Welcome to Part 4 of our Golf Launch Monitor Guide, following on from our article on the different types of golf launch monitor.
In this post we will look in detail at what golf launch monitors can be used for, how they are used, and the impact they can have on your game.
How can a launch monitor be used?
In this section, we will give an overview and explanation of some of the ways a launch monitor can be used, either for business or personal use. In reality, there are nearly endless ways that a launch monitor can be used for improvement or entertainment purposes.
A launch monitor is a tool used by PGA professionals and golf coaches to speed up client improvement and track changes. When determining how the golfer is effecting the ball flight, the launch monitor, particularly one that measures the golf club, eliminates all uncertainty.
Golfers can observe and better grasp exactly what they are doing and how they may make an appropriate alteration to improve. This is helpful for both golf pros to drill straight into the potential concerns. As the data identifies specific areas for improvement and eliminates all guessing, PGA pros have discovered that a launch monitor leads to quick and long-lasting improvements among their customers.
A launch monitor is becoming an essential tool for both club fitting and testing because it is the only real way to quantify the difference from one club to the next. The launch monitor can show fractional differences in every aspect of ball flight meaning the fitter can truly dial into the best possible club set-up for that golfer. Without a launch monitor, the fitter would rely on watching ball flight, therefore estimating the best option – a launch monitor completely removes the guesswork.
Much like with club fitting, a launch monitor is the only way to truly gap test a golfer. A gap test is when the golfer hits shots with each of their clubs to measure the distance they hit with each club and understand the gaps between them, highlighting where additional clubs are required to fill the ‘gap’. Gap testing is an underused tool in golf and a great potential revenue stream for a business with a launch monitor.
Ball fitting is still a relatively new application for launch monitors, although, without one, accurately fitting the best ball is nearly impossible. Much like with club fitting, the goal of a ball fitting is to dial in on the best possible golf ball for that player and their goals.
Some golf balls are better suited for hitting long distances while others might prefer more control. Without a launch monitor, it’s near impossible to properly know the difference in performance from one ball to the next, using a launch monitor means that players and professionals can fully understand their optimal set-up.
Benchmarking is a feature that can be used by either a golfer or a professional. Benchmarking is the process of measuring the golfer’s numbers when playing well, this gives a benchmark for their ‘good’ swing. It means that when they are struggling, or their swing doesn’t feel right they can compare back to their good swing and make the necessary changes. Once again, this is something that really cannot be done without a launch monitor.
Numbers based practice
Many golfers spend hours of their time, and significant amounts of money, at driving ranges where they hit numerous golf balls with next-to-no feedback, and have no way to measure whether they are improving or not.
Using a launch monitor not only means you can practise at home (with a golf simulator), it also means that the golfer knows exactly how their actions are causing the ball to fly. Practising in this way allows players to improve far more quickly and ensure their time is used much more valuably.
Testing the effect of water / rough / sand
Finally, a way that launch monitors are often used on the tour or by manufacturers is to test the effect of different conditions on the way the ball reacts. Water, long grass and sand can all drastically change the launch conditions of the golf ball when compared to a neutral environment. Without a launch monitor, there is no reliable way to properly understand the effect of these different conditions and therefore no way to understand how the player should treat them differently on the golf course.
How are launch monitors used in a simulator?
One of the single most common uses for a launch monitor is to power a golf simulator. The huge advantage, especially of a camera-based launch monitor, is that just about every single application for the launch monitor can be used inside and outside with the same accuracy and reliability.
In addition to that, a simulator also means you can play golf inside, practice on the course and the driving range, and compete in a wide variety of skills challenges all from the comfort of your home.
For a business in the golf industry, a golf simulator is a must-have; it means that the business can operate 12 months of the year without any interruption due to weather or a lack of daylight. Golf simulators also provide secondary revenue streams as members can hire them for course play or practice.
How is the launch monitor data displayed?
There are multiple ways to view the data produced by a launch monitor. Within a simulator, the data would usually be displayed on a laptop or PC, however, there are other ways it can be displayed.
Launch monitors such as the GCQuad or GC3 both have onboard display screens allowing the player, or coach / fitter, to instantly see the numbers from that shot. This ease of use is one reason that Foresight Sports has become the most used launch monitor seen on professional tours. When data is displayed in this way the shots are not recorded or stored within the unit.
Another way to display data is via a phone or tablet app, this combines the portability of a launch monitor with the storage and data analysis of computer software. Many launch monitor customers use phone or tablet apps when practising on the range or on the course in order to review their data and keep a history of each session to look back on in the future.
What should you be aware of when using a launch monitor?
A golf launch monitor is an incredibly powerful tool but there are some key things to be aware of to ensure that the best and most reliable data is being measured each time.
Wet ball / club
A golf ball’s initial launch circumstances and subsequent flight can be significantly altered by a wet ball or club face, so it is crucial to make sure they are both dry and clean, unless particular testing is being done to compare the effects of different ball and club conditions.
Issues with foot spray
There are some golf launch monitor companies whose technology is not able to measure impact location. Some of these companies suggest the use of ‘foot spray’ (or an alternate face spray) to see where the ball has impacted the face. It’s important to note that using foot spray can greatly affect how the ball flies, making it difficult to determine whether the spray or the strike itself caused a change in flight.
The best, and most reliable, way to measure the impact location is using a launch monitor that can directly measure the face of the golf club, such as the GCQuad or GC3.
Distance from device
When considering the purchase of a launch monitor, especially for use in a simulator with limited space, customers should always be aware of the distance that the device needs to be from both the ball and the hitting screen.
When compared to a camera-based launch monitor, which can measure all launch circumstances within a few feet of ball flight, a radar-based launch monitor requires substantially more space in order to provide useful information.
To find out more about Foresight Sports’ range of launch monitors, click here.
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.