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SkyCaddie WATCH: Editor Review

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Pros: Very accurate. Simple and intuitive to use. Auto hole locator works great. Scoring built in. Good battery life.

Cons: Yearly subscription (cost) required. Non-watch wearers may take time to adjust to wearing the unit during a round.  Initial search for nearby courses seems like it takes a longer than it should.

Bottom Line: A great unit that covers all the basics of using a GPS unit plus some extras. Accurate distance and scorecard capabilities make this a solid choice for most golfers not looking for a complicated unit.

Access to courses requires membership, which costs less than $20 / year on average. Rechargeable battery makes it easy to get ready for the next round.

Overview: Rangefinder units have gotten more advanced over the years, incorporating more features in smaller packages.

The SkyCaddie WATCH does pack a good amount of features into a small package.

  • Big, easy-to-read front, center and back of green distances
  • High precision, ground-corrected basic green course maps*
  • Stores 29,000 preloaded, updatable course maps
  • Track distance, time, speed of any run, walk or bike ride
  • Water resistant to 30 meters
  • Odometer, Lap Counter, and Calorie Counter
  • Available in Black and White
  • Extras: Clock, timer, alarm, English and French, pace-of-play timer, and backlight

The SkyCaddie WATCH promises a lot in a small package. Per SkyCaddie:

The SkyCaddie Watch isn’t just another golf GPS watch! It’s an attractive, lightweight, flexible and comfortable everyday sport watch that just happens to provide superior performance on the golf course.

Performance:

So yes, it’s a sporty-looking GPS Watch packed with useful features.  But, do those features perform?  Read on. When starting your round, the watch will need to acquire satellites first.   For some reason, ‘Finding Courses Nearby’ will always take a few minutes and feels a little longer than it should.   This is essentially the only issue we had.  Once that wait was over, nearby courses appeared in a list.  Select your course/tee combo and you’re on you way. What separates SkyCaddie from others is ground-verifying their readings:

SkyCaddie differs from other GPS technology in that they ground-verify their maps.  Called CGT (Core Golfer Technology) SkyCaddie claims this ensures accuracy in their units, whether it’s the top-of-line rangefinder or this watch, they promise the most accurate results.

We verified the SkyCaddie WATCH next to other GPS units during our testing and found its accuracy excellent. Most likely this is the number one reason to buy a GPS device and should be heavily weighted when selecting one. It’s hard to knock SkyCaddie here as it does an excellent job. On the display, the yardage to the center of the green is displayed in big, bold font in the center.

Distances to the front and back appear below this yardage in smaller typeface.  We noticed a slight lag between reading the next yardage when walking from shot to shot, but nothing different than other GPS devices we’ve used.

skycaddie watch

 

Once you complete a hold, the SkyCaddie WATCH will allow you to keep your score with a few simple button clicks.  The auto-hole functionality will advance the display to the next hole without a button press (don’t worry you can manually forward / rewind if needed).

Of course, this is a watch, so other functionality such as pace of play,  time of day, pedometer and calories burned are there as well.  It’s a lot of functionality built into a small unit on your wrist.

Looks and Feel:

SkyCaddie WATCH has a simple, sporty look and is available in both black and white color combinations (we tested the black). Its thickness is deceiving, and creates a bit of a bulky appearance.  You’d think it was heavy or cumbersome, but that’s not the case.

skycaddie_center

On one swing we did accidentally press a button on the watch accidentally with the back of a wrist.  This never happened again, however.  Perhaps the wristband was too loose.

Whether you like wearing a watch during play is personal preference. Some take them off.  Some leave them on.  If you are bothered by something on your wrist, it may take some getting used to, but not because of weight.  This is simply personal preference.

skycaddie_bandcloseup

The Takeaway:

Overall, the SkyCaddie WATCH is an excellent performer.  It has all the basics a golfer needs in a GPS unit, plus some nice extras like scoring, pedometer and calories.  It is a bit large (maybe deep is the correct word) but does not feel that way due to its light weight.

Pace of play is an issue in golf (see the new USGA ‘While We’re Young’ initiative), and GPS units can help speed that up.  Having one on your wrist helps even more. No need to drag a GPS unit out to your ball in the middle of the fairway (or woods).  It’s always on, ready to give you an accurate yardage.

