You just bought a launch monitor, now what? Many golfers struggle with how to use their new gadgets. Well, I’m here to help. The goal of this article is to help amateur players analyze data they receive from launch monitors, and how to develop better practice habits utilizing the technology.
The golfing world has become inundated with ball flight data. Watch any PGA Tour event, and you’ll see players on the range warming up with a bright orange box behind their hitting station. But what are the players doing with this data? Surely they aren’t grinding swing changes while warming up for a tournament?! No, most likely, they aren’t. What the data provides them is a connection between the feel of their swing that day and the resulting distance, direction, and spin of their ball flight.
While Trackman has become the clear industry leader for tour players, that $25,000 price tag has most recreational buyers looking elsewhere. Thankfully the market has responded with an influx of personal launch monitors available for $500 or less. Many of these have been tested and reviewed by Practical Golf:
While the more affordable monitors don’t provide quite the plethora of data that an enterprise-level product does, most of them are giving you the “meat and potatoes” numbers:
For most golfers, this is plenty of valuable information. Sometimes looking at data on your swing can be confusing and should only be interpreted by teaching professionals. So what can we do with this data?
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to use a personal launch monitor is with your wedges. Great wedge play is all about distance control, and this is an area where many golfers suffer because they don’t practice enough.
Additionally, almost every product priced at $500 and below will give you extremely accurate yardages inside of 100 yards.
As discussed in this article, effective wedge practice is a blend of blocked (repetitive) and random practice. Hone in on what kinds of swings it takes to hit the ball between 40-80 yards. When you start to get your “feels” for each distance, then you can randomly test yourself. A product like the SC200 Plus has a practice mode that will do this for you, and give you ratings on each shot.
Every golfer wants to be more consistent. The quickest path to consistency is finding a swing speed and rhythm that result in solid contact. Sure, bad shots happen, but swinging within yourself can make them less frequent and less punishing.
Using a launch monitor can help you identify not only how far you’re hitting your clubs, but make it easier to track the distances at which you hit your highest percentage of good shots. I can hit a seven iron 200 yards, but it takes an obnoxious swipe at the ball to achieve it. Success rate? Maybe 3/10. Conversely, if I try to hit a 7-iron 160 yards, I can hit 7/10 shots on a reasonably sized green and find the other three not far offline. The first step of playing within yourself is finding out what swing tempo leads to your best shot pattern. For more help on that topic, check this article out.
Everyone wants to know how they can hit their driver farther. If you want a list of ideas to help you experiment with your driver practice, this article can help.
Along the way, you can use some of the metrics provided by launch monitors to track your progress. When it comes to increasing your overall distance, ball speed is king. Every product in this category will give you reasonable accuracy on ball speed numbers (as well as carry distance).
The premium models, such as the Swing Caddie SC300 and Rapsodo MLM, will also provide you with launch angle, which is another critical metric. On the whole, a lot of golfers are leaving distance on the table with their driver because they launch the ball too low.
Take a look at this chart from Trackman, and you can see that as you launch it higher, with lower spin, you can add some distance to your drives without an increase in swing speed.
There are a few ways you can experiment during practice to help optimize your ball speed and launch angle:
If your launch conditions are reasonable, (meaning you don’t hit the ball extremely high or extremely low), gapping your set can be as simple as counting by fives. Generally speaking, players want to have a ball speed difference of 5 mph between clubs. As long as spin and launch are within acceptable parameters, this will give you nice 10-15 yard differences in distance between your irons and wedges.
If you’re having trouble making these gaps line up, find a local store/pro with a Mitchell Loft/Lie machine and have your clubs checked. As a fitter, I routinely find 1, 2, or 3 clubs in a set (especially an older set) with lofts out of sync from where they should be. A couple of quick bends and those distance gaps are easily cleaned up.
A lot of golfers are training their bodies to move faster these days through workout regiments and Overspeed training with SuperSpeed Golf. Personal launch monitors can track how that training is transferring over to your swing speed, and of course, your total distances.
If you are using SuperSpeed Golf, there are now two launch monitors that can track your swing speed without hitting a ball. The SC200 Plus and PRGR launch monitors can help benchmark your speeds when you are training with the speed sticks.
