A launch monitor is one of the most valuable assets that any golfer can have for their personal and home use.
It’s the core of most golf simulators, and it allows you to measure ball flight data and track your shots so that you can understand where your game is and where it needs to go.
Not everyone can afford professional launch monitors, some of which have costs that reach into the five figures. 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.
You can take full advantage of many launch monitors at home with a hitting net, and with some decent software, a projector and a screen, you can even build a full-on golf simulator that you can enjoy day or night, rain or shine.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best home golf launch monitors across a wide range of different budgets.
We have tested all of these launch monitors. Some have less capability than others, but they all give excellent results for the cost.
Our Top Picks For Launch Monitors For The Home
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, the following are our top picks for the best launch monitors for home use:
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor
- Ernest Sports ES14 Pro Launch Monitor
- Voice Caddie SC300 Launch Monitor
- Foresight Sports GC2 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.
At the same time, it’s more powerful than the typical pocket-sized portable launch monitor.
And not only is it a launch monitor, but 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.
Once you set up a hitting area in your home, you can practice on a virtual range and view key ball flight parameters.
You can also play rounds on the world’s top courses, or play different challenges like closest-to-the-pin, depending on the package you get. You can play golf with your family or friends, whatever the weather is outside.
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 various parameters such as distance, ball speed, spin rate, and launch angle (there are many more).
Because of the way ball behaviour is measured, the SkyTrak works as well indoors as it does outdoors.
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 this.
- 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 want 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. You can find out more information about that here.
We love the SkyTrak Launch Monitor because it’s affordable, well-made, and trusted by pros and top golf swing coaches.
The ES14 Pro is an excellent no-frills launch monitor from Ernest Sports that is used by serious golfers, teaching pros, and club fitters.
For example, it’s PGA Tour player Ben Crane’s launch monitor of choice, and it’s also used by the likes of LPGA Tour professional Deb Vangellow.
It’s available in two colours: white and black. As with any launch monitor, you’ll need to set up a hitting area (net, screen, etc.) or at the very least use foam or plastic balls if you want to practice at home.
This launch monitor ranks #2 on our list because it’s accurate, affordable, provides key data, and has glowing reviews.
The ES14 Pro uses Doppler radar technology to accurately measure key parameters including ball speed, distance, smash factor, launch angle, clubhead speed and spin rate. This is a noticeable improvement over the ES12, which only provides ball speed and distance.
Check out this video:
To get the most out of the launch monitor, we recommend using it with the ES14 app on your smartphone. 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
- audible feedback
- club averages
- a skills challenge
- the ability to organize your data and observe trends
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 device via Bluetooth.
Customers love how easy it is to set up and understand the information, the accuracy, real-time data, and options for storing data.
If you want a launch monitor similar to the ES14 Pro reviewed above but prefer to go with a different brand, check this out.
The Swing Caddie SC300 is one of Voice Caddie’s newest portable launch monitors. Its portability means that it can be used at home with a net just as well as on the range.
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 stellar 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
- smash factor
- launch angle
- apex (max height)
Launch angle and apex are parameters that are normally limited to professional launch monitors, so you’re getting excellent value here.
Just as the ES14 Pro has its own app, 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.
You don’t need the app to use the SC300, but we recommend installing it because it provides extra benefits including spin data. It can be connected to the launch monitor via Bluetooth.
A couple of things 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.
If you’ve heard about the GC2 by Foresight Sports, you might be thinking, “It costs five figures. I can’t afford that!”
You’re right. Because of its extreme accuracy and pro-grade capabilities, it’s very expensive.
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 it and enjoy its benefits in the privacy of their own home.
The GC2 Launch Montior is under 4 lbs, less than 10 inches long, and is widely considered to be 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 some of the ball parameters measured are ball speed, launch angle, carry, total distance, 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.
There are many launch monitors on the market, some cheap and some expensive, and we understand that choosing the right one for your home use can be 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. If you have a launch monitor that provides insufficient data or inaccurate readings, for example, it’s going to be of little to no use to you in helping improve your game.
Here are the most important factors you need to consider when determining which launch monitor will suit you best:
1. Usage Type
To use a launch monitor at home with real balls, you need some kind of hitting net or screen. But some launch monitors only work outdoors (e.g. on the range) where the ball can take its full flight.
Most launch monitors will work just fine hitting into a net. All of the launch monitors reviewed on this page will, but if you’re interested in some other launch monitor, you should verify that it can be used with a net and how much free ball flight it needs to work properly. You don’t want to find out the bad news later that it’s unusable.
What ball flight parameters does the launch monitor track, and what parameters do you want to see?
Most golfers want key metrics like distance (total, carry), spin rate, and ball speed, and almost all launch monitors offer this at a minimum. If you’re looking for a more detailed analysis with information like angle of attack and smash factor, your choice of launch monitors will narrow a bit.
Not surprisingly, the more expensive and advanced the launch monitor, the more parameters it will tend to measure. Make sure that the launch monitor you’re buying has all the data points that you’re looking for.
Cheaper launch monitors are often less accurate and less reliable in measuring ball flight data. Some of them are finicky when it comes to their position and elevation relative to the hitting area.
Understand that with a sub-$500 launch monitor, you’re not going to get the world-class precision and reliable tracking of a more expensive unit like the SkyTrak or GC2.
For most golfers, it will be plenty good enough, but those who demand the best will need to look at more expensive models.
When you’re considering a launch monitor, look at the features. How does the launch monitor display your data, and how can you store and organize it?
Many affordable 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 just gravy.
Of course, your budget is very important when shopping for a home golf launch monitor. Not everyone can afford launch monitors that cost $1800+, and fortunately, there are options that cost well below this amount.
With that said, it’s pretty obvious that that the less you spend, the less you’ll usually get — this could be in the form of less accuracy, 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 SkyTrak or GC2 over the course of a year or longer. Don’t forget about this option.
Golf launch monitors have become a lot more accessible and affordable over the past decade, and this means more golfers than ever before have been able to own one for their personal home use.
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 want to be able to do more than just view your numbers on a screen, consider a golf simulator for your home — check out this article for that. Full golf simulator packages often include top launch monitors like the SkyTrak.
We highly recommend reading customer reviews of launch monitors 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. Which launch monitor are you considering? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.