Data can be uploaded to the Club SkyCaddie website: http://clubsg.skygolf.com, where you can track your rounds and stats if you’d like.  We won’t dive deep into it here, but there are additional benefits you can take advantage of. It’s important to note that SkyCaddie does require an annual membership to allow you to download courses and use its website.

skycaddie watch

You can view plan overviews here, but plan on an additional expense of roughly $20 per year (some plans will get you a slight discount).  While this is a bit of an expense, it’s a guarantee that SkyCaddie is committed to continually update their apps, firmware and ground mapping of courses.  Accuracy is priority #1, and there is a slight cost involved.

SkyCaddie WATCH is available now with an instant $50 rebate!  Take advantage of this special here: SkyCaddie WATCH Father’s Day Offer

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Rob is a golf junkie that has been involved with GolfWRX since its inception in 2005. From designing headcovers, to creating logos to authoring articles to social media management to sales and marketing, Rob has done it all. Born and bred in NJ. Favorite golfers: Phil, Freddie. Favorite club: Driver.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Kyle @ TGG

    Dec 17, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    This is a pretty solid entry level watch, but there are far better options on the market for the money. The subscription fee is real downside.

  2. coleshil

    Aug 17, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I would not recommend this watch battery life is poor and cannot be replaced technical help is non existent they want you to trade in and waste even more of your money.
    Very disappointing will never buy another one from them

  3. Linda Shelton

    Jul 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Watch band broke. How or where to replace it. Oherwise great watch.

  4. Mick Lowbridge

    Dec 30, 2015 at 4:15 am

    Had the watch for 12 months and all okay until the battery started to take 18hrs to charge. It also lacks a lot of the functionality of competitor watches (Hazards etc). I dont think it will be too loong before battery packs up and I will not bother replacing it.

  5. Fred

    Aug 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    If I take the back off of my sky caddie can I replace the battery?

  6. Truth Teller

    Jun 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The charging clip is poorly designed. I it does not simply plug in to the watch. You have to seat it so four prongs align with four receptors. Twice now in two seasons the clip broke on me for some unknown reason. At $30 plus shipping it is pretty expensive due to a design flaw. I have not had problems with the watch itself, only charging issues. Battery does not last very long. If I use the other features it will not last a full round. And it takes all night to charge up. So overall I would warn to stay away from this product for a better watch option.

  7. dave blasiak

    Jun 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    battery lasted one season and warranty is only 6 months. Bottom line watch doesn’t last a full round year two. Customer service states out of warranty and you need to purchase a new product.

  8. Pingback: Skycaddie Courses | Garmin Approach

  9. Mike sweeney

    Jan 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Send map of courses available we are going to Kauai hi what courses are listed ? Thanks mike

  10. Larry Dickman

    Jan 4, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    This is the second watch that they have sent me and still unable to make it work. They want to take control of my computer to fix it or give them the access to arrange my computer. Not comfortable with their repair ideas of given control of computer to some remotely.

  11. Allan

    Nov 13, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Thinking of buying a used skycaddie. Concerned that the battery will not take me through a full round before too long. I heard the only option was to trash it and buy a new one. Is this correct?

    • coleshil

      Aug 17, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Yes battery life is poor my club is full of guys who are all having the same problem very disappointing and waste of money

  12. Sandy anderson

    Sep 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    The battery takes way to long to charge. Only had this for a week. It’s been on charger for 2 hours and it’s at 30%. That’s what it said when I started!!
    It worked great for two rounds. I charged it to FULL.
    IF YOU WANTRD TO PLAY 36 holes in one day, you wouldn’t have enough time between rounds to charge.

  13. rolex watches

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am in fact impressed to read all at alone place.|

  14. Alex Chan

    May 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Is it include my home course of mission hills in Chine? Unfortunely, I can’t find it in your course library.

  15. Dennis

    Apr 25, 2014 at 12:40 am

    How do I convert my Sky Caddie Watch to measure courses in metres and NOT yards?

  16. Ed McElroy

    Mar 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Have watch. Have trouble. Cannot find out how to return for service. Other brands better

  17. Derek

    Dec 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Just picked up the watch for Christmas, and it won’t charge up…..leaving the screen blank.
    Customer support has been good (online guys very quick). Unfortunately, I have to replace the watch (even though it is brand new in the box), but Jancor Agencies in Canada is closed for 3 weeks. BRUTAL!