One of the biggest mistakes that is rampant amongst golfers is that they don’t take enough club into greens. Looking at the data, the vast majority of players are missing greens on the short side, and it costs them easy strokes.
A launch monitor can help you keep track of your distances and give you a more realistic understanding of your shot patterns. For example, you might see when you strike your seven iron perfectly it will go 165 yards, but notice on most shots it’s traveling closer to 145-155 yards because of mishits. Applying this information to your decisions on the course is an easy way to hit more greens and lower your scores.
If you have access to virtual courses, play them. If you don’t have virtual courses, play a course in your mind!! Picture the tee shot on #1. Consider the trouble. Choose your target line. Choose your club. Go through your full routine and hit the shot. Picture where the ball ended up and plan the next shot from there. Repeat this process for all the tee shots and approaches. You’ll find yourself practicing with much more intensity and purpose. That higher engagement in shot planning and execution makes for a much more realistic practice experience. For an added level of fun, track how good your approach shots were and putt on a green or carpet from those distances. Now you’ve got a way to quantify your practice and improvements even in the offseason!
Data doesn’t rule all. Don’t get overly addicted to seeing perfect launch conditions on every shot. This is more of a problem with Trackman because there is so much information. I’ve seen lots of players get bogged down worrying about degrees of club path, angle of attack, and perfect spin conditions on a seven iron. Trust me, no one’s numbers are perfect, especially over an entire round of golf.
Spend more time building a repeatable rhythm, hitting solid golf shots, and doing some of the exercises from this article.
To learn more about the current launch monitors on the market, you can read this guide.
Greg Gibson is a Staff Golf Professional, Certified Clubfitter, Instructor, and Trackman Specialist at Golf Headquarters in Louisville, KY. He previously served as General Manager, Director of Golf, and Head Golf Professional at Shelbyville Country Club. To make an appointment with Greg contact the GHQ Louisville staff at 502-245-8600
Over the past few years, SuperSpeed Golf has become one of the best-selling training aids in the entire golf industry. Their Overspeed training system has been embraced by more than 700 touring professionals and thousands of amateur golfers around the world. They have also done a ton of research into how golfers can add speed to their swings.
Recently, they introduced their second product called the SuperSpeed C. The singular speed stick focuses more on hand and arm speed using a concept called counterweight training. It can be used by itself or in conjunction with their traditional set, which features three clubs that have different weights.
The product description on their website reads:
Counterweight training alters the physics of your golf swing by significantly changing the balance point of the golf club and moves mass behind your hands. This allows for significantly faster release speed of the golf club which produces much faster hand and arm speed in your golf swing.
Ever since the SuperSpeed C debuted at the 2020 PGA Show, there’s been a lot of interest and questions surrounding how it works, and what makes it different from the original release. I’ll try to answer some of those questions in this review, and give you my thoughts on how it could potentially fit in for those of you who are serious about adding clubhead speed to your game.
The idea of counterweighting golf clubs is not new. Interestingly, Jack Nicklaus played them almost his entire career. His clubmaker, Jack Wullkotte, used to add hot lead into the butt end of his shafts because Jack felt that the added weight in the handle allowed him to “stabilize his hands for steady acceleration through the ball,” according to a Golfweek article. Additionally, the club manufacturer XXIO has just announced a set of clubs that have counterweighting.
SuperSpeed Golf was first introduced to the idea by an industry colleague named John Marini. John had developed a prototype for a clip-on weight that could be attached to a club to add weight in the handle. At first, the team at SuperSpeed couldn’t seem to make it work because there was too much overall weight with their current speed training set (which has weights concentrated at the end of the shaft). After analyzing swing speed, release speed, and some other data, there were no noticeable gains with their traditional set of Men’s speed sticks.
When they started experimenting with the lightest model they had from their Ladies and Senior Set, that’s when they began to see some significant results. Adding weight in the handle with a very light weight at the end of the club showed more gains in arm and hand speed than they had usually seen in their other product. So they developed a prototype and eventually brought it to market based on those results.
