Golfstead is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Our affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Amazon Associates.
The GCHawk is a very high-end, professional-grade launch monitor. Branded with the tagline “welcome to freedom”, it utilizes the same tracking technology as the GCQuad but is designed to be mounted overhead for a hands-off experience.
There’s no question that the GCHawk is one of the most advanced, powerful launch monitors on the market. At the time of writing, it’s the most expensive offering in Foresight Sports’ professional launch monitor lineup.
In this Foresight Sports GCHawk review, I’ll take an in-depth look at the launch monitor. I’ll look not only at how well it measures ball and swing data, but also at the convenience factor of the overhead mounting, the usability, the multi-sport capability, and how it stacks up against other similarly priced products.
How does the GCHawk perform? How does it compare to other launch monitors like the GCQuad? Is it worth getting if you have the budget for it?
Here’s what I’m going to be covering in the review:
- What is the GCHawk launch monitor?
- Setting Up & Using The GCHawk
- Data Parameters & Accuracy
- Software & Simulation
- Multi-Sport Capability
- Where To Buy The GCHawk
- Final Verdict
Ready to try the GCHawk right now? Click the button below or scroll down to the bottom of my review to see my final verdict!
Note: In the majority of cases, launch monitors tested on Golfstead are acquired temporarily and are not purchased. The review that follows is based on personal experience and research. Although the author makes every effort to ensure proper setup of the device and do direct comparisons with other launch monitors when possible, there are many variables that can affect data readings and performance. Therefore, exact results with a particular launch monitor may differ from person to person.
What is the GCHawk launch monitor?
Foresight Sports released the GCHawk in 2019. The best way to think of it is as a GCQuad launch monitor that is mounted overhead.
Like the GCQuad, the GCHawk precisely measures club and ball performance metrics through a combination of infrared object tracking and a high-speed quadrascopic camera system.
The GCHawk takes the form of a bar, similar to the Uneekor QED and EYE XO. Four high-speed cameras — two near the middle and two at each end of the unit — capture thousands of images per second and build a complete 3D model of the club and ball at impact, allowing for measurements that are direct and not calculated.
The GCHawk is designed to fit seamlessly into residential or commercial environments. It can easily be integrated with golf simulator enclosures or home theatres, or it can be mounted over a fully covered indoor-outdoor driving range.
As a ceiling-mounted system, left and right hand-switching is seamless with the GCHawk. No repositioning is needed for different players.
Other features of the GCHawk are:
- a wireless on/off remote control
- WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet and USB connectivity
- a built-in barometric sensor
- a shock-mounted, die-cast aluminum frame
Of course, the GCHawk can also be hooked up to golf simulation through Foresight Sports’ FSX software suite and various third-party solutions.
The GCHawk can be used for more than just golf. It also has multi-sport functionality with dynamic tracking and special performance algorithms. In particular, it can deliver true-to-life soccer gameplay. We’ll touch on this in a later section, but it won’t be our main focus of the review.
What about add-ons and optionals? In addition to the standard FSX software license, the GCHawk can be upgraded to provide full club data with the club data add-on, and the Skill Drill license is required for soccer play.
Setting Up & Using The GCHawk
Installation of the GCHawk is quite involved; it needs to be securely mounted to the ceiling and cables need to be run along the wall to a nearby computer.
Foresight Sports strongly recommends that installation of the GCHawk be performed by multiple licensed contractors, particularly the mounting. This is because mistakes can lead to damage to the unit or damage to your property, and this is not covered by the GCHawk’s warranty.
An exception to this is if you get Foresight Sports’ “Sim-In-A-Box” Albatross package, which is designed for self-installation. This package, however, is much more expensive than the cost of the GCHawk itself.
In this review, we’ll provide a rough overview of the installation process, but for the full details, you should consult Foresight Sports’ GCHawk guide.
First, let’s talk about the layout. Ideally, the GCHawk bar should be mounted around ten feet from the ground (vertical distance), at least seven feet (horizontal) from the simulator screen, and four feet (horizontal) from the hitting area. In this ideal layout, the hitting area is around eleven feet from the screen. See below for a illustration (not necessarily to scale):
These numbers aren’t strict requirements, but you should try to get as close to them as possible in your setup. The GCHawk can alternatively be mounted in a covered area outdoors like an indoor-outdoor driving range.
