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Review: Bushnell Pro X7 and Tour Z6 Rangefinder Shootout

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Pros: E.S.P. 2 and new “JOLT” technologies offer faster, more accurate readings. Bushnell’s brighter screens, made possible with its Vivid Display Technology (VDT), makes it easier to read all the data.

Cons: These will speed up your pace of play, but the Pro X7 ($499, $599 with slope) and Tour Z6 ($399) cost as much as a new high-end driver.

Bottom Line: Bushnell continues to make it easy to justify buying a new rangefinder even if you already have one. The displays are brighter, the readings are faster and JOLT technology, which vibrates when a golfer locks onto a flag, removes doubt from the equation. The new carry cases also look and function better than previous models.

Overview

Bushnell has been the No. 1 rangefinder on the PGA Tour for more than 11 years. The Darrell Survey, one of the most respected research firms in golf for more than 75 years, confirmed that Bushnell rangefinders are used by more tour players and caddies than any other brand.

This review covers two of Bushnell’s premium rangefinders for 2014, the larger, more powerful Pro X7 rangefinder as well as the more compact Tour Z6.

The short story with these is that both of the rangefinders have brighter displays that make the numbers pop off the screen in bright red font. Then there’s Bushnell’s cool technology called JOLT, which sends vibrating bursts through the device when it locks on a flagstick. The speed of both units has also gotten a little faster. That might sound trivial, but those seconds add up when you’re checking your yardage 50 times per round.

Bushnell review

All of those cool new features come with a price, however. The Pro X7 sells for $499 ($599 if you purchase the slope version, which is not legal for tournament play), and the Tour Z6 sells for $399. After some rounds with them, however, I’m not interested in buying a Bushnell without the Vivid Display Technology (VDT) and JOLT.

bushnell comparison

As you can see in the table above, after the Tour Z6 golfers step down to the Tour V3 and Medalist models. Saving $100 and losing the better look and feel of the Pro X7 and Tour Z6 might be worth it to golfers looking to save money, but you also lose a little magnification as you step down in price. Like old smart phones, the old Bushnell rangefinder models will function just fine, but they’re not as fast or enjoyable to use as the latest models.

Bushnell Pro X7 ($499 to $599)

Bushnell pro x7 review

The Pro X7 is the most powerful laser rangefinder in the Bushnell family. This larger model is fine if you’re a cart golfer, but it could add some unneeded weight and heft if you’re hoofing it a lot. What is good about this model in a cart is if you place it on the seat between you and you playing partner, it’s heavy enough and has enough grip that it won’t rocket off the seat during a crazy turn. You will probably lose your partner before the Pro X7.

The handling area of the device is easy to grab and comfortable. The 7X zoom is one of my favorite features, and it’s definitely a bonus if you’re trying to zap a pin that is more than 200 yards away. Everything just seems so much closer with 7X optics.

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bushnell case golfbushnell golf 2014

The Pro X7 also has incredible ranging capability, from 5 to 550 yards for a flagstick. The PinSeeker with JOLT Technology is new for Bushnell’s flagship model, and along with the company’s E.S.P. 2 (Extreme Speed Precision) technology allows for lightning fast readings that are accurate up to 0.5 yards.

The Pro X7 Slope has all of the features of the Pro X7 plus a slope function that provides compensated distances for elevation changes. Be aware, however, that the Pro X7 is not legal for tournament play.

[youtube id=”jCQHz5PH0qM?list=UUY6F_zF-zloprXeahcqOCvA” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Features

  • PinSeeker with JOLT Technology to zero in on the flag
  • Accurate to 1/2 yard
  • 5 yards-to-1 mile ranging performance (550+ yards to a flag)
  • E.S.P. 2 (Extreme. Speed. Precision.)
  • Vivid Display Technology (VDT) for all lighting conditions
  • 7X Magnification with HD Optics (objects appear 7X closer)
  • Slope Technology provides compensated distances for elevation changes
  • Posi-Thread™ Battery Door
  • Waterproof
  • 3-Volt 123 Battery and Premium Carry Case included
  • 2 Year Warranty

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.bushnellgolf.com/laser/prox7_se.aspx” oemtext=”Learn more from Bushnell” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQE9DF6/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HQE9DF6&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HAK2VQSUA7QIAG2Z”]

Bushnell Tour Z6 ($399)

bushnell tour z6

The Tour Z6 is considerably smaller and lighter than the Pro X7, making it easy to use with one hand. Even with its smaller size, it almost has all the bells and whistles as its big brother. That’s why I call it the “players version.” And for walkers, the Tour Z6 can easily be clipped on to a stand bag with its cool grey and red case for easy access.

