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Review: Voice Caddie’s SC200 Portable Launch Monitor

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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.

The Review

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.

Usage

SwingCaddieGame

A shot of the SC200, 4-inch LCD screen after completing 10 shots on target mode

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.

The Takeaway

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.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Jay

    Mar 6, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I have one of these, and the review is spot on. It’s probably slightly more accurate than I was expecting, actually. You really need to pay close attention to the angle of the device and make sure it’s on a flat surface, especially hitting drivers/woods. When it’s angled, you’ll get some crazy swing speed/ball speed differences with the driver – like 122 mph club speed and only 160 ball speed. Once I straightened it out, it went back to reading about what I expected.

  2. Reginald Ridley

    Feb 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    These machines do pretty much what it is designed to do it is an alternative who can afford a $30.,000 trackman unless you are a big manufacturer of clubs i believe the Track Man is an expensive mans toy., the price to purchase one is ludicrous.,

  3. Blue

    Oct 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    I have this model, and have used it all summer. Overall I like it. It does have problems. There are better reviews for it out there too. I use it into a net in my yard and have taken it to the range. I find it accurate with (9I-4I) and with the driver. Getting wedge numbers to work can be frustrating. Usually, I get good numbers w/the PW but the SW and gap don’t register more often than not. My guess is because the ball launches too high too fast to measure ball speed. It also calculates smash factor and I find it to be pretty accurate measuring SF too (I compare w/contact tape). And for whatever reason it frequently doesn’t measure my 4wood and 3 hybrid accurately. Often both of these clubs will have a swing speed 5-8mph higher than my driver.
    It is good for measuring swing speed and SF. If you’re outside and the device is in the sun your carry numbers may be higher due to the monitor thinking the temperature is hotter than it really is. Overall, I think it’s nice to have if you have a backyard or indoor practice area.

  4. tlmck

    Sep 26, 2016 at 4:37 am

    They should give up on the Doppler and hook up with someone like GoPro to make an affordable camera based system like GC2.

  5. S Smith

    Sep 25, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    OK so you want a review on how the monitor works. I was out yesterday afternoon. I try to go out every other day whether to play or practice. As you know, my hips are bad and will need hip replacement surgery in a couple of years. So what does this mean? its hard to use your legs when hitting the ball. Again the driver. While still fresh (as possible) I hit maybe twenty or thirty drivers. I hit more of these because I can use my driver on eight or ten holes on my home course and the first shot is the most important as its sets up the shots for each of these holes. I was stuck on about 235 which is not bad. I noticed that as I became tired my legs were not in the swing and I was deteriorating to about 205 to 210 (so says the monitor). Interestingly my swing does not go below about 90 mph which is not bad for an arm swing. The monitor lets me know this. Smash factor varies but by experimenting with the machine I’ve noticed if I tee the ball lower and more forward, the smash factor increases into the 1.30- 1.40 range. If I consciously use my right hand I can increase this further but this affects my swing. So I hit about 110 balls and was ready to quit. I hate to leave when I’m not hitting well so I shagged some more balls and this time started to get my lower body into it by squatting a bit on the backswing. Allowing a more fuller turn. It was working with the irons so I uped the ante with the driver. I positioned the SC200 about 36 inches behind me and took a practice swing. I then proceeded to make an actual swing with a slight squat on the backswing. It felt real good. But without the machine, how do you know how good it was. You need to know this to try to repeat it. Its far to subjective without it. I looked at the swing caddy and wow its said 245. My best of the day by ten yards. It was directionally a good swing too. So I am keeping this swing in mind for Monday at my home course and will try to repeat it. The beauty of it is that it is small and can be taken to range (indoor and outdoor as well as the course!). You know very well you can only do this on a very limited basis with an actual trackman and that is to the driving range. Now the best combo is the Sc200 and the decals you place on the face of the driver which show how close to the sweet spot you are. This should maximize things. If you could hit the driver close to the center you’d probably get a smash factor of 1.45 and the Sc200 will tell you this. Stupidly I gave up on the decals when I went outdoors, I should never have done this and will start using them again with the Sc200. There is a downside to the Sc200. You become consciously aware of it and try to maximize distance at the expense of accuracy and you must be aware of this at all times. Nonetheless its a god send for most of us. The days of a little more of this and a little more of that and long gone. You have to be able to quantify the results to make meaningful improvement and then take it from there. The Sc200 is a good start.

