For golfers who are serious about improving their game, knowing their club and ball data is a very valuable asset.
This is where launch monitors come in. As the core of most golf simulators, a launch monitor allows you to measure and analyze ball flight data and track your shots so that you can understand how your game needs to improve.
Not everyone can afford professional launch monitors that cost five figures or more. Fortunately, as launch monitor technology has advanced, many very affordable solutions have appeared on the market, so there are options that can accommodate a range of budgets.
There are several things that make a great launch monitor: the amount of data points, accuracy, technology and size are among them.
The majority of launch monitors can be used to their full potential both at home and on the range. With some decent software, a projector and a screen, you can even build a full-on golf simulator that you can enjoy at any time of the year.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf launch monitors across a wide range of different budgets.
We have tested all of these launch monitors one way or another. Some have less capability than others, but they all give exceptional results for the cost.
Our Top Launch Monitor Picks
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, the following are our top selections for the best golf launch monitors:
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor
- TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor
- FlightScope Mevo Launch Monitor
- Ernest Sports ES14 Pro Launch Monitor
- Voice Caddie SC300 Launch Monitor
- Ernest Sports ES12 Player Launch Monitor
- Foresight Sports GC2 Launch Monitor
- Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
- Ernest Sports ES16 Tour Launch Monitor
- Foresight Sports GCQuad Launch Monitor
The SkyTrak Launch Monitor is one of the most popular launch monitors on the market, and there’s a reason for that.
It’s a game-improvement tool used by both regular golfers and professionals. It records your ball flight data at a precision comparable to commercial systems that cost $10,000 or more, but yet it costs just a fraction of that price.
And it’s more than just a launch monitor: it also comes with out-of-the-box simulator software that is easy to set up, so you can get a visual of your shot on the range or your favourite golf course.
The SkyTrak is more powerful than the typical cheap pocket-sized launch monitor. Unlike lesser launch monitors, it’s compatible with various simulator software solutions like World Golf Tour and E6.
Once you set up the unit, you can practice on a virtual range and view key ball flight parameters.
How The SkyTrak Launch Monitor Works
When you hit a shot, photometric technology is used to take several high-speed photos of the first few inches of ball flight.
Through advanced algorithms, the pictures are used to calculate 11 data parameters including distance, ball speed, back spin, launch angle, side spin, side angle, and even angle of descent.
How To Set It Up
Another reason why SkyTrak is so popular is that it’s easy to set up, even for the technically-challenged.
You’re going to need a phone, tablet, laptop, or computer for the setup.
- Charge the SkyTrak device and turn it on.
- Download the SkyTrak app on your computer.
- Register your account and connect the software to your SkyTrak device.
- Once your hitting area is set up, position the SkyTrak device about a foot away from the ball, on the opposite side that you’ll be standing to make your swing.
- Once you hit your shot, you’ll see the shot data on your device.
If you’d like more than just a shot trace and ball flight data, you can get access to different challenges, golf courses, and other simulation features by subscribing to either the Game-Improvement or Play & Improve Plans. Find out more about that here.
Depending on the package you get, you can play rounds on the world’s top courses or play different challenges like closest-to-the-pin. You can play golf with your family or friends, whatever the weather is outside.
We love the SkyTrak Launch Monitor because it’s well-made, trusted by pros and top golf swing coaches, and offers arguably the best performance for the money.
If you’re looking for the very best, most cutting-edge launch monitor technology, TrackMan just might be it.
It’s true — turn on the Golf Channel, and you’ll see that TrackMan is considered to be the gold standard in launch monitor and swing analysis technology. It’s used by the best of the best: top pros, equipment manufacturers, coaches, and club fitters.
TrackMan 4, in particular, is the latest and greatest release in the TrackMan lineup. Intended to be the most powerful and accurate launch monitor ever made, it’s the end result of three years of intense development.
TrackMan 4 is marked by the use of two radar systems, superior to the single radar found in previous TrackMan models.