  18. Bob Ramey

    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Careful about buying this… I have one and am having lots of problems with it. My computer will not recognize it and it will not come on now. SkyCaddie customer service is an absolute JOKE.

  19. Marc b Rubin

    Sep 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I am a member of the Sao Paulo golf club and would like to be sure Brazil.s golf courses ,at least the principals are preloaded before I buy the Sky Caddie watch.
    Thank you very much
    Marc b Rubin

  20. Will Logan

    Jul 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Overall good experience, easy and convenient to use BUT battery life is POOR , barely 1 round with auto-hole advance switched on.
    Disappointed that only front/center/back green measurements shown, surely they could have included major hazards also ?

  21. RocketBladez

    Jun 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    great review. I now need to decide between the bushnell, skycaddie and garmin watch!

  22. Joe Golfer

    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:18 am

    My brother-in-law was thinking of getting one of these, but he doesn’t bother to read golf reviews or golf websites.
    I’ll have to send him this link and make sure he reads it.

    Once again, thanks for a good, honest and thorough review, GolfWRX guys.

  23. Kridian

    Jun 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Meh. I just use my good ‘ole Jedi focus to get yardage.

  24. Dave Ziemann

    Jun 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve been using a free app for my Android phone to do pretty much all that and more – getting satellite mapping of the courses I play. As I understand GPS technology, the accuracy of the position given is a function of the size of the antenna, so any hand-held or wrist-mounted GPS will have the same accuarcy. I’ve played many times with guys using a dedicated golf GPS and the yardages I get on my phone are the same or within 1 yard of their $250 unit.
    I’d be interested to see a GolfWRX review of this low-cast alternative to a dedicated unit.

  25. pablo

    Jun 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    at $150 with the rebate that’s a good deal! my expresso / igolf gps watch cost a little more that 18 months ago and it has the same features, although no annual fee. wonder if the skycaddie has better hazard info – my expresso will often show the greenside bunker hazard distances and completely ignore the closer and more immediate fairway bunker distances, which means i need to bust out my galaxy phone for golflogix or my rangefinder. anyways, if i was buying a gps watch today i’d buy this for sure.

    • ebenny10

      Mar 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      My Skycaddie watch does not show any hazard but my SG5 will show all hazards on any given hole even a big tree in the fairway as long as it was mapped.

    • roddy

      May 25, 2014 at 12:07 am

      What’s with the annual fee? My friends have other GPS watches and do not pay any fees at all after the original purchase. Why does Skycaddie require an annual membership fee to keep the courses on the watch?

  26. J

    Jun 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Battery life is not good.. Less than two rounds.

    Several competitors products, watches mind you, have better battery life.

    The Bushnell for example will actually function as a watch for about a year before it requires charges..

    I charge mine before rounds and wear it everyday… Not once have I had an issue.

  27. Tim Liddy

    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Be careful if you have a Mac, as it will not allow for needed software for SkyCaddie to load on computer. Skycaddie technical support is non-existent. Be on technical support line for 1/2 hour waiting for a response. I would not recommend this product.

    • John Pierce

      Jun 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      I run Skycaddie software on my Macbook Pro with Mountain Lion OSX ver 8.3 with no issues whatsoever. I use it every weekend.

      You might check what version of Java you are running on your Mac, the latest versions of their runtime, particularly the 64 bit versions don’t play well with Skycaddie.

    • ebenny10

      Mar 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I used Skycaddie’s online support and within a minute had an answer to a question on a new product. Don’t think I’d bother calling.

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Accessory Reviews

Choose Your Tartan: Enter now to win a Sunfish Tartan headcover

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Sunfish, well known for its stylish headcover designs, is offering up free Tartan-style headcovers to five GolfWRX Members. All you have to do to apply is become a GolfWRX member, if you’re not already, and then reply in the forum thread with your favorite the Tartan pattern.

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The five winners will receive a free headcover in the pattern that they select. Winners will be selected on Friday, so don’t wait.

Click here to enter into the giveaway and pick your favorite style.