    • T

      Sep 26, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Try hitting some wedges on grass and tell us what you find

  6. S Smith

    Sep 24, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I don’t think you had a chance to play around with it for a while which you need to do. Its accurate enough as compared to trackman on an apples to apples basis. The real strength is when you are out at the outdoor range or at the course. First you have to get a read on your approximate distances and just as importantly the ball speed and interpolated smash factor for each club. The driver is a good first choice. Once you get a feel for the above, hit a series of balls to warm up. NOW. When you hit a real good shot. STOP. You will be able to quantify how good it really was using the above factors. NOW. Think about what you did differently to make the shot better and then try to replicate. I notice that for every 1/4 of an inch I am off from the sweet spot. Slightly above center on the driver you will lose approximately 10-15 yards. More importantly, recent studies I have seen on Science Daily.com have shown that we operate basically subconsciously. What does this mean when we golf? It means that we are constantly making little subconscious adjustments when we are on the course. We are not consciously aware we are making these adjustments! Really! So when you hit a good drive on the range (and you will immediately know by reviewing the data from the SC 200 you will be able to quantify how good it was since merely looking downrange just doesn’t do it) and if you now stop and think about the subconscious adjustment or adjustments that went into the good drive you will know what they are (any good golfer will immediately be aware) and then you can try to replicate them. It works. I have added about 20 yards to my average drive doing this. Over time I have found that I cant make my backswing slow enough (to sequence properly) and I can’t coil enough (to store energy). I now have a swing I can go back to when things go south. Oh yes, I have also found that conversely I tend to get too quick (don’t we all) and this is where my problems appear!! I am 67 years old, have two arthritic hips and am recovering from a broken ankle. My results Average drive abouty 225. Average swing speed about 92 miles an hour. Why don’t you try this and get back to me.

    • Mof

      Sep 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Nah. I consciously make DECISIONS for every shot the way I want to hit them, therefore I know the results from making those conscious decisions. I don’t think you mean to say you let yourself operate subconsciously, instead, I think you mean to say that you work instinctively, based on experiential conscious decisions based on what you learned from everything that led up to this current shot.
      But what does that have to do with this machine? How about giving a review of the actual machine itself a bit more in detail as to why you think it’s good or bad. Not why your swing has improved from practicing to hit the middle of the face properly

  7. Bull

    Sep 23, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Where’s Mark Crossfield to do this review for us, a bit more practically, than this biased bull

  8. Jim

    Sep 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    meh – I wouldn’t go that far, he did make sure to state what it wasn’t.

    but, having purchased & used pretty much every LM system since late 90’s – including FliteScope(s) (best before Tman) Tman is the best ever, and the one to beat. With that said, an inexpensive but (more) accurate Ernest unit would be great. If they get it CLOSER to Tman (driver especially) and keep it under a grand, I know I’d grab it…can’t afford another Tman for ‘kickin around’ – or letting a student borrow for a round and see what happens with them in the field

    • desmond

      Sep 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Haven’t seen any decent reviews of the Earnest for less expensive units.

      • Jim

        Sep 24, 2016 at 12:09 am

        THANK YOU …unfortunately me neither…but, hadn’t looked this year – which is why I brought it up. He had reviewed it a year + ago, and the cat I spoke with was pretty confident it would continue to be refined. Something within a degree or two for driver launch & even 500 rpm would be great for less than a grand…I’d buy it and like I said even let students take it on course and track 18 tee shots – if nothing else that round.
        Suppose it depends on Ernest – what they’re willing to spend and then sell it for.

        There’s an ad running on TV here from a home heating oil company (new hi- efficency burners/cleaner ‘oil’ etc) VERY good tag line “we want to sell LESS oil to MORE people.

        whoever – comes up with one that’s pretty close & keeps the price 999 or LESS will sell a boatload.

