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In this review, we’ll take a look at the Garmin Approach R10 portable golf launch monitor & simulator.
The R10 has already made big waves in the industry — many people consider it to have revolutionized golf tech like the SkyTrak did back in 2014.
Released in 2021, the R10 was the first launch monitor to measure detailed club path parameters that you could previously only get in $1800+ units. It was also the first launch monitor in its price range to have golf simulation capabilities.
In this Garmin Approach R10 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 its usability, golf simulation features, and how it stacks up against similarly priced products.
How does the R10 perform? How does it compare to other sub-$2000 launch monitors like the SkyTrak and Rapsodo MLM? Is it worth getting if you’re looking for a portable golf launch monitor?
Here’s what I’m going to be covering in the review:
- What is the Garmin Approach R10?
- Setting Up & Using The R10
- Data Parameters & Accuracy
- Golf Simulation
- Other Features
- Where To Buy The R10
- Frequently Asked Questions
Ready to try the Garmin Approach R10 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 Garmin Approach R10?
You probably know Garmin as the company behind many of the best golf GPS units on the market. And although they’ve come out with models like the G80 that have integrated club and ball tracking, they never actually had a dedicated launch monitor offering.
That is, until now. Garmin has thrown its hat into the launch monitor and golf simulator ring with a bombshell of an offer, the R10.
The R10, at its core, is a launch monitor that tracks various club and ball data parameters so that you can improve your swing consistency. It describes itself as “a portable launch monitor that brings the course to you”.
But the R10 does much more than just track shot metrics. Not only does it measure data points that you could previously only access with higher-end launch monitors like the SkyTrak and Mevo+, but it can also record video clips of each shot and provide golf simulation with an array of software solutions.
This is the R10’s biggest selling point. Until it came into existence, you were never able to get this level of data measurement and golf simulation for less than $1000.
The portable R10 is designed to be easy to move from the home to the driving range, and it’s held with a convenient magnetic tripod mount. A smartphone and the Garmin Golf App are required to use it.
Setting Up & Using The R10
The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the R10 unit.
The front side of the R10 has the logo and one LED that indicates the status of the unit. This will let you know whether or not the R10 is ready to take a shot. White, green, purple, red or blue lights may be displayed.
The back of the device contains the USB port with weather cap, alignment line, power button, and battery status LED indicator. Solid red here indicates that the battery is fully charged.
Note: The R10 uses a built-in lithium-ion battery that should last around ten hours on a full charge. Ensure that the LED indicator on the unit is not rapidly flashing red (indicates low battery) before first use.
Basic setup is straightforward and requires these steps:
1. Install the Garmin Golf App and pair your smartphone.
Then, bring your phone near the R10 unit and press the power button to turn on the R10.
The R10 will automatically enter Bluetooth pairing mode, indicated by a solid blue LED light. Go to the settings in the Garmin Golf App, add the new device, and follow the on-screen instructions.
2. Install the tripod mount.
The included tripod stand is secured to the R10 unit magnetically. Be careful to not put the magnet in the stand in close proximity to electronic devices such as computers and tablets.
The tripod mount can only be installed one way. Insert the top part (with the Garmin Logo) into the back of the R10 unit, and then open the three tripod legs so that they are fully extended.
3. Prepare to hit a shot.
First, place your ball in the tee area. If playing indoors, ensure that it’s at least eight feet away from the net.
Then place the R10, mounted on the tripod stand, 6-8 feet behind the tee location and orient it so that the front of the R10 is facing the ball.
For best results, the R10 should be level with the hitting surface. For example, if using a mat that puts the ball 1-2 inches off the ground, the R10 on its tripod stand should be elevated to match. This can be done with a piece of plywood or a small piece of the same hitting turf that’s being used.
Next, make sure the R10 is positioned such that the red alignment line is aligned with the location of the ball and with the intended target line. You can use a golf club or alignment stick to check this.
The tee location can be safely shifted up to one foot on either side of the target line if necessary. Note that incorrect positioning will negatively impact the ability of the R10 to provide accurate measurements.
Once the positioning is taken care of, press the button to turn on the R10, start a game mode in the Garmin Golf app on your phone, wait for the LED indicator to start flashing green, and hit your shot.
- the battery can be charged in a standard wall outlet or on a computer USB port
- you can use the included phone mount to attach your phone to your golf bag for easy viewing
- before an extended period of non-use, make sure the R10 has at least 50% battery charge
- always protect the USB port with the weather cap
- the R10 should be stored in a cool, dry place
For more detailed setup instructions, information, and tips, consult the Garmin Approach R10 owner’s manual.
