Today, golfers can access more data regarding their swing. You may have noticed a box beside the golf ball or behind the player and asked what is it. Before you attend the next tour event in your area, it’s important to know about this interesting box and how it is used in playing golf. Well, the box that you see in the range is called a golf launch monitor.

Launch monitors have revolutionized the game of golf and made things easier for players of any level, especially in determining their swings. In this guide, you will learn what a golf launch monitor is, how to use it, and why you should get one. Moreover, keep reading to get some helpful tips on how to analyze and improve your game so you can become a better golfer.

Also Read: Best Portable Golf Launch Monitors

Golf Launch Monitor Guide - What, How and Why?

What is a Golf Launch Monitor?

Historically speaking, launch monitors were invented to test missiles by the US military. This tool was originally designed to measure long bombs in the practice field. Now, they provide data on the ball’s activity to create a technique so that it will fly the way it should. There are so many complicated mathematical workings and readings to understand why you hit that slice.

A golf launch monitor is a device that tracks club delivery and ball flight. It provides specific metrics in order to show whether your golf swing needs improvement or not. In addition, these launch monitor metrics include clubhead speed, ball speed, smash factor, spin rate, carry distance, total distance, roll distance, and flight time.

On the other hand, there are advanced metrics to consider such as launch angle, dynamic loft, attack angle, spin-tilt axis, club path, face angle, and delivered lie angle. Now, let’s focus first on the two main types of golf launch monitors: the photometric and Doppler.

1. Photometric golf launch monitor. This device is designed with a different technology compared to the Doppler type. As the name suggests, this launch monitor uses pictures to measure the metrics and mathematically simulate the ball flight. This may sound easy, but it’s actually just as incredible as the Doppler.

If you’re hitting the ball with your driver, your club will touch the golf ball for about 0.0005 seconds. This means, that the series of images need to be captured in this very short amount of time. As you strike the ball, the camera in a photometric launch monitor uses a high frame rate to immediately grab the pictures.


The images are then analyzed and the early phases of the ball fight are measured. The most important factors considered in the measurement are sidespin, backspin, direction, and speed. These details are fed into advanced algorithms to show the flight based on the pictures taken by the camera. Such systems are also used in showing players how their club travels to and at impact.

2. Doppler golf launch monitor. This is inspired by the Doppler Effect, which explains how this device works. As in physics, as the golf ball moves away from the launch monitor, the ball leaves clues that indicate why it behaves the way it’s acting. The microwaves sent by the radar help detect the waves.

In the process, the device works out this interference through the waves that are caused by the traveling ball. The interference is then measured before it becomes data that is analyzed by an algorithm. This astounding system revolutionizes every golf game, regardless of the player’s level of skills.

The wave interference monitored by the device can tell what the golf ball exactly did while flying in the air through programming and some mathematics. The built-in camera also captures the behavior of the club throughout the flight. This helps provide more information on the movement of the club and how it affected the ball flight.

How to Use a Golf Launch Monitor?

The golf launch monitor serves as the basis of performance analysis since the data it provides is well-detailed. In other words, small numbers show big improvements. If you struggle to be in the simulator while your launch monitor gives you numbers that appear like a code sequence, this technology helps you acquire the substance from the noise.

Instead of focusing on the perfect shot, make sure to consider a sensible average when using your golf launch monitor on the range. Remember, an ideal driver produces consistent numbers, not perfect numbers from a home run shot. Using reliable averages, you can successfully improve your game, without hoping for magic or miracles.

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Make sure to archive your swings so you can go back to understand how you’ve achieved a perfect swing. There are so many golf launch monitor apps that allow golfers to save their scores and review them when trying to make a perfect swing. Launch monitor technology is really game-changing for golfers of any skill level.

As you use your launch monitor, you will notice so many data points. There will only be a few points that will stand out, these are the information you must understand. The following are some of the key metrics that you should consider when using a golf launch monitor:

Carry and total distance. This is how far a golf ball flies and its distance from you after it bounces and rolls on the green. Total distance is important when you evaluate drivers, while carry distance should be considered in irons. Sometimes, launch monitors overstate total distance because these devices calculate roll and bounce differently. Therefore, you should concentrate on your landing angle.
The landing angle has obscure numbers that are noticeable on the monitor. If you’re looking to optimize your total distance using a driver in any condition, your landing angle should be around 30 degrees. If it’s in the low 30s, it means your driver is not a good fit. For 7-irons, the ideal landing angle should be around 55 degrees.

Smash factor. This is a reliable indicator of solid strokes through the center of the club. Basically, the smash factor is the ratio of the golf ball speed to the club speed. If you’re using a driver,   the ideal ratio should be 1.45 or a bit higher. If there’s no variability in the smash factor, that means the golfer is using the right shaft and club combination.
You can apply the smash factor to each of your clubs, however, the ratio of golf ball speed to club speed will decrease since loft also lessens the energy transfer due to a more oblique impact. Ideally, you should get about 1.38 smash factor for your 6-iron and around 1.19 for your pitching wedge.


Attack angle. This is the downward or upward movement of the club while it travels through impact. The angle of attack is measured as a negative or positive number in degrees. In some cases, the attack angle is zero when the path through impact is absolutely even. Generally, you’ll get a single-digit attack angle if you hit the green one foot behind the golf ball, or something strange happens during your shot.    
Attack angles are not the same for each club as they should give a positive digit when using a driver for tee shots, and a negative number for iron shots. If your attack angle is positive, this will help you strike higher and get less spin. However, some golfers gave positive attack angles that don’t translate to a good swing.

Spin rate. All shots have a putt and backspin. A golf launch monitor can measure the backspin, tilted axis during spin rotation, and the revolutions per minute. Generally, you should get a higher launch with less spin to achieve more distance using any clubhead. With irons, your shots are more likely to roll out due to less spin.

Launch angle. Measured from the ground up, this number shows the first trajectory of the golf ball. For many reasons, it’s not the same as your club’s loft angle. Average golfers using their drivers focus on getting double digits for their launch angle such as 12 degrees. Otherwise, you can manage a lower angle to get decent yardage only if you have a higher swing speed.

Ball speed. The speed of a golf ball is measured in miles per hour. It’s the velocity or speed of the golf ball from the impact of the club. Generally, the higher your ball speed, the more solid the contact will be. This equals farther shots and a better golf score. According to experts, ball speed is one of the most important numbers in the golf launch monitor.


When You Should Use a Golf Launch Monitor

Golf launch monitors are helpful, especially for beginners, as they allow you to keep track of your shots and measure ball speed and flight to understand how you play and where your golf game is. If you want to improve your skills and become a better golfer, a launch monitor is your most reliable friend on the course.

By using this incredible device, you can enjoy better putts, more accurate iron shots, and hit longer drives. While you practice, you can easily access important data needed in making informed decisions in the range. More importantly, launch monitors can give you fact-based changes when it comes to your golf swing. Over time, you can expect better results by simply looking at your numbers on the monitor.

So, are you really serious about upping your golf game? Make sure to read this guide before buying a launch monitor to understand why and when you should use this golf tool. There are a lot of tips you can learn to improve your performance in every round.

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