The latest update to the Bushnell Launch Pro is a simple case of addition by subtraction. That is to say that Bushnell is dropping the price by $1,500 (from $3,499 to $1,999) but the modified configuration is equipped with “ball only” data. More on that in a bit.
We don’t need to dig up any old Econ 101 notebooks to understand that, for some golfers, a less-expensive entry point is what makes a purchase viable and allows a company in a competitive market to acquire a new customer.
The salient question becomes, “For $1,500 less out of pocket, what exactly am I giving up?”
Bushnell Launch Pro: What Stays the Same
Let’s start with the easy stuff. The foundational technology of the new Bushnell Launch Pro configuration is the same model we tested recently and named the “Best Golf Launch Monitor” of 2023. For that matter, the only difference between the Bushnell Launch Pro (in any configuration) and the pricier Foresight GC3 is the payment structure and access to various software packages.
As stated in that report, “You’ll notice that the Bushnell Launch Pro has a lower initial price. But you do need to pay an annual fee. The Foresight GC3, on the other hand, has a higher initial price but no annual fees. At the same level of functionality, the breakeven point is five years. So if you’re confident you will be using the device consistently over the next five years and prefer to eschew annual fees, the Foresight GC3 is the best choice for you.”
Bushnell received plenty of customer feedback, with some suggesting that a scaled-back version of the Launch Pro might be attractive to golfers who weren’t sure they needed all the features of the $3,500 Bushnell Launch Pro.
Bushnell’s execs heard the feedback and here we are.
Plenty of products ask us to consider hardware and software. That is the difference between what a product is and what a product can do. If you want to think of it as fixed capabilities versus variable assets, I’m good with that as well. It’s why two products can look identical yet perform differently. Whether it’s an Apple iPhone, smart TV or any other piece of personal technology, it’s a familiar situation for modern consumers.
Bushnell Launch Pro: What’s New
As stated, the new Bushnell Launch Pro configuration contains ball-only data, with the ability to add club data and software packages for an additional cost.
For the record, ball data includes carry distance, ball speed, vertical and horizontal launch angles and total spin. In addition, Bushnell includes a barometer which accounts for changes in elevation as measured by atmospheric pressure. All of these features work on a driving range or indoor hitting environment, with data displayed on the Bushnell Launch Pro screen.
If you purchase the base configuration but decide you want club data (club head speed, angle of attack, club path, smash factor), it can be added within 14 days for $1,500. That brings us back to the same base price ($3,500) of the standard Launch Pro configuration.
If you add club data beyond the 14-day window, the cost increases from $1,500 to $1,750. Essentially, it’s a $250 tax for the convenience of taking as much time as you want to determine whether club data is more of a want or a need.
For golfers who plan on using the Launch Pro for golf simulation, the “Gold” software subscription ($499/year) includes annual access to FXS Play (preloaded courses, range practice and skills challenges) and FXS Pro (data collection, performance report, gap analysis, etc.). This software package also provides access to integrate with third-party software.
The Personal Launch Monitor space is a bit nebulous. At one end of the spectrum, enterprise-grade units (Foresight GC Quad, Trackman 4) can easily set you back $20,000 and more. On the other end, some basic models can’t produce a sufficient level of accuracy to warrant their purchase.
The space between extremes is significant. Looking at this configuration of the Bushnell Launch Pro, it’s a compelling list of features (particularly the barometer) for under $2,000. I get it that, once you include tax, etc., the final tally is north of $2,000 but you get the point. It’s also worth noting that when decreasing prices manufacturers typically have to cut features, quality or both. In this case, Bushnell maintained the integrity of the ball data while providing consumers with plenty of flexibility.
Launch monitor companies are trying to figure out how to create an attractive ecosystem, acquire customers and build brand loyalty – all while keeping the balance sheet in the black.
The off-course golf environment is exploding. Indoor golf is no longer a fad and, in some countries, more rounds of golf are played on a screen than on a green-grass course.
That’s all to say that the nature of what constitutes “playing golf” is evolving and expanding. That can only be a good thing, right?