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.
WRX Spotlight: Athalonz EnVe—The best golf shoes you’ve never heard of
One of the coolest parts of being in this part of the golfing world is being able to shed light on smaller companies that typically get overshadowed by their bigger corporate brothers.
So, this post is about one of those products that is definitely competitive against top golf shoe companies, and it’s made by a company called Athalonz, which is based out west in Arizona. Typically known for its innovative baseball cleats and insole packages, Athlonz newest addition takes the patented design to the world of golf with the EnVe golf shoe.
These have started appearing on the world long drive circuit due to the amount of traction they get, allowing players to swing harder. So for the last few months, I have gotten to wear them and see if they are as good as the company claims.
Athalonz EnVe: Living up to claims
The main selling points of these shoes are focused on two things
- Design that delivers more power and stability
- Custom comfort that lasts all day
These are somewhat difficult to combine into one shoe, and though they are on the heavier side, Athlonz are completely worth it for the benefits. It is obvious that they made strides to hit each box on the list for a great shoe. The patented design has been adapted from their baseball cleat and introduces a spikeless golf shoe with a circular design that allows the player to gain traction through the golf swing. This gives a player the chance to swing harder and faster without losing their footing. They also offer insole packages that help with correct bodyweight placement to help add an extra layer of consistency.
Secondly, it’s very noticeable that there was plenty of thought given to comfort with a roomy toe and custom insoles to fit your style. Additionally, ankle padding helps to provide more stability and comfort.
On another note, they have a good sense of style with a more classic, casual take. In addition to the pictured white/brown color, there’s a black/grey colorway as well.
After multiple months of wear in all types of conditions, these shoes have performed great for me with all the traction I need and while feeling great throughout the round.
I am a person who tends to support smaller companies when I can if they make good products. Any support for them goes a long way—especially in the golf business. Since these shoes will set you back about $150, I wanted to be sure they are worth it for the money and they absolutely are. Seriously, for anyone looking to boost their shoe game and help alleviate aching feet and ankles, give these a shot.
GolfWRX Spotlight: Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII
Every golfer should have an accurate, reliable, easy-to-use rangefinder. With the new Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII, you get all of that and more in one of the smallest, lightest packages on the market.
Not only do you get a ton of features, but when you consider these devices start at only $199.99 for the 20 G II and then $229.99 for the 20i GII ( slope adjusted version ), you get one of the best values in a rangefinder from one of the most well-known consumer optics companies in the world.
Review: Nikon CoolShot 20 GII and 20i GII
First Target Priority and 8-Second Continuous Measurement: “First Target Priority” is Nikon’s way of making sure you are picking up the flag and not a tree behind your intended target. There is nothing worse than thinking you have your distance dialed in to then have a shot fly over the green. With how quickly it lets you know the ranger finder is locked, getting that distance and double-checking can happen remarkably fast.
In the eight-second continuous measurement setting, the rangefinder will continuously measure the field of view as you scan the target area for approximately eight seconds. This setting is great when playing unfamiliar courses or trying to figure out the exact spot to a dogleg, tree, or hazard on your intended line.
Bright, 6x Monocular: Nikon is known for its glass and multi-coating technology, from telephoto camera lenses to rifle scopes, if it’s Nikon glass, it’s going to be clear, fog-resistant, and high-contrast for easy viewing. From a viewing experience perspective, the Coolshot 20 GII’s 6x monocular has an adjustable diopter for sharp focusing, along with long eye relief—meaning you can keep your glasses (or sunglasses) on when acquiring your target.
Slope-Adjusting ID Technology: With the 20i GII you have the option to get the slope-adjusted distance for any shot thanks to Nikon’s ID Technology. The mode can be turned on and off by the user to comply with USGA rules to make it legal for tournament rounds. Having tested it out on hilly terrain it’s easy to see why so many golfers mis-club going into greens when elevation changes become a lot more dramatic.
The Nikon Coolshot 20 GII’s size and weight make it ideal for anyone who regularly carries and wants the benefit of knowing distances but without having to worry about weight—it weighs about the same as a sleeve of balls.
The size allows you to hold the units stable. However, I could see for those new to the rangefinder space, it could take some time getting used to when first getting acquainted with it. The best bet for this is to take it to a range or just step outside with it on your next walk and get used to hitting targets before you take it to the course—plus it makes for a fun game to see how good you really are at estimating distances.
Overall, for the price and size, it is one of the best rangefinders on the market. Plus, with a five-year warranty, you can be assured of years of use with the Nikon CoolShot 20 GII rangefinders.
WRX Spotlight: Putting Perfecter
Putting can be one of the most frustrating parts of the game, it mystifies scratch golfers as much as high handicaps and can make anybody tremble over a three-footers. It’s one of the biggest factors in scoring, especially for the club-level player, but it’s often one of the last things people actually work on. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot of fun to pound drivers on the range, am I right?
But if you are seriously looking for a simple tool to help get you into the proper address position, the Putting Perfecter is a great one to start with.
The beauty of the device is in its simplicity. Fitting under your arms and across your midsection, it “locks” the player into the proper position to create a pendulum putting stroke. After giving it a shot and hitting putts for just a few minutes, then going back to putting without it made me feel like I was much more connected.
Don’t think it’s just for putting though.
Funny story, when I first took it out to work on my putting, I used it for about 30 minutes and then moved onto my chipping. After a few trips around the putting green I tried chipping with the Putting Perfecter in the same position and “WOW” same connected feeling was produced—it was perfect for working on low-flying “runners.” I was excited to tell my friend about it, until I went home and realized they actually advertise it to help with that too. Guess I’m not as clever as I thought…
No matter how you use it, the Putting Perfecter is a simple and effective training tool that can be carried in a bag to be used before or after a round, takes NO time to set up (a big plus), and is light—so you don’t feel like its dragging you down if you actually keep it in your bag. Since it’s a putting tool, you can even use it indoors very easily. If you are someone that struggles with consistent address position on putts or disconnecting when chipping, I believe the Putting Perfecter is a great tool to try.
For more information check out the Putting Perfecter website.
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