SuperSpeed Golf has done a ton of research over the last few years to understand what creates speed in the golf swing, and where players lose it. To simplify things, they usually refer to this pyramid:
Their first product targets all three of these factors. What they found, though, is that most golfers experienced more significant gains with ground mechanics and the sequencing of their swing. In other words, players who used SuperSpeed typically learned to use the ground more efficiently and turn their pelvis and torso faster. The third element, lag, which deals more with hands and arms, usually did not see as big of a jump.
The SuperSpeed C targets the hands and arms more efficiently through an extra weight in the handle, and lighter weight at the end of the shaft. For players who are not as effective with that part of their swing, training with the club can help them “feel” that speed more efficiently.
If you take a few minutes to watch this video, it can help explain how golfers can generate more clubhead speed with their hands and arms to help illustrate the concept:
When I first heard about the SuperSpeed C release, I had a similar reaction to a lot of other people who have trained with the original product – how does it fit in?
I spoke with co-founders Kyle Shay and Mike Napoleon to get a little more clarity on that topic.
To make things simple, the traditional SuperSpeed set and the new product are designed to work separately or together. If you go to the training protocol section of the SuperSpeed site, you can find separate workouts for either product. There are also instructions on how you can add the counterweight trainer into your current workout regimen with the original set.
While every golfer might experience different results based on the speed leaks in their swing, here are a few guidelines Kyle and Mike gave me:
So, in theory, they’ve created a “good, better, best” scenario. SuperSpeed C costs $100, and the traditional set is $200. The likelihood is that you’ll have some gains with the counterweight trainer, but perhaps not as much added speed as you would with their original set. If you use both of them together, you’re giving yourself the best chance at addressing all three areas of increased swing speed. As always, it’s impossible to predict how each golfer will respond because everyone’s technique and abilities are variable.
If you want to take a deep dive into the concept, you can watch this webinar that co-founder Mike Napoleon hosted recently.
I’ve only had a chance to train with the SuperSpeed C trainer for a few weeks, but I’ll give you some instant reactions.
First, it’s considerably lighter than the traditional set. I’ve been following the level 1 training protocol, which lasts six weeks. You can view the training by watching this video:
Also, I’ve been keeping track of my speed in each session with the help of the SC200 Plus and PRGR Launch Monitors as a cross-reference tool. Both of these launch monitors allow you to track swing speed without hitting balls, which makes them nice companions in your training.
In the first sessions, I was topping out at about 110 mph but saw increases along the way. Several weeks later, my last session saw a peak speed of 124 mph. I’d say that has transferred about a 1-3 mph jump in driver speed so far, but it’s still early.
I sense that the SuperSpeed C trainer is definitely helping, but perhaps not as dramatically as my training did with the original set. Eventually, I’d like to combine the two to see the multiplier effect it might provide.
One thing I have learned from training with SuperSpeed over the years is that the longer you do it, the more gains you will see, and they will stick with you longer. One question I often get is what happens if you stop using their products – will your swing speed drop? It depends on a few things. This chart from SuperSpeed is a good guideline to use:
It’s no different than any other fitness regimen. If you start to lift weights, bike, or run, it takes a while for your body to adjust. If you quit early, then you can’t expect too much. If you’re committed and follow a smart training regimen, then you’re giving yourself a much better chance of increasing your fitness and strength for the long haul. But eventually, if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
I think SuperSpeed Golf was smart to release this product. It will allow for people who are on the fence for Overspeed training to start at a lower price level with perhaps a less intimidating program. Additionally, it allows thousands of hardcore fans around the globe to enhance their current training by focusing more on hand and arm speed.
SuperSpeed quickly sold out of the first batch of counterweight trainers when they initially released it (they are now back in stock) – so there’s a lot of interest in the marketplace for the concept. While I don’t think speed training is appropriate for every golfer, if you’re serious about adding swing speed, I don’t think there is a better product out there.
Much of the competition is cheap infomercial offerings that don’t have any proven system that guides you through the process. Remember the SuperSonic X10? Or similar products you see on TV- well I bought one, and it didn’t even work.
With SuperSpeed, you can access up to two years of training protocols, and there is plenty of proof around the golf world that their product delivers on its promises (if you put the work in). I would say the main challenge is not the efficacy of the program; it is whether or not a golfer will stick with it.
You can purchase the SuperSpeed C trainer on their website here for $99. You can receive a 10% discount at checkout using code PRACTICALGOLF.
