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A launch monitor is one of the most valuable assets that any data-driven golfer can have.
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.
Unlike fixed launch monitors such as ceiling-mounted bars, portable launch monitors can be easily and conveniently taken to the range, the course, or used at home as desired. Portable launch monitors can range in price from $300 or less for pocket-sized units to over $10,000 for professional units.
There are many things that make a great portable launch monitor: the amount of data points, accuracy, technology, size and weight are among them.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best portable golf launch monitors across a wide range of different budgets.
We have tested these launch monitors. Some have less capability than others, but they all give excellent results for the cost.
Our Top Picks For Portable Launch Monitors
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, the following are our top picks for portable launch monitors:
- Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor
- Swing Caddie SC200 PLUS Launch Monitor
- FlightScope Mevo Launch Monitor
- Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
- PRGR HS-130A Launch Monitor
- Garmin Approach G80 GPS & Launch Monitor
- Swing Caddie SC300i Launch Monitor
- FlightScope X3 Launch Monitor
The Approach R10 by Garmin, the company behind many of the best golf GPS units on the market, is a total champ.
It has already made big waves in the industry, and many people consider it to have revolutionized golf tech like the SkyTrak did back in 2014. It’s very portable and can easily be moved from the home to the driving range or wherever else you want to set up.
Where do we start? The R10 is the first launch monitor to measure detailed club path parameters that you could previously only get in $1800+ units. It’s also the first launch monitor under $1000 to have golf simulation capabilities.
And people are raving about the R10. It has gotten top marks from critics across the board, who are just blown away that something this compact and affordable can do so much.
The R10 can do three main things. First, it directly measures four data parameters using radar technology and derives many other parameters (10+) including spin and face angle. The directly measured metrics are:
- ball speed
- club head speed
- launch angle
- launch direction
Second, the Approach R10 supports golf simulation. Through the updated Garmin Golf app, you can either practice and analyze your sessions on a virtual driving range or play courses around the world on Home Tee Hero, which requires a subscription. You can also play the world-renowned E6 CONNECT software, Awesome Golf, The Golf Club 2019, and PinSeeker app tounaments.
Third, you can capture video of your shots by setting up your phone’s camera behind the hitting area. Your stats including ball speed, carry distance and total distance, as well as the club you hit with, are overlaid on top of each clip.
The Garmin Golf app, which is required to use the R10, has been around for a while; it enjoys a high average rating that is rare for these kinds of apps. Through the app, you can view club performance data, participate in weekly tournaments, share your results, and more.
The R10 rests on a magnetic tripod mount and is placed 6-8 feet behind the ball. It does a really impressive job competing with launch monitors at the $2000 level and above.
What’s more, Garmin continues to update, improve, and build on the R10 over time. So unless you can’t afford it or you want active shot tracing, grabbing one is really a no-brainer.
The Swing Caddie SC200 Plus by Voice Caddie is a truly portable launch monitor that has the shape and size of a smartphone and weighs less than one pound. You can easily put it in your pocket or store it in your bag and take it wherever you want: to the range, to the golf course, or indoors with a hitting net.
It has received extremely good ratings. Compared to the regular SC200, the PLUS version adds an additional Swing Speed Mode that allows you to measure your swing speed without actually hitting a ball.
One of the main reasons we rank the SC200 PLUS so high in our list is because you don’t need an app to display the information or get extra features — everything is on the device itself.
How It Works
The Swing Caddie SC200 PLUS launch monitor uses Doppler Radar technology, along with a barometric pressure sensor that automatically calibrates itself to provide exceptionally accurate readings.
Parameters include carry distance, swing speed, ball speed, smash factor, and loft angle. An included remote allows you to conveniently change the mode, club, or target distance. Features include:
- Voice Distance Output – automatically tells you your distances after each shot.
- Practice Mode – display key ball parameters after each shot.
- Target Mode – set a target distance and test your distance control.
- Approach Mode – set random targets and test your accuracy.
- Practice Swing Mode (new for the PLUS version) – swing your club without a ball and obtain swing speed measurements.
