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Are launch monitors worth it?


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After reading "7 Reasons why range balls shouldn't be part of your next fitting" I'm questioning the value of obtaining a launch monitor for myself.  Sounds like it would only be useful if I had the space to set up a practice area at home and hit off a mat.  I was hoping to pick one up this spring but I'd be using it at the driving range with range balls.  After reading the article I'm now doubting this would provide me with any useful information.  What to people think?  Do you use a launch monitor at the range and find it to be useful?

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It depends on what you are trying to get out from it.

If it’s to work on bag gapping/dialing wedge distances on different shots then it could be a useful tool and some of the personal launch monitors do a good job at this. For me when I had a couple of the older ones this is what i used it for or for the practice option that gave you different distances to hit. 
 

another useful use would be for club comparison if demoing something to see if it works better or not against current club, then also a good reason to have one

Using it to chase number and not knowing what they mean or what’s causing them then one could end up down a rabbit hole.

 

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If you know what causes numbers they can be a useful tool in correcting swing flaws quickly.  It's only a rabbit hole if you don't take the time and effort to educate yourself.

https://blog.trackmangolf.com/effects-trackman-training-development-elite-junior-golfers/

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I've got a Garmin approach g80 which is both a GPS and a launch monitor.  I've used it at the range a few times.  The numbers seemed a little off, but it seems consistently off, if that makes sense.  So I've used it the first couple times to get an idea of my yardages (only been golfing a few months) and since then I've pulled it out to see my numbers get better.  

Honestly, I'm not sure if I would buy it again if I could go back.  Seems like quickly diminishing returns for me.  Would be awesome if the local ranges had a couple portable units that they could rent out.

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2 hours ago, JerryB said:

Seems like quickly diminishing returns for me.

That’s an issue with most launch monitors. Unless you are able to get accurate club data it’s not likely to do much other than tell you approximate club distances. You can do that on the course by hitting shots to measured distances. 
 

At the moment, truly effective portable launch monitors are limited to Trackman, GC2/4, and the upper end FlightScope lineup. Hopefully the Launch Pro/GC3 and the Full Swing Kit expand those options, because those others are out of the realm of affordability for most. 

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Sun Mountain C130-S / Titleist TSi4 8.25* PX HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 70 TX / Titleist TSi3 14.25* PX HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 80 TX / New Level NLU-01 18* PX HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 100 6.5 / New Level 902 Forged 4-PW DG TI X100 / Vokey SM8 50,54,58 DGS200 / Scotty Cameron Special Select Newport 2

Humble, TX / Right Handed / 10 Handicap / 37.5" 6i @ 61.5* Lie

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I'd love a launch monitor. I took a LONG break from swinging a golf club, and combined with new irons I have no idea what my gapping is. If I could smash balls into a net in my garage for 20min a day and get an understanding of my yardages without having to find out the hard way on a course I would probably add years to my life span.

No range within a one hour drive from me has accurate distances marked, and I do not own a laser range finder so a launch monitor would be pretty useful.

Tiger is the GOAT, change my mind.

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I bought the Mevo+ to use in my yard last year and while I don't get to use it as much as I had hoped, I still love that I have it. Any time i have a block of time where nothing else needs to be done I have the option of stepping outside and "hitting the range", or playing a round of virtual golf in the same amount of time it would have taken me just to get to a course. I have also used it to help my son play a bit more constantly. All in all I would buy it again. 

 

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I would say yes, they are worth it.  If you accept that ranges balls won't give the same numbers as your gamer, they will still give you some numbers, so you can gauge your consitency etc much better than just eyeballing it.  Even the 'distance only ones' such as PRGR, SC 200/300, original Mevo etc can help make range practice more meaningful.

I'm lucky, I do have space outdoors for a Skytrak and net at home (just), and it is great to have that option.