Data Parameters & Accuracy
The Approach R10 measures four data parameters directly:
- Ball speed: the speed of the ball immediately after impact.
- Club head speed: the speed of the club head at impact.
- Launch angle: of the ball relative to the ground.
- Launch direction: right or left of the target.
An array of additional metrics are derived through calculations:
- spin rate
- spin axis
- carry distance
- apex height
- club face angle
- club path angle
- angle of attack
- observed ball flight range
- total distance
- carry distance
- smash factor
- apex height
- deviation distance
Some have claimed that the R10 also measured backswing and downswing times. However, I have not seen that in any official documentation nor have I seen it in my own R10 session data, so I cannot confirm it.
But of course, everyone wants to know about accuracy. It doesn’t matter how many parameters there are; if the measurements are way off, it doesn’t do you any good.
Just how accurate is the R10? After extensive testing, I can definitively say that the accuracy is within range of the $2000 “next-level” launch monitors like the SkyTrak and Mevo+, particularly outdoors where the radar technology can really shine.
For practical purposes, when it comes to distance, you can assume that the R10 would be off by a few yards at worst. Indoors, however, I find that distance readings are less accurate.
When it comes to other metrics, Garmin gives the accuracies as:
The margin or error for club data does seem to be on the high side. The path and face angles, in particular, could give readings that are substantially different from reality, although the accuracy of many parameters has improved over time with firmware updates.
All things considered, the R10 does an amazing job for a $600 unit, but it’s reasonable to say that the accuracy isn’t as reliable as more expensive units. But for many golfers, it’s something they can accept given the very affordable price point.
In any case, the Approach R10 has been lauded by pretty much every major golf publication and critic in the industry, and that should tell you something.
A Note On Spin Calculation
The ball spin rate reading of the Approach R10 has several conditions attached to it, and this was updated in version 3.80 of the software.
The first thing is that in order for spin to be measured directly by the radar, the ball flight must be seen for more than 20 meters and the ball must be going faster than 90 mph. Otherwise, spin will be calculated.
Indoors, the R10 calculates spin by using a machine-learned model that uses measured radar data as inputs. Outdoors, the R10 calculates spin by observing the trajectory of the ball.
You should avoid marking balls (with stickers, etc.) as this will result in less accurate spin readings; however, you can use the special marked Titleist RCT golf balls to enhance the accuracy of indoor spin readings. Headwinds and tailwinds can also affect the accuracy of the measurement.
One of the things that really sets the Approach R10 apart from other launch monitors in its price range is its support for golf simulation.
With the R10, there are currently five ways to get a virtual golf simulator experience:
1. Use the driving range.
Through the Garmin Golf app, you can access the Driving Range Mode which simulates your shot on a virtual driving range and provides the full set of data metrics after every shot.
You can do other things in Driving Range Mode, including:
- use your phone’s camera to record swings during a range session (Swing Capture)
- view driving range session statistics for each shot and club
- enable audio metrics that are spoken after each shot
- toggle to an overhead camera view with distance markers
- view advanced swing metrics
2. Play on Home Tee Hero.
Home Tee Hero is a golf simulation software solution that requires an active Garmin Golf Premium Subscription costing $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
Home Tee Hero contains over 42,000 courses for you to play (with up to four players), from local courses around you to the world’s most prestigious courses.
The graphics of Home Tee Hero are quite cartoonish, but the recreations are impressively accurate for something so compact.
Note that you can try out a Garmin Golf membership and enjoy all the benefits that come with it for free for 30 days. Another one of these benefits is being able to participate in weekly tournaments with other golfers around the world.
3. Use the E6 CONNECT software.
If you want a more realistic simulation environment than what Home Tee Hero has to offer, the R10 is also compatible with the powerful, world-renowned E6 CONNECT software.
E6 CONNECT is highly customizable and has some of the most photo-realistic graphics on the market. It offers various course simulations, minigames, training aids, tournaments, multiplayer formats, and more.
A separate subscription will need to be purchased in order to use E6 CONNECT on PC or iOS devices. It’s not cheap, but the R10 does come bundled with a basic subscription to E6 CONNECT that allows you to play five courses.
You will need to connect your mobile device (with the Garmin Golf app installed) to the E6 CONNECT desktop application or mobile app before you can play the software.
4. Play on Awesome Golf.
The R10 has recently gained compatibility with Awesome Golf. This is a third-party golf simulator software that 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 challenge.
- Shootouts: kid-friendly minigames including Super Splash and Boat Blast.
