Best Golf Launch Monitors 2020 – Reviews – Affordable & Portable Units

Foreword: The consumer is the king!! We are unbiased, totally independent, and are proud to share with you the ground reality. Thousands of testing hours while researching the products have been spent by our research team just for your benefit. You can trust us and our reviews in order to make the most out of your game of golf.

Then which would be the golf monitor best suited for you? Most experienced golfers would be delighted to us the exclusive data on ball provided by the Mevo+, SkyTrak or GC2. The golfers who have a budget constraint or amateurs can gain a lot from Mevo. Whether underplaying scratch golfer or a golf amateur which is just beginning to learn the swing, there is literally a launch monitor for each category.

Thomas Spears

Golf Expert

A launch monitor is an essential requirement if you are keen on improvising your game. To enhance your practice sessions and to get a good feel for the range, tracking your shot with a stationary or portable device is very useful and crucial. Additionally owning a monitor also gives you the luxury of playing golf at your own time and place. Even in winter months when it is cold all around, you can simply place your monitors indoors and play golf to keep your swing perfectly.

Every golfer has his or her own style, the same rule applies for the launch monitor too, and there isn’t one for all. The market is flooded with various monitors and new ones adding to the clutter each day. Every one of them is different in capability, price, and technology, and footprint size. So to save your time wasted on the web to decode the differences in the launch monitors, we have saved your time and created a list of best launch monitors suitable for every need of yours. Thus saving your precious time which you would have spent researching, you can now use this time saved to play what you truly like- Golf.

golf launch monitor

Best Golf Launch Monitors of 2020

Top Golf Launch Monitors for 2020

Best Personal Launch Monitor

1. SKYGOLF SKYTRAK

golf launch monitor

The SkyTark offers wonderful launch monitors that have that best graphics with superb and intuitive layouts. This is well-known for providing reliable numbers for notably less than enterprise-class units. The launch monitor comes with a bit higher price tag in comparison to others, and the experience you want of this kind is your personal choice.

PROS:

Best Personal Launch Monitor 2020.

Perfect in terms of accuracy.

Sturdy software package that exhibits the best in class visuals.

Easy to assemble and use.

CONS:

Scuffles in bright sunlight and with reflections outdoors.

More functional indoors.

Fights to keep up higher swing speed players.

Best Outdoor Launch Monitor Under: $500

2. RAPSODO MLM

best golf launch monitor

This one is small in size, provides minimal data but provides whatever is generally accurate. The Rapsodo has the ability to capture swing videos and dispenses a shot tracer-like display of the shot performed by you. Any of your individual sessions can be saved to the cloud and the data visualization packages are excellent.

PROS:

Best Outdoor Personal Launch Monitor Under: $500.

Though a few exceptions but accurate.

Shot tracer functionality.

This is compact, portable, and easy to operate.

CONS:

Suitable for outdoor use only.

Scuffles with higher swing speed players.

Provides limited data.

The calibration can be frustrating.

App is a battery killer.

Best Indoor Launch Monitor Under: $500

3. FLIGHTSCOPE MEVO

best golf launch monitor

This is another great launch monitor that works brilliantly in indoor and adepts to outdoor environments too with ease. This device provides more metrics than the other in proportion to other priced units. A sturdy design that provides value-added features with an interface that is somewhat similar to the other expensive units.

PROS:

Best Outdoor Personal Launch Monitor Under: $500.

Though a few exceptions but accurate.

Shot tracer functionality.

This is compact, portable, and easy to operate.

CONS:

Suitable for outdoor use only.

Scuffles with higher swing speed players.

Provides limited data.

The calibration can be frustrating.

App is a battery killer.

Best Portable Golf Launch Monitor

4. VOICE CADDIE SC300

portable golf launch monitor

If you are searching for some powerful set of metrics then the SC300 is probably the best choice. The voice mode of the launch monitor constantly speaks the numbers and that eliminates the need of checking the screen every now and then. You can make your practice more fun with the optional app that provides additional play models.

PROS:

A user-friendly interface.

Accurate ball speed.

Comes with a long battery life.

Dispenses more metrics than most other devices.

CONS:

This requires precise placement behind the ball for the best results.

Works better indoors than outdoors
.

The carry distance is a consistent suspect.

2020 Golf Launch Monitor – Buyer’s Guide

You can find the launch monitors everywhere. They form an essential part of every teaching session and every club fitting. For validating their work, even the club designers rely on these. There has been no PGA tour event that works without Flight scope, Trackman, and Foresight.