The SC200 PLUS is packed with great features. Watch this video to get an overview:
Customers are impressed with the quality and accuracy of this launch monitor relative to much more expensive units.
The FlightScope Mevo is lauded both by critics and consumers, and has some of the highest ratings for a portable launch monitor we’ve seen. It has also been used by high-profile Tour players like Bryson DeChambeau.
It can be used anywhere: on the range, on the course, or at home, but you’ll need a smartphone or tablet 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 eight data parameters: ball and club head speed, carry distance, spin rate, vertical launch angle, smash factor, flight time and apex height.
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, track your progress over time, and record and view video with data overlay.
One cool feature included with the Mevo app is automatic video clipping: once your device records your swing, it clips and saves it automatically and then repeats the process for the next shot. This means that you can set up the launch monitor once and then practice without interruption.
To help you achieve an easy, hands-free recording experience with the Mevo, you can use the SelfieGOLF clip holder to stabilize your smartphone from any position or surface.
We suggest attaching the SelfieGOLF holder to an alignment stick, which can then be attached to your golf bag or even anchored into the ground.
The Mevo allows you to save, upload and share practice sessions to social sites like Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook.
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.
In this price range, this is one of the most accurate launch monitors and it provides the most detailed ball flight parameters you can find on the market.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM) is a new unique 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.
Rapsodo was the creator of the SkyTrak, arguably the most successful launch monitor ever created, but they wanted the MLM to be their own branded launch monitor solution.
Notes: MLM is currently only available for iOS, but Android availability is being worked on. In addition, it recently got updated with a new feature that allows it to be used with a net.
This launch monitor analyzes your shot and provides data on ball speed, clubhead speed, distance, launch angle, smash factor, and launch direction. 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 are things like an active tracer, GPS maps that show your shot dispersion, interactive games, a smart club recognition feature that can automatically detect which club you’re using, and a virtual coaching platform.
Moreover, Rapsodo takes really good care of the MLM: they are continually coming out with new updates and features to keep it on the cutting edge.
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.
Finally, you can store your video clips in a web-based library and easily post them to social media. With a Premium subscription ($99), you can store up to 10,000 shots on the cloud!
See the Rapsodo MLM in action here:
The Premium Subscription will also allow you to access new features called Insights (personalized performance graphs), Combines (performance test), and Coach Connect. Coach Connect allows MLM users to receive virtual lessons from coaches that have signed up to the platform.
Coaches can take advantage of the playback and tracer features and view your shot data to inform their critiques of your swing.
This launch monitor has very high ratings. People love the mobility and usefulness of it, they love how you can easily change clubs in the middle of a session, and they love how you can look at video of your swing without having to back out of a session.
PRGR is an established Japanese company that makes a range of golf equipment. Their launch monitor offering updated for 2021 is the PRGR HS-130A, and it has received very positive ratings from users.
There are a few reasons why the PRGR HS-130A is so great:
- it’s only a couple hundred bucks, which is very inexpensive even for a portable launch monitor.
- it’s pocket-sized.
- it’s dead simple to use, with no battery-draining external apps or software to complicate the experience.
The PRGR HS-130A features a direct-to-screen output for quickly viewing data right on the device. It measures five essential parameters with a Doppler radar sensor: club head speed, ball speed, total distance, carry distance, and smash factor.
This is a true pocket launch monitor that takes portability to the extreme.
The upgraded 2021 model of the PRGR Launch Monitor features a number of improvements over previous models. These include:
- an extended, higher-resolution display
- ability to be used indoors with a net
- improved ability to read high-lofted wedges
- a toggle between metric and imperial units
- ability to keep shot data for up to 500 shots at one time
The accuracy of the PRGR HS-130A is impressive considering its very low price. Just make sure the device is positioned correctly 3.5ft – 5ft behind the ball as per the user manual, or else you will greatly increase the chances of inconsistent or inaccurate readings.
The highly rated Garmin Approach G80 is a unique product, made by the same company behind the Garmin Approach R10.