The unit is surprisingly compact considering its power: 300 x 300 x 45 mm dimensions and only 6.2 lbs in weight, making it very portable and easy to bring anywhere.
Have a look at how it works here:
TrackMan’s dual-radar system is revolutionary in the industry. It not only increases the accuracy of data measurement, but it also allows even more data to be captured.
It’s quite simple: one of TrackMan 4’s radar systems tracks everything to do with the club (club path, swing direction, face angle, etc.) and the other tracks everything to do with the ball (speed, spin rate, curvature, etc).
Every detail in the swing is captured with the highest precision, including the location of impact on the clubface. A total of 27 parameters can be delivered in real time, including all the ones you’ve come to expect from a launch monitor.
Other features of TrackMan 4 include:
- Performance Putting: the ability to track the full ball roll of a putt (unique to TrackMan 4)
- a thinner and lighter design than previous models
- the ability to display the full trajectory of any shot, from short to long clubs
- compatibility with a versatile app that allows integration of video, screencasting, and other features
- the ability to connect up to six external cameras for additional recording angles
- automatic leveling and built-in WiFi
You can be sure you’re getting quality with TrackMan 4, but as you might expect, it comes at a steep price. Financing may be available depending on your location.
The FlightScope Mevo receives high praise both by critics and consumers, and is used by high-profile Tour players like Bryson DeChambeau.
In its price range, it has some of the highest user ratings, is one of the most accurate launch monitors, and provides the most detailed ball flight parameters you can find on the market.
It can be used anywhere: on the range, on the course, or at home, but you’ll need an Android or iOS device to display the data. To practice at home with real balls, you’ll need to set up a hitting net or screen.
The Mevo provides real-time performance data, and it also has a video capture feature that you can use to spot flaws in your swing. It’s small enough that it can fit in the palm of your hand.
How It Works
The Mevo uses 3D Doppler radar technology to measure carry distance, ball and club head speed, spin rate, flight time, vertical launch angle, apex height, and smash factor.
To effectively use the Mevo, you’ll need to download the Mevo app on your mobile device. Once everything is set up, you can view data in real time for every club, record and view video with data overlay, and track your progress over time.
If you want to use the Mevo indoors, you’ll need to allow at least 8 feet of ball flight and 4 feet of space behind the impact zone.
It’s obviously less powerful than either of the two models reviewed above, but it’s also far less expensive.
If models like the SkyTrak are too much for you to handle, take a look at this. Ernest Sports makes many quality launch monitors; the ES14 Pro is their best one that is under $1000.
It’s an exceptional no-frills launch monitor that is used by club fitters, teaching pros, and Tour players such as Ben Crane and Deb Vangellow.
It’s available in two colours: white and black. It can be taken to the range with no issues, but if you want to use it at home, you’ll need to set up a hitting area (net, screen, etc.) or at the very least use foam or plastic balls.
The ES14 Pro uses Doppler radar technology to accurately measure key parameters including distance, ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, clubhead speed and smash factor.
To get the most out of the launch monitor, we recommend using it with the companion ES14 app on your iOS or Android device. This can be installed for free, and it acts as your own personal caddie, giving you:
- detailed shot analysis information
- four different ways to display your data
- the ability to organize your data and observe trends
- audible feedback
- club averages
- a skills challenge
It can do much more than this. There’s also a feature that gives you club recommendations into greens based on your previous logged data. You can connect the app directly to the ES14 launch monitor via Bluetooth.
In general, users of the ES14 love the ease of setting up and understanding the information, the accuracy, real-time data, and options for storing data.
The Swing Caddie SC300 is Voice Caddie’s newest and most advanced launch monitor offering.
It’s considered a portable launch monitor, very affordable and easy to carry around. It can be used at home, on the range or on the golf course.
The SC300 has a black back with a stand, silver edging, and an LCD display with an orange backlight. It has excellent accuracy and a relatively high average customer rating.