In other words, we can say that Golf has become a data-driven game, where some of the data come from the launch monitors.  Even the best players worldwide use these devices to drive both on-course decisions and equipment. If the best ones are doing so, then we can expect this from the average golfers too.

So, here’s the rub…. Every aspect of swing and ball flight is used by the gear and pros to scrutinize. This depends on the model and the bundled features and the clubhead data and the full complement of the ball to set you back $12,000 to $25,000.

best golf launch monitor 2019

There is a much-attached curiosity with the portable and personal launch monitors as these are not only amazing but compact pocket-sized devices that provide you with the immense data and in just less than $500. As compared to their counterparts this is just pennies on the dollar and this is not less than a holy grail for a hungry golfer.

How do these affordable devices match the output and accuracy of pro-level offerings? We wanted to see this closely and for this, we tested the range from $369 (entry-level) to about $2000 for the prosumer- the mid-ground that is between the consumer and the pro.

What was apparent in just no time is that these devices were not efficient enough like the expensive units in providing data. The metrics provided by them are significantly less and these devices don’t provide clubhead data, and fewer attempts to give spin numbers. The dispersion data is provided by SkyTrak.

If the data is limited, this is perhaps okay but the accuracy is of main concern. So, this is kind of a mixed bag and can be considered as a generous characterization as some of them tend to do a better job than others.

Some of the upsides are that the device which we tested has many additional features that may elevate your experience from just the data collection and reading numbers. If your focus is not just on the data, then these are some fun to experience.

If you are keen to own a personal launch monitor soon, then you are in the right place.

voice caddie sc 200 portable golf launch monitor

LAUNCH MONITOR TECHNOLOGIES

The launch monitors of today are powered with either the radar technology to the technology of a camera.

RADAR:

The systems that are radar-based make use of a doppler in order to follow the flight of the golf ball. If we look at it the other way, these are basically a smaller version of the technology which is used by the meteorologists for tracking the weather patterns.

The doppler works by bouncing the microwaves of the objects and here it is a golf ball. The devices that are powered by doppler can easily track the movement of the ball through space by sending the waves continuously and receiving the reflections.

The entire flight of the golf ball is tracked by the enterprise radar launch monitors such as the FlightScope X3 and Trackman. The less expensive consumer-grade units have doppler units that are small in size and may lack the power to track the full flight of the golf ball.

What you get out of using the Trackman in the limited flight mode does not match with the capability of the consumer-grade radar systems, be it outdoors.

The size of the radar system is limited and this is why the inexpensive units require the golfer to specify the club being used. The designating if the club enables the device to know where it should look out for the ball.

This serves to improve the consistency and accuracy of the readings and the shots that are launched outside the normal window are missed by the smaller units frequently. It is important that the golfers understand that the consumer-level radar units, be it any, aren’t capable of tracking anything that is close to the typical golf shot’s full flight.

Except for the SkyTrak, all are radar-based models. And we can confidently say this as we have tested them personally.

portable golf launch monitor

CAMERA:

As per the category designation, the camera-based launch monitors flaunt of high-definition cameras for measuring the ball data and following spontaneously after the impact. Since everything is measured at the impact and the camera-based systems can easily take this.

There are things such as the launch angle, azimuth, key spin metrics, ball speed, for calculating the flight distance. The full flight of the golf ball can’t be measured by the camera-based ones they tend to provide more accurate spin measurements, axis tilt, and are supposed to be more reliable in the limited flight scenarios.

How these deal under the lighting conditions and the highly reflective environments is entirely dependant on the camera quality.

Over here the SkyTrak is probably the only one system that is camera-based.

skytrak golf launch monitor

RAPSODO MLM – BEST OUTDOOR LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $500

The golfers who are happy to be informed about the carry distance, launch angle and ball speed then the Rapsodo MLM is a good option for outdoors for less than $500. With the limited data, this comes with more accuracy but lacks some of the meaningful metrics such as the azimuth, and the spin.

When you don’t have access to the clubface and path info then this one can help to visualize shot shape/ curvature with its shot tracer feature. The MLM is not suited to work indoors or with a net, so the wide-open spaces need to be your target.

Some More Features That Matter

Metrics:

A plethora of ball data is provided by the enterprise-class units while the personal launch monitors provide limited data. As compared to the guesses the swing speed measurements appear to be more and none of these tend to provide the data more natively.

The information they give is not in totality with the professional-grade hardware. The metrics you want to look in your device should be clear to you before you invest in the best one.

Accuracy:

Don’t confuse with one thing that the launch monitor that gives numbers is accurate. There are many shortcomings and the metrics provided by these are not accurate or can’t be measured reliably. Backspin values are not offered by most of these devices.

Though others tend to provide data that is always at the risk of diminishing accuracy. Any device that is incapable of providing accurate and consistent data is considered to be virtually useless.

launch monitor

Ease of Use:

Wasting time configuring, connecting, and setting the device is something that isn’t feasible in any way. The launch monitor should be easy to operate as practice time is limited to any of us. More precise placement at the set-up is the need for some units.

And if you are willing to spare some extra time and effort for getting the highest degree of accuracy then go for it.

Value-Added Functionality:

The primary purpose of all the units tested by us is measuring the golf ball flight and there is some additional functionality offered by most of them. Some of them include features such as recording your swing, leveraging GPS functionality on the golf course, while some allow simulator play also.

Some of them also add elements such as gamification like the long drive contests and the closest to the pin challenges too. The added features are a charm and compel some to buy such a device with some value-addition and choose one over the other.

Portability:

Portability is not something as a primary concern if you tend to spend more than $10,000 on a launch monitor. As compared to the consumer-grade units the Foresight and Trackman are full-sized ones and larger too.

As a golfer, if your reach is form home to the range and back again then a compact device is the best to have, and that will fit in your golf bag with ease.

golf launch monitor app

Smartphone/Tablet Apps:

If you go for Garmin and Voice Caddie, then they are self-contained, while the others require an app to communicate with the launch monitor. They tend to relay data with the help of this. Most of the applications are easy to navigate and hassle-free. Rapsodo is proved to be a battery killer when it takes the videos of your swing though like the SkyTrak it stands out for simple and intuitive interface.

Your Budget Matters:

The units we tested are under $400 to just under $2000. Your inclination is towards the enterprise-level accuracy and features then you may be looking at $700+for used Foresight GC2 and more than $25k for a new one with all the features. Then the difference is probably huge.

As considered with today’s technology and getting a launch monitor that too fully-featured only at $500 is a great deal. You should expect what you pay for and these units provide a small subset of the data as compared to the enterprise-class unit.

INDOORS, OUTDOORS, OR BOTH?

If you are on a budget and looking for a launch monitor to use exclusively indoors then SkyTrak is a good option to buy. You can buy a used one if you want. If you have inclined towards a radar-based unit for indoor use then at least a flight distance of 8 ft. should be there. And note that there should be a required room between the hitting zone and the launch monitor.

As per the manufacturer specifications, the Rapsodo MLM is not fit for indoor use but for outdoors its great for under $500.

In case you are breaking the time between outdoor and indoor use then Flightscope Mevo is capable enough of handling any environment. The metal dots can improvise a bit of tracking and the video features that you get are well executed too.

 Practice, Business, or Fun?

If your task is as a teaching professional and you are looking forward to increasing sales and add value to your customers then don’t get disappointed as these low-cost won’t fit into your needs. Some fitting capabilities and bag mapping-feature are offered by SkyTrak and this is available in Rapsodo MLM too.

Spending more than $2000 doesn’t make much sense in order to stay behind the industry curve. Clubhead data is being leveraged by many fitters and teachers these days and this should also be considered by you.   

If there are recreational golfers then the distance measured by some of the radar units that are of $500 works well. Though you may have to compromise on the metrics or data they provide, as this may be lower than the most expensive options.

In case you are obsessed with the data and are keen to know precisely about the ball speed, launch angle and the degree along with the spin numbers then a one which is at a price of $500 won’t be providing you with everything you want.

The simulator component makes it the SkyTrak probably the best option along with fun. Though this lacks the clubhead data and works well indoors and is head and shoulders with anything that costs below $5000.

If any golfer is looking forward to having a good time with their friends then the units that offer the best are the Mevo, Voice Caddie, Rapsodo, and SkyTrax are some of the ones that do much beyond the data capturing.

It is important for you to understand all the things and see what all devices offer before you buy a personal launch monitor.

golf launch monitor reviews

THE EXTRA MILE

The amount $500 is not a small amount, and when you invest it you feel to squeeze every bit of it, isn’t it? We have discussed earlier also that many of them come with bonus features and you should consider this important thing also.  

Everyone can marvel at your distances and Rapsodo encourages you to publish and show off your swing on their Explore page.

While Mevo offers tools for analyzing your swing and displaying data, similar to that of the enterprise models. This stores your data in the cloud and allows you to toss bad shots.

 If you want a unit that comes with the most powerful set of features then SkyTrax is the top-most choice. Be it the bag mapping functions, longest drive, or closest to the pin, there are many add-on features that bring a wonderful ownership experience.

Along with playing the famous courses, killing zombies, your cardiovascular health will also improve with the fitness model it offers.

Real balls or range balls?

If the data you are planning to collect is while banging limited flight, undistinguished range balls, or beat to hell, then maybe you are wasting your time and money both. If you are not getting the data with the ball you are playing, then you need to try with the other ball that is similar to the ball you are playing.

Indoor environments or hitting nets are not difficult but if the ball you tend to hit is not like your next one then you won’t be able to learn much though, be it the numbers keep on appearing on the screen from shot after shot.

In case your typical use-case is the mixed bag of range balls then it probably makes good sense to that will save your money.

FLIGHTSCOPE MEVO – BEST INDOOR LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $500

The FlightScope MEVO is versatile and despite its small size has the ability to capture a wide range of data. This also features an intuitive app that enables us to take your swing videos while the data is being overlaid with the simultaneous comparison of every shot.

The shot data is stored properly and you can track your performance from swing to swing in the cloud. Maybe this is not the most perfect and you may need to put stickers on every ball but in case you are separating between the range and hitting indoors then this is the best bet for $500.

skytrak launch monitor

Some Expert Tip

If on budget and are pretty serious about the data then these launch monitors with a price of $500 are certainly the best to buy. They will satisfy the cravings of a hungry golfer. Though we have provided and explained in the best possible way in our write-up, then there may be some shortcomings attached to the devices that are here and they might not have the horsepower to deliver data consistently and accurately.

If your buying limit is $500, then you can wait for the tech to improve and if you still want to spend money then use it for your lessons instead. You may get mixed and unpredictable results if then again it won’t be of much use.

More Tips in Case You Are Still Interested

Some launch monitors tend to perform better indoors while some exclusively suit outdoors. So, you need to ensure where you will be using them.

Battery life is also a great concern if you are hitting a few dozen balls at a time. Planning should be done accordingly as the battery drain may irritate you.

The launch monitors rule every fitting-experience, and this won’t be possible with a consumer-grade unit. As in the fitting scenario, they won’t provide you with accurate data.

You probably get what you pay for when it’s a launch monitor. They provide so much detail and measurements and are in the category which is above $500.

prgr launch monitor

FAQ’s

Q1. What’s the difference between a personal launch monitor and what my coach uses?

Ans 1. If you compare your personal launch monitor to that of what your coach or fitter is using then there are few things to be understood. The most important difference between money and accuracy and the enterprise-class launch monitors provide higher accuracy with more data points. The difference is huge and the performance of the personal launch monitors is not so perfect.

Q2. What data does a personal launch monitor provide?

Ans2. The dataset of every model may differ slightly. Though, most of them provide you with the estimated carry distance and ball speed. The units that are expensive provide you with additional data as the backspin and launch angle. There are more things as the dispersion numbers, most spin numbers, and this can’t be trusted completely. Even if not reliable and more data is being provided, then it depends on you to choose the one you prefer.

Q3. What does Smash Factor mean?

Ans 3. In simple terms, a common club performance metric can be termed as the smash factor. This comes with a simple formula: ball speed divided by the clubhead speed. With maximum efficiency, the Smash factor limit is 1.5 and this is the reason or the theoretical limit. If the device you decide to buy is unable to measure ball speed, head speed, then this will be virtually useless. Above 1.45 is excellent and above 1.5 will let you know that the ball speed was a bit slow and the club speed was faster than measured. 

 Q4. Are personal launch monitors accurate?

Ans4. We have discussed in detail about this above and the personal launch monitors, all of them aren’t accurate. The SkyTrax costs 4x is a robust software package, but short of excellent indoors. There may be issues related to sunlight and reflections outside, and the head data isn’t provided too. but the Rapsodo MLM can be considered reasonably accurate, but then it is best suited for outdoor use only with a narrow set of data. Mevo is designed to work indoors and outdoors both but again the misreads are common though. If you want some pro-grade quality, features, accuracy, and reliability then you will actually have to invest a huge amount.