Reminder: Commenting on this post WILL NOT enter you into the giveaway.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: Golf Simulator Software for SkyTrak

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SkyTrak is a personal launch monitor packed with impressive features and accuracy. It sells for $1995, and is aimed at golfers looking for a high-quality, personal launch monitor and golf simulator. I’ve recently hit more than 1,000 golf balls on SkyTrak and tested it head-to-head against Trackman to find out if it truly is as good as it sounds.

Spoiler alert: It is. You can read the full review here.

In writing my SkyTrak review, I felt that I could better serve the GolfWRX Community and the greater golf world with an additional SkyTrak review that focused specifically on SkyTrak’s golf simulation partners. This… is that review.

Golf Simulation Partners

Out of the box, SkyTrak comes with an impressive driving range app, which golfers looking to hone and refine their swing will really appreciate. But one of the ways SkyTrak differentiates itself from other launch monitors, especially lower-priced ones, is by integrating with five leading golf simulation software packages.

This is where SkyTrak starts to widen its appeal. Serious golfers will enjoy playing a full round, but you can also get casual golfers involved. My wife and kids will enjoy playing a round of golf, and I won’t have to worry about holding up the group behind me. As my kids get older, having a simulator at home will be invaluable, allowing them practice at any time… assuming they want to play golf, of course.

SkyTrak Simulation Partners

Data Provided to Each Software

SkyTrak provides each simulation partner with the exact same, five directly measured data points which include: ball speed, launch angle, backspin, side spin and side angle. Each software applies their own ball flight model. For that reason, I did see differences in the ball flight and data displayed.

WGT (World Golf Tour)

Almost every golfer with a mobile phone or a Facebook profile has played or heard of WGT (World Golf Tour). The same game that has been played on mobile phones for years can now be played with SkyTrak. The most obvious difference is the visuals. Their patented, photo-realistic imagery and terrain mapping has created some of the most realistic course simulation available. What’s more interesting is that WGT is included at no additional cost when you purchase the $199.95 per year SkyTrak plan. This is great news for people interested in playing full courses, but not yet ready to commit to another simulator package.

There are 10 full courses that can be played. They include St. Andrews, Chambers Bay, Bandon Dunes and others. Closest-to-the-pin challenges can be played on 18 total courses.

Ball Flight and Data

The ball flight model is very accurate and similar to what I see in the SkyTrak app. It also calculates my wedge shots correctly, which is typically a slight fade that I cannot seem to fix. Total distance is a bit strong, with some clubs flying an average of five yards farther than normal.

Course Accuracy and Visuals

It is hard to beat the photo-realistic visuals of WGT. It took me a minute to get used to them after playing rounds on the other simulators, but the courses look amazing, especially on a large projector screen. With the combination of the photos and terrain mapping, these courses are spot-on representations of their real-life counterparts.

WGT SkyTrak Partner

Depth of Included Courses and Quality of Gameplay

I wish there were more courses, but WGT is continuing to add to its roster and I value the realism of the courses it has. I would rather higher quality courses over quantity. They also have some “Best Of” bundles, like playing the Best of Bandon Par 3s, which is a lot of fun.

The gameplay is solid, although the options are limited. You don’t have a lot of fancy camera angles or the ability to view a replay of your shot. In fact, some of the starting camera angles aren’t even from the player’s point of view, which is a little weird and hard to get used to. The SkyTrak data presented has everything you would want, except carry distance. The interface is clean and easy to use.

Reliability of the Software

Although the specs say an iPad is required (and preferred if you’re not using a projector), I didn’t experience any issues connecting to either my iPad or my iPhone 6s.

Cost

Included with SkyTrak’s Play & Improve Package

Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf

I want to love Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf, and I almost do. The main game includes really nice, quality courses, and you can purchase add-ons such as Muirfield Village or PGA National for $5.95. Additionally, its Course Forge Software, which is the same software used by Jack Nicklaus Golf course designers, can be used by anyone to create an unlimited number of courses that you can download and play.

You can adjust almost any setting you can imagine, from camera angles that allow you to walk freely around the golf course to video and audio settings that adjust everything from the sky effects to the way the grass looks. This is critical to helping dial in the settings to maximize gameplay for your specific PC setup.