The SC300 Launch Monitor uses the latest in Doppler radar technology, along with calibrating atmospheric pressure sensors. Key parameters measured include:
- carry and total distance
- swing speed
- ball speed
- launch angle
- apex (max height)
- smash factor
Launch angle and apex are parameters that are normally limited to professional launch monitors, so you’re getting very good value here.
Just as other launch monitors like the Mevo and ES14 have apps, the SC300 can be paired with the SC300 Swing Caddie app (iOS or Android) for real-time, integrated shot data and statistics for each club.
The app isn’t required for the SC300 to function, but we recommend installing it because it provides extra benefits including spin data. It can be connected to the launch monitor via Bluetooth.
One thing to note: while most customers praise the SC300, some have complained about the device overheating and inaccurate readings. If you notice any issues, we advise contacting support to work it out.
Do you want a launch monitor that is reliable and well-made, but yet costs less than $200 and only measures the most essential ball parameters?
If you’re content with only seeing your distance and ball speed numbers, then the ES12 Player by Ernest Sports, a favourite of world-renowned golf coach Butch Harmon, is an excellent model to consider.
The ES12 is extremely easy to set up, and at roughly the size of a smartphone, it can fit into pockets and easily fit into your golf bag. It has a durable rubber casing with a stand, and a clear LCD screen.
The ES12 Player Launch Monitor uses Doppler radar to display ball speed and distance measurements after each shot.
The ES12 can be paired with the free Ernest Sports app, compatible with Android and iOS devices, to unlock additional benefits and features. These include (but are not limited to):
- a personal caddie that gives you club recommendations for shots based on past logged data
- the ability to analyze shot data for each club
- the ability to track and analyze your practice sessions
- side-by-side video analysis
- skills challenges
Users of the ES12 generally love the extreme affordability and how easy it is to use. Some people have had problems with setting up the app, but we didn’t have problems during our testing. Make sure you follow all of the included instructions.
Because of its extreme accuracy and pro-grade capabilities, the GC2 is in the same cost ballpark as professional launch monitors like TrackMan.
However, the great thing about the GC2 is that it’s available certified pre-owned (refurbished by Foresight Sports) at a fraction of the normal price. This means that golfers with a modest budget can own one and enjoy its benefits to the fullest.
The GC2 Launch Montior is under 4 lbs, less than 10 inches long, and definitely one of the most powerful launch monitor on the market. It’s trusted by top coaches, teaching pros, and Tour pros.
First off, the GC2 takes less than a minute to set up — no marked balls or calibration is necessary.
The GC2 uses a stereoscopic camera system that emulates “human eye” spatial recognition. With high-resolution, high-speed cameras that capture up to 10,000 frames per second, the lens arrangement precisely measures ball parameters at the moment of impact.
The image processing is state-of-the-art, and an internal accelerometer corrects for non-level surfaces. You don’t have to worry about the GC2 not finding or locking onto your ball.
Just a few of the ball parameters measured are carry, total distance, ball speed, launch angle, total spin, side spin, and push-pull.
The LCD display is large and easy to read even outdoors. Ball performance data is delivered in real-time.
HMT (Head Measurement Technology)
HMT is an optional add-on to the GC2 Launch Monitor. It measures club head data with extreme accuracy and provides the most comprehensive analysis of your swing available.
With HMT, you can view additional parameters including angle of attack, power, club head speed, smash factor, strike point, lie angle, and dynamic loft.
HMT takes the same approach as the GC2 with stereoscopic cameras, ensuring that all data points are captured regardless of the club or hitting surface used.
HMT is a beast, but it’s also very expensive. Fortunately, it’s also available certified pre-owned at a steeply reduced price.
Foresight Sports is also offering optional software called FSX that allows you to create a full golf simulator experience with the GC2.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM) is a unique new launch monitor that is run through your mobile device. It’s the first launch monitor on the market to take advantage of your phone’s camera.
It’s currently only available for iOS, but the Android version is planned to be released very soon. Note that it cannot be used indoors; it has to be taken to the range or the course.