- Virtual Golf: full course play at fictional Spring Park Hills, Island Beach, Desert Canyon, and Valley Pines.
Awesome Golf is packed with fun simulation features that will keep you busy for hours on end.
The software is currently available for PC, iOS and Android, and licenses are multi-platform.
5. Use The Golf Club 2019.
Another software integration for the R10 is The Golf Club 2019.
At one point, this was our #1 software pick for golf simulation in general because it offers 170,000+ courses to play, has plenty of features, has great graphics and sound effects, and is very affordable considering what you get.
The graphics of TGC 2019 have a realistic style like E6 CONNECT. With TGC 2019, you can:
- play online (with strangers, friends or family) and compete in live worldwide tournaments
- play multiplayer locally
- access the TGC library of over 170,000 courses
- do range, chipping or putting practice
- design your own course with a few clicks
Play formats include stroke play, match play, stableford, four ball, skins, and alternate shot. TGC has a cool feature that allows up to four players in a multiplayer setting to hit their shots at the same time.
Thanks to the power of the Garmin Golf app (which, by the way, has very high ratings, which is frankly very difficult to achieve with phone apps), the Approach R10 can do more than just measure swing parameters and provide a golf simulation experience.
With the R10, you can set up your phone’s camera behind the hitting area and capture video of your shot. Your stats including ball speed, carry distance and total distance are overlaid on top of each clip. The club you were using is also specified.
Each clip can be paused and skipped to different points as desired. And with a Garmin Golf Premium Subscription, you can store these video clips in the cloud for convenient access.
Note that unlike the Rapsodo MLM, the R10’s video capture feature does not have a shot tracer.
Closely tying in with video capture is the ability to monitor how each club is performing during a driving range session.
When viewing your club performance, you get:
- a top-down dispersion map of all your shots
- your total shot count
- the number of shots hit with each club
- the max, min, and average distances for each club
- average carry distances for each club
This feature will really help you understand your numbers. In fact, if you’re using the R10, I would recommend hitting at least ten shots with each club in your bag so that you learn your average distances and can make better club selection choices during rounds.
Tournaments & Sharing
Another thing the Garmin Golf app allows you to do is upload scorecards and review stats & leaderboards.
You can view global weekly leaderboards for any of the 42,000+ courses contained in Home Tee Hero and view stats in real time.
You can also create your own tournaments and invite your friends to compete.
PinSeeker App Compatibility
The unique PinSeeker app runs closest-to-the-pin tournaments through E6 CONNECT that reward participants with prizes. The two types of tournaments in PinSeeker are currently:
- Free Tournaments: held multiple times every day, these allow you to practice your game stress-free and win swag or bragging rights
- Cash Tournaments: held multiple times a week, these have an entry fee and pay out cash prizes that are also matched and sent to charity
The app is available for download on both iOS and Android devices. Tournaments are open to not just R10 users, but also anyone using a compatible simulator.
The latest full version of E6 CONNECT is required to play PinSeeker tournaments. You can also use PinSeeker on the demo version of E6 CONNECT but you will only have access for a limited time.
PinSeeker is an interesting way to possibly recoup some or all of the cost of your R10 unit and the E6 CONNECT software, depending on how good of a golfer you are!
Titleist RCT Compatibility
The R10 is also now compatible with Titleist Pro V1 and V1x RCT (radar capture technology) golf balls.
These balls provide all the same benefits as the world-renowned Pro V1 and V1x balls, but are specially manufactured by Titleist with an internal reflective marker. This embedded marker is designed so that radar-based launch monitors can provide the most accurate indoor spin readings possible.
In the case of the R10, Titleist RCT balls enable spin rate readings that are up to 30 times more accurate that normal, and carry distance readings that are up to 50% more accurate.
These balls are pricey at around $70/dozen but you can find great deals for them on eBay.
The Approach R10 launch monitor unit costs $599.99 USD. This includes the R10, tripod stand, phone mount, carrying case, and Micro USB cable.
The companion Garmin Golf app, which is required to use the R10, is free. However, Garmin offers a membership for the app, exclusive for R10 users, that costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. The membership gives you:
- access to Home Tee Hero golf simulation
- green contour data
- the ability to store video clips in the cloud
A 30-day free trial for the Garmin Golf membership is provided, which I think is a very generous amount of time to try it out.
As for the E6 CONNECT software, it’s quite expensive. A basic 1-year subscription costs $300, an expanded 1-year subscription costs $600, and a permanent license costs $2,500.
