A few months ago, after much anticipation, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the folks involved with PING’s soft goods development, including their much acclaimed series of bags. Like everyone we met in Phoenix, he was an awesome guy and extremely personable. And like everyone else at PING, he’s passionate about what he does.
For this year’s update, PING overhauled their entire line, making changes based upon TONS of feedback they receive from customers, employee input, and tons of research. PING examines complaints, product returns, and from what I’ve gathered, board-based feedback to effect changes to make their product even better. It was obvious that they were as proud of these new bags as their other teams were with the G20 line of clubs and the iPing app for the iPhone.
More importantly, at least for me, is that yours truly, along with a couple other mods had the opportunity to demo these new bags for the last month. And the best part about testing bags is that aside from the initial searches for where you placed tees, bandaids, and extra gloves…there’s no learning curve. 😆
Anyway, this part of the post is an overview of the new lineup, followed by individual writeups. Hope y’all enjoy. :hi:
In re-engineering their bag lineup, PING focused on 1) durability, 2) function, and 3) comfort. While doing this, they also incorporated a new “wing” design to their bags that is subtle enough to be classic (unlike the “ribs” and neon highlights on previous iterations!), and distinctive enough to be recognized as a PING bag across the lines. Color options were made to provide customers with choices between dark and light, solids or patterns, and classic offerings balanced with modern styles.
To address durability, PING started off by greatly improving the quality of the materials used. Throughout the series, they utilized a high denier nylon fabric that is relatively bullet proof. It’s got a heavier texture that is reminiscent of the Hoofer 3, and while it’s not quite as thick and heavy it’s a higher quality of a more modern construct, and therefore stronger. The 4 Series and Mascot (custom/team option) also incorporates a higher quality polyester fabric along with the nylon. There are also stitching and webbing reinforcements throughout the bags for added strength. And the tops, bottoms, and brackets of the bag have been beefed up with thicker, more rigid polypropylene (plastic, for those of us not in the biz ;)).
All of these features make for a heavier bag (by ounces), but given the tradeoff, and that you load your bag with roughly thirty pounds of steel and rubber, PING felt the benefits warranted the beefing-up of their products. One caveat to the bag weights is that unlike most other companies, PING provides the weight of the entire unit, not omitting parts like the carry straps, rain hood, and others.
In their assessment of bag function, PING made three significant changes; an addition, a subtraction, and a reallocation. To address the feedback regarding leg droop in the stand bags, PING engineered a new Leg Retention System Basically, it’s a strap that engages a leg retention strap when you lift your bag with the straps, pulling the legs up when the bag comes off the ground. From what I can tell, it doesn’t exert too much force on the stand mechanism, otherwise it would probably fail in time. However, it is enough to prevent leg droop.
Now, regardless on which side of the fence you fall, the most notable absence is the retractable strap. While lots of people love it, more people didn’t–myself included. Additionally, when trying the bag out in the store (empty), the strap doesn’t function as designed so many would-be customers would simply move on. Also, my guess is that the retractable strap could somehow interfere, overcomplicate, or otherwise compromise the utility of the system. Maybe. Either way, it’s gone.
The reallocation comes in the morphing of the top piece to provide more space in the default wood section as more golfers have come to incorporate more hybrids. Whether this comes by taking away from the middle or lower sections or an elongation, I’m not sure. The result is that clubs don’t feel cluttered or crammed as they might have felt in the past.
One omission that bears mentioning is the lack of 14-way divider in their stand bags lineup. PING is aware of the demand for this type of bag and considered this inclusion for the Latitude. However, this is still being evaluated for now. My guess is that more testing is needed to come up with something uniquely “PING.”
To increase the comfort of the bag for the golfer, PING focused primarily on the strap system in their stand bags. They utilized what they coined as “Enhanced Ergonomics.” This basically boils down to a strap system that is about the same as their tried-and-true setup, but also has more of a back-pack functionality. This is accomplished primarily through their strap slider, which can be removed if you prefer the dual strap system. I actually intended to do this immediately, but I was surprised at how well it worked.
Another improvement that GREATLY affects comfort for the golfer are the strap pads. PING utilizes some kind of high-density, low-weight, somewhat breathable foam…or something. It’s nowhere near as plush as what they used to use on the old school hoofers, but it’s comfy enough to give me pause and is MUCH better when carrying on particularly hot days!