[youtube id=”tJC4FdlL7tQ?list=UUY6F_zF-zloprXeahcqOCvA” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Like to Pro X7, the Tour Z6 has JOLT Technology that provides the golfer with short vibrating bursts to reinforce that the laser has locked on the flag. How many times have you had to check your yardages two or three times to make sure you’re getting the yardage to the flag, not the trees behind the green? When you feel the vibrating pulses from JOLT, you’ll know you won’t need to laser the flag again.

The Tour Z6 also offers the super quick readings of the Pro X7 thanks to E.S.P. 2, as well as the super bright VDT display. While it’s also accurate to 0.5 yards, it has a 6X zoom and a range of 450 yards, making it slightly less powerful than the Pro X7.

2014 bushnell range finder golf2014 bushnell laser rangefinder
bushnell golf z62014 rangefinder review

Features

  • PinSeeker with JOLT Technology to zero in on the flag
  • Accurate to 1/2 yard
  • 5 yards-1,300 yards ranging performance (450+ yards to a flag)
  • Vivid Display Technology (VDT) for all lighting conditions
  • E.S.P. 2 (Extreme. Speed. Precision.)
  • 6X Magnification (objects appear 6X closer)
  • Adjustable diopter setting
  • Rubber armored metal housing
  • Posi-Thread™ Battery Door
  • Waterproof
  • 3-Volt CR2 Battery and Premium Carry Case included
  • 2 Year Warranty

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.bushnellgolf.com/laser/tourz6.aspx” oemtext=”Learn more from Bushnell” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQE9DA6/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HQE9DA6&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HP3FJ3W4FCHIJU6A”]

The Takeaway

2014 golf rangefinder review

If you’re in the market for a new premium rangefinder, the Pro X7 and Tour Z6 are a good place to start. Size and weight will likely be the biggest consideration, but if cost is a concern golfers can’t go wrong with the smaller, lighter and $100-cheaper Tour Z6.

The Tour Z6, however, is not available in a slope version, which could be a selling point for the $599 Pro X7 Slope. That’s a lot to spend on a non-essential golf item, but what’s more important than accurate data in golf, a game of inches? For golfers who travel from course to course for tournaments, nothing is more powerful than figuring out how much uphill or downhill a shot might play in a practice round, even if you can’t use the device in a tournament.

I just called these rangefinders nonessential, but after you play with them for a few rounds you’ll be wondering why you ever played without them, even if you’re just upgrading to a new model like me. The speed, accuracy and brightness of their displays, paired with the instant feedback of JOLT, makes the Pro X7 and Tour Z6 two rangefinders that any golfer will be proud to own.

2014 bushnell golf review

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. googlemail

    Dec 18, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Amazing article i like it thanks for sharing it .

  2. TGG-Chris

    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Having tried both (and a ton of other rangefinders), I’m a huge fan of the X7 despite the size. Performance is outstanding and since I usually used two hands to stabilize smaller rangefinders, the bigger, heavier unit just makes it easier to shoot. Doesn’t hurt that it has crazy range, either.

  3. My Gun Safe Guide

    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    thank for the review and the informations.

  4. Dylan

    Mar 29, 2016 at 4:49 am

    I discovered the watch type of measuring device was not accurate on 4 holes at the club I normally play. Not surprising, these are the holes I constantly came up short on approaches. Previously owned a different type laser range finder and could not hold it steady enough to lock on the flag, hence the watch. This Bushnell is extremely fast. I have been very satisfied with all aspects of the operation. The group I play with are asking me for distances and all of them have their own devices. Thanks.

  5. Richard

    Mar 23, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Very useful information! But I have a question: how many times have you seen guys fumbling with these and slowing down instead of speeding up? Thank you for letting us know!

    • Brian

      Apr 22, 2016 at 9:25 am

      It’s much quicker than watching a guy walk around the fairway, looking for a marked sprinkler head.

  6. John

    Mar 23, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Very useful information! But I have a question: Can you use bushnell pro x7 slope in competition with slope switched off? Thank you for letting us know!

  7. Rubin Mark

    Sep 19, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    I personally have used Laser Link Golf products for the last decade. If I were a first time rangefinder buy I would strongly consider Laser Link Golf rangefinders.

  8. Max Peterson

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I used Tour V3 Edition Standard for two years, and now I need to have a device with slope to practice with my wife so I decided to choose X7

  9. John

    Aug 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Great scopes customer service is 1985 bad. When you need a repair you send it in and eventually the send you a postcard, not an email, a postcard. Telling you the work is done. You then have to call them to make a payment as they don’t have a way to make it on line. After you sit on hold for 30 minutes, you pay and it will take almost 10 days to 2 weeks to get the unit back because when they fix it to when they ship it is 4 days. Great device, but next time I will buy someone elses. I wasn’t able to use it almost all summer.

  10. Razmik

    May 26, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Can you use bushnell pro x7 slope in competition with slope switched off?

