For many golfers, keeping track of your game is as simple as penciling numbers on the scorecard. Then there’s the group that wants more insight behind those numbers. Fortunately, due to hypersonic advances in technology opening doors for a slew of game improvement gadgets, the sport has become very data driven to better understand what led to those birdies, pars and bogies – or worse.

We hear television announcers constantly referring to a golfer’s swing or ball speed while we watch the colorful-lined flight path of the golf ball. But how important is this information to the viewer at home? Well, if trying to relate to Tour player stats, the numbers are not that relevant. Not theirs, at least. Plus, while this data is vital to a professional golfer’s performance the thousands of dollars it costs to obtain it has always been far beyond the pocketbook for us run-of-the-mill golfers. Until now.

Voice Caddie, which introduced the world’s first voice-guided GPS rangefinder several years ago, is also the company behind the most affordable portable launch monitor to hit the golf landscape and regardless of anyone’s golf skills or how tech savvy they are, it is simple to operate.

The voice enabled SC200 Swing Caddie ($349.99), approximately the size of an iPhone, not only uses a Doppler radar sensor but is equipped to provide nearly as much information as a Trackman or FlightScope, including carry distance (from driver to lob wedge), swing speed, ball speed, smash factor and even barometric pressure to adjust for accurate readings depending upon what elevation you’re playing.

Considering the cost difference between this portable launch monitor and the ones used by golf instructors, just how precise is the data coming out of this tiny unit? According to Voice Caddie, the SC200 Swing Caddie has been put up against the super expensive Iron Byron testing machine and the results have proven to be extremely comparable.

To get started, insert four AAA batteries (provides up 20 hours of use) into the unit, turn it on and position (has a small flip-out stand) approximately 4.5 feet directly behind the ball. A remote control is included to allow for setting whatever club (plus loft) is being hit and for switching between three different modes:

  • Practice: Displays immediate feedback on the preceding shot.
  • Target: Set the distance for any club and the unit displays the carry distance.
  • Approach: Yardage (from 30 to 100 yards) is randomly selected allowing you to target those distances and then attributes points based on how close you are.

Following each swing, in addition to the screen display, all functions provide a voice output of the results.

Personally, I’m not one to spend much time on the driving range but now whenever I do, the Swing Caddie SC200 brings a lot more fun into the experience by providing easy-to-understand accurate data and the ability to track my stats over a long period of time. Whether it helps the scorecard is a whole other story.

By Robert Kaufman