  9. Robert

    Sep 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Don’t waste your money guys! Come on now!

  10. John O

    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I have one of these and it works well and is fairly accurate on decently hit shots, especially mid distances. If you mishit a low missile, it will oversestimate your distance on the basis of ballspeed. The big variation of height possible on wedge shots detracts from its accuracy and usefulness on short shots. Pros have compared it to Trackman across a range of clubs (correctly selecting the club on both devices!) and found it fairly accurate. It has preset club names (e.g. W3, U4, I7, PW, SW) that you select to match the club you are hitting (there’s no LW). Someone dug out the fixed lofts (they are not user amendable) that SwingCaddie has in mind for each of these clubs, and they are not as they should be on the long clubs. But plainly they are consistent from one day to the next and work out well enough. The device and the display are rudimentary and there’s only a thin bag but no case. But, basically, yes, the radar tells you how far and fast you hit each club.

  11. Sander Roest

    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

    The SC200 is not a launch monitor. All it measures is ball speed. The displayed yardages are calculated based on a preset loft value for each club. Important factors that contribute to accurate yardages, like launch angle, backspin and launch direction are not measured, and thus the calculated yardages are just guesswork. Better buy a Swing Speed Radar for $100.

    • desmond

      Sep 23, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      SSR is not a solution either – for the price, it’s okay. This does a bit more.

  12. Jim

    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Doesn’t sound like anything I’d recommend to any students. However, that Ernest Sport ‘personal’ launch monitor that was around $700 (I know: twice the price) did give spin & launch angle. I made big tech investments @ 2014 Orlando show – upgradeable platforms & software for the next decade. I was going to grab that Ernest monitor to use during on course playing lessons but when speaking with a (very honest) engineer in their booth he told me frankly (1st gen) it wasn’t “quite as accurate as they want” and hinted it would get better (3-4 degree launch angle dif. from Tman is unacceptable for drivers)
    Almost 3 years later, I think your readers (I know I would) would love an unbiased new review. If they’ve refined those numbers and it’s still < $999.00, I think it would be a HUGE hit

  13. John O

    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I agree. The photo makes no sense. If the Trackman data is for a drive (230yds) or wood, then the SwingCaddie isn’t going to give good matching data if he failed to change the selected club on the SwingCaddie which under the 188yds still says I7 (i.e. a 7 iron, like he was hitting earlier).

  14. Michael C

    Sep 23, 2016 at 10:40 am

    What Greg C said. He nailed it.

  15. Mike

    Sep 23, 2016 at 9:00 am

    If you cannot measure spin or launch angle, you cannot calculate carry. This device is worthless for that. If you want to measure ball speed, this could work for that but beware anytime a device is using user entry for loft as their basis for estimating launch angle.

  16. desmond

    Sep 23, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Have an SC200 and use it outside – after the first 2 times of use, I have no issues with shot registering. It misses a shot once in a while. I use range balls to measure most of the time, and don’t expect accuracy – I mean, 235 carry at 90 Swingspeed is overdoing it, but may be within error margin. But that’s with range balls. I will take it on the course soon with real balls when it’s not busy to compare shafts and irons. I look at smash factor and swingspeed – those seem accurate. Fun tool.

    • desmond

      Sep 23, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Ballspeed is nice to have as well as adjusting loft to all of your clubs. Also adjust for barometric pressure and temperature.

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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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.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: The QOD Electric Caddy

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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.

When folded, the QOD measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall.

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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Accessory Reviews

Review: FlightScope Mevo

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In 100 Words

The Mevo is a useful practice tool for amateur golfers and represents a step forward from previous offerings on the market. It allows golfers to practice indoors or outdoors and provides club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin rate, carry distance and flight time.

It also has a video capture mode that will overlay swing videos with the swing data of a specific swing. It is limited in its capabilities and its accuracy, though, which golfers should expect at this price point. All in all, it’s well worth the $499 price tag if you understand what you’re getting.

The Full Review

The FlightScope Mevo is a launch monitor powered by 3D Doppler radar. With a retail price of $499, it is obviously aimed to reach the end consumer as opposed to PGA professionals and club fitters.

The Mevo device itself is tiny. Like, really tiny. It measures 3.5-inches wide, 2.8-inches tall and 1.2-inches deep. In terms of everyday products, it’s roughly the size of an Altoids tin. It’s very easy to find room for it in your golf bag, and the vast majority of people at the range you may be practicing at won’t even notice it’s there. Apart from the Mevo itself, in the box you get a quick start guide, a charging cable, a carrying pouch, and some metallic stickers… more on those later. It has a rechargeable internal battery that reaches a full charge in about two hours and lasts for about four hours when fully charged.

As far as software goes, the Mevo pairs with the Mevo Golf app on your iOS or Android device. The app is free to download and does not require any subscription fees (unless you want to store and view videos of your swing online as opposed to using the memory on your device). The app is very easy to use even for those who aren’t tech savvy. Make sure you’re using the most current version of the firmware for the best results, though (I did experience some glitches at first until I did so). The settings menu does have an option to manually force firmware writing, but updates should happen automatically when you start using the device.

Moving through the menus, beginning sessions, editing shots (good for adding notes on things like strike location or wind) are all very easy. Video mode did give me fits the first time I used it, though, as it was impossible to maintain my connection between my phone and the Mevo while having the phone in the right location to capture video properly. The only way I could achieve this was by setting the Mevo as far back from strike location as the device would allow. Just something to keep in mind if you find you’re having troubles with video mode.

Screenshot of video capture mode with the FlightScope Mevo

Using the Mevo

When setting up the Mevo, it needs to be placed between 4-7 feet behind the golf ball, level with the playing surface and pointed down the target line. The distance you place the Mevo behind the ball does need to be entered into the settings menu before starting your session. While we’re on that subject, before hitting balls, you do need to select between indoor, outdoor, and pitching (ball flight less than 20 yards) modes, input your altitude and select video or data mode depending on if you want to pair your data with videos of each swing or just see the data by itself. You can also edit the available clubs to be monitored, as you will have to tell the Mevo which club you’re using at any point in time to get the best results. Once you get that far, you’re pretty much off to the races.

Testing the Mevo

I tested the FlightScope Mevo with Brad Bachand at Man O’ War Golf Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Brad is a member of the PGA and has received numerous awards for golf instruction and club fitting. I wanted to put the Mevo against the best device FlightScope has to offer and, luckily, Brad does use his $15,000 FlightScope X3 daily. We had both the FlightScope Mevo and Brad’s FlightScope X3 set up simultaneously, so the numbers gathered from the two devices were generated from the exact same strikes. Brad also set up the two devices and did all of the ball striking just to maximize our chances for success.

The day of our outdoor session was roughly 22 degrees Fahrenheit. There was some wind on that day (mostly right to left), but it wasn’t a major factor. Our setup is pictured below.

Outdoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our outdoor testing are shown below. The testing was conducted with range balls, and we did use the metallic stickers. The range balls used across all the testing were all consistently the same brand. Man O’ War buys all new range balls once a year and these had been used all throughout 2017.  The 2018 batch had not yet been purchased at the time that testing was conducted.

Raw outdoor data captured with range balls including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

You’ll notice some peculiar data in the sand wedge spin category. To be honest, I don’t fully know what contributed to the X3 measuring such low values. While the Mevo’s sand wedge spin numbers seem more believable, you could visibly see that the X3 was much more accurate on carry distance. Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our outdoor session when separated out for each club. As previously mentioned, though, take sand wedge spin with a grain of salt.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (outdoor testing).

The first thing we noticed was that the Mevo displays its numbers while the golf ball is still in midair, so it was clear that it wasn’t watching the golf ball the entire time like the X3. According to the Mevo website, carry distance, height and flight time are all calculated while club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate are measured. As for the accuracy of the measured parameters, the Mevo’s strength is ball speed. The accuracy of the other measured ball parameters (launch angle and spin rate) is questionable depending on certain factors (quality of strike, moisture on the clubface and ball, quality of ball, etc). I would say it ranges between “good” or “very good” and “disappointing” with most strikes being categorized as “just okay.”