Finally, many thanks to PING for the opportunity to chat them up as well as for providing these bags to review. It is always great to see great companies working to interact with their customers–ESPECIALLY when said companies respond to feedback. If anybody has any questions or comments, have at it. :hi:
Ping 4 Series Bag Review by bjackson
Pros: The 4 Series is a great lightweight, fully functional carry bag that has been engineered to address the shortcomings of Ping bags from previous generations. It is a high performance bag that doesn’t rely on frills, but rather high performance standards that are sure to be appreciated by the experienced golfer.
Cons: Due to a market shift towards lightweight bags, thus lighter materials, I feelthat the 4 Series isn’t as sturdy as older models. The plastic handle, while incredibly useful, seems cheap. There isn’t a pen slot on the spine of the bag, which was a greatfeature I’m sad to see go. Also colors are somewhat limited.
Overall: A great bag that anyone who prefers walking to riding should consider. Though there are a few small things I wish were different, the pros outweigh, by far, the cons. There is a reason Ping bags are most popular amongst top-level amateurs and the 4 Series reaffirms why. It does its job very well.
Look: At first glance the 4 Series seems to be a fairly simple carry bag – but don’t be fooled – what it does best is hide from view all the genius engineered features that make it phenomenal. Weighing in at about 4 pounds, the 4 Series is composed of both Nylon and Polyester. It has a 4 way top, 5 zippered pockets, and a water bottle pouch. It is available in 6 different colorways, navy/charcoal, black/inferno red, black/white, white/inferno red, white/royal, and black.
Performance/Playability: There are several points of interest when it comes to the performance of the 4 Series. Foremost is that due to a new design and construction of the dividers,there is less tangling of the clubs at the bottom of the bag. Then there are the leg stops, which help keep the bag from sliding out on slick surfaces, suchas concrete. Also with their introduction of Enhanced Ergonomics (E2) Ping was able to stop the notorious leg-droop people have complained about by means of a strap that connects the legs to the shoulder straps. The addition of a handle to the top of the bag is a nice touch as well for taking the bag in and out ofa car trunk.
Feel: Ping shied away from the retractable shoulder straps they have used in the pastand have gone to a more typical backpack style. Though at first they didn’t fit me great, a quick adjustment of the straps put them in a position that I foundto be comfortable. There is plenty of back support and cushioning. I have used the bag just about daily for the month or so that I’ve had it and have no complaints.
Bottom Line: Ping’s 4 Under is a winner all the way around. It’s a solid, no-nonsense type of carry bag that gives me exactly what I want in a bag. It’s lightweight, has enough pockets, is stable on non-level surfaces, is comfortable to carry, and looks good. The features have been integrated in such a way that while I know they are there, useful and all, it doesn’t scream out look at me. That is what I try to demand out of all my equipment – something that allows the performance to speak for itself. If you are in the market for a bag, do yourself a favor and keep the 4 Series in mind when shopping around.
Hoofer Bag Review by beruo
Pros: Refined looks and beefier construction make this one of best bags available. PING has addressed most golfers’ concerns in this latest iteration, adding features that increase utility without being gimicky.
Cons: The internal dividers on this bag are more “middle of the pack” than what I hoped would be industry leading. It’s no worse than previous generations, which, for me, is the problem. Also, while not an issue for most, the lack of a lefty option leaves me wanting.
Bottom Line: Fans of the old Hoofers should find themselves happy with the new bag, and newcomers who’ve stayed away will find more reasons to swtich. The Hoofer is probably not the perfect bag for every golfer, but it remains the golden standard for stand bags.
A few years ago, I discovered that I loves me my ClicGear push cart. It allows me to carry everything I could possibly need for 18 holes in the sun. However, for a quick nine after work or for hitting the range or par 3 course with the daughter, it was overkill. My latest stand bag has been the SunMountain 3.5, and this will be the basis for my generalizations regarding other stand bags.
Looks: As noted in the Overview, ping has embraced the concept of a “Unified Design Language” to create a distinctive look across their lines. While the 4 Series went with a 3 dark/3 light theme to appeal to younger players, the Hoofer series sees 4 solid and 2 multicolored options that splits between classic offerings (black, blue, and green), and flashier stylings (white, white/red, black/charcoal/red). Other additions that enhance the look are the textured ballistic nylon and the raining PING graphics on the legs. Also, the redesigned top to allow for more space at the top makes for a much less cluttered look while on the course or at the range. And a less cluttered appearance makes it far easier to find and replace clubs.
