Welcome to Part 1 of our Golf Launch Monitor Guide. In this post we will look at what golf launch monitors are and what they do.
Launch monitors have been a part of the golf industry for well over two decades. As the technology has become more advanced and user-friendly, they have soared in popularity, especially within the commercial side of the industry for club-fitting and coaching. In the more recent past, launch monitors have become increasingly popular with consumers looking to improve their golf at home or at the driving range.
Today, there are a variety of launch monitors available that provide data and measure golf performance in different ways. But, in general, they are all trying to provide crucial feedback about the flight of the golf ball and the delivery of the golf club. For coaching, fitting, professional tours and for home users of all abilities, launch monitors are proving to be a vital asset to fully understand each aspect of a golfer’s game.
What is a launch monitor?
A golf launch monitor is a piece of technology designed to measure the golf ball and in some cases the golf club, as accurately as possible.
The early launch monitors were used almost exclusively by manufacturers for the development of golf clubs, focusing heavily on the driver. The goal was simply to create the best combination of speed, launch angle and spin to generate distance.
As the golf club manufacturing and fitting process became more sophisticated, launch monitors started to grow in popularity among PGA professionals who recognised the advantages of monitoring their swings. Golf retailers even began using them to provide consumers with the correct golf clubs for their individual requirements.
The next stage for launch monitors was to provide reliable golf club and club face feedback. This information provides coaches with an incredible tool to give players a complete analysis of their swing, and an understanding of why the ball flies a certain way. The introduction of launch monitors for golf coaching has been proven to increase the rate and longevity of a player’s improvements.
The continued development of launch monitor software allowed golf coaches to begin teaching lessons indoors in golf simulators. Offering indoor practice, coaching and club-fitting completely revolutionises the ability of a golf business to trade all year round without losing revenue in the winter months.
Now, with many years of experience and advancement, launch monitors have become an integral part of almost every aspect of the industry, including fitting, coaching, gap testing, short game, putting, practice, and benchmarking.
What is the goal of a launch monitor?
There are a variety of different launch monitors available today that are attempting to measure the golf ball in some way, with a select few also measuring the golf club.
The primary goal of a launch monitor is to provide crucial feedback about the ball launch conditions immediately after impact, and the ball flight created from those launch conditions.
The launch conditions can be thought of as how the ball is moving immediately after impact. Those launch conditions are: speed, spin (back and side), horizontal launch angle and vertical launch angle.
To fully appreciate the job of a launch monitor, it’s important to understand that the value of the launch conditions are at their highest immediately after impact. As soon as the ball has left the club face, all the launch conditions are continually reducing or slowing. Immediately after impact, the launch conditions are almost entirely unaffected by any external / downrange factors; they are also the only factors of the ball flight that the golfer and golf club are directly, and solely, responsible for.
It is crucial for the launch monitor to be able to measure those data points as soon after impact as possible. Arguably, accurately knowing the launch conditions is more valuable to the golfer than just knowing how far the ball has gone. This is because the golfer has sole control over the launch conditions, whereas external conditions, such as wind, could impact ball distance. These should also be the data points that a coach or fitter focuses on, as they are what the golfer and golf club can actually control.
If the launch conditions are measured immediately after impact, and assuming there are no additional downrange conditions present (i.e. wind / rain / change in elevation) then the flight and landing point of the golf ball can be determined. The better a launch monitor can measure launch conditions, the more accurately it will be able to predict the resultant ball flight and carry distance.
In addition to the golf ball, the more advanced launch monitors are also able to measure golf club data. The data provided depends on the launch monitor and the way it measures, but the majority will provide data such as club speed, club path, angle of attack and face angle. A crucial component of club data is knowing the impact location of the ball on the club face, as that has huge implications on the ball flight.
To find out more about Foresight Sports’ range of launch monitors, click here.
Read the next article in our Golf Launch Monitor Guide to learn about the data produced by launch monitors.
You are also welcome to explore our PEAK online education platform. The training will help you understand how to read and interpret launch monitor data and let you hone in on target areas to improve your golf.
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