As for the calculated parameters of carry distance, height and time, those vary a decent amount. Obviously, when the measurements of the three inputs become less accurate, the three outputs will become less accurate as a result. Furthermore, according to FlightScope, the Mevo’s calculations are not accounting for things like temperature, humidity, and wind. The company has also stated, though, that future updates will likely adjust for these parameters by using location services through the app.

Now, let’s talk about those metallic stickers. According to the quick start guide, the Mevo needs a sticker on every golf ball you hit, and before you hit each ball, the ball needs to be placed such that the sticker is facing the target. It goes without saying that it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to spend time putting those stickers on every ball, let alone balls that will never come back to you if you’re at a public driving range. Obviously, people are going to want to avoid using the stickers if they can, so do they really matter? Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls with and without the use of the stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you use the metallic stickers and when you don’t

The FlightScope website says that the metallic stickers “are needed in order for the Mevo to accurately measure ball spin.” We observed pretty much the same as shown in the table above. The website also states they are working on alternative solutions to stickers (possibly a metallic sharpie), which I think is wise.

Another thing we thought would be worth testing is the impact of different golf balls. Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls as compared to Pro V1’s. All of this data was collected using the metallic stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you switch from range balls to Pro V1’s

As shown above, the data gets much closer virtually across the board when you use better quality golf balls. Just something else to keep in mind when using the Mevo.

Indoor testing requires 8 feet of ball flight (impact zone to hitting net), which was no problem for us. Our setup is pictured below. All of the indoor testing was conducted with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls using the metallic stickers.

Indoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our indoor session are shown below.

Raw indoor data captured with Pro V1’s including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our indoor session when separated out for each club.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (indoor testing)

On the whole, the data got much closer together between the two devices in our indoor session. I would think a lot of that can be attributed to the use of quality golf balls and to removing outdoor factors like wind and temperature (tying into my previous comment above).

As far as overall observations between all sessions, the most striking thing was that the Mevo consistently gets more accurate when you hit really good, straight shots. When you hit bad shots, or if you hit a fade or a draw, it gets less and less accurate.

The last parameter to address is club speed, which came in around 5 percent different on average between the Mevo and X3 based on all of the shots recorded. The Mevo was most accurate with the driver at 2.1 percent different from the X3 over all strikes and it was the least accurate with sand wedge by far. Obviously, smash factor accuracy will follow club speed for the most part since ball speed is quite accurate. Over every shot we observed, the percent difference on ball speed was 1.2 percent on average between the Mevo and the X3. Again, the Mevo was least accurate with sand wedges. If I remove all sand wedge shots from the data, the average percent difference changes from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent, which is very, very respectable.

When it comes to the different clubs used, the Mevo was by far most accurate with mid irons. I confirmed this with on-course testing on a relatively flat 170-yard par-3 as well. Carry distances in that case were within 1-2 yards on most shots (mostly related to quality of strike). With the driver, the Mevo was reasonably close, but I would also describe it as generous. It almost always missed by telling me that launch angle was higher, spin rate was lower and carry distance was farther than the X3. Generally speaking, the Mevo overestimated our driver carries by about 5 percent. Lastly, the Mevo really did not like sand wedges at all. Especially considering those shots were short enough that you could visibly see how far off the Mevo was with its carry distance. Being 10 yards off on a 90 yard shot was disappointing.

Conclusion

The Mevo is a really good product if you understand what you’re getting when you buy it. Although the data isn’t good enough for a PGA professional, it’s still a useful tool that gives amateurs reasonable feedback while practicing. It’s also a fair amount more accurate than similar products in its price range, and I think it could become even better with firmware updates as Flightscope improves upon its product.

This is a much welcomed and very promising step forward in consumer launch monitors, and the Mevo is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for one.

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