Putting practice is one part of golf that almost every player can do at home. As such, there are TONS of putting mats and training aids available now. So much so, that it’s hard to sort out what’s worth your money and what isn’t. Over the past year, a new product called the Perfect Practice Putting Mat has risen above the noise and taken social media by storm.
After meeting with the co-owners of the product at the PGA Show recently, I discovered a cool story of entrepreneurship. A couple of guys were sick of the poor quality of putting mats on Amazon, so they set out to design a product that addressed all their flaws. With the help of a clever social media strategy involving pro golfers, they now have one of the more coveted putting products out there.
After spending hours putting on the Perfect Practice mat, I’m impressed by its quality, challenge, and addictiveness. In this review, I’ll address all of its key features and help you decide whether or not it’s worth spending a little extra money on compared to other products out there.
It’s not too often that a putting product gets a lot of attention on social media. The only other brand that’s “blown up” recently has been PuttOut Golf.
If you’re on Instagram, you may have seen a video of the Perfect Practice Putting Mat; that’s how I first heard about the product. In the short time that it’s been out, they’ve managed to rack up some nice testimonials from professional golfers. March Leishman, Vijay Singh, Charles Howell III, Lydia Ko, Joaquin Niemann, and Jimmy Walker are a few of the names that have come out with positive testimonials.
As you know, tour validation is one of the key selling points of just about any golf product. Most of the time, it is through endorsement deals. When I stopped by the Perfect Practice booth at the PGA Show I asked the co-founder Oren Kantor how they managed to get all of the testimonials from tour players. He told me it was just through a lot of hustle. They kept reaching out to pros to see if they’d be willing to try out the product.
Smylie Kaufman was the first player to post a video to his 200k followers, and they managed to keep getting it in the hands of other players. Oren said all of the messaging from tour players is unpaid and 100% authentic.
I can tell you what they’ve managed to do is extremely hard. Whatever small amount of notoriety this website has managed to garner, I continuously get offers from inventors of training products. I can’t imagine how often tour players get badgered. The fact that so many have been willing to try the product, posted videos of themselves using it, and allowed the company to use their testimonials publicly, speaks volumes.
The strategy has succeeded pretty quickly. Since launching in January of 2019, they’ve sold out several times, according to co-owner Ed Mileto. Whoever gets the product, whether they are a tour pro or a regular golfer, seems to enjoy putting on it and keeps spreading the word.
My curiosity was peaked, so I just had to try it for myself.
There are a lot of subtle touches about the Perfect Practice Putting Mat that make it a viable at-home practice aid. I’ll summarize the main features I noticed after spending many hours putting on it.
Here’s a quick video of several putts so you can see how it functions when you make, or miss putts:
Perhaps the most crucial part of this product is the quality of the surface they used. Compared to budget putting mats I’ve tried, the artificial turf on the Perfect Practice is a much higher quality. You can expect a faster, more true roll, which is essential when you’re working on your putting stroke.
One thing you should know is that it will take about 24 hours for the mat to flatten out. You can make that process go a little faster if you use an iron (not the golf kind).
Another thing I noticed is that it works well on either a carpet or a hardwood floor. The material is quite thick and resists slipping, which makes it viable on multiple surfaces.
While I would say both surfaces will give you relatively fast speed, a hardwood surface will quicken the pace.
Also, you should know that there might be subtle breaks based on where you place it. On my carpet in the basement, depending on where I put it, there would be a small break in either direction, which honestly is not such a bad thing when it comes to practice. You can probably expect to get little or no break on hardwood, but that depends on your floors (not every floor is perfectly level).
My number two observation after hours of practicing on the mat is the level of challenge it provides. The combination of the faster speed along with the option to putt to a smaller hole increase the difficulty.
Years ago, when I had the SKLZ Accelerator mat
, I eventually lost interest in using it because it got monotonous. The lack of speed made it easier to sink putts over and over again continually, and ultimately, I lost interest because there was no way to make it harder.
No matter what level of putter you are, I think you’ll find it is hard to make many putts in a row either on the conventional-sized hole, or the smaller one.