Once you’ve worked out the layout, start by running the Ethernet cable from your computer along the wall to the ceiling location where the GCHawk will be mounted.
Next, install the ceiling mount using ceiling joists, rafters, screws, and sliding plates. Sliding plates that are attached to the GCHawk will be inserted into the ceiling mount.
The next step is to connect the power supply, and this can be done in one of three configurations. The ceiling mount will need to be installed before the power supply connection can be completed.
Once the power cord and data line are inserted into the proper ports, use the included wireless remote to turn on the GCHawk. The unit will display a yellow LED light and then a blue light once the bootup is finished.
The GCHawk needs to be calibrated before first use. To do this, ensure the GCHawk is properly connected to your computer with internet access, and follow these steps:
- Download the GCHawk Calibration App on your PC.
- Launch the app and install the GCHawk Setup App.
- Launch the GCHawk Setup App and follow the instructions to map the area with the calibration wand.
Once calibration is complete, restart the GCHawk.
- there is a way to calibrate the GCHawk without internet access, but it’s fairly complicated and not recommended
- the ceiling area where the GCHawk is mounted should be strong and not vulnerable to shocks or vibrations
- screws for securing the GCHawk to the ceiling are not included in the installation package
- there are left and right hitting zones
- the wireless remote comes preinstalled with a DC 12V Type A23 battery
Beyond following the official GCHawk guide (link above), if you’re struggling or are apprehensive about installing and setting up the GCHawk yourself, we strongly recommend getting outside help.
Data Parameters & Accuracy
Since the GCHawk is essentially a ceiling-mounted GCQuad, it measures the same set of data parameters as the GCQuad, except in one respect: the GCHawk doesn’t offer detailed putting data (advanced putting analysis) like the GCQuad does, although it reads putts just as well.
Let’s start with ball data:
- ball speed
- carry distance
- horizontal & vertical launch angle
- side spin
With the club data add-on, the GCHawk will also measure various club parameters depending on whether one or four club markers are used:
- club head speed
- smash factor
- club path
- angle of attack
- face angle
- closure rate
- clubface impact location
- lie & loft at impact
What about accuracy? As you would expect, the GCHawk is just as accurate as the GCQuad, and I discuss that more in my GCQuad review. It delivers the best accuracy in the business and has pretty much the same characteristics of data measurement.
With that said, I believe that the GCHawk has a bit of an edge in terms of reliability. This is because it stays in a fixed position overhead, minimizing opportunities for you to make alignment or calibration errors after the initial setup. At the same time, the GCHawk is not portable, so it’s not as versatile as the GCQuad.
Software & Simulation
The GCHawk is designed with a focus on dedicated golf simulation in a hitting bay, especially since there is no data display on the unit itself. This makes good software options all the more essential compared with the portable GC2, GC3 and GCQuad units.
Fortunately, the GCHawk is compatible with Foresight Sports’ suite of core software platforms and apps which consist of FSX 2020, FSX Play, FSX Pro, Foresight Fairgrounds, the Foresight App, and Skill Drill (exclusive to the GCHawk).
In addition, with a valid FSX license, you can integrate various third-party solutions. These are E6 CONNECT, GSPro, Awesome Golf, Creative Golf, and Swing Catalyst.
FSX 2020 is Foresight Sports’ in-house software solution for their GC line of commercial launch monitors.
Their initial release was FSX 2018, but they have since come out with an updated 2020 version of the software. Users of the 2018 version can upgrade at no additional cost.
FSX 2020 is a complete software solution that provides practice ranges, full course play, game modes, skills challenges, and opportunities for you to compete with other players around the world. You can also view real-time data for practice or club fitting.
Many standard courses are reproduced, as well as world-famous courses that include The Old Course @ St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Merion, Carnoustie, and Doral Blue Monster.
FSX 2020 has three main modes:
- Play: play golf courses of your choosing with up to four players. Available game types include stroke play, scramble, and match play.
- Compete: participate in a series of increasingly difficult skills challenges that include long drive, closest-to-the-pin, and Glass Break. Share and compare your results with other players online.
- Improve: get complete ball and clubhead performance data in real time. This mode is for serious practice and club fitting.
FSX 2020 is excellent software when it comes to function and features, but the graphics are surpassed by other simulator software like GSPro and FSX Play.
All things considered, I do think that FSX 2020 is overpriced. An FSX 2020 license is required to get any kind of golf simulation with the GCHawk.
FSX Play, which is Foresight Sports’ other in-house offering, builds off of FSX 2020 and is designed to provide an ultra-realistic golf simulation experience.
FSX Play is powered by the Unity graphics engine and uses High Definition Render Pipeline Technology (HDRP). It’s marked by an updated UI, 3D grass and foliage, rich textures, atmospheric gliding, enhanced lighting, and more.
FSX Play has three main modes:
- Courses: play golf courses of your choosing (such as Torrey Pines South) with complete customization control.
- Practice: hit balls on exclusive, unique driving ranges such as in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
- Games: play long drive, closest-to-the-pin, skills challenges, tournaments, and leagues.
Another thing that sets FSX Play apart is its minimalistic UI layout that displays important information without distraction.
FSX Play has been updated many times since its release, and the Foresight team is continuing to work on rolling out new games and updates. They are also working on making all FSX 2020 courses playable in the software, so stay tuned.
FSX Play supports up to 5K resolution. I definitely recommend giving it a try because it offers you a new and fresh experience that is different from FSX 2020.
The other “lesser” applications usable with the GCHawk are:
- FSX Pro: a dedicated performance insight platform for PC or iPad. It’s often used by coaches and club fitters but home users can also benefit from it. You can view the full gamut of club and ball data in a 3D range environment that simulates your ball flight.
- Foresight Fairgrounds: a fairgrounds and carnival app that provides fun minigames like Balloon Pop, Putt Skee, Shooting Gallery, Darts, and Splash Wall.
- Foresight App: see and interact with your shot data via Android or iOS.
Skill Drill (Soccer)
Foresight Sports currently offers one multi-sport software solution called Skill Drill.
Skill Drill is an affordable and fairly simple soccer training application that delivers realistic soccer gameplay. At the time of writing, it has five game modes:
- Penalty Kicks: score points by hitting targets in the four corners of the goal.
- Passing: score points by passing or chipping a soccer ball into rings or buckets on the field.
- Free Kicks: score points by curving the soccer ball around blockades into targets.
- Corner Kicks: score points by playing corner kicks to the blue players.
- Combined: play though all other game modes in one session.
You can add players from within the game menu and also do things like adjust ball size.
With the included Foresight Fairgrounds software, you can enjoy fun minigames with soccer simulation like:
- Balloon Pop: burst as many balloons in front of you as you can.
- Putt Skee: put the ball into one of three inclined scoring zones.
- Shooting Gallery: hit the moving targets.
- Darts: shoot as close to the center of the giant dart board as possible.
- Splash Wall: shoot colour bombs to fill up shapes.
The aesthetics and graphics of Skill Drill are very good. The software is less expensive compared to the golf simulation options.
I think you could have fun with Skill Drill even if you’re a golfer. If you’re in the mood to play something different, all you need is a soccer ball and a Skill Drill license.
E6 CONNECT is a recent integration that requires an FSX 2020 software license to use. However, the software is delivered with additional web features including being able to track every shot under a given profile and sorting shot history.
You get the full gamut of features with the E6 CONNECT integration, including:
- a full driving range and practice area
- tournament play and online events
- an array of multiplayer formats
- flexible gameplay settings (wind, weather, green speed etc.)
- minigames including Long Drive and Closest To The Pin
A Basic subscription to E6 CONNECT provides access to P2P gameplay and a library of content that changes on a periodic basis. With an Expanded Subscription to E6 CONNECT, you get over 68 additional courses to play (90+ total) and access to all content that has ever been released.
Keep in mind that with GC launch monitors, E6 CONNECT is going to be very expensive to access — and E6 CONNECT is quite expensive as it is.
This is because, on top of paying for the software, you also need an FSX license which costs $3000. Financing is available, however, which will help on the affordability front.
The GSPro software, which requires an FSX 2020 software license to use, is designed to be ultra-realistic with advanced ball physics and 4K graphics.
What makes GSPro unique is its integration with the Open Platform Course Designer (OPCD), which allows anyone, regardless of skillset, to create courses that can be played by members of the GSPro community.
In addition, GSPro integrates with Simulator Golf Tour (SGT), a service that allows players to participate in virtual golf tours with weekly tournaments. You can even compete in the PGA Tour schedule.
Aside from the large community that is constantly building new courses (well over 450 are currently available) and playing in tournaments, GSPro offers:
- lifelike 4K graphics built with the Unity engine
- an OpenAPI interface
- a driving range and on-course practice
- full course play (with flyovers)
In my view, GSPro isn’t as suitable for tech-challenged golfers as other software, although you can keep yourself very busy with the practice and local play modes without getting involved in the community stuff.
Awesome Golf requires an FSX 2020 software license to use with the GCHawk. This software has cartoon-like graphics is heavily focused on fun and entertainment with friends, family and children.
Awesome Golf has four main modes:
- Range: informative practice sessions and an in-depth analysis of every shot.
- Challenges: closest to the pin, long drive, target golf, and skills challenges.
- Shootouts: kid-friendly minigames including Super Splash and Boat Blast.
- Virtual Golf: full course play at four fictional courses in different environments.
Awesome Golf is packed with fun simulation features that will keep you busy for hours on end.
For Foresight Sports devices like the GCHawk, Awesome Golf is offered in the form of a lifetime membership. It’s available for PC and iOS and is very affordable compared to other third-party options.
This is another fairly recent integration and is a great alternative for those that can’t handle the price of E6 CONNECT. To be more exact, it’s just 48% of the cost, although it does also require an FSX 2020 software license.
The base version of Creative Golf contains 15 reproduced golf courses from around the world. For an extra $500, you get over 130 additional courses to play.
The modes of Creative Golf are:
- Practice: Practice on a driving range or chip and putt on a course of your choice.
- Course Play: Choose the course, game type (stroke, match play, etc.), number of players, and play a full round of golf.
- Challenges: Participate in competitions locally (with friends or family) including closest-to-the-pin and long drive.
- Mini Games: Play fairy tale golf (altered environment, larger holes, etc.), mini golf (putting), and demolition golf (hit windows of old buildings).
- Online Game: Play a game type and course of your choice with anyone in the world. A Discord community is available to join.
- Tournaments: Join tournaments listed on the tournament server and compete with players around the world.
Another package available that is part of the Creative Golf program is Golfisimo. This affordable add-on software focuses on a family-friendly, fun-for-everyone experience with games for every age and skill level.
For people that don’t need the realism offered by GSPro or E6 CONNECT and prefer a one-time purchase, Creative Golf and Golfisimo can be excellent alternatives.
Swing Catalyst is a video analysis software that has been praised by coaches around the world as well as pro golfers such as Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, and Ian Poulter.
With the available LITE version, you can set up a separate camera and:
- play back the swing frame-by-frame or in slow motion
- draw on the playback with a wide range of drawing tools
- overlay multiple swings or compare them side-by-side
- store and organize your swings
Integration of Swing Catalyst with the GCHawk means that all the information obtained by the GCHawk is available for viewing alongside the video clips.
Not everyone will find this software necessary for them, but it can allow you to understand your swing on a new level.
Because of the GCHawk’s true-to-life performance algorithms and dynamic tracking, a range of multi-sport experiences are possible beyond just golf. This is not possible with other launch monitors in the GC line.
For now, there is only soccer simulation. I discussed the Skill Drill soccer software above, which is required to play soccer on the GCHawk, but what about performance data? The following soccer parameters can be measured:
- ball speed
- carry distance
- back, side and total spin
- horizontal and vertical launch angle
- spin tilt axis
Players can also view top and side-view shot dispersions. They can build a record of their performance and save it to their FSX Live account.
Get a feel for how it works in this video:
I find the GCHawk’s soccer simulation very useful for improving soccer skills off the field. You can treat it like any other situation: look at the target on the screen about a second before you shoot, and then keep your eyes on the ball at the moment of impact.
Foresight also offers a soccer ball that is certified for Skill Drill on their store. You only have to pay shipping for it if you purchase it with the Skill Drill software.
As for other sports, it’ll be interesting to see what new multi-sport software Foresight comes out with in the future. In my view, it’s not enticing enough just to offer soccer and nothing else. Football or tennis, perhaps?
That said, golf should not be neglected and remains the main focus of the GCHawk. The reality is that not all ball sports suit simulation well and this should be taken into account.
The base price of the GCHawk launch monitor is $16,000.
However, it’s typically always sold with an FSX 2020 software license that costs $3000. It’s also normally bundled with FSX Play ($500), bringing the total to $19,500. Upgrades from previous versions of FSX will cost less or nothing at all.
You can also get a Skill Drill license for soccer gameplay. Skill Drill costs $1000, and this would bring the cost to $20,500.
Additional golf courses (premium or standard) can be purchased for FSX at around $95-$900 each.
To get club data with the GCHawk, you’ll need the club data add-on which costs $4000.
Other software integrations available with FSX 2020 are E6 CONNECT ($2500 or a subscription) and Creative Golf ($1200).
Examples of third-party software prices include:
- E6 CONNECT: $2500 plus a $300/year or $600/year subscription
- Creative Golf: $1200
- Awesome Golf: $350
- GSPro: $250/year
- Swing Catalyst: $150/year
Here are some purchase examples and their total costs:
|GCHawk, FSX Suite, Skill Drill
|GCHawk, FSX Suite, Club Data
|GCHawk, FSX Suite, Club Data, E6 CONNECT
|GCHawk, FSX Suite, Creative Golf
|$26,000 or subscription
For most people, it will be sufficient to get the club data add-on along with FSX 2020 and FSX Play for a total cost of $23,500. It’s up to you as a golfer whether you want the ability to get in some soccer play occasionally with Skill Drill.
Note that club data isn’t necessary to enjoy golf simulation, so if you just want to play courses virtually, it might make sense to hold off on it and possibly get it later.
As for software, I don’t see a reason to buy any of the software integrations as the FSX suite is already pricey enough and generally has all the features that you’ll ever want. But if you want the ability to play different simulator software or you want a feature that FSX doesn’t have, it’s something to consider.
For what it’s worth, GSPro is fantastic and could be very much worth it.
Where To Buy The GCHawk
The GCHawk is a rather special purchase. What I would suggest doing is ordering through The Indoor Golf Shop by going here.
This way, you’ll have access to The Indoor Golf Shop’s excellent support team in addition to Foresight Sports support, ensuring that the installation and setup process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you want a third-party software integration like E6 CONNECT, Creative Golf, or GSPro, you should go through the official Foresight Sports store.
For this, you can check out the relevant sections of our guide on how to build a golf simulator step-by-step, or you can look through The Indoor Golf Shop’s excellent GCHawk simulator packages here. You will also need a good computer that can run simulation software.
There’s no doubt that the GCHawk is a fantastic launch monitor that will give you spot-on, reliable accuracy in an indoor or covered setting. But I think it’s a bit of a tough sell for several reasons:
- The GCHawk is almost $5000 more expensive than the GCQuad while having the same accuracy. This is a pretty big deal, especially considering the lack of portability.
- Advanced putting analysis (with ball and club putting data) is not available with the GCHawk like it is with the GCQuad. The GCHawk still reads putts just as well, but there’s no option for data analysis nonetheless.
- Setup is more involved compared to Foresight’s other launch monitors. In most cases, you’ll need a professional installation.
The GCHawk has two main advantages over the GCQuad: seamless right-left hand switching, and multi-sport functionality. Frankly, if you don’t care about these two things, there isn’t much reason to choose the GCHawk unless you want a ceiling-mounted system. The cost savings could be put towards something else instead.
I do think there is a really good ceiling-mounted alternative to the GCHawk that is at a better value price point: the Uneekor EYE XO.
The EYE XO uses two high-speed cameras instead of the GCHawk’s four, but in my experience, the EYE XO is almost just as accurate. Its photographic technology records high-FPS video of the clubhead striking the ball through impact, and this recording is available for playback.
The EYE XO launch monitor can record an array of ball and club data parameters. And the best part? Not only is the software (which is excellent) much cheaper than Foresight Sports’ offerings, but club data doesn’t require an add-on purchase and the entire unit is at least $6000 cheaper than the GCHawk.
If I was set on getting a ceiling-mounted golf simulator, I would definitely go for the EYE XO over the GCHawk. The GCHawk is fantastic, but it’s simply overpriced, and you’ll just get killed by the expensive add-ons and software on top of it.
I think the GCHawk would be a lot more viable if Foresight Sports brought the price down to be more in line with the GCQuad, although I think the GCQuad costs too much as well.
Thanks for reading my Foresight Sports GCHawk review. Are you interested in the GCHawk? Have you tried it already? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.