Friday, July 13, 2018

Product Review: Swing Caddie SC200 Portable Launch Monitor

Launch monitors are incredibly popular with golf instructors these days, but they’re also incredibly expensive. The data they provide is undeniably important, but the average golfer can’t afford to own one of their own or see a teaching professional on a daily/weekly basis. Thanks to Voice Caddie, price is no longer an obstacle, however.

The Swing Caddie SC200 is a portable launch monitor that provides comprehensive swing data for only $350. Compare that to a popular brand that ranges from $15,000 to $19,000. Granted, the more expensive brand provides an outrageous amount of data, but the SC200 gives a golfer everything he needs.

The SC200 operates in three modes - Practice, Target and Approach - and uses both Barometric Pressure Calibration and Doppler Radar Technology to provide shot statistics with tour-grade accuracy.

When setting up, make sure the device is behind you within 4 1/2 feet and on the same level as the ball. If you’re hitting into a net, make sure there’s at least 6 1/2 feet from the ball to the net.

In Practice Mode, the SC200 displays feedback after each shot, including:
- Swing speed;
- Smash factor;
- Ball speed; and
- Carry distance.

Whoa … Pump your breaks. What’s smash factor and why does it matter? Good question. Simply put, smash factor is ball speed divided by club speed - giving the amount of energy transferred from the club to the ball. The higher, the better, with a smash factor near 1.50 on driver shots being ideal. Smash factor decreases through the bag - wedges generally have the lowest number.

My favorite feature in Practice Mode is the Distance Voice Output. The SC200 provides immediate auditory carry distance. Having the device confirm your feel after making excellent contact is amazing.

You can also review data from the last 100 shots taken in practice mode, making it easy to track improvement.

Target Mode allows the golfer selects a target distance and provides scores for accuracy in a round of 10 shots. I generally hit my 8-iron 155 yards. Target Mode paints an accurate picture on length - giving me the confidence I need to pick the correct club when there’s a hazard to clear.

Approach Mode is a bit of a game and a test. Users are scored by their ability to reach target distances generated at random. We can’t always pick our favorite distances while playing, so we’d better be able to adjust on the fly.

The SC200 is a little bit larger than my iPhone and comparable in weight, so it transports to the course or driving range with ease. And it comes with an easy-to-use remote control to change settings without picking up the device.

We were pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the SC200. On the range it was within the ballpark of every well-struck shot. That said, there was a discrepancy when a shot was poorly hit. I sculled a couple 5-irons that carried about half the distance the device read. I don’t put too much negativity on that, however. If you’re trying to get an idea on how far each club carries, you’re going to zero in on the well-hit balls and consider the poorly hit balls outliers.

Bottom line: The SC200 is worth every penny. For about the cost of a new driver, you can gain invaluable information on every club in your bag (minus the putter). It also adds an entirely new element of entertainment to your sessions at the driving range.

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