For example, I had my wife (not a golfer) try out 10-20 putts from the longest distance on the mat (around nine feet). She only made a couple of them. Because the surface is faster, you have a smaller margin of error on your start line.
During my sessions on the mat, I found myself going back and forth between the larger and smaller hole, depending on the distance I was putting from. For whatever reason, when I tried to stop, I kept having that “just one more putt” feeling come on – similar to an addictive game on your phone that’s hard to put down. Overall, I think that’s the product’s strongest feature; it’s engaging and fun.
I’ll confess; when it comes to putting practice, I can get lazy. Despite having a nice platform set up in my basement that resembles a real green, I still invested in a small gadget that spits the ball back at me. For me, one of the best features of the Perfect Practice mat was no matter what kind of putt I hit (short, in the hole, or missed long), I could retrieve the ball within an arm’s length of where I was standing.
Some of the other premium putting mats out there do not have any ball retrieval system or any type or border. So if you’re practicing on a hardwood floor, and putt off the back end of the mat, you’ll be chasing your ball down the hallway. Or, once you’ve gone through your 3-6 balls of practice, you have to walk to the other side and pick them all up.
Other cheaper mats do feature a similar retrieval system to the Perfect Practice Mat, but they don’t function quite as well, and you’d be putting on a less realistic surface.
I think the combination of the retrieval system and the quality of the surface is what makes this product reasonably unique in the current marketplace. You’re able to get both. If you keep anywhere between 3-6 balls in the tray, you can keep putting on repeat for as long as you want without having to bend down and pick up a ball.
When you’re working on putts inside of 10 feet, you’re alignment and ability to start the ball on your intended line become even more critical.
Like some of the other premium mats out there, I think the Perfect Practice has some excellent design features. Having the distances marked, along with the various alignment lines and borders, helps give more structure to what you’re practicing.
I would recommend experimenting with putting outside of the lines as well. For example, I found it even more challenging to putt across the mat to the hole on the opposite side. So if my ball were on the left side, I would aim at the smaller hole on the right, and vice versa. You’ll challenge yourself to align yourself properly without the help of the lines.
Aside from the functionality, another thing the Perfect Practice Putting Mat has going for it is its appearance. How it looks may or may not be a big deal for you, but it could be for your significant other.
The combination of the finished wood on the exterior, and the grass design on the turf, make it look a lot nicer than black plastic and the deep green you’ll find on budget mats. So if the mat will be prominently displayed in your house or apartment, it will fit in a bit nicer in the room.
Again, this might not be a vital feature for some people, but after the product sat in my house for a couple of weeks, I did notice it was less of an eyesore than some other products I’ve tried.
Practicing your putting inside of 10 feet is very important. These are the distances where golfers have a decent chance of making putts.
I often bring up these stats to give people perspective on putting, and its difficulty:
Using these percentages as a guideline can help benchmark your progress. There are plenty of different games you can play to keep yourself engaged and challenge yourself to build your putting skills. Here are a few you can try out:
Like most reviews I do on premium products, the question always comes up, “Is this thing worth the money?”
In a random coincidence, one of my friends randomly sent me this text message a few days before I even got the mat.
The Perfect Practice Putting Mat retails for $150 on their website. They’ve given me a code for Practical Golf readers, so you can get 10% off using code PRACTICAL10 at checkout to help a little with the cost.
But $135 or $150 for a putting mat isn’t exactly cheap. There are plenty of products on Amazon for $40 – $70 that have similar features. Those mats were the inspiration for this product, and I believe that they made a better version.
While I can’t account for all of your budgets, I think if you invest the extra money, you’ll get a better overall experience. My hunch is you’ll get to practice more effectively, but more importantly, you’ll stay more engaged and use it longer. If your goal is to improve your putting at home, investing a bit more could be worth it. That’s not to say the budget mats are entirely worthless, though; this is just a better mousetrap.
Also, there are some other considerations from other premium mats. There are a lot of mats that have a similar quality turf in the $80 – $100 region. But some don’t have a real hole or a ball-return feature. I think the primary considerations are the ball return element and having a “safety net” for your putts. If you don’t feel like walking to the other side of the mat to retrieve your balls, or if you are putting on a hard surface and don’t want to chase a golf ball down the hallway, then investing the extra money could be worth it for you.