Ball Flight and Data

The ball flight was similar to what I saw on the SkyTrak range, but the distances were consistently a bit shorter. There is a good chance I could mess around with the various settings and get the numbers to match up, but out of the box, I felt like the distances were slightly shorter across the board.

Course Accuracy and Visuals

I really like the quality of the courses. There is an almost unlimited combination of settings you can use to dial in the visuals to create a very realistic experience. The real courses I downloaded look, appear and play very accurately. The textures of the tee boxes and greens are very realistic.

Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf SkyTrak Partner

Depth of Included Courses and Quality of Gameplay

The included courses are a mix of fictional, user-created courses, and real courses with fake names. For example, you can play Florida Glades, which is actually modeled after TPC Sawgrass. I played Muirfield Village while watching coverage of the Memorial last weekend, which was fun.

With the exception of the occasionally shorter distances, the gameplay is excellent. Shots on the fairways and into the greens follow the real-life contours of the course. Just check out the video above to see what I mean.

The game really shines with the smooth camera movements and replay options. I love being able to watch each shot from the player point of view, but also angles like the spectator view. It feels just like TV and is a lot of fun to see my shots from different angles.

Reliability of the Software

This is where Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf falls short, at least for me. During testing, I was never able to get through an entire round without the simulator connection crashing, which meant that SkyTrak was no longer connected to the simulator software. This is an issue with Perfect Golf reported by others, too. As of June 1st, the company provided an update that has solved this issue for me, and I can now get through a full round, but it is something to keep in mind.

Cost

Multiple packages starting at $99.95 per year for the driving range package. It’s $199.95 per year for the simulation package, and $249.95 per year for everything including the ability to play user-created courses or compete in online tournaments.

TruGolf E6

TruGolf E6 feels and plays like the most solid of all the simulator options. Each of the 87 total courses are mapped using precise terrain and course data, and you can tell they spent a lot of time making each course feel as realistic and accurate as possible.

The app has numerous settings to control time of day, wind, lighting, camera angles and more. Course elevation is accurate, and factored into the ball flight. The base software includes a driving range with target practice, chipping area, and a putting area.

Ball Flight and Data

The ball flight, carry and total distance are almost identical to what I see in the SkyTrak app.

Course Accuracy and Visuals

The quality of each course is impressive. Fairways and greens are responsive and variable, mimicking the actual terrain of the course. The textures, shadows, and lighting are realistic. And the camera movements to follow the ball or during replays are natural. The overall graphics are not quite as good as Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf or The Golf Club, but still very solid.

TruGolf E6 SkyTrak Partner

Depth of Included Courses and Quality of Gameplay

The main package includes 15 championship courses, including Pinehurst  No. 2, Bay Hill, Gleneagles and others. You can also buy seven other packs of courses, each for a one-time fee.

The actual gameplay is very realistic. The standard camera angles feel like I am watching a shot from my actual point of view, but I can also watch the replay from various other camera angles. Putting is realistic, even if I haven’t yet mastered putting on SkyTrak. And if you’re looking to practice a specific hole on a course, you can choose to play only that hole.

Reliability of the Software

Rock solid. Throughout my entire testing, I never had any software issues.

Cost

$299 per year in addition to the SkyTrak Game Improvement Package. Additional course packs can be purchased for $240-500 each.

The Golf Club Game

There is so much to like about The Golf Club.  The graphics are quite possibly the best of any of the simulators (up to 4K Ultra HD) and allow you to move around the course in real-time. There are 100,000+ high definition courses, you can create your own courses, and TGC has live tournaments. There is even an announcer who gives you the play-by-play.

Ball Flight and Data

Just like TruGolf E6, the ball flight model and key data points are very similar to what I see on the SkyTrak range. I have noticed some deviation, more total distance for example, but for the most part, the results are very similar and accurate.

Course Accuracy and Visuals

I can’t deny having access to 100k+ courses isn’t a strength, but it is also a weakness. You will never get bored if you own this software, but if you like playing realistic golf courses, it can be difficult to navigate. With so many “Augusta National” or “St. Andrews” courses listed, it is hard to find one to play that truly feels realistic. I selected an “Augusta National Sunday Pin Position” course and saw white-capped mountains in the distance teeing off No. 1. There certainly aren’t mountains around Augusta.

The Golf Club SkyTrak Partner

I’ll say it again, the HD visuals are outstanding, especially if your system can max out the settings.