This launch monitor analyzes your shot and provides data on clubhead speed, distance, ball speed, launch angle, launch direction, and smash factor. It also records your shot for playback and provides an active tracer so you can see your exact ball flight.
What differentiates this launch monitor from others in its price range are cool features like an active tracer, GPS maps that show your shot dispersion, and interactive games.
How It Works
Setting up the MLM is fairly simple. Just charge the device, install the Rapsodo Golf app on your phone, calibrate it to the device, choose a mode, and start hitting.
Not only can you view your shot data and shot trace, but using GPS, you can see exactly where your shots land. You can also view trends and shot averages by club, which will help you understand what club to hit in different situations.
Lastly, you can store your video clips in a library, and easily post them to social media.
See the Rapsodo MLM in action here:
This launch monitor has very high ratings; people love its mobility and nifty features. Once the Android version is released, the market for it could get really big.
If you want something even better than the SkyTrak but not anywhere near the $10,000+ range, the ES16 Tour by Ernest Sports might just be for you.
The ES16 Tour is the best launch monitor in its class and the first to combine Doppler radar and dual photometric cameras.
It not only provides full ball and club data, but it also has full golf simulation capability, being compatible with various simulator software solutions. And unlike most of its competitors, the ES16 has no annual support fees.
The unit is fairly small, quite portable, and weighs just 3 pounds.
Due to infrared light boards that don’t work so well in sunlight, the ES16 Tour is best used indoors.
It combines the spin and directional measurements of Photometric technology with the club speed and ball measurements of Doppler radar technology to produce some of the most accurate readings on the market.
The ES16 measures a ton of parameters: 14 ball readings and 8 club readings. Go here to get a full list of the parameters.
The ES16 is compatible with software solutions that include The Golf Club, E6, Perfect Parallel, Boditrak, and Swinguru. You can hit shots from tee to green, chip, putt, play skills challenges, and more.
ES GOLF App
Another key aspect of the ES16 is the free ES GOLF companion app. This app has been received very well at PGA shows.
The app acts as your own digital golf assistant. With it, you can track and analyze your practice sessions in detail. Once you connect your app device with the ES16 unit, here are just some of the things you can do:
- view club averages, shot shapes, shot dispersion, and individual shot statistics
- get visual and audio feedback on each shot
- see live ball flight from multiple perspectives
- save range sessions by user
- view side-by-side video analysis
- analyze shot data by course
The ES16 Tour comes with detailed and clear setup information. We love it because it’s very reliable and is used by swing coaches and PGA pros.
The GCQuad Launch Monitor is a three-time Golf Digest Editors’ Choice Award Winner and one of Foresight Sports’ most advanced and powerful launch monitor offerings.
In terms of price, it’s much more expensive than the SkyTrak but less expensive than the TrackMan 4, depending on which software and add-ons you get with it.
The GCQuad builds on the GC2, its predecessor also featured on this page, to deliver unique quadrascopic imaging, direct measurements of club head data, and an extremely fast processor.
It has a compact, ergonomic design at 7 x 12.5 x 4 inches, weighs just 7.5 lbs, runs on a 6-8 hour lithium ion battery, and works equally well indoors and outdoors.
We start with the quadrascopic high-speed camera system, which is a first in the launch monitor industry.
A combination of high-resolution, high-speed camera-based technology and infrared object tracking build a virtual 3D model of your swing and precisely measure club head and ball performance. Results are delivered nearly in real time.
The technology is different from radar-based technologies that measure performance from behind the clubhead and derive various parameters. The GCQuad gets a clear, direct view of impact and takes exact photometric measurements.
The end result is apparently much more precise results. Our tests and the experiences of other GCQuad users seem to confirm the extreme accuracy, but whether or not it’s the most accurate launch monitor on the market is up for debate.
Key parameters measured include ball speed, launch angle, azimuth, spin-tilt axis, and total spin. With the Clubhead Measurement add-on, you get a large amount of additional club head data as well.
Other available add-ons are:
- Essential Putting Analysis: gives you detailed insight into every aspect of your putting.
