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Review: Oakley Carbon Pro 2 Golf Shoes

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Pros: These offer the complete package: they’re comfortable, good-looking, unbelievably stable, totally waterproof and have great traction. No break-in period required, either.

Cons: They’re $200 a pair and only available in three colors on Oakley’s site: white, ivory and black.

Bottom Line: Oakley’s Carbon Pro 2’s are designed to meet the performance needs of the best golfers in the world, which they do splendidly. While they’re sporty golf shoes at heart, their tasteful styling makes them a fit for both younger, hipper crowds as well as traditionalists.

Overview

Now that you know Oakley makes golf shoes, here’s the next thing you need to know. The company’s most premium golf shoe, the Carbon Pro 2, was designed to be worn by two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, who leads the PGA Tour in clubhead speed (and most likely turf destruction with his feet).

If you haven’t see a slow-motion video of how Watson’s feet move during his 125-mph swing, make sure to checkout the one below from the PGA Tour’s 2014 Waste Management Open.

[youtube id=”SyQ3ErB52yA” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Oakley designers reasoned that if they could build a shoe that helped Watson improve his footwork, then that shoe would likely help all golfers improve their footing, which technologies like force plates continue to prove can lead to more power and control. That’s why the Carbon Pro 2’s sits lower to the ground than any of Oakley’s previous cleated golf shoes — remember, a lower center of gravity improves stability — and use carbon fiber in their midsections to stiffen that area without the addition of too much weight.

The Carbon Pro 2’s weigh 16.74 ounces and have a two-year waterproof warranty. Their uppers are constructed of full grain leather, while their midsoles are made with compression-molded EVA. The outsoles include a high-traction TPU plate, which means that there are tons of little plastic nubs on the bottom of the shoe to help increase traction, as well as a nine-spike PINS system that is sold with Softspikes’ Pulsar cleats installed.

IMG_2591
Above: The Carbon Pro 2’s in white. 

They’re available for $200 in three colors on Oakley’s site: white, ivory and black. Sizes range from 7 to 12 in half-size increments, and sizes 13 and 14 are also available.

Fit and Feel

The most important part of buying (or in this case reviewing) a pair of golf shoes is the first part; when golfers try them on for the first time. What kind of golfers would wear shoes that didn’t feel good on their feet? I’d hope only a reviewer who needs to play several rounds in them for a story.

Luckily for me, the Carbon Pro 2’s were impressive right out of the box. I take a size 11.5 (U.S.) in most brands, although every once in a while I’ll need a size 12. The Carbon Pro 2’s were great fit in 11.5 and provided ample room in my biggest trouble spot, the toe box.

81eEMnWHAUL._UL1500_
Above: The Carbon Pro 2’s in black. 

Modern footwear design has led to almost all golf shoes feeling great out of the box, but there are a few things worth noting about the Carbon Pro 2’s that puts them in the upper echelon of comfort.

  • Many performance golf shoes have gotten so light in recent years that the materials that surround the foot have become extremely thin, making them feel more like a lightweight running shoe than a golf shoe. The Carbon Pro 2’s uppers are pretty thin at 1.35 millimeters, but they retain the plushness that I remember from some of my favorite older models. Needless to say, they’re much lighter.
  • The “Octo-Stick” liner inside the Carbon Pro 2 sounds gimmicky, but the simple silicon-coated insert does an excellent job of keeping the foot – and especially the heel – in place during walking, helping eliminate some of the friction that can cause blisters.
  • Oakley made the end of the Carbon Pro 2’s tongue out of a rubber-like material that’s lighter, softer and more stable than leather or knit materials, which keeps the tongue from wrinkling over time and allows it to sit flatter against the top of the foot when a shoe is tied. That adds to the stability of the shoe, which I’ll discuss more later in the review.
  • Yes, the Carbon Pro 2’s were really stable when I was swinging, but they were pretty responsive and comfortable when I was walking thanks to the grooves on the outsole that Oakley calls “Coreflex.” That makes walking 18 (or 36 holes) a lot more enjoyable.

Performance

Maybe the biggest compliment golfers can pay a shoe is that they hardly notice it.

Think about it: if your shoes don’t fit properly, you’re constantly fidgeting with your socks or the position of your foot to make your feet more comfortable. And if traction is an issue, you’ll be weary of debris in your spikes and the terrain you’re standing on. That’s a lot of wasted energy during the 4-or-so miles golfers walk each round and the 4-or-so hours they spend on the course.

It didn’t take too many holes for me learn that the Carbon Pro 2’s wouldn’t cause me those problems.

IMG_2593
Above: Oakley’s Octo-Stick is a silicon coating on the insole of the Carbon Pro 2 that limits foot movement to improve energy transfer and comfort. 

The first thing I noticed during testing was the stability I felt from the shoes when I was hitting full shots. My left foot, which as a right-handed golfer is the foot that I hit into during my downswing, resisted the “rolling and twisting” that I’ve experienced from some models. That made me feel more comfortable swinging my longer clubs, in particular my driver, as I’ve been known to slip from time to time.