Overall, I think the Perfect Practice mat combines many of the features missing from some of its competition into one product. You’ll pay more for them, but I suspect that is the main reason why this product has been so popular as of late.
You can purchase the Perfect Practice Putting Mat on their website here. Using code PRACTICAL10 at checkout, will you get you a 10% discount.
Also, they have just announced pre-orders for their Compact Edition here. A larger version that is about 14 feet is on the way as well.
Wedge play is one of the more unique areas of golf compared to approach shots and tee shots. Your practice should reflect those differences.
This is an area of golf that can quickly lower scores for players of all levels. It can help you save more pars, but more importantly, help reduce double bogeys (or worse). Think of wedge play like a security blanket, or an insurance policy for your golf game.
Additionally, everyone can gain proficiency no matter their skill level or physical capabilities. You’ll never hit a 330- yard drive like Rory McIlroy, but you can hit wedge shots like him from time to time.
Distance control is paramount with your wedges. Because you are closer to the hole, your dispersion (left to right tendencies) becomes less of an issue compared to your full swing shots. The main challenge is matching feel and technique to specific yardages. It’s not the same skill as stepping up to a 7-iron and taking a full swing.
A lot of golfers ignore wedge practice to their detriment. Most players are missing more than 50% of greens in regulation throughout their round. That means more often than not, you will have a wedge shot that will require some precision and feel.
While blocked (repetitive) practice might make more sense in other parts of the game, with wedges, I believe it makes sense to divide your time between blocked and randomized practice. You want to hone your technique and distance control through repetition, but at the same time, be able to “dial-up” a specific distance at will. Combining these two practice methods will help do that.
I start every practice session with wedge shots that are less than full swings and urge you to add them to your training if you haven’t done so already. In this article, I’ll give you a basic framework on how to practice with wedges more effectively.
To clarify, when I talk about wedge shots, I’m referring to anything less than a full swing. Those are the shots that require more feel and an alteration in technique (compared to a full swing).
Feel is something that can’t necessarily be taught or learned through reading an article, book, or YouTube video. You have to earn it through repetition.
So whether you are trying to land a wedge shot 35 yards, or 80 yards, your body needs to be athletic and feel that distance. It’s no different than a quarterback trying to throw a ball to a spot where their wide receiver can catch it in stride, or a baseball player throwing a ball to home plate from a specific place in the outfield. Through training, your body starts to learn what all of those distances feel like.
On top of that, whether it’s a short chip shot around the green, or a 3/4 swing with your lob wedge, you need a repeatable technique that you are comfortable with. I don’t care what it looks like. What I do care about is if you are comfortable with it. Do you feel confident that you can land the ball on the green most of the time using that technique? If you can satisfy both of those questions, then I would say you’re giving yourself the best chance at success.
Sometimes golfers get caught up too much in how things look with wedge play, or the ability to play multiple shots. Get good at one shot rather than being mediocre at four different ones. Your goal is to land the ball on the green most of the time. Getting inside of a 5-foot window consistently is unrealistic.
To satisfy both requirements of feel and technique, you will need to put in some work in a blocked (repetitive) format. Since I don’t discuss technical advice, you’ll have to find that information elsewhere. The basis for my wedge play was learned through Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible
and his clock system. More recent books like Your Short Game Solution by James Sieckmann or The Art of the Short Game by Stan Utley could help you as well. In my opinion, your best chance of getting help with technique would be through taking lessons.
To hone in on various distances and improve your technique, you do need to hit shots to the same target continually. Often, when I practice, I like to start with a distance between 40 – 50 yards. When I can lock in the feeling of that distance, I’ll move on to another one, like 75 yards. Your goal is for your brain to store that information. If you don’t practice these distances, you’ll be unprepared for them on the course.
In the beginning, it might take more blocked practice to gain skills with various distances. You then can get to a place where you need small(er) refreshers, but I still believe these are “foundational” shots for any golfer that requires continual commitment.
Once you have put in the work through blocked practice on various wedge distances, you can begin to test yourself. Randomly hitting wedge distances has become one of my favorite practice techniques.
For those of you who are interested in purchasing personal launch monitors, it’s my number one recommendation on how to use them effectively. Some of them, like the Swing Caddie SC200, will have practice games built-in that will challenge your distance control.
