We’ve been waiting for this one. For more than a decade, in fact. The new SkyTrak+ launch monitor is quite possibly the best solution on the market for less than $3,000. And one could be so bold as to suggest it stacks up favorably against competitors that are much more expensive.
In fact, SkyTrak+ claims that by “applying proprietary machine learning algorithms” to data received from a new dual Doppler radar system, it can generate “precision at a level matched only by the highest-end launch monitors on the market.” Are they saying what I think they’re saying?
What’s the phrase? Huge if true?
Do You Remember?
The original SkyTrak was definitely badass. For the better part of 12 years, it was the best solution for golfers who wanted an indoor golf simulator but without the enterprise launch monitor budget. SkyTrak sold 70,000 units of the original model making it the top-selling consumer launch monitor.
Think about that for a second. What other piece of technology is still popular (or even viable) a decade-plus after launch?
Is anyone still rocking a BlackBerry Bold Touch with its five-megapixel camera?
What the original SkyTrak launch monitor offered golfers was an attractive combination of features, software and accuracy at a very palatable price point. It was the absolute no-brainer solution for golfers who didn’t want to drop $20,000-plus on an enterprise-grade simulator but wanted something that provided a realistic at-home simulator experience.
Given all that, the SkyTrak+ has large shoes, err … processors or photometric systems, to fill.
Like AJR said, “Can we skip to the good part?” Let’s do it.
A dual Doppler radar system coupled with machine-learning algorithms delivers precise club data points such as club head speed, club path, face angle and smash factor. We can debate the efficacy of smash factor another time but accurate club data has always been a feature set reserved for only the most expensive Tour-grade launch monitors.
In addition, the SkyTrak+ has a 40-percent larger hitting area and employs a camera-based photometric system for reliable ball data (launch, spin and tilt axis). Like club data, generating accurate spin numbers requires more advanced and, typically, expensive camera systems. Most launch monitors either use radar (Trackman) or cameras (Foresight) as the primary method of ball/club measurement. SkyTrak+ utilizes a bit of both.
Moving on, the SkyTrak+ includes updated Wi-Fi capabilities, USB-C charging and an updated processor to integrate with a range of PCs and mobile devices. It doesn’t require club face fiducials (stickers) or special golf balls and can be used for indoor golf or outdoors (as long as you hit off a mat).
Every launch monitor device has measurement error. Put differently, even the most accurate launch monitors aren’t error-free.
That said, and I’m attempting to read between the lines here a bit, it seems SkyTrak is suggesting the greatest benefit of the SkyTrak+ is that it can provide golfers with the accuracy of launch monitors most commonly seen on PGA TOUR ranges for a fraction of the price. Whether that’s actually the case is something we’ll assess at a later date. But the possibility is tantalizing.
The SkyTrak+ software is proprietary and includes features that offer immediate feedback and valuable information.
A “Shot Optimizer” uses red and green boxes to let you know whether a shot has optimal launch conditions. Also, once you’ve hit enough shots, the SkyTrak+ generates a “Shot Score” which is an immediate assessment based on your previous performance with a specific club. It’s akin to playing a game of “Strokes Gained” against yourself.
Taking it a step further, SkyTrak+ software includes a skills assessment, bag mapping, wedge matrix and practice randomizer. Gamification is a known strategy to increase user engagement and encourage participation. It’s also how my parents used to get me and my siblings to clean up the basement. I also suspect SkyTrak will update the software platform fairly routinely to provide continual value to existing customers—and as a method to help attract new ones.
In terms of course availability, through integrations with third-party course software companies (E6, WGT, ONE MORE), SkyTrak+ offers access to more than 100,000 courses worldwide.
If the SkyTrak+ does what the company is suggesting it can, it could be one of the few products that’s actually worthy of the “game-changer” superlative. I’m not suggesting SkyTrak+ is a showcase product pushing the entire industry forward. Maybe more importantly, however, is that it might be capable of serving filet mignon on a Big Mac budget.
SkyTrak was recently acquired by Golftec Enterprises. As such, SkyTrak+ isn’t just a new launch monitor. It’s a key technology that could allow the two companies to create an integrated ecosystem where lessons, clubfitting, on-course progress and meaningful practice co-exist.
Pricing and Availability
MAP – $2,995
Pre-sale – May 4
Retail – Shipping late May