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An In-Depth Review of the Long-Awaited SkyTrak+ Golf Launch Monitor: Is it Worth the Price?

An In-Depth Review of the Long-Awaited SkyTrak+ Golf Launch Monitor: Is it Worth the Price?

Find out what it's like to use the SkyTrak+ outdoors, in an indoor golf simulator, get tips for setting it up, and learn how it differs from the GC3 from Foresight Sports!

The golf world has been waiting for the SkyTrak+ Golf Launch Monitor for nine years!

And given that golf tech years move even quicker than dog years, that’s an eternity.

But it has been since 2014 that the original SkyTrak unit debuted and very quickly became the go-to for so many golfers seeking accurate shot data and home golf simulator experiences. 

Since then, a seemingly endless line of similar products from various manufacturers has hit the market. And guess what? Most of these new offerings have surpassed the capabilities of the original SkyTrak unit.

So golf tech nerds like me have been wondering for a long time: When will one of the OGs of golf launch monitors, SkyTrak, up their game to compete with the new kids on the block? And when they do, will they blow everyone away, or will they be just another option in what’s quickly becoming a very crowded market?

Finally, we’ve got those answers.

The SkyTrak+ golf launch monitor in the golf range with golf balls, laptop computer, and golf clubs in a stand bag

So let’s get into it. 

What’s different between the original SkyTrak and the new SkyTrak+? And is the new version, priced at $2,995, really worth a grand more than its $1,995 predecessor?

And what does the SkyTrak+ do better, worse, or the same as some of the other popular golf launch monitors available? Is it accurate? Easy to use? Portable? What about setup?

And finally, what type of golfer should consider purchasing a SkyTrak+? Is it for everybody?

Settle in as I share my first-hand findings from extensive use of this product to help you determine if the SkyTrak+ belongs on your list of golf launch monitor/home golf simulator options.

SkyTrak+ vs. The Original SkyTrak Golf Simulator

We’ve already done a deep dive on this comparison (which you should read), so I’m not going to get too in the weeds here.

The new SkyTrak+ is a MASSIVE improvement over the original model. The original was a trend setter. But since then, it’s been passed by. The new one incorporates all of the golf launch monitor/simulator tech evolution of the past nine years.

The SkyTrak+ golf launch monitor in the grass outside on the golf range

Some (not all) of the key improvements include:

  • Superior accuracy with a combination of photometric and dual-doppler radar technology.
  • Improved club data parameters, including club head speed, smash factor, club path, and face angle.
  • Significantly less delay between the shot and the SkyTrak+ readout.
  • The introduction of “Shot Optimizer” for personalized game improvement.
  • Vastly improved outdoor use capabilities.
  • A 40 percent larger hitting area, meaning the SkyTrak+ isn’t as finicky about ball placement as the original model.
  • Access to more than 100,000 virtual golf courses via subscriptions and compatibility with a range of third-party simulator companies.

Listen, I know $1,000 is a significant amount of money. But, if you’re wondering if the new SkyTrak+ is worth $1,000 more than the original SkyTrak, I gotta say that, to me, it’s a no-brainer. For all you’re getting with the new model, it is 100 percent worth the price difference.

However, that’s not to say that the SkyTrak+ is priced appropriately relative to its competition. More on that later.

Setting Up the SkyTrak+ Launch Monitor

Image of the SkyTrak+ software with image and data on Marc the golf reviewer's laptop

I was a bit disappointed with the ease of setup. Nowadays, I’m expecting something close to brain-dead simple. So many devices are basically plug-and-play ready right out of the box. That was not my experience with the SkyTrak+.

I found the process to be a bit cumbersome. You’ve got to download an app, charge the device and then sync the device to the computer or tablet where you’ve installed the app. Easy enough, right?

My hangup came with syncing the device to the computer.

SkyTrak tries to make the instructions super simple. But I think they could stand to include a few more details.

For starters, when I tried to sync the SkyTrak+ with my computer in “direct mode,” which uses the internal wi-fi connection built into the SkyTrak+ unit, my computer asked me for a password.

Password?

I couldn’t find any such thing on the SkyTrak+ setup screen. Nothing on the device itself either. How about in the manual? Nothing.

Ugh…

Turns out, SkyTrak has published this bit of information, but it’s buried somewhere on their website that was only made apparent to me after I contacted tech support.

I will say that the technician who helped me could not have been more friendly. Very helpful and very responsive. So that’s a big win. I rate the support as top-notch. But the setup instructions themselves could use some tweaking.

