultaneous comparison of every shot.
The shot data is stored properly and you can track your performance from swing to swing in the cloud. Maybe this is not the most perfect and you may need to put stickers on every ball but in case you are separating between the range and hitting indoors then this is the best bet for $500.
Some Expert Tip
If on budget and are pretty serious about the data then these launch monitors with a price of $500 are certainly the best to buy. They will satisfy the cravings of a hungry golfer. Though we have provided and explained in the best possible way in our write-up, then there may be some shortcomings attached to the devices that are here and they might not have the horsepower to deliver data consistently and accurately.
If your buying limit is $500, then you can wait for the tech to improve and if you still want to spend money then use it for your lessons instead. You may get mixed and unpredictable results if then again it won’t be of much use.
More Tips in Case You Are Still Interested
➽ Some launch monitors tend to perform better indoors while some exclusively suit outdoors. So, you need to ensure where you will be using them.
➽ Battery life is also a great concern if you are hitting a few dozen balls at a time. Planning should be done accordingly as the battery drain may irritate you.
➽ The launch monitors rule every fitting-experience, and this won’t be possible with a consumer-grade unit. As in the fitting scenario, they won’t provide you with accurate data.
➽ You probably get what you pay for when it’s a launch monitor. They provide so much detail and measurements and are in the category which is above $500.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. What Are These Launch Monitors Fit To Track?
Ans1. If we move from model to model then we will find that every golf launch monitor provides more refinement, more data, and better measurement.
Most of the launch monitors are capable enough of tracking ball speed, smash factor, club-head speed, carry/total distance, trajectory, swing speed, and more. The more you go towards the high-end models the features are sure to enhance.
Q2. Can I Rely On Launch Monitors For Indoors And Outdoors Alike?
Ans2. As discussed in the article above Rapsodo MLM is a launch monitor that can be used indoors and outdoors both. Though portable launch monitors are known for their better functioning outdoors than indoors.
High-end launch monitors by Flightscope and Skytrak (prone to faltering in some lights) are also good for outdoor use than indoors but they do perform well indoors too. Hence, depending on what you are aiming at the launch monitor will fall into that specific category.
Q3. Can I Use These Launch Monitors With My Tablet Or Phone?
Ans3. Yes, you can use your launch monitor with your phone or tablet as they come with easy-to-use apps for Android & iOS both. Many of the launch monitors discussed above work well and run great with the apps on your iPhone or iPad (like Rapsodo MLM).
Q4. Is It Worth To Invest In A Launch Monitor?
Certainly, there are high-speeds at play while the golfer us striking the ball on the course and the launch monitors work well to slow-down and show what’s taking place.
Q5. How Does A Golf Launch Monitor Work?
Ans5. A simple scientific principle is used by the radar based golf launch monitors known as the Doppler Effect. A microwave signal is generated by the monitor which radiates out of the device.
This radar based system then tracks the ball flight by assuming the project details of the club head movements using a software.
I hope you like my ideas and above listed devices about some real and inexpensive golf launch monitors. So, make an educated and confident decision and improve your golf game with the right stats. Work on your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths by following the perfect launch monitor you buy.