When Swingbyte, a lightweight swing analyzer that provides robust data and 360-degree views of your swings, burst onto the scene at the 2012 PGA Show, I wrote that it would be the best new golf instruction product of 2012. While many products were released, including a plethora of swing analyzers, the original Swingbyte stood out from the crowd and exceeded my expectations.
This year they did it again by releasing Swingbyte 2, a combination of beautifully redesigned hardware and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Swingbyte 2 is available now for $149 and you can learn more by visiting their website at www.swingbyte.com. The companion smartphone and tablet apps can be downloaded free on the iOS and Android app stores. Swingbyte is the complete package. New swing analyzers seem to be popping up on the market every month, but I’ve yet to test one that even comes close to providing the same level of detail, accuracy and user experience that Swingbyte provides.
Quick Highlights for Swingbyte 1 Users
For those of you currently using the original Swingbyte and wondering if you should consider upgrading, I would seriously recommend it. To say the new hardware has been redesigned would be an understatement. The primary issue with the original design was that it required frequent adjustment to keep it aligned on the shaft and providing accurate data. The new wrap-around design virtually eliminates rotation, even if you’re a digger and hitting off mats. Additionally, Swingbyte will still honor the discount code offering existing Swingbyte users a $50 discount on the new hardware.
- Beautifully designed hardware and intuitive mobile applications.
- Accurate and robust swing data.
- 360-degree views of your swing path.
- Video capture for side-by-side analysis.
- Attentive customer support.
- Lack of tips or suggestions for improvement based on the data.
- Data can be overwhelming for some beginners (but can we really consider too much data a con?).
The new hardware is stunning. We know, just like golf swings, swing analyzers don’t need to be cool looking to be effective, but Swingbyte has designed a visually stunning piece of hardware that stands out from the crowd. More importantly, the wrap-around design serves a very important purpose: It helps keep the Swingbyte from rotating after each shot with a new twist-resistant design.
Instead of utilizing a rubber strap like in the original design, the new hardware has a high-strength rubber and spring-loaded latch. This design makes it easy to attach to any shaft from graphite to steel and holds the Swingbyte tightly in place. I take a healthy divot with my shots, especially my wedges, and tested the new latch system in multiple conditions from bermuda grass fairways to indoor mats, and found that the device only slightly shifted after numerous swings. Even though the latch works in most cases, Swingbyte is focused on continually improving the product and is developing an additional latch option that works better for certain shafts. The latch will be available for free in the next few weeks and will come standard in future shipments.
Swingbyte mobile apps
The Swingbyte mobile apps went through a redesign along with the hardware and are available for both smartphones and tablets running Android or iOS. You do not need a Swingbyte 2 to take advantage of the new apps. Pairing the Swingbyte to your devices is quick, easy and follows the typical bluetooth pairing procedure. The device quickly connects whenever the Swingbyte is turned on and I have not experienced any disconnect issues with the new hardware. Before you can hit a shot, you need to enter some basic club information such as length, lie, loft and flex. Having access to this information is another reason Swingbyte provides such accurate data.
To say the Swingbyte application is robust would also be an understatement. The new design has created, in my opinion, the best user experience of any of the swing analyzers on the market today. It should come as no surprise that the experience on tablets exceeds the experience on smartphones, but the Swingbyte team has done an excellent job of understanding the differences between the two form factors and presents an optimal experience for both types of devices. For this review, I’m going to focus on the tablet experience, but I often use the smartphone app on the driving range and golf course.
Within the app, you can clearly and easily access a previous swing in the history, compare two swings together, edit your golf bag, and of course, view your current swing in 3D with all the corresponding data. You have control over the way you view your swing data and can simply view the 3D swing path, just the data alone, or you can view the data and the 3D side-by-side. I’ve always displayed the data side-by-side with the swing path so I can begin to correlate the numbers to what I’m seeing in my swing. With the new application, you can even customize the order the data appears on the screen, allowing you to bring the numbers you most care about to the top of the list. All of these features combine together to create an application that is intuitive and easy to use.
All the data you can handle
The speed of Swingbyte is impressive. It takes very little time for the app to analyze your swing and provide a very comprehensive set of data. You get access to club head speed, club loft, lie angle, face-to-path at impact, attack angle, shaft lean, tempo and all your initial angles around loft, lie and face angle. In addition to providing the raw data, Swingbyte also presents written explanations such as “in-out” for club path or “down” for attack angle, making it easier to understand each data point. You can also see some of the data, such as club head speed and plane angle, in real-time as you review your swings. This has been a powerful feature for friends of mine who have struggled with an early release of the club head resulting in a deceleration of the club through impact. They were able to see their speed reach its maximum point before impact and watch the speed drop through impact. It has been a powerful visual tool to help them understand limitations in their swings.