  11. Ice Man

    Apr 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I personally have used Laser Link Golf products for the last decade. I started with the QuickShot model that reads right to the flag stick (off the prism) and that is all most golfers need. That unit has really made my rounds more enjoyable with faster and more accurate play. I have recently purchased their XL1000 unit which is a very good for the $299 price. This is a magnification unit and a first for Laser Link Golf. The first round with it at Grande Cypress in Orlando produced my friends first hole in one, needles to say he went and purchased on that evening. If I were a first time rangefinder buy I would strongly consider Laser Link Golf rangefinders.

  12. B.Boston

    Apr 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I checked out the z6 but ended up going with the Leupold GX-3i2. Couldn’t be happier. The GX felt better in my hands and I was concerned about battery life on the z6. I like the prisim lock on the Leupold, and don’t find not having the little flag icon for pinseeker an issue. If you use scan mode and sweet across the stick its immediately clear what your yardage is!

    Realistically, you probably would do no wrong with either. It also helped I got a great deal on the GX.

  13. Tony

    Apr 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I just bought the Pro X7 and have 4 rounds under the belt.
    Amazing clarity and precision!

  14. sam

    Apr 12, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Can I say “Paid Product Endorsement”?! Leupold quality blows this out of the water.

  15. Don

    Apr 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I’m ready to buy my first range finder. I wish this review would have compared all the latest range finders. I can’t find a good article/comparison to save my life. Now I’m just more confused!????

  16. Billy

    Apr 12, 2014 at 3:55 am

    I like my Callaway Nikon better.

  17. Christian Furu

    Apr 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I’m doing a review on Z6 and V3. I’ve let 25 golfers try both. Everyone prefered the V3. It actually performs better in low light.

    I was sure the red sight would be better but it’s actually too bright. Even at the lowest setting I could see all the symbols in the display. The image of the course is also darker than in the V3. I’ve owned a GX3i. The red sight in Leupold is superior to Bushnells.

    Most testers also prefered the larger size of the V3. It was easier to hold steady while aiming.

    But there are downsides to the V3. It has a tendency to “over-jolt”. The Z6 seems to be more reliable when using Jolt. And the Z6 is waterproof, V3 is not.

    V3 performs better in low light because of image quality, but is not waterproof.
    The red sight in Z6 isn’t perfect but it is waterproof and Jolt seems to be more reliable.
    A combination of both would be perfect.

    The X7 is a completely meaningless. I turned down an opportunity to test it for a longer period of time. Overpriced and overspeced for normal people. Maybe cyborgs can use it? Cyborgs with big hands……..

  18. TheLegend

    Apr 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Dont buy this crap. Saved yourself for buying this crap. Do your self a favor and buy a leopold. Its a way better ranger that for sure.

    • TheLegend

      Apr 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      They wont compare this to a leupold cuz they dont wanna look silly. I have had all the rangers and this site for some reason only favors the crap bush product. I cant figure out why? Leupold is a way better product. This is not a review Its a sham. It really makes me question weather or not WRX is legitimate.

    • Golfraven

      Apr 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      I agree here. Early last year I likely would have bought the Bushnell but hesitated. Now I have the latest Leopold GX-4i² and more than pleased with it. It does not get any better. Top button is easy to press mot like the tour Z6

  19. Mike

    Apr 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I would have like to have seen a comparison between these models and their previous version.

  20. Mat

    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:50 am

    This hardly seems like a review. It read like an ad being passed off as a review. I’m sure the products are good, but why go about giving a 5-star review without comparing them against a competitor? If you aren’t reviewing this against a Leupold, what’s the point? Which is better, the Z6 or the GX-3i? Why or why not? Which acquires faster, and which was more accurate? You brought up pace… how many times have you seen guys fumbling with these and slowing down instead of speeding up?

    Sorry, I could have gone to Bushnell.com if I wanted propaganda.

    • TheLegend

      Apr 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Well said!

    • Rancho Bob

      Apr 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Yep, you nailed it. This isn’t a review. It’s an advertisement.

      I’ve got an older Bushnell and love it, but cannot imagine why I would step up to a new one and certainly not at that price.

      “Ooooooh. I can laser something a mile away.”
      “Ooooooh. This one is accurate to 18 inches, not just 36 inches. Like I’m that accurate on a 30 foot putt, never mind a 170 yard approach shot.”

  21. LorenRobertsFan

    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I think the Tour V3 does just as good a job as these at a lower price. Do you really need a mile of ranging performance or yardages half a yard more accurate?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Apr 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      It’s not so much about the range as it is the brightness of the display, the confidence the JOLT technology creates and the ease of use. We’ll be reviewing the Leupold products at a later date.

      • Golfraven

        Apr 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        Bring on the comparison between those two makes and rhis shall be a real test.

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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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