One thing that was less awesome, at least on this specific bag, is that the material surrounding and inside the pencil opening is white. While it’s relatively easy to clean, ESPECIALLY if you apply Scotch Guard before, it is noticeable if you don’t look when replacing your pencil on the move.
Performance/playability: While this section is geared toward club reviews, it is still very applicable to bags. The engineers at PING have payed attention to the trends and adjusted their bags accordingly. Pocket layout is slightly different so that it can take a bit to find a place for everything, but once you do, everything has its place. Along with the usual suspects, you’ll find a new tee pouch, and an additional valuables pouch designed to hold a gps or range finder, bringing the pocket count to a total of 8.
The pencil holder has been relocated closer to the ball pouch, which initially gave me pause as I was used to one on the spine. However, real world usage proves this to be a more opportune location as it’s more readily available while walking. Upside is: NO MORE PENCIL POKING THROUGH MY POCKET! :good: On the flip side of this, I don’t see the purpose for the pen slot–most golfers don’t use a pen on the course, at least with any regularity to warrant a dedicated spot. If I had my druthers, I’d like to see them enlarge it a bit to accommodate a sharpie instead.
However, this bag is not without it’s drawbacks. The one that stands out from the others is the “full length” dividers. So far, they’ve held, but they seem to be the weak link as there is a lot more give than I’d like–especially given that your pushing down on them with a rubber-tipped shaft. Additionally, here’s a space on each side where the club grips can “leak” into adjacent sections. Club tangle isn’t really a problem (aside from the occasional “leaking” mentioned before), as most people who own Hoofers have learned to lift their bags vertical before replacing a club–a function made MUCH easier with the addition of the top handle.
LASTLY–I would absolutely LOVE to see PING rerelease a lefty Hoofer. Regular stand bags put more weight on the right shoulder, which is the lead shoulder for lefties. By the end of 18 holes, if this wear and tear hasn’t made you reach for an Advil, wait until you hit 30. 😉 Also, when you take your bag off and set it down, you have to walk around your bag to get to your ball. These are two of the primary reasons why I started using a push cart. That and the crazy sale they had on ClicGears a while back!
Feel: This is a comfy bag, with comfy straps and a comfy setup. As mentioned in the overview, the strap pads are some kind of lightweight, high-density foam-type stuff that remains somewhat breathable. The strap slider actually works–especially if you’re coming from a SunMountain bag where it operates as more of a catch that holds the straps together rather than allowing for free movement. There’s no pinching and an even distribution of weight when both straps are used. The overall weight is right at 5lbs. which is the happy medium between comparable SunMountain and Ogio bags. And the improvement in the leg retention system makes it so you don’t have legs banging against your legs!
Overall Bottom Line: Not much I can add that I haven’t already said or otherwise implied. If you’re in the market for a bag, you can do much worse than the Hoofer. While there are a couple things that could be improved, the improvements over earlier generations make this PING’s best Hoofer, in my opinion (granted, i don’t have experience with the first generation, but i do with the second and third). Anyone in the market should definitely check this out, even if they opt for something else.
Before my actual testing–I now put my putter in the top section where there’s plenty of room.
Latitude Bag Review by pitbull808
Pros: Super looking bag with all the features one would want in a carry bag. Features that continually help to make Ping one of the top carry/stand bags on the market.
Cons: There seem to be a few shortcuts Ping took that don’t quite match the price point. I’m guessing these may have also been done to keep the weight down but a few inches of fabric in the dividers and a sturdier handle to me don’t seem to equate.
Overall: A great bag that I’m extremely happy to use. The great features of it easily outweigh the minor shortcomings.
BACKGROUND: I rarely walk. If I do it’s just for a quick 9 holes. Bag weight is never a major priority for me because it’s just a relaxing and short two-hour break for me to enjoy a nice twilight round after a long day of work.
Although I don’t walk often there still are a few priorities I enjoy in my carry/stand bags. Pockets, ease of use, comfortable straps and a stand that actually works well are some of my priorities. These all need to be present because even when I have it loaded on a golf cart, I want everything I need to be in the bag and the ability of it to work just as well as a full sized staff bag.
