Foresight Life

The importance of launch monitor closed data


Foresight Sports has been the most used golf launch monitor worldwide for many years, especially since the release of the multi-award winning GCQuad in 2017. However, the last 12 months has seen a rapid emergence of the GCQuad launch monitor on the PGA Tour and European Tour. That uptake has led to numerous questions about the technology and why it’s being chosen over its doppler radar competition.

In a recent interview, Rick Cuellar, Director of Sales for Foresight Sports, suggested that the major reason was due to the way the GCQuad directly measures the launch conditions of the golf ball, rather than tracking flight and calculating launch. The Foresight Sports method of data capture produces ‘Closed data’ which is proving crucial for the players.

How Foresight Sports Technology Measures the golf ball

The goal of a ‘launch monitor’ is to determine the initial movement of the golf ball – the speed, vertical and horizontal launch angle, spin, and the spin-tilt axis (side spin). The launch monitor then knows how that movement creates ball flight and ultimately where the ball will travel. 

Foresight Sports golf launch monitors use ultra-high-speed cameras, running at 1,000s of frames per second, to image the golf ball through the first 30cm of flight. The GCQuad has four cameras meaning it can see the ball from multiple angles and produce an exact 3D model of its movement. 

By locking on to the dimple pattern of the golf ball the Foresight launch monitors are able to accurately measure speed and launch, and can also measure the spin and axis-tilt to sub-millimetre precision. With this precise launch data, they can tell the player exactly what they caused the ball to do and how that ball would fly in an isolated, or ‘closed’ environment. The data is ‘closed’ because it is not impacted by outside conditions.

The image below shows an example of the capture sequence from just one of the GCQuads cameras. The image shows the incredible clarity of the golf ball even to the point of being able to read the logo and determine which way the ball is spinning. In this example the ball can be seen rotating with a leftward axis-tilt which would cause a draw for a right-handed golfer.  

GCQuad ball capture sequence

The issue for doppler radar technology is that it needs far greater than 30cm to track enough data points in order to try and calculate the launch conditions. This often results in the ball flight having been affected by outside conditions such as wind, and therefore the calculated data does not reflect what the golfer caused the ball to do. The player is then left to guess what they caused the ball to do and how much the ball was impacted downrange. Learn more about the comparison between camera and radar on our what we measure page.

Why is Closed Data so important? 

For years it was accepted that having a system that could track as much of the ball flight as possible, and then tell you where that ball went, was the gold standard for launch monitors. But, thanks to ultra-high-speed camera-based launch monitors, that view is changing.

The difference is whether it’s better to know where the ball went in the current conditions, or where the player caused the golf ball to go irrespective of conditions.

The advantage of having directly measured data, in an isolated environment, is that the player can see exactly how their club delivery caused the ball to move. This provides them with a full set of ‘baseline’ numbers. Using that closed-data they can then make on-course decisions to react to changing conditions.

The example being that on a practice day the wind might be off the left, causing all the ball to move further to the right then the player intended. That wind also means that, if the player is hitting to a target downrange, they have to adjust their swing to compensate for the wind.

However, with the closed data from a Foresight Sports launch monitor, they could see that they were actually moving the ball slightly right to left (for example) and landing the ball on their target line, but the wind was causing the golf ball to finish right of the target.

Practicing in this way then provides two pieces of information. The first are the ‘baseline’ numbers – the player can see the isolated numbers that they are producing. They can also see how the wind affects those numbers. So, with the wind off the left they could see that their ‘normal’ 5 yard right to left shot actually produces a straight shot because of the wind. This is hugely valuable information for reacting to conditions on course.

The same comparison can be made for on-course practice, which is why we see so many of the Tour players using GCQuad launch monitors on the course during practice rounds. The players can stand on a Par 3, for example, with a large elevation drop from tee to green. Using their GCQuad, they can determine what ‘baseline’ numbers result in the ball landing on the green. It may be a 150-yard hole but, because of the elevation change – and using the GCQuad – it could be that their ‘baseline’ 135-yard shot actually hits the middle of the green.

When considering all options, it is vital for players, coaches and fitters to know the ‘closed data’ to be able to make reliable analysis for any shot. Without closed data it’s impossible to accurately determine what is causing the ball flight / shot shape. 

The same is also true for any golfer, of any level. If you are having a club-fitting or a lesson then you should be demanding a launch monitor producing closed-data. Otherwise, all you are seeing are numbers that you (combined with the downrange conditions), produced on that specific day. You could see entirely different numbers from one session to the next, just because the wind changed direction.

All golfers should be more aware of the downrange wind conditions during their practice sessions, regardless of using technology. It’s incredibly easy to hit balls, see the ball flying a certain way and then think you are causing that flight. But then on the golf course see the opposite shot shape.

Foresight Sports launch monitors have revolutionised club manufacture, club fitting, coaching, practice and now the data that the Tour players are choosing to trust. This revolution that seems set to continue as more people understand the power of closed data. 


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