Certainly the new spikes and fresh traction on the bottom of the shoes played a role, but the stability I enjoyed was about more than that. The Carbon Pro 2’s did an excellent job of wrapping around the midsection of my feet, keeping them more stable during my swing that any shoe I’ve ever tested.

Oakley Carbon Pro 2 Review
Above: Oakley uses real carbon fiber as part of its “Dynamic Motion Control” system to add stability to the shoe without adding too much weight.

It’s almost as though the Carbon Pro 2’s improve stability from the inside out. If your feet don’t move that much inside your shoes, then your shoes can’t move that much, right? The Carbon Pro 2’s are a testament to that.

But how are they in the rain?

In my last round with the Carbon Pro 2’s, I played 18 holes in a downpour. It was a nightmare that required rain gloves, a rain jacket and added permanent mud stains to the bottom of a perfectly good pair of pants, but it was a fitting conclusion to my testing procedure.

I wondered just how waterproof the Carbon Pro 2’s would be, and additionally, since my pair of shoes were white, how they would look after such a round. I’m happy to report that my feet were the only dry part of my body after 18 holes, and that the shoes were no worse for the wear.

carbonpro_2_14055_319_f_RGB_2_1800x1200_300_RGB
Above: The Carbon Pro 2’s in ivory. Notice how the outsole and upper portion of the shoe are bridged with protective materials that limit staining and help keep moisture outside the shoe. 

So how exactly could the conditions ruin a pair of pants and not stain my shoes? If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice the transition between the Carbon Pro 2’s outsole and the upper portion of the shoe is protected with stain-proof plastic, which gives the shoe a smooth, one-piece look. It also keeps mud and other debris from getting trapped in any crevices and staining an all-white pair of shoes.

Had mud made its way toward the Carbon Pro 2’s laces, it likely would have required a cleaning session to bring back the all-white look, but I was lucky to only have had a mud problems around the edges of their soles where the shoes are protected.

The Takeaway

These days, many golfers are interested in the versatility of spikeless golf shoes that they can wear to work or to dinner, and Oakley does make a few products in that category. I admit that I am fan of spikeless golf shoes and have really enjoyed their versatility in recent years, but the performance of the Carbon Pro 2’s has reinvigorated my interested in spiked models.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.03.02 PM

While most golfers will see their performance drop if they were to play golf with Bubba Watson’s driver, I’m willing to bet that many of them could actually benefit from wearing a pair of Watson’s golf shoes in the proper size, particularly if their shoes are starting to lose traction.

That’s why I’m encouraging golfers who think a little traction and stability might help their game to seek out a retailer with the Carbon Pro 2’s in stock and see if they fit you as well as they fit me.

If they pass that all-important test, I’m confident you’ll enjoy what they have to offer. If they don’t, well, I guess I’ll be hearing from you in the comments section below.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.oakley.com/en/carbon-pro-2/product/14055″ oemtext=”Learn more from Oakley” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008OH9N9U/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008OH9N9U&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=YXZ5A2WF36KU5SXC”]

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Coy

    Oct 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    $200 dollars, no thanks.

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  6. Grant

    Jul 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Can anyone speak to the volume of the shoe? I have a regular width foot, but a small volume foot (meaning I normally need to pull the laces so tight on my FJs that the inner and outer uppers touch and cover the tongue completely). Still looking for that “low volume” shoe. Could this be an option?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jul 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I take either an 11.5 or 12 depending on the shoe, and an 11.5 was perfect for me. It was maybe even a touch longer than I needed, although that didn’t cause me any problems. So if you are usually an 11.5, you might be able to get away with an 11 without having to lace them too tight.

  7. tbowles411

    Jun 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    DNA’s are busting at the sides of the shoe. That’s a big no for me. I’ll give these a look!

  8. James

    Jun 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Loved the original carbon pros. Extremely comfortable and stable. Unfortunately the left one stopped being waterproof after 6 months so had to return them.
    Funny Golfraven mentioned the O on the front. It is in an area that flexes and after a few rounds it looked really crappy and distorted.

    One last note, Bubba didn’t win the WM open this year, nor was there a playoff. Kevin Stadler won in regulation.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jun 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      I did not see that issue in my review process, James, but will keep an eye out for it.

      Thanks for reading and the edit on the Waste Management Open.

    • Jason Hat

      Jun 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      These happened to mine as well, after two rounds the O started to crack/flake off where it creases. Not a big issue for me, but I was surprised how quickly it started to degrade. Those two round were in some pretty soggy conditions. Otherwise they stayed dry and comfortable.

  9. Golfraven

    Jun 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    One think that puts me of buying this shoe would be the big O on the top. Put it on the back or side like other companies do or just dimply leave the Logo out. Just look at Footjoy, they don’t fo such sonsense. Bit of a shame if those are confi.

    • Tom

      Jun 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Unfortunately even logo placement is a breach in trade marks.

  10. Jason

    Jun 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I have these and they’re extremely comfortable. I still think Foot Joy’s DNA might have an edge as far as cushioning, but I liked how low the soles are on the Carbon Pro 2’s.

    Highly recommend.

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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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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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