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.
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 inexpensive solutions have appeared on the market that measure key parameters and cost less than $600.
These portable launch monitors are usually pocket-sized and can be easily carried to the range, the golf course, or used at home.
There are many things that make a great portable launch monitor: the amount of data points, accuracy, technology and size 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 all of 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:
- FlightScope Mevo Launch Monitor
- Voice Caddie SC200 PLUS Launch Monitor
- Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
- Voice Caddie SC300 Launch Monitor
- Ernest Sports ES12 Player Launch Monitor
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’s also 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 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.
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 provides the most detailed ball flight parameters you can find on the market.
The SC200 PLUS from Voice Caddie is another launch monitor that has received extremely good ratings.
It has the shape and size of a smartphone and weights less than one pound. It’s highly portable, so 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.
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 things we like most about the SC200 PLUS is the fact that you don’t need an app to display the information or get extra features — it’s all on the device itself.
How It Works
The 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 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.
Notes: MLM is currently only available for iOS, but the Android version is in the works. 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, 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.
Finally, 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 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.
If you want a Voice Caddie launch monitor that’s even more powerful than the SC200 PLUS reviewed above, check this out.
The Swing Caddie SC300 is one of Voice Caddie’s newest portable launch monitors. It’s a bit too large to fit in most pockets, but it can easily be carried in a golf bag.
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 very high average customer rating.
The SC300 Launch Monitor uses the latest in Doppler radar technology, along with calibrating atmospheric pressure sensors.
The parameters measured are impressive for a launch monitor in this price range, and they include:
- ball speed
- carry and total distance
- swing speed
- smash factor
- apex (max height)
- launch angle
Unlike the SC200 PLUS, 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.
Do you want a launch monitor that is reliable and well-made, but yet is affordable 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 is an excellent model to consider. It’s a favourite launch monitor of world-famous golf coach Butch Harmon.
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 track and analyze your practice sessions
- the ability to analyze shot data for each club
- side-by-side video analysis
- skills challenges
Users of the ES12 generally love the affordability (very inexpensive) 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.
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. 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 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.
2. Usage Type
Do you plan to use your portable launch monitor indoors, outdoors, or both? Some launch monitors, like the Rapsodo MLM reviewed above, work best outdoors (e.g. on the range) where the ball can take its full flight.
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 SC300 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.
Launch monitors can come with other unique features that are useful. 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 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.
Portable launch monitors are generally less accurate than more expensive models like the SkyTrak or GC2. Even within the portable class, accuracy can vary.
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 ES12 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.