Pros: A hand-held doppler radar launch monitor for only $349.99, thousands less than leading models. Different game modes make practice more entertaining and possibly more worthwhile.
Cons: Accuracy is a concern. In our testing, the Swing Caddie 2 failed to capture reliable data more often than leading doppler radar launch monitors.
Who’s it for? Golfers who spend a lot of time at the range and want to spice up their practice sessions.
Much like the Swing Caddie 1 (SC100), which was the first-generation portable doppler radar device from Voice Caddie, the Swing Caddie 2 (SC200) provides carry, total yardage, swing speed, ball speed and smash factor. There are also multiple modes including:
- Practice Mode: Allows you to select which club you’re hitting, and shows you data from the shot.
- Target Mode: Set a target distance and hit 10 shots. The system scores your accuracy out of 10, and gives you a final score.
- Approach Mode: The SC200 gives you random distances, and grades you out of 10 how close you were to the targets.
Transporting the product to and from the range is trivial. It measures 5.89 x 3.20 x 1.08 inches, and can fit in your front pocket, back pocket, golf bag, backpack, or whatever else you bring to the range with you. It’s about as lightweight as any smartphone, and only slightly bigger than an iPhone 6.
It also comes with four AAA batteries (it has about a 20-hour battery life) and a remote control, which is actually quite useful. I was skeptical about using the controller at all, but bending over every time you need to change modes gets old fast. Luckily the remote couldn’t be any easier to use.
Like a TV remote, the SC200’s remote comes with volume control for its new Voice Distance Output feature, but you may want to simply mute the system when at the range near others. Surely other golfers don’t want to hear a lady’s voice announcing your distances throughout the entire session, unless you derive joy from showboating a 300+ yard drive. You can also toggle easily between clubs, and even adjust the loft setting for each club for increased accuracy.
Does it work?
When asking whether it works or not, let’s first talk about what your expectations are for a portable doppler radar system that sells for $349.99. If you’re expecting a device that will replace your sessions on Trackman, hone yardages with each club and hope to test clubs or shafts using the SC200 you will be disappointed. But if you’re expecting a novelty-type item that yields yardage and swing speed and will make those hours at the range less monotonous, then this is perfect and may even surpass your expectations.
So now, is this device accurate enough to justify buying the SC200 instead of a new driver or a new set of wedges?
The SC200, on Voice Caddie’s website, advertises a +/- 3 percent tolerance in ball speed, and a +/- 5 percent tolerance on carry distance.
When taking the SC200 to an outdoor range I found the device to get yardages that were close enough, as the company advertises. I usually hit an 8-iron about 165 yards, and when I caught it solid, the SC200 gave me yardages of about 165 yards. It would never read something crazy like 190, or 120 on a well-struck shot. It was always in the expected wheelhouse.
With wedge shots I had a difficult time getting results to register, so it took some fiddling with where the device was placed in relation to the ball. Often it would take five or even 10 swings before I’d get one shot to capture. That’s pretty frustrating when you’re trying to play in one of the game modes where each shot matters. With the driver, it seemed fairly accurate on well-struck shots; usually registering around my average drive. But then I began testing the device out by hitting tops, skulls, big slices and big hooks on purpose. This is where the device struggled greatly. It would often read drastically off on carry distance and totals.
Like I said before, you have to lower your expectations with a sub-$500 launch monitor, or you will be disappointed. Remember, it’s not a $30,000 Trackman.
So the final verdict on accuracy is… well, I’m not entirely positive. It seems to get fairly close on occasions, and maybe even spot on sometimes. But it’s inconsistent, and can be wildly off the mark on drastic mishits.
Accuracy aside, it does have a serious cool factor. And with its new Voice Distance Output, it’s like throwing pitches with a baseball in your backyard and having a radar gun telling you how fast you threw it. Pretty awesome, right? And you can always set it up behind a par-5 tee box, or bring it to the range and have a competition between your friends to see who hits the longest drive. So there’s always that.
Here’s a simple guide to use when considering purchasing this product.
Reasons to buy the product
- You’re a range rat, and want something to break up the monotony of practicing for hours on end.
- You have a net in your backyard and can’t see ball flight, but want feedback on your shots.
- You don’t have a range with targets, or simply practice in an open field.
- You like to have swing-speed competitions with your buddies.
- You want to look techy on the range and impress friends or range-goers.
- You like cool stuff.
Reasons why you shouldn’t buy the product
- You’re a club fitter, and you plan to use this product to fit golfers or yourself.
- You’re a competitive golfer and want to hone distances using this feedback as your guideline.
- You’re testing equipment and are deciding between club heads or shafts.
- You rarely go to the range and prefer to play golf instead.
- Spending $349.99 dollars on this product prevents you from getting lessons, playing golf or buying needed golf equipment.
For $349.99, the SC200 may just be worth the price. It’s easily portable, accurate enough, provides serious entertainment value into practice and competition with your friends, and it’s just plain cool. How many other people at the range will have a voice telling them how far they just hit the ball?
The SC200 might be something you’ll want to splurge on. If it’s not in your budget, however, take a pass and get some lessons, a laser rangefinder, a new driver, or just use that money on green fees instead.
Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas
GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
Review: The QOD Electric Caddy
If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.
The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.
The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.
Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.
The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.
Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.
Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.
The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.
The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.
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