Depth of Included Courses and Quality of Gameplay

You’ve got access to a ton of courses for free, which will be  huge for many people. The gameplay is also excellent, with realistic bounces and rolls on the fairways and greens. The rough and sand are penalizing, and putting and chipping around the green is accurate.

Reliability of the Software

I have had some minor connectivity issues with TGC. But other than that, the rest of the software has worked great.

Cost

$479/year or a one-time fee of $895.

Creative Golf 3D

Creative Golf 3D, the newest integration with SkyTrak, offers some unique twists on the traditional simulators by focusing more on entertainment than pure simulation. Sure, there is a range and you can play up to 100 courses located in Europe, but more importantly, you have access to 20 different entertainment-focused games including island targets, mini-golf, and abandoned factory demolition.

I can see playing mini-golf with my kids even before sticking them on the SkyTrak range. Fun is the real power of Creative Golf 3D, and yet another way that SkyTrak differentiates itself from other launch monitors or simulators on the market.

Ball Flight and Data

The ball flight and data matches up nicely with the SkyTrak ball flight model. I haven’t noticed any issues with distances or other data points not lining up.

Course Accuracy and Visuals

All the courses are based on real elevation and satellite data, which is evident when you play a round. While I’ve never played golf in Europe, I love watching the European Tour partly because they play courses in beautiful parts of the world. Creative Golf 3D captures that beauty by focusing only on courses throughout Europe.

creativegolf_image

The reason I would buy Creative Golf over the others is not for the course play; it’s for the entertainment options. I really enjoy hitting knock down wedges to smash windows of an abandoned building and playing mini-golf in Europe.

Depth of Included Courses and Quality of Gameplay

The base package includes five courses. You can buy add-on packages for $99 per package (one-time fee) and get access to up to 100 courses. I enjoy hitting shots with snow-capped mountains in the background and the standard camera angles and replay are smooth. The visuals are good, don’t get me wrong, but they feel a little more like a computer game than an actual simulation compared to the other software options.

Reliability of the Software

So far, so good. I haven’t experienced any issues with connectivity to this point.

Cost

$199.95 per year or a one-time fee of $499.95. I like that Creative Golf 3D offers a one-time fee. For those of us who plan to have this simulator for many years, it makes a lot of sense. You can also buy additional course packs for $99.95/one time.

Bottom Line

If I had to choose my favorites so far, one would be Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf for the overall high quality of courses and smooth, realistic gameplay. I also will keep Creative Golf 3D on hand for entertainment options like mini-golf to play with my kids and friends.

But the good news is all of SkyTrak’s five simulation software partners offer high-quality gameplay, realistic and accurate 3D ball flight, and the ability to play 18 holes anytime, anywhere, on some of the best courses around the world.

Further Reading: A Review of the SkyTrak Personal Launch Monitor

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Accessory Reviews

Review: SkyTrak Personal Launch Monitor

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Pros: Highly accurate data, portable, easy to use, and integrated with some of the best golf simulation software on the market.

Cons: Slight delay between contact and seeing the ball flight. Only tracks the golf ball, and not your club path.

Bottom line: Impressive features, accuracy and price make SkyTrak attractive to a whole new segment of golfers who aren’t in the market for professional launch monitors, but are looking for a high-quality, personal launch monitor and golf simulator.

Overview

If you’ve watched golf on TV in the past year or so, you’ve probably seen Hank Haney talking about SkyTrak, a personal launch monitor that provides accurate shot data and the ability to play full rounds of golf on some of the world’s best courses. To find out if SkyTrak truly is as good as it sounds, I’ve hit over a thousand golf balls, played rounds of golf on every simulation package, and tested SkyTrak head-to-head with Trackman.

SkyTrack Personal Launch Monitor

SkyTrak is a photometric launch monitor, which means it uses high speed cameras to capture a series of images of the golf ball for a few feet right after impact. Ball speed, launch angle, backspin, side spin and side angle are directly measured, and other data points such as carry and total distance are estimated. SkyTrak then creates a realistic, 3D ball flight model (more on this later), which I’ve found to be extremely accurate. It only needs a few feet to capture the images, which means you can use SkyTrak anywhere you can swing a golf club, both indoors and outdoors.