I’ve compared the Swingbyte data to launch monitors such as Trackman and Foresight, and while we know the Swingbyte (or any swing analyzer) won’t be as accurate as Trackman or similar systems, or provide a direct correlation between all the data points, the numbers it provides are very close. In my testing I’ve found the club head speed to be generally within 2 mph and other data points are similar. Even if they are not 1:1, after you take some swings, you will have data to use as a baseline while you are trying to improve. While Swingbyte does provide a shot shape representation, I haven’t found that to quite as accurate. Most GolfWRX readers would assume that is the case and Swingbyte also acknowledges that without access to actual ball flight information, the shot shape representation is merely a simple estimation. For most of us, we won’t rely on that data point anyway as the 3D path and other numbers are much more valuable.
360-degree swing path views
I know many of us work on our swings with the help of video (see below for more on this). It is a very powerful tool, but unless we have super slow motion cameras, typical video is only showing us 30 or 60 frames per second. With Swingbyte, you can view the swing from numerous angles including front on, down the line, overhead and also in 3D allowing you to view your swing frame-by-frame from virtually any direction. You can also compare two swings side-by-side.
Having access to a 3D view of the swing is extremely powerful and all the swing analyzers have some version of this feature. In my testing, Swingbyte still comes out ahead in this area. The presentation of the 3D swing path is uncluttered and clear. I’ve been making a major change to my swing plane this past year and the overhead view specifically has been my go-to view. In addition to showing the actual path of the club head, Swingbyte also displays the plane lines. One of the best homemade teaching tools I’ve found for checking your plane is attaching a laser to each end of a dowel rod or club so you can see if your path is tracking down the line. Swingbyte does this automatically, which drastically decreased the amount of time it took me to ingrain the new swing thoughts and technique. I could connect what I was feeling to what was actually happening in my swing, which is a very powerful way to learn.
Game changer: video + 3D swing path
This is the new feature of the app that makes me the most excited. With the new version of the Swingbyte application, you can now record and watch video of your recorded swing and 3D swing path side-by-side. This is a true game-changer for golfers learning on their own or even with an instructor. All you have to do is set your mobile device behind you, center the golf ball up inside the circle, and hit your shots. Swingbyte will automatically record your swing and sync the video. The video is saved in the app and you can view it at any time. Out of all the balls I’ve hit during testing, only once did the video not sync up correctly and this was likely do to my own error.
Work on your swing anywhere
Swingbyte works with a real ball or even simply swinging a club and making contact with the ground, although the data is more accurate with a real ball. This gives you the freedom to work on your swing at home or outside on the range. When you’re hitting real shots, you will have detailed data allowing you to really understand the effect your swing has on the ball flight you’re seeing. You have a blend of the rich data of the simulator with the visual feedback of actually seeing your ball fly.
I think a real benefit of Swingbyte is that you can also use it inside and still have the same feedback-driven practice as on the range. If you have a mat and net to hit at home, you now have data to rely on instead of just feel. This also means you can take swings at home without a ball and still have the confidence that you are making good swings.
In addition to having access to your swing history within the mobile application, you also have access to an online dashboard. Every swing you take is saved in the cloud (automatically if you have a data connection or once you are connected to wi-fi) and available on every device and on the website. You can see at-a-glance statistics such as swing speed, daily sessions, total swings, and more. You can slice and dice your data to see how a particular club performed over a set period of time and you can even export your data. You can earn fun badges, such as the “Don’t Hit the Pin” badge for performing a set of three swings in a row all within 3 degree of each other, which provides an element of gameplay.
Just like the applications, you can also view the data and 3D of professional swings. While the total number of pro swings is somewhat limited, and you don’t know anything about the physical makeup of the professional or resulting ball flight, having access to their data does help provide a visual picture for what an optimal swing might look like and also what their data might look like in comparison to yours.
If the product looks solid, the next important factor for me when buying or recommending a product is its support. Again, this is an area that Swingbyte shines. Its support representatives are quick to answer questions, they have a dedicated support website with lots of answers to frequently asked questions, and even the founders are eager to answer questions, provide support and make sure you are getting the most out of your device.
The Bottom Line
Swingbyte is the most complete swing analyzer I’ve tested and has positively impacted my own game. The new hardware is solid and stable, and the mobile applications provide a rich set of data and 3D animations that will help you understand your swing and improve faster. Avid golfers, beginners just starting out and instructors should all consider adding the Swingbyte to their bags.
Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas
GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
Review: The QOD Electric Caddy
If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.
The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.
The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.
Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.
The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.
Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.
Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.
The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.
The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.
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