Things are heating up quite considerably in the race for best golf launch monitor. If our recent trip to the PGA Show revealed anything, it’s that these shot-tracking and simulator devices, especially for home use, are the biggest economic drivers in today’s golf industry. Brands are investing heavily in what amounts to an arms race to be the best.
Not so long ago, the Bushnell Launch Pro, or more specifically its Foresight Sports GC3 twin predecessor (we’ll discuss the relationship between those two products), stood apart from any competition as the universal choice for best golf launch monitor under $5,000.
But what about now?
What about in 2024 when more great golf launch monitor choices than ever are available?
I got up close and personal with the Bushnell Launch Pro, spending more than a month testing it on the range, in the sim studio, and on the golf course. My pursuit wasn’t specifically to compare it to any other single product. Rather, I wanted to apply my overall experience testing a wide range of golf launch monitors to the Bushnell Launch Pro to see if it stood apart as special.
If you’ve been following the golf simulator space, you’ve heard a lot about how the Launch Pro is so accurate. About how it’s the preferred choice, along with its GCQuad and QuadMAX big brothers, of so many playing and teaching professionals.
And you’ve heard just as much about the moving target that is the Bushnell Launch Pro pricing. The cost and subscription model for this thing has changed at least three times in just the past couple of years.
You might also have heard about software changes and the evolving list of simulator golf course options.
So where do we stand today? Given how fast things are moving in the golf launch monitor and simulator space, is the Bushnell Launch Pro worth buying in 2024?
Well, I’ve got thoughts. Let me share my firsthand experience.
Bushnell Launch Pro vs Foresight Sports GC3
To put it simply, there is no difference.
Except for, there kind of is…
Let me clarify. These two launch monitors are identical in form and function. They are the exact same device. The only difference in appearance is with the logos on the units. In terms of hardware, technology, data delivery, and software interaction, everything is the same.
In 2021, Bushnell’s parent company, Vista Outdoor, bought Foresight Sports. At that point, Foresight Sports had already released the GC3 golf launch monitor. Rather than just leaving things be, Bushnell decided to re-brand the GC3 as the Bushnell Launch Pro, all while continuing to sell the original GC3.
The difference is in how these two products are priced. The Launch Pro includes a less-expensive purchase price but a higher subscription fee. The GC3, conversely, costs more upfront but offers a turnkey, buy-once-cry-once option.
Here’s how the Bushnell Launch Pro pricing breaks down:
- Ball Data Only Launch Pro = $1,999.99
- Ball and Club Data Launch Pro = $3,499.99
- Gold software package for simulation capability with either Launch Pro model = $499 per year, free 14-day trial
With the GC3, the options are:
- Ball Data Only with 25 sim courses and Awesome Golf = $5,999.00
- Ball and Club Data with 25 sim courses and Awesome Golf = $7,999.00
- Ball and Club Data with 25 sim courses PLUS 10 premium courses and Awesome Golf = $8,499.00
So you see that if you buy a GC3, you get full simulator compatibility without the need to pay an annual subscription. That may sound attractive, but here’s the thing: In the case of the Ball Data Only units, even after paying the annual subscription, you could own a Bushnell Launch Pro for eight years before you caught up to what you would pay for a Foresight Sports GC3. It would take nine years to catch up if you bought the Ball and Club Data model. That’s an awfully long time, especially when you consider how fast golf launch monitor technology is advancing.
So, to me, I think most people would be better off buying the Bushnell Launch Pro. Yes, subscriptions are a pain. But the likely lifetime savings makes it worth it.
As far as the data that each of these devices is capable of delivering, we’re going to cover that in this Bushnell Launch Pro review. Spoiler alert: It’s impressive. But… For its price, is it impressive enough? Read on.
First Impressions and Setting up the Bushnell Launch Pro
The Bushnell Launch Pro looks and feels like a professional golf launch monitor. The build quality is extremely robust and very impressive.
And when you compare it to the competition, that impression grows even stronger.
Look, I’m a big fan of both the SkyTrak Plus and FlightScope Mevo Plus. They’re both great products and solid choices for the right type of consumer. And I bring them up here because they are two of the primary competitors to the Bushnell Launch Pro. But both of those launch monitors look and feel like cheap plastic toys compared to the beefiness of the Launch Pro. I mean, it’s not even close.
Then there’s the newest challenger to the throne, the Uneekor EYE MINI. And I have to say, its build quality is also very impressive. You know why? Because it basically looks and feels exactly like a Bushnell Launch Pro! Can you say copycat? In any case, while the EYE MINI is a very nice launch monitor that we’ll review in-depth sometime soon, the Launch Pro is, at least to my eyes and feel, just a bit sturdier and classier overall.
As far as setup goes, this is where my love letter begins.