- the latest FSX software, which allows you to set up a top-tier golf simulator experience.
The GCQuad is a serious launch monitor for serious golfers. For more information on software, add-ons, and simulation options that come with the unit, as well as price, go here.
There are many launch monitors on the market, some cheap and some expensive, and we understand that choosing the right one for you can feel difficult and overwhelming.
It turns out that it’s not that difficult to find one that meets your needs once you know what to look for. You just need to consider all the factors that will affect your experience and match it with what your goals are.
In general, you should invest in a launch monitor that’s reliable, accurate, and that measures the shot parameters you’re interested in. A skilled golfer that needs precise accuracy will probably end up using a different model than a more casual golfer.
Here are the most important factors you need to consider when determining which launch monitor will suit you best:
What club and ball parameters does the launch monitor track, and what parameters do you want to see?
As you might suspect, smaller, less-expensive launch monitors will tend to produce less parameters, while more expensive and advanced models will usually measure more. Some launch monitors have add-on purchases that enable additional parameters.
Most golfers want key metrics like distance and ball speed, and almost all launch monitors offer this at a minimum. If you’re looking for a more detailed analysis with swing plane information, angle of attack, smash factor and the like, your choice of launch monitors will narrow a bit.
Bottom line: make sure that the launch monitor you’re buying has all the data points that you’re looking for.
It’s not necessarily true that cheaper launch monitors are less accurate than more expensive ones. At the same time, you can’t expect a $400 launch monitor to be as precise as a $15,000 launch monitor.
Also, some launch monitors can have issues when it comes to their position and elevation relative to the hitting area.
For most golfers, accuracy on the level of the ES12 will be plenty good enough, but those who demand the best will need to look at more expensive models.
3. Usage Type
Do you plan to use your launch monitor indoors, outdoors, or both?
Some launch monitors, like the Rapsodo MLM reviewed above, only work outdoors (e.g. on the range) where the ball can take its full flight. Others, like the ES16 Tour, are better suited for indoor use because of certain technologies and simulation capabilities.
If you’re interested in a launch monitor that can be used while hitting into a net, you should verify that it can be used for this purpose and how much free ball flight and clearance it needs to work properly.
You don’t want to find out the bad news later that it can’t accommodate your intended use.
4. Features & Apps
Look at the features offered. How does the launch monitor display your data, and how can you store and organize it?
The majority of modern launch monitors can be paired with a matching app that allows you flexibility in viewing your data, data trends, and data for each club in the bag. Some come with simulation software, usually at extra cost.
If there’s a particular feature that you want in your launch monitor, make sure that the model you’re interested in has it. Beyond that, any extra features are a bonus.
Of course, your budget is very important when shopping for a golf launch monitor.
Not everyone can afford launch monitors that cost four figures, much less five. Fortunately, there are options that cost well below this amount. Golfers with large budgets have excellent options as well.
With that said, some launch monitors are cheaper for a reason: they may have inferior technology, an inferior construction, less ball flight parameters, a less convenient setup, or less added features.
In this guide, we’ve tried to include quality launch monitors over a range of budgets that golfers might have. But the great thing is that you don’t have to drop the full cost of it at once.
Our recommended launch monitor source here provides easy financing options that allow you to pay for something like the GC2, GCQuad or SkyTrak over the course of a year or longer. Don’t forget about this option.
Looking for a portable launch monitor? A professional one? One for the outdoors or for the home? Whatever your intended use is, there are several very good options available.
Finding a launch monitor that meets your needs is certainly possible with some research.
Each of the launch monitor options reviewed above offer excellent value for the cost. We’ve given you the information you need to make a decision; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
If you plan to use a launch monitor that is compatible with simulator software, you can start by looking at screen & enclosure setups here.
We highly recommend reading customer reviews of launch monitors, or getting the opinion of experts, to obtain useful insights as to how they actually perform. This can help you a great deal in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. What kind of launch monitor are you interested in? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.