Written By: Dan Mann
It’s pretty cool to think you can now have your own launch monitor roughly the size of a cell phone for less than the cost of…well…a cell phone. Sound impossible? The people at Voice Caddie believe they have created just such a device.
Like Trackman and FlightScope, the Swing Caddie SC100 is a hand-held, Doppler Radar-based launch monitor. Unlike those systems, which range in price from $10,000 – $22,000, the SC100 can be yours for under $300. Is that even possible?
Let’s find out.
I’m a sucker for pomp & pizzazz. I love products that reflect the passion and style of the company behind them. Like with the Voice Caddie, Swing Caddie SC100 comes in a slick iPhone-esque box. The SC100 itself resembles a stylish, high-end mobile device and feels quite sturdy in the hands.
It’s not only looks good, it’s also durable. The SC100 is bumper’d on all four corners which gives the impression it can take a serious impact or two. If they’d sent me a second unit I may have attempted a drop test for you, but seriously, I baby my cell phone. If I have my way the SC100 is never seeing the ground other than when I place it there.
Probably worth a mention, you’re also going to look cool with this thing set up behind you on the range.
EASE OF SET UP/USE
In the box we get the Swing Caddie manual, written in fairly simple terms with easy to follow diagrams. I will admit there we a few things I had to read twice, but once you get a feel for things its smooth sailing from there on in.
Next you’ll want to pop in the supplied batteries, a simple flick of the power switch on the side and easy as pie we’re up and running.
The device itself has 5 buttons placed on its sides to allow the user to easily switch through modes, club settings, check yardage and flip between ball speeds & smash factors. And fear not my American neighbors, because you insist on being different, there’s even a fancy switch to toggle from Metric to Imperial.
Realizing how much of a hassle it can be to stop, pick up your already-placed device and toggle through things the SC100 also comes with a really easy to use remote control.
There’s literally a button for every single option from driver to wedge, mode, ball speed etc.
Putting it to use is supposed to be very simple as well. Pick a mode and place the unit roughly 1.5 meters directly behind your ball, and swing away. In practice, this aspect of the setup has been very hit or miss.
One range session I’ll put it down roughly 1.5 meters and it catches every shot, while in another session I’ll have to move it 5 or 6 times before it starts capturing every shot. I’m not talking missing the odd shot here, the Voice Caddie would miss 15-20 shots before I would get it situated in the “Sweet Spot”.
Let’s cut right to the chase. How does the SC100 fare against the big boys? We put it head-to-head against the FlightScope.
I had the opportunity to compare it outdoors to FlightScope. All in all, the Swing Caddie SC100 proved to be reasonably accurate.
Take a 7 iron for example. If a monitor like this is to be considered accurate you’d want it to be roughly within 1% of the big boys like a FlightScope or Trackman. Anyone with experience with either will tell you that it’s not unusual for even the industry leaders to totally miss an occasional shot, or sometimes provide data that doesn’t quite make sense. It would be unreasonable to expect perfection from anything. With that said, I found the SC100 was consistently within 1.5% (low side) on average of FlightScope. That’s pretty damn impressive for a handheld device; especially one costs approximately $9,700 less..
We did experience some wild anomalies. It registered a 7 iron as traveling 30 yards further than I could ever hope to hit one. It missed a dead shank, and there were times I’d hit a decent 5 yard cut and it wouldn’t register at all.
They didn’t happen often, but the did happen. As I’ve said, every launch monitor (Trackman, FlightScope, Foresight), misses a shot every now and again.
The grand question of all is who and what is the SC100 for? First let’s consider what numbers the SC100 supplies us with.
• Carry Distance
• Swing Speed
• Ball Speed
• Smash Factor
For a club fitter, that’s almost certainly not going to get it done. The lack of spin rate and launch angle makes the SC100 a non-starter for those guys. Worth noting, FlightScope’s Xi, which runs in the area of $4000 ballpark, does not offer spin and launch angle either. If you want launch and spin, you’ll need to spend at least $300 more on the upcoming Ernest Sports ES14, or you can step up to professional solutions like FlightScope Xi+ ($5,000), ForeSight GC2 ($6,500) or Trackman ($22,000).
Certainly there are times when knowing launch angle and spin rates are critical. If you’re trying to optimize your driver, or measure small performance details between iron shafts, you’re going to need to know launch and spin rates (and shot height, and angle of descent). There’s no way around that.
If you need (or want) to know your angle of attack, swing path, or face angle, the SC100 isn’t going to give those to you either. For now, nothing is going to give you all that data, and do it accurately, reliably, and repeatedly for less than $5000.
So let’s just put it out there right now. The Swing Caddie SC100 isn’t really a fitting tool. It’s not designed to be. It has some practical application as a teaching tool, but it’s certainly not what you’d call an Enterprise-Class device designed to competed with Trackman, FlightScope, and ForeSight.
Swing Caddie is a not a tool for the professional, but for its audience…the average golfer looking for more (a lot more) info than the naked eye can provide, it’ represents a substantial leap forward in golf technology.
The SC100 is a “Personal” device that provides ample data for most of us to tune things up and get dialed in at the range. For those curious about tweaking lofts and even shafts on their own, having total carry distance on hand can be invaluable. You can try judging total distance by pacing it off or just eyeballing it. You’ll probably get it wrong, and isn’t it better to have immediate access to accurate data that can let you know whether or not that last 5 degree tweak added distance, or actually robbed you of 10 yards.
Here’s an example from my own life that illustrates how useful the Swing Caddie can be.
I have 2 identical wedge heads with two different shafts I wanted to compare since I’d been told they share very similar playing characteristics. The only difference is that one of the shafts is 20 grams lighter than the other. I found it extremely beneficial to be able to head down to the local range and hit a series of shots with each in order to determine whether or not one was measurably longer, produced or produced more ball speed than the other. For this type of situation, many will be able to eyeball their own launch and trajectory. So coupled with what Swing Caddie did give me, I was more than impressed.
THE TRAINING AID
This to me is what the Swing Caddie is: a really good training aid. With mode options Target and Random the SC100 allows you to put your skills to the test and tune your personal yardages.
In Target Mode the user simply selects their club and is given an adjustable sets a distance and swings away trying to match that distance.
In Random Mode the SC100 will add randomization to Target Mode.
These modes come with a “game” where the user is rewarded points the closer they are to their yardage goal. This feature (similar to the Trackman Combine, or FlightScope Skills Challenge) is a valuable tool to force you to take the time to pause, and focus on what you’re doing during your practice sessions. It forces you to practice smarter.
The Swing Caddie SC100 follows through with its promise as a “Personal Launch Monitor”. It supplies enough features in a minimalist, easy to understand package that most golfers should be able to put to practical use. It excels as a training aid and may have enough usable numbers to offer some value to instructors.
Certainly it can’t match Trackman and FlightScope feature for feature, but it’s not realistic to expect it will. Spin measurement in particular is protected by some seriously beefy patents. They’re tough to get around, and even where that’s possible, doing so for less than $300 would also be an unrealistic expectation. Worth a note, Ernest Sports claims their upcoming ES14 will accurately calculate spin. That unit retails for $550.
With the Swing Caddie SC100, we’re talking about a Doppler-based device that offers a subset of the capabilities of the professional solutions, for quite literally, pennies on the dollar.
As a golfer who likes to tinker and compare a lot of equipment, the SC100 a no-brainer product to have around, especially for Swing Caddie’s asking price of $269 USD. Combine those features with its value as a training tool and the SC100 easily warrants our stamp of approval.