To me, one of the most brilliant things about the Bushnell Launch Pro is that it has a built-in screen that allows you to see your data without having to interface with any software.
Now, of course, you can interface with the software. And doing so opens up shot storage and review opportunities plus all of the simulator functionality. So, yes, you’re going to want to use software probably most of the time, especially when you’re using the Launch Pro indoors.
But if you’re like me, a lot of the time that you use a golf launch monitor, it’s to get data fast, like during a quick outdoor range sesh or before a round. So having a built-in screen is just a complete separator and one of the primary reasons that it’s so easy to choose the Bushnell Launch Pro when you don’t want to be bothered with the additional steps of pairing a golf launch monitor to a phone, tablet, or computer.
On that same subject, it’s important to note that the Bushnell Launch Pro easily reads shots hit off of natural grass. That’s one of my biggest complaints with a launch monitor like the SkyTrak Plus.
So, yeah, setup with the Bushnell Launch Pro is as simple as it can possibly get. You literally have the option to hit the power button, set the device down on the ground or floor, position the ball within the readable area that the internal display and indicator light confirms for you, and start hitting golf shots. It’s beautifully simple!
You can use a Bushnell Launch Pro without even registering an account. That means that if you ever wanted to loan it to a friend, it’s no problem.
We’ll talk more below about the software options, but as for setting up the Launch Pro for use with the Foresight Sports software, I found it to be really easy. I know some people have reported frustrations having to do with registering accounts and WiFi connectivity. But I didn’t experience any of those problems. Maybe Bushnell and Foresight have solved whatever issues users were facing. But in my experience, getting started with the Bushnell Launch Pro for either indoor or outdoor use is extremely straightforward.
Bushnell Launch Pro Data and Accuracy
Let’s not bury the most important point here: The Bushnell Launch Pro is without a doubt the most accurate golf launch monitor I’ve tested.
Have I tested every single product that’s on the market? No, but I sure have tested a lot of them.
Even still, don’t take my word for it if you’d rather not. Do a little bit of research, and I’ll bet you’re going to get bored after reading over and over and over again about how the Bushnell Launch Pro is so dead-on accurate. Playing pros have said it. Teaching pros have said it. Reviewers have said it. And user after user all say the same thing.
I’ve confirmed distances outdoors with a rangefinder. And I’ve tested indoors with a former professional player who knows all of his numbers cold. I even pitted the Launch Pro against a Foresight Sports GC3 just to see if they really did read shots the same (they did). There’s really no disputing it: The Bushnell Launch Pro is more accurate than any product you can find at this price point and is likely as accurate or even more so than some products costing twice as much. Yes, it really is that good.
So what information can the Bushnell Launch Pro give you?
With the Ball Data model, you get:
- Carry Distance
- Ball Speed
- Total Spin
- Horizontal Launch Angle
- Vertical Launch Angle
- Back Spin
- Side Spin
- Spin Tilt Axis
The Ball and Club Data model adds:
- Clubhead Speed
- Club Path
- Angle of Attack
- Smash Factor
For the Bushnell Launch Pro to read club data, you have to apply a small circular sticker to the top of the face of each club. I’m not crazy about this, but I’m certainly willing to do it to get such accurate data. I’ve found that the stickers are pretty durable and last on the clubface for a long time, even when you wipe off your clubface after a shot.
One thing to note is that club stickers are not legal if you’re playing tournament golf. Most Bushnell Launch Pro owners will probably just leave the club stickers on their clubs full time. But if you’re a competitive player who wants to get club data with a Bushnell Launch Pro, it would mean removing the stickers for competition and then applying new ones when you want to get your data. That’s definitely not ideal, but it’s the price to pay to get this kind of accuracy.
Also, you don’t need to use any special golf balls to get accurate data with the Launch Pro. That’s a plus. And you don’t need to position the balls in any specific configuration as is the case with other golf launch monitors. Another plus. So back to the beauty of a simple setup, to get accurate ball data, you don’t need any stickers or special golf balls. You just turn on the launch monitor, set it down next to the golf ball, and away you go.
While I’m impressed with the Launch Pro’s data set, I think that for the price it could be more extensive. The FlightScope Mevo+ sets the bar for golf launch monitors near this price point. Out of the box, and before even adding the Mevo+ Pro Package, you get 20 data metrics, including things like clubhead speed, smash factor, and angle of attack. With the Launch Pro, you need to pay for the more expensive Ball and Club Data model to get those metrics and others.
With a starting price of $2,199.00 that includes simulator compatibility and no annual subscriptions, the FlightScope Mevo Plus offers a lower barrier to golf launch monitor entry than the Bushnell Launch Pro. And you get more data.
All of that said, when everything’s equal, I prefer using the Bushnell Launch Pro. The setup, the build quality, and the unmatched accuracy are just too impressive for me to recommend anything different in this price range.