Additionally, most of the products I’ve tested below $500 are very accurate from distances inside of 100 yards.
If you’re at the range or home hitting into a net, you can pick out different targets with each shot. Keep cycling through yardages between 20-80 yards. See how skilled you can become at landing the ball within a reasonable window of those distances.
If you have access to a short game facility, I would also encourage you to practice from different lies. As you know, a lot of wedge shots will occur from the rough or a bunker. Testing how the club reacts from different lies is also another element of randomness that you should add to your practice if you can.
As a side note, I believe improving these “awkward” wedge yardages will also help your full swing shots. I consider it another core form of practice that golfers of all levels should be doing. That’s not to say it should take up the majority of your practice time. For many of you, devoting anywhere between 10-20% of your practice time, depending on your current skill level, makes sense.
I know how fun it is to practice how far you can hit your driver. I love doing that as well. But if you want to become a more well-rounded (and better) golfer, do not ignore wedge play.
To summarize my two practice methods:
Rinse and repeat.
My recommendation is to start your practice sessions with these shots for two reasons. First, they are a great way to warm up your full swing. Secondly, if you get to them first, you won’t ignore them later!
Over the last couple of years, the hottest gadget category for golfers is personal launch monitors. The $500 and below group has more competition than ever. The latest entrant is the PRGR launch monitor
. Many of you have likely seen the infomercials on the Golf Channel since it is being offered through Revolution Golf.
The PRGR is actually a launch monitor that has been on the market in Japan for several years already under a different brand name. It was recently repurposed for the US market and is only being offered $199 as a means to capture budget buyers.
I’ve tested almost every single launch monitor that’s out there, and I have to be honest that I had my suspicions. Most products that have been pushed as infomercials on the Golf Channel are junk. I wrote about many of the popular ones over the years in my mini expose. On top of that, the PRGR looks cheap compared to the slicker units out there.
Like any other product that comes through my door, I give it a fair shake and focus on its performance rather than looks. The PRGR surprised me. After testing it indoors and outdoors, I was surprised by its accuracy. I’ll go over its performance, some drawbacks, and where it fits in amongst its competition in this review.
I tested the PRGR launch monitor both indoors and outside. Typically, I have found most radar-based products to struggle when hitting inside because they don’t have enough room to see the ball travel.
As a control, I used my SkyTrak launch monitor
inside. While SkyTrak is not perfect, I’ve found it to be within 1-3% of accuracy when compared against enterprise-level products like Trackman and Foresight Sports. SkyTrak also costs $2000, which is 10x the cost of the PRGR. If you read my review of SkyTrak, you’ll see it offers far more features.
What I am mostly looking for is ball speed and carry distance discrepancies. Swing speed is not directly measured by SkyTrak and is estimated.
On the whole, I was impressed, and to be quite honest, shocked at the PRGR’s performance inside. When I was able to get the correct distance behind the ball and have enough space between the net and myself, the readings were quite accurate.
Here is a summary of the differences I saw going through my bag:
|Club/Launch Monitor||Carry Yards||Ball Speed||Swing Speed|
|LW – PRGR||67||62||58|
|LW – SkyTrak||67.25||64||61|
|9i – PRGR||138.5||102.75||74.5|
|9i – SkyTrak||143.25||103.25||78|
|6i – PRGR||183.25||123||85|
|6i – SkyTrak||185.75||122.75||85.25|
|Driver – PRGR||263||154.5||101|
|Driver – SkyTrak||255||150.75||102.75|
Every launch monitor has tendencies. My instincts told me that indoors the PRGR
was quite accurate on wedge shots inside of 100 yards, which I have found to be the case with many budget launch monitors (and typically the kind of practice I encourage). I felt that it was slightly underestimating my carry yardages with shorter irons by 3-5 yards. Interestingly, on longer shots, such as my 6-iron, the yardages were almost spot on.
Also, I found that SkyTrak has a tendency to underestimate my carry yardages with my driver. The PRGR actually was showing my ball speeds and carry distances that I’m used to seeing on more expensive launch monitors like the Foresight GCQuad.
