Golf Launch Monitor Guide: The Best Products For Recreational Golfers
Over the past 5-10 years, there has been an explosion of golf launch monitors. While there are still plenty of expensive models out there, one area that has improved is the budget category.
This guide is intended to evaluate launch monitors for recreational golfers.
I’ll cover some of the basics for some of the commercial-quality products like Trackman and Foresight, but the main emphasis will be on products priced $2000 and below.
Budget Category ($500 & Under)
I know all of you want to save as much money as possible, so I’ll start with the less expensive golf launch monitors out there.
In this category, you will be getting basic information. None of the products at this level will give you simulated ball flight, which might be a deal breaker for some of you. However, you can expect to get reasonable accuracy on your carry distances, spin rates, and a few other characteristics.
Voice Caddie SC300, SC200, and SC100
Voice Caddie is arguably the best value in this category. The SC100 and SC200 launch monitors have been extremely popular since they were released. Both units will give you carry distances, approximate swing speeds, and ball speed.
I’ve tested both units and they’re easy to set up, have fairly accurate distances, and have several practice games that I like.
You can purchase the SC100 for less than $200 now, but the SC200 ($299) has a few more features that make it worth looking at. The main difference with the SC200 vs the SC100 is the following:
- Upgraded/more accurate sensor
- Voice output after shots
- Ability to adjust the loft of each club for more accurate readings
- Displays both ball speed and swing speed on all shots
In my full review of the SC200, I put it to the test against SkyTrak indoors, which is $1700 more expensive. I was very impressed with the results which you can see in the following table:
|Club||SkyTrak Yardage||SC200 Yardage||% Difference|
|Pitch Shot (LW)||53.8||55.6||3.29|
Long story short, the Voice Caddie launch monitors are a great value for golfers who are looking for basic information like their carry distances. They perform well outside, and if you are looking to practice indoors I recommend using the SC200 since it has a more accurate sensor.
Update (3/4/19): Swing Caddie released a new model, the SC300. I got a chance to test it out and it has some impressive upgrades. You can read my full review here.
Voice Caddie SC200 Purchase Link (lowest price available)
Voice Caddie SC300 Purchase Link (lowest price available)
Released in late 2019, the Rapsodo MLM is another strong contender in this category. My testing found the unit to be extremely accurate – you can read my full review here. Additionally, the app features tons of data and video capability that really sets it apart from the competition.
However, there are a couple of drawbacks. The Rapsodo MLM requires your cell phone to track shots, which gave me some issues with battery usage. The MLM also lacks indoor functionality, which can be a deal-breaker for some golfers. But for the $500, you get a ton of features and great accuracy. I would definitely consider it one of the best overall products at this moment.
Golfers were extremely excited when FlightScope announced its Mevo launch monitor last year. At only $499, it boasts some features that are available in products that cost thousands of dollars more.
Compared to Voice Caddie SC200, it has some extra features such as:
- Spin rate
- Launch angle
- Total Height
Additionally, it also comes with an app that stores all of your data and allows for video swing analysis.
In my testing I found the FlightScope Mevo to be very accurate for carry distances. However, on areas like spin rate and launch angle the unit struggled a little bit based on where you use it.
Since it is a radar-based system, it needs more room indoors to see the ball travel. You can get more accurate numbers by attaching a small metallic sticker on your ball, but overall I found the spin rates indoors to be relatively inaccurate.
If you plan on using the Mevo at the range, I think you’ll see far more reliable numbers. The only caveat is that you need to attach the metallic sticker to your golf ball before each shot. You can purchase 1,000 of them for $25, which is reasonably inexpensive. Some golfers might find it a nuisance to attach them before each shot.
Overall, at $499 the FlightScope Mevo is an excellent choice for golfers who want a little more data, and want to stay within their budget.
Ernest Sports ES12 and ES14
Ernest Sports is also worth a look in the sub-$500 category.
Their ES12 launch monitor is comparable to the Voice Caddie SC100, at less than $200. It will give you reasonably accurate carry distances and ball speeds.
Here is an interesting review comparing its performance to a Foresight GC2:
Garmin Approach G80
This is a new addition to the category from Garmin. The Approach G80 functions both as a GPS map on the golf course, and a launch monitor during your practice sessions. In my testing, I found the yardage numbers to be very accurate, which makes this an interesting value proposition because of its dual functionality. On top of that, it had a great lineup of practice features. This is definitely one of the best releases of 2019 so far.
You can find out more in my review here.
SkyTrak – The Best Overall Option ($2,000)
SkyTrak was a significant breakthrough in the golf launch monitor market when it came out. Recreational golfers now have access to a launch monitor that can provide very accurate ball data and allow for full simulation of golf courses.
Priced at $2,000 it is more expensive than the budget launch monitors, but it offers far more data. SkyTrak gives a simulated (and very accurate) representation of your ball flight. You’ll also have access to critical data such as distance, launch angle, spin rate, ball speed, dispersion, and other measurements.
Additionally, you have access to play simulated golf courses through some of the most popular packages such as World Golf Tour, TruGolf, The Golf Club Game, and several others.
I have owned SkyTrak for a year now and I love it. You can read my in-depth review here, and also my complete guide to home golf simulators to give you some ideas on home setups. Overall, it is a great practice companion and incredibly fun to play simulated courses in the comfort of your home.
If you have the budget, I believe this is the best overall launch monitor option for recreational golfers.
Thoughts On Commercial Launch Monitors
I am sure you have heard of other launch monitors from companies like Trackman, Foresight Sports, and FlightScope. They offer more information about your golf swing along with your ball flight. Additionally, they are more accurate than the budget models discussed.
There’s only one problem. Products like Trackman are incredibly expensive. Depending on which model you purchase, a commercial launch monitor can set you back anywhere between $5,000 to more than $20,000.
Most golfers don’t have that kind of budget. On top of that, I believe the information they offer is overkill for most golfers. These launch monitors are best suited for teaching professionals, club fitters, and advanced players.
Wrapping It Up
If you are in the market for a golf launch monitor, and you don’t have a huge budget, there are now multiple options available. If used correctly, they can be handy practice companions.
Here some related articles I have written on equipment you can use with your launch monitor: