Launch Monitors: Not Just for Drivers

Game Changer

Launch monitors have changed golf.  Players are now able to dial in every piece of equipment, optimize their distances, create proper gaps between clubs, and practice with precise feedback.  But many golfers only utilize this wonderful technology with their driver.  In this lesson, I’ll explain why the launch monitor is important for almost every part of your game.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You want to better understand your long game

You’ve been fit for your driver but not your other clubs

You’ve never practiced with a launch monitor

Getting Fit

Using a launch monitor to get fit for a driver is a must, but it’s equally important to get fit for the rest of your clubs, too.  You wouldn’t trust your eye to distinguish between a good driver and one that’s fully optimized.  Similarly, you should leverage technology to show you the difference between an iron that’s decent from one that’s exceptional.

When we buy new clubs, we want our good shots to be better and our bad shots to be less bad.  Those are exactly the things that a launch monitor can show us clearly.  If one hybrid is longer on good swings and straighter on bad ones, that’s the one we want in our bag.

Understanding Your Game

Using technology to get fit is important, but it can do more.  When we practice with a launch monitor, we can gain insights into our game that we otherwise couldn’t attain.

This fact became clear to me when testing for a recent Golf Myths Unplugged.  I was watching different players hit dozens of wedge shots, and I was struck by the amount of variance.  Even for a 10 handicap – a very respectable player – a mishit wedge is not that uncommon.  And the results of a mishit are striking – less ball speed, unpredictable launch and spin, and wild dispersion.

If you have the chance to hit shots on a launch monitor, you can learn a variety of important things about your game.  How often do I mishit a shot?  How much ball speed and distance do I lose on an average mishit?  Which clubs am I most consistent with?  What’s the difference in ball flight between my best shots and my normal misses?

Mimic the Best

When it comes to the value of practicing with a launch monitor, you don’t need to believe me.  Ask Dustin Johnson.  Listen to the broadcast any week that he’s in contention, and you’ll invariably hear about how much he relies on his Trackman for his wedge work.  Some people point to his adoption of Trackman as the turning point in his career – when he went from a guy with a lot of talent to a world class golfer.

Whether you’re aspiring to the Tour or just a lower handicap, you can improve faster when you have better information.  Find time to get on a launch monitor – for club fitting or practice – and fast track your development.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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10 Comments

  1. Gerry Lapalme

    Hi Matt,
    Could you review the Swing Caddie SC300 ? It is the newest launch monitor from Swing Caddie
    thanks, Gerry

    • Matt Saternus

      Gerry,

      We will have a review of the SC300 up sometime this spring.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Looking forward to this review. My father has a SC200 and I love using it so I’m interested to hear a comparison and if the new one is worth the extra coin. Any chance they sent you a couple extras for giveaways? 😜

  2. Matt,

    Solid article and I agree 100% but curious if you have the ability to expand this concept for the average golf (those reading your site). The vast majority of people can’t practice regularly with a trackman or gcquad due to the exorbitant cost but more and more of us have access to SC200s/300s or Mevo. How can one take the information available on these smaller units and tune their games? What are the optimal smash factors on clubs except driver (only one that’s easily found imo) for people to understand quality of contact?

    Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Seth,

      All the launch monitors you mention provide distance measurements, which is the primary thing I discuss here. Also, I’m not suggesting that people buy a launch monitor; I’m suggesting that you find one you can practice on. Launch monitors are becoming commonplace at ranges and with teaching pros. It shouldn’t be hard to find one you can rent time on.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Matt,

        I hear you that distance was the main take away from above but I brought up smash (measured on the the affordable units) as a measure of the mis-hits you mentioned above is all and was curious if there are commonly accepted “perfect” in all clubs similar to the 1.5 associated with the driver.

        • Matt Saternus

          Seth,

          Outside of Foresight, I take club head and smash factor measurements with a grain of salt, so I would suggest that people just look at ball speed. For most golfers, swing speed doesn’t vary that much unless they’re trying to really stand on it or take something off of it, so looking for swings in ball speed or distance will tell you about the quality of the strike.

          Best,

          Matt

  3. Well, I think this goes to extreme. And I am a nerd, when it comes to analysis and numbers. And I did have my swing analyzed at Trackman. But best progress at swing had nothing to do with Trackman. Now I loved an interview with Keopka , where he explains that he never uses Trackman, complicates life for him… DJ and Bryson might be opposites… Tiger never used it when winning Tigerslam… Jack never used it and played better golf than 99,99999% of todays golfers, who use it regularly… so probably it is not so inevitable…. Trackman would sure recommend to change swing to Lee Trevino….
    Do not get me wrong, I do not deny importance of Trackman in correct clubfitting (fully recommend!), indoor training, or dialing in your distances at the beginning of the season – it helps doing it faster, or occasional checking of progress. Or for some top players getting the little edge, which for them might mean lot of money. Also if you have some lessons with a trainer, it might help to analyze what to change… though Harvey Pennick did just fine without… For vast majority of golfers (and trainers), it is plenty enough to see the flight of the ball, feel the contact, analyze divot and see the approximate distance on the range… high speed camera is more important than Trackman for teaching of hackers and even higher single digits, I think…

    • Matt Saternus

      Pete,

      I feel like you’re bringing something to this article that isn’t there. There isn’t one word in the story about swing direction, angle of attack, etc, or talk of swing changes. This article discusses getting real data on distances, dispersion, and the like. The average player has no idea how often he actually hit a shot pure and how much distance a mishit robs him of. Launch monitors can give him that information so he can practice better and improve his strategy.

      Since you brought it up, however, I do have to take issue with the “All these old guys succeeded without Trackman” bit. Do you really believe that the best players of past generations – guys who worked tirelessly to gain an edge – wouldn’t have used the best technology available? Arnold Palmer’s massive golf club collection speaks to his insatiable quest for improvement. As for Trevino, Trackman doesn’t tell anyone to do anything. Perhaps Trackman and a misguided coach might have messed him up, but you can’t blame that on the technology.

      And I think cameras a huge detriment for the average golfer (chasing “looks” instead of things that matter), but that’s a topic for another day. :)

      Best,

      Matt

      • Dear Matt,

        thank you very much for an intelligent answer, as usual, even if sometimes we have a bit different opinions.
        You are right that I should focus more on shot dispersion than swing faults in my explanation. My main point though is valid. I do not deny great added value of Trackman for certain things (clubfitting , occassional checks… ). I think a golfer, who without Trackman does not know distances of his clubs, and does not now his typical misses and does not know which club hits the best and for which he need more margin for error, such person will be ignorant also to Trackman numbers if given. And for a person like me, Trackman just more or less confirms, what I know…. or maybe I meet different average players as you… ;-)

        You also write something I did not. I said yes, for top players looking for a bit of edge, it is useful tool if they think so. I just said that for an average or even better than average it is not so important, and as witnessed by Jack and Tiger and co, you can become hell of a golfer without ever touching Trackman (which does not mean that Jack would not maybe use it in past, or Tiger is not using it now, but they got to Jack and Tiger level without it…).

        And discussion about chasing the looks could be also interesting… all golfers I know and have great looking swings are single digits or better… (or they are beginners with good teachers)…

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