The Golf Club 2019 costs $950 as a one-time purchase. Awesome Golf costs $199.99+$9.99 per month or $349.99 one time.
The majority of R10 customers will likely find the simulation capabilities of Home Tee Hero sufficient, and others will be happy with the Awesome Golf integration. I recommend getting TGC 2019 over E6 CONNECT unless you really like E6’s gameplay and graphics.
Where To Buy The Approach R10 Online
You can choose any of these vendors based on your preferences. They all have excellent support teams that will help you with any questions or concerns you may have.
PlayBetter, in particular, offers a special bundle that packs the R10 in a cool gift box and includes their own branded car and wall USB charging adapters.
If you’re looking for a discount on a used R10, you may be able to find a good deal on eBay.
Another thing that’s worth considering if you plan to use the R10 indoors is a good net and hitting mat setup. You can even take it to the next level and have a full simulator screen & enclosure, with the Garmin Golf app or E6 desktop software connected to a projector.
The buttons below open in new tabs, so go ahead and click on all of them to compare.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the Garmin Golf app be viewed on a larger display?
Yes, and there are two elements to this.
The first is viewing your smartphone’s Garmin Golf app image on a larger tablet. Android-to-Android or iPhone-to-iPad mirroring, with technologies like AirPlay or Screen Share, makes this possible.
Using the screen mirroring function on your smartphone, you can also mirror the Garmin Golf app to a compatible smart TV.
Can I use the Approach R10 without a subscription?
Yes, you can. As long as you have a smartphone that can run the Garmin Golf app, you’ll be able to view data parameters, watch video clips of your swing, analyze your performance, and access all other free features of the app.
For a full list of the free features provided by the Garmin Golf app, go here. You can also use third-party simulator software without signing up for a subscription plan.
Is Garmin updating the Approach R10?
Absolutely. Their 3.30 update, for example, improved club path and angle of attack estimations outdoors, indoor launch angle, outdoor side spin estimation, and adjacent shot rejection outside the hitting area.
Their 4.30 update improved chip shot detection and added support for Titleist RCT golf balls.
Firmware updates for the R10 should be installed using Garmin Express, which is an exclusive application designed to manage Garmin devices. A PC or Mac is needed to install Garmin Express.
Why are my data readings way off?
With the R10, you will very rarely have situations where a data point here or there is a little wonky. This is normal and to be expected for a sub-$1000 launch monitor. There are many variables at play, and sometimes they don’t all line up perfectly.
But beyond this, inaccurate readings are most likely due to incorrect alignment. As I mentioned in the Setup section above, the R10 should be level with the hitting surface, and the red line on the top of the device should be aligned with the ball and the target line.
To avoid confusion if you’re hitting draws and fades, the target line is the straight line from the ball to your intended target.
One of the best ways to check your alignment is to hit a short, straight shot with a wedge, and compare the ball flight to what is displayed in the Garmin Golf app. If the R10 is facing too far in one direction, the simulated launch will tend to be too far in the other direction.
For a portable $600 unit, there’s really no other way to put it: the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor is excellent.
Not only does it measure an impressive amount of data points that you would normally only get at the $2500 SkyTrak/Mevo+ level and above, but along with the Rapsodo MLM2PRO, it’s also one of the only launch monitors under $1000 that has golf simulation capability.
That doesn’t mean the R10 is better than these systems. Assuming you were financially indifferent to spending $2500 or spending $600, I would still go for the $2500 system (SkyTrak+ for indoors or Mevo+ for outdoors) because you’ll get more reliability and more direct measurements.
But if you want to stay at that three-figure price level, the R10 is definitely what you should go for except in one case: when you need shot tracing for your recorded swings. In that case, you should look at the Rapsodo MLM or MLM2PRO, although you’ll need an mobile device for those.
Moreover, if you have an even tighter budget of $500 or less and still want spin measurements, you should look at the FlightScope Mevo which is usable with both Android and iOS devices.
The Approach R10 is simply loaded with value. For the most part it has excellent accuracy, and although there is room for improvement in a few areas including indoor performance, Garmin is building on the R10 with updates and will likely continue to do so for years to come.
Thanks for reading my Garmin Approach R10 review. Are you interested in the R10? Have you tried it already? What’s your experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor
- Accuracy is almost on par with the SkyTrak and Mevo+
- Readings on shots from 30-100 yards are spot on
- Great golf simulation for under $1000
- Plenty of fantastic software integrations
- Measures a ton of data parameters
- Hard to find better value at this price point
- Tends to be a little less accurate indoors
- Doesn't react well to certain pre-shot routines
- Lack of putting functionality