It’s essentially an all-in-one handheld golf GPS with an integrated launch monitor, which means that not only can you obtain the essential data metrics for your shot, but you can also view top-down colour maps and get GPS yardages to any point on the golf course.
The G80 is a handheld device that is built for portability; it’s pocket-sized and can easily be taken along on an 18-hole round of golf, but it also works great on the range or at home.
By pressing the quick-access radar button, you can set up the Approach G80 to measure club head speed, ball speed, smash factor, tempo and estimated carry after each shot. The accuracy is decent, and these numbers are easily viewable on the 3.5″ sunlight-readable touchscreen.
Enhancing the launch monitor experience are:
- a practice mode which evaluates your swing and provides feedback to help improve your accuracy and consistency
- the ability to play virtual rounds on any course against friends or other players around the world
- a tempo training mode which helps you determine the backswing and downswing times that are best for you
In addition, the G80 is a full-featured golf GPS. Preloaded with over 41,000 courses, you can get distances to the front, back and middle of the green, hazards and layups, and you can touch any point on the map to get the yardage to that. You also have access to:
- Green View which gives you a closeup look of the green’s true shape, along with a drag-and-drop pin for precise yardages into greens
- information on the direction of the pin for blind shots
- PlaysLike Distances which account for elevation changes
- green contour data on select courses (with a Garmin Golf app membership)
Furthermore, it can be used as a digital scorecard and can be paired with the powerful Garmin Golf app. The battery life is up to 15 hours in GPS mode.
If you’re content with just being able to measure a few basic parameters and would like to take advantage of golf GPS functionality, the Approach G80 is practically a must-have device.
If you like Voice Caddie products and want to move a step up from the SC200 PLUS, you can check out the SC300i.
The Swing Caddie SC300i is Voice Caddie’s best (and newest) launch monitor offering. It’s an upgraded model to the SC300, which was quite successful in its own right.
The SC300i is a bit too large to fit in most pockets, but it can easily be carried in a golf bag.
Compared to the older SC300, the SC300i has better Doppler hardware, an extended battery life, and a new app feature that allows you to view video playback of your swing with data overlay.
The SC300i has a black back with a stand, black edging (as opposed to the silver of the SC300), and an LCD display with an orange backlight. It has excellent accuracy and a very high average customer rating.
The SC300i Launch Monitor uses the latest in Doppler radar technology, along with calibrating atmospheric pressure sensors.
The parameters measured are pretty impressive for a launch monitor in this price range, and they include:
- ball speed
- carry distance
- swing speed
- smash factor
- apex (max height)
- launch angle
The SC300i can be paired with the MySwingCaddie app (iOS or Android) for real-time, integrated shot data and statistics for each club.
You don’t need the app to use the SC300i, but we recommend installing it because it provides extra benefits including spin data and a video playback feature. It can be connected to the launch monitor via Bluetooth.
Using the camera of your phone (which has the app installed and is connected to the SC300i unit), you can record each one of your shots, and the app will organize them and overlay the data parameters associated with it. You can draw lines frame-by-frame and loop sections to really get down into the granular.
Note that users have reported issues with the app not recording certain shots. If you have this problem, try adjusting the trigger duration in the settings or contact support.
So far in this guide, we’ve focused on relatively inexpensive portable launch monitors that are mostly pocket-sized.
However, there are several professional-grade launch monitors on the market that, while too large to be carried in your pocket, are certainly portable and can be easily taken to the range, the course, or wherever else you want to hit balls. The FlightScope X3 is one of them.
The X3 earns a spot on this list because it’s lightweight and, although considerably less expensive than the TrackMan 4, it performs just as well outdoors.
This very powerful launch monitor, used by pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau to prepare for tournaments, is packed with features. It can handle the most intense and demanding applications including practice sessions, golf lessons, and club fitting.
Usable both indoors and outdoors with full golf simulation capability, it also has some of the best chipping and putting tracking on the market.
The X3 is capable of measuring over 50 full-swing, chipping and putting data parameters.
We won’t even bother listing them here, but you get a list of them on this page. Let’s put it this way: if you want to quantify every meaningful aspect of your swing, you won’t be left disappointed.