At 7-inches tall and less than 2 pounds, SkyTrak is small enough to fit in a golf bag when heading to the range. It connects wirelessly to your PC or iPad without requiring a WiFi network. And if you’re worried about hitting a hosel rocket and smashing your launch monitor, you can get a protective case.

SkyTrak

The SkyTrak app supports iOS and Windows. Sadly, Mac desktop or laptop users are out of luck. The company is currently working to officially release the SkyTrak app for Android, but a release date has not been provided. Check out the full specs here.

SkyTrak starts at $1,995, but you can often find it offered for $300 off. In addition to purchasing the launch monitor, SkyTrak has three yearly plans:

  • Basic: Limited access to the driving range app and is included at no charge. Included with purchase.
  • Game Improvement: Access to all the features of the app as well as integration with the company’s simulation partners. $99.95 per year.
  • Play & Improve: You get everything with the Play & Improve Plan, including full access to World Golf Tour simulator. 199.95 per year.

Setup and Ease of Use

One area where SkyTrak really shines is how simple and intuitive it is to use. Once the launch monitor was charged, it took me about 2 minutes from start to finish to get connected.

SkyTrak on iPad

The entire application is straightforward and simple to use. Nothing in the app seems like an afterthought. Big icons and visuals make it easy to select what you want to do, even outside with the glare of sunlight bouncing off your iPad. The data points are huge, allowing you to quickly scan the screen as you’re practicing.

The designers didn’t attempt to make the SkyTrak range “feel” like a photo-realistic simulation, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. When I’m practicing, I want the application to be responsive and accurately display the ball flight and data. While I like that some of the other simulators have a practice area, I will primarily use the SkyTrak range.

SkyTrak Measured Data

Accuracy of the Data

Before we get too deep into the review, I’m pretty sure many of you are wondering, “Great, but is it accurate?” To answer that question, I tested SkyTrak outside on the range and head-to-head against Trackman.

SkyTrak has completed independent robot testing at Golf Laboratories, but I wanted to do my own testing against Trackman. SkyTrack is photo-based and Trackman is radar-based, so there will be variation in the data, but Trackman is the gold standard and I was curious how they stacked up. I headed to BridgeMill Golf Academy and worked with Tom Losinger, Director of Golf Instruction, who ran the head-to-head test.

Head-to-Head Testing

SkyTrak vs. Trackman Data

Before we got started, I set the wind speed, direction, humidity and temperature to the weather at the time in an attempt to normalize the data in the SkyTrak app as much as possible.

On average, SkyTrak was within about 2 percent of what Trackman reported, which I would say is really good. SkyTrak under-reported every metric except spin rate and launch angle. Spin rate is one metric likely more accurate than Trackman because it is directly captured by camera and analyzed.

SkyTrak vs. Trackman Averages

The largest deviation was total yardage, off by 6 percent, with the driver showing the biggest difference. Unfortunately, this is an area that is hard to match up the range conditions to the conditions in SkyTrak, which will impact this number. Carry distance was within 3 percent, which is more inline with my expectations. I should note that SkyTrak’s robot testing against Trackman showed significantly closer carry and total distance data.

Related: The Hottest Launch Monitors of 2017

Like other photo-based launch monitors, SkyTrak only captures the ball flight. Clubhead speed is an approximation, and I’ve found it to be more inaccurate than accurate, especially with the wedges. If you need club data, you will likely need to invest in a more expensive, commercial-grade launch monitor.

3D Ball Flight Model

In addition to the actual data from Trackman, I also hit a lot of balls on the range focusing on how my real ball flight and distance match up to the 3D ball flight.

While SkyTrak is only a couple years old, the team behind SkyTrak has been refining, testing and improving their 3D ball flight model for over a decade. I can say without hesitation that it’s an impressive model. The video above shows a side-by-side video of an 8-iron on the range compared to the 3D-generated ball flight presented by SkyTrak. I landed my shot just short and right of the target.

SkyTrak Range Testing

There have been a few times during testing, mostly with my wedges, where the ball flight did not perfectly match the real flight. But the vast majority of the time, it was spot on. I even spent time intentionally hitting the dreaded, um, sh**k, which SkyTrak picked up perfectly.