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I think the answer is, "it depends". To get decently accurate numbers and to have a good home setup, you have to spend $2,000+ on a LM. For the average golfer only using a LM on the course or range, it probably would be a distraction. I personally would like to get a launch monitor like the Mevo just to get some ballpark spin and clubhead speed numbers because I like to try different clubs out. However, I'm not swinging at home, so spending $2k on a LM would not provide much return. Also, if you're on a range that has flags or any markings at all, a laser rangefinder to the targets is going to be as accurate as anything. If money is no concern and you can afford to carry around a $10k - $20k LM, then more power to you. 

I agree with @CRW. If you do get a LM, you need to learn how to use it correctly. I find it easy to start chasing numbers even when just using a Skytrak in hitting bay at a golf shop with no actual idea if the ball is doing as I would actually want.

I do think that LMs are a worthwhile purchase if you want to practice in winter months for those who aren't farther south. I would never encourage anyone to blindly hit into a net without some form of feedback. I think this is probably where the Skytrak shines the most. I still haven't seen a lot on the Mevo+ but from personal experience, the Skytrak has generally seemed accurate enough and easy to use. However, once again, were talking about likely spending at least $3,000 for a full home Skytrak or Mevo+ setup. If you're going to practice at home or indoors, you better have a good net and mat or your body and/or house may not like you. 

Your best case scenario would be to see if a friend or golf club has a personal LM to try out and see if the numbers are helpful. If seeing your numbers gives you a huge boost in confidence, then maybe that's enough to justify it as golf is mostly a mental game after all. 

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I recently ordered a launch monitor for the backyard.  Think it will give some data, give general shot shape, and be more interesting for hitting into net this winter.  For real numbers by club go with course data with real golf balls.  Have a Garmin watch that helps with accurate distance range stats, but also think you can use scorecard notes and math to learn distance ranges by club if you figure out approach distances.  Take lessons with full Trackman and video capture and the data is really useful, especially with golf pro comments, but that is easily $20K setup and not practical for home.                 

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I have a SkyTrak setup in my garage and for the most part I think it’s close enough in regards to the numbers I get.  What I do know is it’s a blast to play courses whenever I want. Never get a rainout and can play 18 in 30 minutes. I bought a new house in the spring so I let a buddy use it for 4 or 5 months and my handicap went up 3.5 strokes this summer. So maybe it will help your game without even trying.

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FIL bought me a SwingCaddie SC200+ (and after a lot of use I would buy it again for myself).  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of others but it's reasonably priced and tells me what I need to know with decent accuracy.  It only shows carry distance, clubhead speed, balls speed, and smash factor.  If you understand how those numbers come together, it tells you a lot about how well you're hitting the ball.  It's a very useful tool for dialing in ranges and it even has a few practice modes that are pretty handy.  I use mine pretty much every time I'm at the range and even during warmups before a round.   All in all I would say launch monitors are pretty worthwhile.  They're a very useful tool if you understand how to leverage the data they give you.  

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This is mostly what I would classify as a philosophical question.  If you believe it will help you, then it more than likely will.  You will actively be seeking numbers, or stats that indicate that it is helping you.  

I think as a couple others have indicated, be careful of chasing "the numbers", or what something "should be".  I'm not sure how fast my ball speed from 135 yards should be.  What I do know is that if I hit my 9 iron with my normal swing it goes 135 yards.  Any inconsistencies in that distance are purely because I don't practice.  I don't need a LM to tell me I don't practice enough. 

Be careful seeking objects to help you improve.  Diligent practice will help you improve.  Some gadget, or item, without any additional practice  is likely to do very little to nothing for you.  I don't care what your level of play is.  Remember 25 practice chips a day for a month even with some rock hard golf ball , will with 100 percent certainty improve your chipping more than  buying Pro V1's, and not practicing.

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I would say yes, they are worth it.  If you accept that ranges balls won't give the same numbers as your gamer, they will still give you some numbers, so you can gauge your consitency etc much better than just eyeballing it.  Even the 'distance only ones' such as PRGR, SC 200/300, original Mevo etc can help make range practice more meaningful.  Even with a cheap one, you can do randomized distance practice by getting a random number generator app on your phone, or use some playing cards or dice 

I'm lucky, I do have space outdoors for a Skytrak and net at home (but only just), and my game has improved as a result.