Looks: The looks of the Latitude stand bag immediately stuck out to me. When given the opportunity to test and review a bag from the 2012 collection, as soon as I saw the catalog, I knew I wanted the Latitude and the blue/white colored version. Although I haven’t followed Ping bags in the past years for me the 2012 Latitudes flashy yet classy looks of it was a great departure from what I’d usually think of a Ping bag. I actually haven’t used a Ping bag since my old GolfWRX Black Ping Hoofer I purchased years ago. The Latitude is miles ahead in the looks and function department. Pockets placed everywhere on it. Love it! There are ten pockets on this bag. As I initially examined it and opened the zippers thoughts kept popping in my head.”GPS here”, “wallet & watch”, “tee/ball marker bag”, Everything I usually have in my bag has its own place. Although it can get confusing about where I put everything, it’s nice to have things separated where I’m not digging into one large side pocket to find my items.
Performance/Playability: The six way top is super. I love the putter well right on top of the bag. It works well walking and when I have the bag in a golf cart. Even if I always have my putter in a cover, the well helps to keep the putter head out of range from getting knocked around by any of my other clubs. I do wish there was a divider that ran down from the well to the bottom of the bag. Either a tube or cloth divider would be nice. I found the when I pulled my driver or fairways out, the putter would end up coming out a few times as well. Not too big of a deal but when the bag is on it’s legs, the putter shaft leans downwards and being shorter then the rest of the clubs it does get caught.
The grab handle on the bag seemed like a short cut Ping took. It’s just a skinny piece of nylon with some rudimentary padding. Comparing it to a number of other stand bags, it seems pretty cheap. I know you’ll probably be only using it to lift the bag out of your trunk or into a golf cart but it seems like the trend on other stand bags is to attach a much more sturdier handle. I have to admit I felt like I’d rip it off the bag…but then again, I doubt most people would have so many clubs stuffed in their bag when heading to the range like me. 😀
A neat feature was the small zipper in the side pocket that enabled me to get “inside” the bag and reach in the bottom. A friend who used to be on the Ping Staff told me it’s not a really new feature but it’s something I didn’t know about. I know there’s been times at the range and course where I’d inadvertently drop something down the bag and I’d be turning the whole bag upside down to get it out. The zipper will really help to avoid those messes.
I also love the new leg stop’s they’ve added to the bag. Such a simple bit of engineering that keeps the bag steady on any surface. I tinker a lot with my clubs (surprise! :tongue:) and there have been numerous times that I’ve brought my bag to my club makers shop only to have the legs slide out from under it. It didn’t happen with the Latitude even if I had it stuffed with three drivers, six wedges and three putters!
The material of the bag is also top notch. My old Ping Hoofer is still looking pretty good after all these years. I expect this Latitude to hold up just as well. Compared to some other bags I’ve owned that some people have touted as great bags, I’ve always felt that the material they used was rather cheap and thin. The Latitude material is very sturdy and seems to be of a thicker gauge then other bags I’ve seen and used. I did spray the whole bag down with Scotch Guard to help make it more water and stain resistant though. It’s something I do with all my bags stand bags. Hawaii’s red dirt always seems to stain them. After my rounds, I’ve wiped the Latitude down with a damp cloth and it looks as good as new.
Feel: Shoulder straps fit very well. I can understand why they call it a “back pack” style. I’m a pretty big guy and most bags seem to fit me like I’m carrying a “junior” bag no matter how much I let out the straps. The adjustability of the straps and the effortless movement of the strap sliders make this Latitude bag fit me extremely well. One of the shortcomings I found in the straps was that I found the cushioning in to be a bit minimal. It wasn’t a major problem though as the straps on the whole felt better fitting but when I just carried the bag on one shoulder, I felt there should have been a bit more padding in it.
The one thing I missed that I know many Ping bag users didn’t like and probably are glad that they’ve gone away from this feature is the retractable strap. I’m probably in the small group that liked the feature. The old retractable strap always “presented” itself to me right away when I went to pick up my bag and also helped to stay out of the way when I had the bag strapped up to a golf cart.
Overall Bottom Line: There’s a reason why you see Ping stand bags all over the driving ranges and golf courses. Ping has probably been making them the longest and they’ve got the features golfers want in their bags. If you’re in the market for a new stand bag, definitely check out the Latitude. I think it’s a super fit for those who’d like the function of a full size staff bag yet don’t want to be lugging around such a big bag. The Latitude fits all my needs.
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.
Review: FlightScope Mevo
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The results of our indoor session are shown below.
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.
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.
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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