When radar-based launch monitors have more space to see the ball travel, they typically perform better. I found that to be the case with the PRGR as well. Although range balls aren’t the best way to get exact ball data for your game, I found that the PRGR did an excellent job of showing carry distances that I was seeing on the range. It registered almost every shot with relatively accurate yardages I hit with few exceptions.
Again, don’t expect perfection. No launch monitor, regardless of the cost, gets it right every time.
One thing you should be aware of with this product is that everything has to be set up correctly. You need to play around with how far the PRGR should be behind the ball (it recommends anywhere from 3-5 ft). Additionally, you want it to be exactly behind the ball. I found that it has a very narrow measuring zone – so if you hit some shots offline a bit to the right or left, it might have difficulty reading the shot.
Perhaps the most critical feature to get right is choosing the correct club. The PRGR launch monitor
allows you to select the club you are hitting before each shot, and this is a must if you want to get accurate readings. My preference is that it allows you to choose the lofts of your irons. Some of you might find that if you have more modern irons with lower lofts, you would have to select a club lower on the device. For example, selecting an 8-iron when you are hitting a 9-iron. This is a feature you should expect to play around with a bit to find numbers you are used to seeing.
Lastly, I found that the PRGR (and many other products in this category) perform best when you’re striking the ball relatively well. If you’re hitting a few “duds” out there, expect it to struggle with reading. Although, you should have a pretty good sense if you’ve had an extremely errant swing anyways.
I have to say I was legitimately surprised by this miniature launch monitor. The PRGR doesn’t look very impressive, but it is very good at providing carry distances, ball speeds, and swing speed data that is relatively close to what I know are my average numbers. The versatility of using it indoors and outdoors is a plus, though you might see varying results based on how much space you have inside.
I would say the PRGR is for those looking to buy a launch monitor that is very basic and doesn’t cost much. It is definitely a no-frills offering. There is no accompanying app that models like the Swing Caddie SC300, Rapsodo MLM, or FlightScope mevo have. Another budget model that costs a little more is the Swing Caddie SC200, which has a remote control to adjust the club you are using and does display loft (along with a few other features).
For $199, you can’t expect much, but I’d say this is an entry-level product that’s core value is its carry distance accuracy. The competition has more features if that’s what you’re looking for.
You can purchase the PRGR launch monitor here
Here are other articles I’ve written on launch monitors:
SuperSpeed Golf has become one of the most popular golf training aids in the past few years. I tested it when it first came out, and since then have used it to help generate more speed in my swing. A lot of readers of the site have become interested in their Overspeed Training system, and want to know more about their training methods.
Recently, SuperSpeed added a bunch of new protocols to its training library. It allows golfers to continue training for almost two years. There is a lot of research behind the exercises, and I’ll highlight a few details behind their core drills.
The step-change drill is one of the fundamental exercises to develop more speed with SuperSpeed clubs. I’ve done it many times in their level 1 training protocols.
Here is a video showing how it works:
The benefits of the step-change include:
Common tendencies are:
The kneeling drill is one of the new exercises in the SuperSpeed library. You start with your knees positioned directly under your hips, press the club forward slightly, then swing back and through aggressively.
It’s important to note that your swing speed will be about 20% less than standing swings.
The benefits of the kneeling drill include:
A common question is how to modify the kneeling drill for older golfers, or those who might feel pain or discomfort. Instead, you can place your feet together using the following drill:
Also, since the kneeling drill is a more advanced protocol, golfers should wait until they have completed protocol one training before doing this exercise.
The heel-stomp drill has gained in popularity over the last year, particularly on professional tours. It’s part of the level 4 training
You start in normal golf posture, then press the club forwards slightly, swing the club back lifting the lead heel, start your downswing and stomp into the ground with the lead heel, and then swing through aggressively. Here is a video of the heel-stomp drill:
The benefits include:
If you’re interested in learning more about all of the training protocols from SuperSpeed, you can check this page out. For golfers who are serious about wanting to increase their swing speed, and are willing to put the work in, I believe this is the best system available. There are a lot of other products on the market, but many of them are quite gimmicky and don’t work. So beware of a lot of the claims out there!
Practical Golf readers can receive 10% off their SuperSpeed Golf purchase using coupon code practicalgolf at checkout.