To measure this data, the X3 uses patented Fusion tracking technology, which combines 3D radar and image processing for extremely high accuracy.
Most of the features of the X3 are accessed through the FlightScope VX app, which you can download for free on iOS and Android devices. Some FlightScope apps that are compatible with the X3 are also usable on Windows 10.
With the X3, you can set up multiple camera feeds and then sync the multi-angle video with radar data on every shot.
The X3 has a powerful feature called the Environmental Optimizer, which allows you to modify factors like altitude, wind speed, humidity, and air temperature. This helps you understand how weather and climate variables affect your shots.
The X3 also provides wedge D-Plane data, which includes angle of attack, face angle, club path, and dynamic loft. This enables you to get valuable insights into your wedge play and improve weaknesses in your wedge game.
Other features of the X3 with the VX app include (but are not limited to):
- data margins (min and max values for smarter practice)
- customizable interfaces
- club & ball tracing
- lesson recordings
- putter face & path tracking
- customized challenges
Purchases of a FlightScope X3 launch monitor include an E6 CONNECT software bundle. E6 CONNECT is one of the best golf simulation softwares on the market, with 4K graphics, practice ranges, full course play, and various online games.
The X3 is also compatible with other software that includes TGC 2019, Creative Golf 3D, Awesome Golf, and GSPro.
16 feet of space (8 feet of ball flight and 8 feet behind you) is required to properly use the X3. Note that metallic stickers are needed when using the X3 indoors in order to accurately measure spin. For requirements and other info, visit this page.
There are many portable launch monitors on the market, some cheaper and some more expensive, and we understand that making a good buying choice can feel difficult.
It turns out that it’s not that difficult to find the best one for you once you 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 light, easy to carry, easy to use, and still measures all the data points you’re interested in with an accuracy that you are satisfied with. Here are the most important factors you need to consider when determining which portable launch monitor will suit you best:
What ball flight parameters does the launch monitor track, and what parameters do you want to see?
One of the things you sacrifice with portable, less-expensive launch monitors are the number of parameters that are measured.
Most golfers want key metrics like distance (total, carry) 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 face angle, 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.
2. Usage Type
Do you plan to use your portable launch monitor indoors, outdoors, or both?
Some launch monitors, like the FlightScope X3 and Rapsodo MLM reviewed above, work best outdoors (e.g. on the range) where the ball can take its full flight. The GPS functionality of the Garmin Approach G80 is designed to be used during a round of golf.
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.
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?
Some portable launch monitors like the FlightScope Mevo and SC300i come with a matching mobile app, while others, like the SC200 PLUS, don’t. These apps generally allow you flexibility in viewing your data, data trends, and data for each club in the bag.
Other portable launch monitors are compatible with golf simulator software, like the Approach R10 and X3, but only higher-end launch monitors like the X3 provide full short game support.
Launch monitors can come with other unique features that are useful such as GPS maps in the case of the Approach G80. Consider features that you need, want, and could do without, and factor that into your decision.
4. Size & Weight
Portable launch monitors are so named because of their small size and light weight.
Do you want to be able to carry one in your pocket, or just be able to easily stow it away in your bag? Some of the launch monitors on this page are a bit too big to fit in a regular-sized pocket, but nearly all of them can be quickly and easily stored in a golf bag.
If you want a very small and light launch monitor, your choices will be limited.
For example, if a portable launch monitor measures a lot of parameters, some of them might not be very reliable. At the same time, models like the PRGR HS-130A that only measure essential parameters can be very accurate.
If you’re looking at a launch monitor that is less than $400 or so, you should look at customer reviews to gauge whether or not the accuracy is acceptable.
It used to be that you had to pay a pretty penny for a golf launch monitor. But over the years, launch monitors have become a lot more accessible and affordable, and this means more golfers than ever before have been able to own one for themselves.
Finding a portable launch monitor that meets your needs is certainly possible with some research.
Each of the portable 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, check out the best cheap golf simulators here.
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 portable launch monitor are you considering? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.