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I have the best launch monitor available, my eyes. I prefer to play 9 holes hitting 2-3 balls off the tee than go to the range. By doing this I know that everything is how it is when I play comp. 

Only time I go to the range is if I am trying to modify some aspect of my swing. 

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In my personal search for new clubs via the demo program at Ben Hogan and Sub 70  -  I acquired a SC300i and I will say using it at the range helped narrow down my club choices so that I could eventually decide not only by looks/sound/feel but also have numbers to go by.  Granted these were with range balls but I gathered enough data during multiple sessions to arrive at a winner at least for me. 

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On 9/20/2021 at 3:09 PM, Firebird said:

I have the best launch monitor available, my eyes. I prefer to play 9 holes hitting 2-3 balls off the tee than go to the range. By doing this I know that everything is how it is when I play comp. 

Only time I go to the range is if I am trying to modify some aspect of my swing. 

 

I agree that on course practice would be ideal. But where I live, you wouldn't have the time to hit that many shots on the tee. The courses are too busy. With the Launch Monitor I can use it in my yard set up a hole and practice hitting that shot. Then when I have that "Shot" in my regular round I have confidence I can pull it off. Also, with my current schedule I don't get to a course very often anymore so being able to play a bit at night is nice to keep the swing oiled. 

 

 

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Driver: :titelist-small: TSi4 8* w/ Tensei AV Raw White 65gr X shaft set to D-1 Hosel
3 wood: :taylormade-small: M1 13.5* Head set open w/ Fade bias weights. 
Irons: :ping-small: I-Blades PW-3i, 2* up standard length.
Wedges: :ping-small:Glide 1.0 TS 60*, :ping-small: Glide 2.0 56 ES, :titelist-small:Vokey 52* 
Putter: :ping-small: Sigma G Kushin .
Ball: Various: Testing: :titelist-small: AVX, :bridgestone-small: BX, :taylormade-small: TP5x 
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I have an SC300. In hind sight, i would have gone Mevo or Rapsodo. I doubt the accuracy sometimes, especially inside. I feel like 10+ yards off more often than id like. But even when its reading “off”, could be in my head, its at least consistent enough to show me when im puring my shots etc. SC300 is better than nothing, but maybe not the best option in that price range.

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On 9/15/2021 at 8:07 AM, redhillaz said:

After reading "7 Reasons why range balls shouldn't be part of your next fitting" I'm questioning the value of obtaining a launch monitor for myself.  Sounds like it would only be useful if I had the space to set up a practice area at home and hit off a mat.  I was hoping to pick one up this spring but I'd be using it at the driving range with range balls.  After reading the article I'm now doubting this would provide me with any useful information.  What to people think?  Do you use a launch monitor at the range and find it to be useful?

I find great value and reliability with my SC200.  I purchased it used for $125 and have checked it next to a Mevo+ and a laser ranger finder.  It's not very accurate on high lofted wedge shots, especially partial swings, and is about 7-10 yards short of actual carry on drivers (compared to Mevo+).  But, it's really solid on irons and provides me valuable feedback on my consistency (or not) and gapping.  Having just acquired new irons, I was able to old and new side by side and gather data.  

I've been interested in the DIY, low budget hitting studios (connect & project) and, that's really the next level of PLM use for me.  Based on the research I've done, SkyTrak and Mevo+ are the best options - and I'm currently leaning towards Mevo+.  An all in studio that offers very accurate ball and club head data, and the ability to play simulated courses, for around $3000 checks off my value for the money box.  The only reason I haven't already pursued setting one up is that we're likely moving soon and I want to tailor it to the new digs.

In addition to a few threads from fellow spies who have recently set-up studios, here is another that I like.

 

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