Podular Golf: Launch Monitor and Ball-Tracking Guide

Posted: February 3, 2022

For over a decade, ball-tracking and launch monitor technology has become an essential tool for PGA professionals and coaches. Their insight data has proved invaluable for game enhancement, and the devices are now being utilised across the industry for driving ranges, coaching, club fitting, indoor simulator experiences and broadcasting.

Offering all the versatility, accuracy and simplicity players need to benefit from it, ball-tracking technologies are being used worldwide to enhance the practice experience.

We have been discussing technology with our clients in depth over the past year as they decide which products to invest in, and how best the features on offer benefit their facility.

We have devised a simple guide to showcase the history, features and benefits of the industry’s leading brands, including what they do, how they work and where is best to use them.

TOPTRACER

Suitability: Driving range

Technology: Camera-tracking system

Features: On-screen ball trajectory, ball-flight analysis, interactive games and challenges, multi-player features, sync to mobile or tablet.

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(Image Credit: GlobalGolfPost)

Daniel Forsgren, founder of Toptracer, was frustrated watching golf and not being able to see the ball. Setting out to solve this broadcasting floor, Forsgren began developing a new type of camera with sensors to detect a golf ball mid-flight, and in 2006, Protracer was born. The PGA tour, European Tour and major television outlets all flocked to partner with Protracer, finally giving their viewers the opportunity to see the ball in real-time.

In 2012 Protracer launched their first driving range series, using the same technology as tour golf, but for social golfers to use inside driving range bays. 4 years later in 2016, TopGolf Entertainment Group acquired Protracer to become the Toptracer brand we see today.

The technology works by fitting cameras above the driving range bays which are linked to a monitor and data system to deliver on-screen graphics and insights to the player every time they hit a shot. The monitor will display the ball-flight alongside multiple stats including; ball speed, distance and carry.

Multi-player options are also available so guests can play virtual games against each other to offer a dynamic and inclusive environment for players of all ages and abilities to enjoy the sport. Players can also download the app and store past shot insights to track progression and save playing history.

Toptracer is being used by driving ranges across the globe as we advance further into the technical age of golf, and it is a top choice for driving ranges looking to integrate technology into their facility and offer versatility for all players.

TRACKMAN 4

Suitability: Driving ranges (multiple doppler radar system), simulator rooms (single player launch-monitor)

Technology: Doppler radar system

Features: On-screen ball-trajectory, ball-flight analysis, swing analysis, interactive games and challenges, virtual championship courses (simulator), multi-player features, online app, portable (single-use launch monitor), WiFi.

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(Image Credit: BusinessInsider)

Trackman have dominated the launch-monitor industry, with tour practice grounds scattered in orange boxes gathering stats from some of the best players in the world. Endorsed by the PGA at their Belfry Academy, professional golfers and domestic golfers alike are investing in Trackman technology to enhance how they practice the sport.

Unlike Toptracer, Trackman uses a doppler radar to track 3D movements of the club head through the impact zone and the full ball-flight to landing position. Single use Trackman systems can be used by putting the device behind the ball and striking a shot.

The frequencies are then analysed to produce accurate ball-flight, club-head and swing data. Trackman also offers the ultimate indoor simulator experience for professional or domestic use. Play championship courses, re-create iconic tour shots and enjoy all the benefits of an authentic indoor golf experience.

Driving ranges have also introduced Trackman technology to their facilities, adding ball-tracking features to deliver on-screen insights to players after each shot. Multiple doppler radars and GPS trackers are positioned on the outfield to read frequencies.

The stats are then displayed on monitors in your bay, and you can download the app to view them on your own device and store your playing history. For driving ranges, single-use range practice, indoor swing rooms and domestic simulator rooms, Trackman’s system won’t let you down.

SKYTRAK

Suitability: Simulator room, driving range (single use)

Technology: Photometric System

Features: On-screen ball-trajectory, swing analysis, ball-flight analysis, interactive games and challenges, multi-player features, virtual championship courses, online app, portable, WiFi.

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(Image Credit: MyGolfSpy)

SkyTrak is a photometric launch monitor designed to capture a series of images of the golf ball to analyse the dimples and markings to calculate the ball’s speed, launch, back-spin, sidespin and side angle, providing professional grade accuracy to golfers looking for a mid-range product that offers all the mod-cons of its more expensive rivals. The images are captured and sophisticated algorithms then calculate a realistic 3D ball flight model for players to view.

The first SkyTrak launch monitor was released in 2015 when SkyGolf teamed up with SportTrak to successfully bridge a gap between the high-end and lower-end launch monitor market. The price is competitive and the system still maintains a high degree of accuracy.

The Skytrak launch monitor is renowned for its usability, and the built in Wi-Fi feature makes it easy to pair with your device. Strike the ball and the ball-flight will appear on your device’s screen followed by data insights. You can switch to full numbers mode and even make the fairway narrower if you really want to challenge yourself.

With an accelerometer-based internal levelling system and auto-calibration, this easily portable and highly reliable device is a very popular choice for golf facilities looking to invest in swing room technology, or for domestic golfers in pursuit of a launch monitor for domestic use. With added features including championship courses, closest-to-the-pin challenges and multi-player settings, SkyTrak has achieved a tour level system for a mass market price.

FORESIGHT SPORTS GCQUAD

Suitability: Single use driving range, indoor simulator room.

Technology: Photometric (4 camera sensors)

Features: On-screen ball-trajectory, ball-flight analysis, swing analysis, virtual golf courses, multi-player use, USB/ WiFi

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(Image Credit: LascoPress)

Located in San Diego, California, Foresight Sports design and manufacture performance analysis and game enhancement technologies. Their product portfolio includes launch monitor technology, simulators, performance entertainment software and smart mobility solutions for a range of different sports.

As innovators of the ground-breaking camera-based launch monitors, Foresight Sports introduced their pioneering GC2 ‘Game Changer’ Smart Camera system to the market in 2010, and within six years it became the top-selling professional grade launch monitor system ever made.

In 2017, Foresight Sports unveiled its latest addition to the GC series; the GCQuad. Featuring a revolutionary four-camera system, the device reads ball, club head and putting data, and has since been awarded Golf Digests Editors Choice Award for Best Launch Monitor Technology.

Endorsed by the tours longest driver; Bryson DeChambeau, amongst other iconic tour professionals, its popularity and ultimate professional grade system make this launch monitor the pinnacle of its kind.

The monitor has an in-built screen to display insights as well as an audio feature that reads them aloud. Paired with a simulator and the GCQuad offers an unrivalled indoor golf experience.

The GCQuad and Trackman 4 have been in fierce competition, using two different techniques that both provide unrivalled accuracy. The industry-old debate of photometric versus radar has no right conclusion.

Both systems have proven their consistency and achieved tour endorsement, with both brands dominating the professional market. If you are looking to invest in high end photometric launch-monitor technology, you will struggle to find a more robust and consistent device than the GCQuad.


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