What you can do with the SkyTrak app

Practice Range

I have spent the most time using the SkyTrak practice range, even using it to test eight of this season’s newest golf balls. The range is laid out with big data points and simple controls. You can adjust the target distance, set parameters such as wind, humidity and elevation, switch between the range and data views, and also see your shot history.

Basically, you have everything you need to practice effectively.

SkyTrack Driving Range

You can also choose from a number of different camera angles to view your shots live and in replay. SkyTrak recently added the ability to offset the camera angle, which is a much needed feature for people hitting into projector screens where space is limited and they aren’t able to line up in the center of the screen.

Challenges

Challenges are a lot of fun, especially with other people. You can do a closest-to-the-pin challenge, target practice, and surely a favorite of many people, a long-drive competition.

SkyTrak Target Practice

For each challenge, you have various settings, such as target distance and the number of shots for each person. All the same data points available on the range are available during the challenges.

I like the Target Practice a lot. It simulates some of the real-world pressure you might feel to hit a good shot. Instead of just a distance from the target, you get a score of 0-100, which helps to show how accurate you are with each club.

Skills Assessment

SkyTrak Skills Assessment

The Skills Assessment and Bag Mapping (see below) are two fairly new features that users are really excited about. If you’ve ever run through a Trackman Combine, the Skills Assessment will seem very familiar.

You set up the number of clubs you want to hit and the target distance. I like being able to specify the clubs and distance instead of being forced to hit to a specific yardage. I ran my father-in-law, Tony, through the skills assessment and was able to focus in on the distances specific to his game.

Setting up the assessment only takes a couple minutes. Then you’re guided through each club and all the data is stored. At the end of the assessment, you get a very detailed printout that shows your dispersion, accuracy, shot tendency and handicap for each club as well as an overall SkyTrak Handicap. This data is incredible.

SkyTrak Skills Assessment Tony

On the course, Tony’s miss is left and short. During the assessment, his miss was left and short. Not only that, his SkyTrak Handicap came out to be 22.5. Tony currently plays to a 23.

Bag Mapping

Similar to the Skills Assessment in terms of data and the final report, the Bag Mapping feature walks you through your entire bag to help you understand your carry distance, tendency, shot shape, and gapping between clubs.

This is great for any golfer, even if you think you know what your distances are with each club. But many golfers simply don’t have a good understanding of their carry distances, and this feature will help.

SkyTrak Bag Mapping

I’ve done an entire bag map, but recently ran through it again focusing only on my wedges. Lately, I’ve felt like my gaps aren’t correct and sure enough, they aren’t. Now I have the data I need, and can focus my practice, and possibly make some club changes, using the results.

The Momentary Shot Delay

One of the most frequent, negative comments I’ve read from golfers about SkyTrak is the 2-3 second, shot-to-show delay. You hit a shot and instead of instantly showing up on the screen flying down the fairway, there is a momentary delay while SkyTrak calculates the ball flight.

I’ll admit I was also disappointed at first, too, but I got over that pretty quickly. In fact, I use the brief pause to guess what the shot will do based purely on feel. Will it be short, long, push, pull, fade or draw? This weakness was easily turned into a strength, and I don’t think this reason alone should make anyone overlook SkyTrak.

Simulation Packages

Accurate data and the ability to hone your swing on a practice range in your own home is reason enough to buy a personal launch monitor, but SkyTrak also integrates with five leading simulation software partners, allowing you to play thousands of different courses around the world.

World Golf Tour(WGT), probably the most well-known mobile golf game, is included with the Play & Improve package. You can also choose from The Golf Club Game, Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf, TruGolf E6, and Creative Golf 3D.

I’ve spent time playing and practicing with each of SkyTrak’s simulation software partners.  You can read my thoughts here.

Bottom Line

I couldn’t be more impressed with this launch monitor. The shortcomings — a momentary delay after impact before the shot registers and the lack of club data — are worthwhile tradeoffs to get access to a launch monitor and simulator for under $2,000.

Personally, I will be using SkyTrak for serious game improvement and practice, as well as for fun. I have no doubt it will have a positive impact on my golf game going forward. The accuracy of the data, simplicity of use, and the depth of simulation partners, make SkyTrak one of the best golf technology products I’ve reviewed.

Further Reading: We Review of the Golf Simulator Software for SkyTrak

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