The way in which golfers gain immediate feedback is changing. Launch monitors are at the heart of that. Numbers. Data. Analysis. It sounds complicated and complex but, at MyGolfSpy, we know the fastest way to harness your game is through data. We gathered some tips on how to get the best from a Personal Launch Monitor.

Data is the New Caddie

It’s this data-driven approach that is accelerating the improvement of the world’s best golfers. Think how common GPS and laser rangefinders are now. It won’t be long until data-tracking devices such as Arccos and Shot Scope are ubiquitous. The next giant leap after that is likely the personal launch monitor.

Personal launch monitors, or at least launch monitor access for all, is the next great technological advance in the game. Watch a PGA TOUR player practice. Most have their own GCQuad or Trackman unit to check the numbers. But they cost tens of thousands of dollars. Personal launch monitors offer much (not all) of the same information for a fraction of the cost.

But there’s no point in having a personal launch monitor if you don’t know how to get the best out of it.

1. Gamification

What a thoroughly vile-sounding word. It’s almost as bad as “moist.” The meaning of the word, though, we can get behind. Gamification has got more new people trying the game at venues such as TopGolf than have done in years. It engages your brain differently with a typical practice session, there’s a sense of achievement from completing your goals and leveling up that you just don’t get from beating balls.

SkyTrak offers target-based challenges as well as simulation. What better way to practice than by playing a course and trying to put a score together? Rapsodo offers both nearest-the-pin and longest-drive games to keep the competitive juices flowing. On top of that, the app adds a shot tracer so you can see exactly what your golf ball is doing.

The real winner here is Toptracer. Rolling out across ranges worldwide, Toptracer brings the TV studio to the practice ground with its shot-tracing technology. Obviously, your practice ground or driving range needs to install the Toptracer technology to make this a viable option. Its camera-based system isn’t cheap to install and it has the downside, especially at a driving range rather than a practice ground, of having to be used with range balls.  Like the Skytrak, it offers course simulation but has a wider variety of skills challenges as well as worldwide leaderboards. The mobile Toptracer range app doesn’t have all the same options but still enables you to make your range session fun with a series of range games to hone different skills.

2. Speed

We all know there is a distance “arms race.” Products such as SuperSpeed, Rypstik and The Stack System can have a great impact on increasing your swing speed. Golfers are getting fitter and stronger. Everyone is searching for the elusive driver combination that they can swing faster and hit further. A personal launch monitor is a great way of checking your gainz. And every PLM will give you a speed indicator of some description whether it’s ball speed or clubhead speed.

That’s all well and good. But I’d argue you’ll get more from identifying before a round how slowly you’re swinging, rather than how fast. We’ve all been at the course and, for whatever reason, we can’t get past fourth gear into overdrive. We don’t always realize that, either. Whether it’s cold temperatures and too many layers or just feeling “off”, some days you just don’t hit the ball to your full ability. Practicing with a PLM before a round will give you an indication of how you’re swinging. If one mph of swing speed is the equivalent of 2.5 yards of carry. give or take, a drop-off of just two miles an hour will mean you’re half a club short on every approach shot. If you know that, you can account for it with club selection. And if you account for it, you’ll hit more greens.

3. Distance control

The consensus is that PLMs are most accurate within 100 yards. While there is much focus on launch monitors being used to analyze how far you hit your drives, most golfers will benefit far more from learning exactly how far they hit their wedges.

Full swings, half swings, punch shots, swing-for-the-fence lob shots. Try them all. Learn how far they go and at what angle they launch. Memorize that and take it to the course. Build that short game and give yourself options to hit the ball closer.

4. Coaching

All the various PLM options record your data. That’s useful for any coach to see what you’re doing when you’re not under their watchful eye. The Toptracer Range app extends that by recording every swing as well as the shot. That’s gold for a coach.

Rapsodo has gone a step further with their Coach Connect software. As the monitor utilizes your phone’s camera, every swing is recorded along with the shot data that can be automatically sent to a coach. That coach can be anywhere in the world or standing next to you. When he gets you to make a change, you can quantify the results instantly to see if it’s working. That’s powerful.

5. Testing

No one is going to claim they can fit clubs accurately using a PLM but you can use one to compare performance. First, it’s a good way to make sure your club gapping is in sync throughout the set. We spoke about distance control earlier and it’s the perfect way, especially with the shorter irons, to really get a handle on your yardages. And if any numbers seem out of whack with the rest of a set, then it’s probably a sign you need to check your lofts and lies and possibly grooves.

We’d also suggest it’s a good way to compare golf balls. If you have some baseline numbers with a control ball, you can easily compare performance with other models. It’s not going to be as accurate as going into an independent club fitter but it will definitely give you the broad strokes pertaining to performance differences.