That is, unless you’re ambidextrous… Read on.
Space-Saving Opportunities With the Bushnell Launch Pro
The Bushnell Launch Pro reads golf shots with three cameras. The unit is positioned immediately to the side of the golf ball, which means that if you’re indoors, you only need enough room behind you to comfortably swing a golf club.
A radar golf launch monitor needs to sit usually at least 8 feet behind the golf ball. That means considerably greater room depth requirements for an indoor setup.
But it also means that if you’re playing with both righties and lefties, the launch monitor that’s set up behind the golf ball doesn’t need to be moved. Whereas with a product like the Launch Pro, you’d have to move the launch monitor back and forth from both sides of the ball depending on if it were a righty or a lefty hitting a shot.
Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds to realign the Launch Pro. Radar devices on the other hand, especially something like the FlightScope Mevo Plus, are trickier to get aligned perfectly.
This is likely a big part of the decision process for a lot of indoor users. If room depth is tight, it’s just one more reason to put the Bushnell Launch Pro at the top of your list. But if you’re planning to play indoor golf regularly with righties and lefties, this may be a legitimate reason to disqualify the Launch Pro.
Bushnell Launch Pro Simulator Software and Third-Party Limitations
To use the Bushnell Launch Pro as a golf simulator, you have to buy the Foresight Sports Gold subscription package. As mentioned, it’s $499 per year after a free 14-day trial.
What that gets you is access to all of the Foresight Sports software, including:
- FSX Pro (Foresight’s mobile app)
- FSX Play (Foresight’s newest simulator software)
- 25 simulated golf courses (additional courses available for purchase)
- Awesome Golf (a more animated, arcade-like version of simulator golf)
The included golf courses are… OK. I mean, there’s definitely plenty of fun tracks among the 25 included options, but you don’t get any of the big name spots. And it’s a bit of a bummer to realize that it will cost you $150 a pop to add a course like Pebble Beach.
Another bummer is that if you want to use third-party simulator software with the Bushnell Launch Pro, you’re required to buy the Gold subscription. It used to be that you could use a Launch Pro with third-party software like GSPro, the preferred choice for many sim golfers, without having to have a Foresight subscription. Now, you’ve got to pay for the Foresight subscription and the third-party subscription ($250 per year for GSPro).
And still another limitation of the Bushnell Launch Pro is that you don’t have access to E6 Connect, meaning you can’t play simulated golf via a mobile device. Instead, you’ll need a fairly robust computer to sufficiently run the software.
If you clear those hurdles, the sim golf experience with the Bushnell Launch Pro is phenomenal. The new FSX Play graphics are as life-like as you’re going to find in simulator golf. And having the pinpoint accuracy of the Launch Pro as your golf launch monitor means that the experience on the simulated golf course is that much more realistic.
Even putting with the Launch Pro works great, something you can’t say for many golf simulators. And because the Launch Pro is a photometric system that reads the shot immediately, you don’t need a long hitting mat stretch to roll putts. You can putt the ball and let it roll off your mat and the Launch Pro will still read it accurately. It picks up the information it needs at the moment of impact.
Also, the Launch Pro paired with the Foresight software is incredibly responsive, meaning you don’t have to wait multiple seconds between hitting a shot and seeing the ball flight on your impact screen.
To me, even with the limitations, the Bushnell Launch Pro makes for an excellent indoor golf simulator. Pair it with the right enclosure, impact screen, projector, and hitting mat, and you’d have what qualifies as a dream indoor setup.
Is the Bushnell Launch Pro Still Worth It in 2024?
All things being equal, I think buying the Bushnell Launch Pro is the best way that you could spend $2,000 to $3,500 on golf simulator technology in 2024.
But that’s the thing. All things are never equal.
So if you’re planning an indoor setup that’s going to entertain both righties and lefties, I think you should consider a golf launch monitor that sets up behind the ball or is mounted to the ceiling. That would not be the Bushnell Launch Pro.
If you want to play mobile, on-the-go simulator golf, the Bushnell Launch Pro isn’t the right choice.
And if you want a golf simulator but just can’t stomach annual subscriptions, you need to look elsewhere.
But when those factors aren’t issues and you’re just looking for the most accurate golf launch monitor for under $5,000, there’s no beating the Bushnell Launch Pro. That’s been true for a few years running, and it’s just as true in 2024.
About PlayBetter Golf Reviewer Marc Sheforgen
Marc Sheforgen is a golf writer whose passion for the game far exceeds his ability to play it well. Marc covers all things golf, from product reviews and equipment recommendations to event coverage and tournament analysis. When he’s not playing, watching, or writing about golf, he enjoys traveling (often golf-related), youth sports coaching, volunteering, and record collecting.