Anyway, not a huge deal. And once I did have the unit operating, it was smooth sailing. The device synced with my computer automatically every time with no further issues.

SkyTrak gives you three mode options for connecting the launch monitor to your chosen device (PC, Android, iPhone or iPad):

  • USB Mode - This is a hard-wired connection via a USB cable. Internet connection is maintained in this mode.
  • Direct Mode - This is a wireless connection between your SkyTrak+ and your device. You won’t be able to access the internet, but the launch monitor and device will communicate with each other via the built-in wi-fi connection in the SkyTrak+.
  • Network Mode - This mode incorporates an internet connection, meaning that you could continue to use the internet on your device while you’re connected to the SkyTrak+. This is the preferred mode, though it’s not always an option if you’re using your SkyTrak+ at the driving range or somewhere else that doesn’t have internet access.

I chose to operate in Network Mode whenever possible. The biggest advantage to this mode is that the data syncs with the software live in real-time. In Direct Mode, your data won’t sync until you regain internet access. Also, you need to be in Network Mode or USB Mode to connect with third-party simulator software.

Using the SkyTrak+ Outdoors

The first thing I did after working through the setup snafus was bring the SkyTrak+ to the driving range. I was so excited to see how this thing worked outdoors because using the original SkyTrak outdoors really wasn’t an option.

And my first impression of using the SkyTrak+ launch monitor outdoors: Wow! Like, seriously awesome!

The SkyTrak+ consistently and reliably picked up every shot I hit off of mats. And with very little exception, the ball flight I saw on my computer screen perfectly matched what I saw with the real ball flying on the real range.

There were a few intermittent times where, when operating in Direct Mode outdoors at the range, I lost connection between the SkyTrak+ and my laptop. This caused a few missed shots here and there. But relative to how long I used the device, the amount of “downtime” was minimal.

One thing I really appreciated about the new SkyTrak+ launch monitor when using it outdoors is the 40 percent larger hitting area. The SkyTrak+, just like the original model, shoots a red laser dot onto the hitting surface. That’s where you place the ball so the device can read the shot. With the original model, you had to be very precise in placing the ball directly on the dot. But the new model gives you some wiggle room. I found this particularly useful outdoors. Often, with the glare of the sun, it’s a bit difficult to see the red dot on the hitting mat perfectly. But with the larger hitting area, I knew that if I could just get in the general neighborhood of where that dot was, even if I couldn’t quite see it perfectly, I would be fine. And I was. That’s a big improvement.

PRO TIP: If you ever have difficulty finding the red dot (and you will on occasion when you’re using the SkyTrak+ outdoors), hold your finger right next to where the laser is projected from the launch monitor. Then, with the red dot projected onto your finger, slowly move your finger down to the hitting mat, keeping the red dot projection on your finger. That will show you precisely where the dot is projected onto the hitting mat. And thanks to the 40 percent larger hitting area, once you become familiar with that general vicinity of where the red dot should be, you’ll be able to place the ball where the unit reads the shot, even if you can’t quite see the dot itself.

The SkyTrak+ is very portable, but I wish it had a handle. It’s a little too big to fit into most golf bags easily, so I found that carrying it by hand worked best. A simple handle, something like what the Bushnell Launch Pro includes, would be a welcome addition. But that’s a pretty minor gripe.

What’s not as minor is that with the SkyTrak+, you’re limited to hitting off of mats, meaning you can’t reliably pick up shots when hitting off grass. That’s a fairly big deal to me. Most golfers will tell you that they much prefer hitting off natural turf rather than mats. We go to the range to practice and prepare for playing out on the course. And there are no mats on the golf course, so of course, we prefer practicing and warming up on the type of surface from which we’re going to play. That’s not a reliable option with the SkyTrak+.

The SkyTrak+ launch monitor on the grass at the golf range with vegetation in the background

I did try to use the SkyTrak+ to pick up shots I hit off of grass, but it was totally inconsistent. Sometimes it would read the shot and other times it wouldn’t. And even when it did read a shot, I had trouble trusting the data because the inconsistency just didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

SkyTrak suggests hitting off a tee if you’re going to use the unit to read shots from natural grass. The problem with that is, again, simulating real course conditions. Out on the course, you’re only allowed to use a tee on the tee box. So being limited to only practicing tee shots is a drawback.

Much has been made about the delay between shot and readout with the SkyTrak golf simulator. The original model often had a delay of as much as 4 seconds between when you hit the ball and when the shot was traced on the app. With the new SkyTrak+, that delay is cut down to about two seconds. While it may be ideal to have something closer to real-time, especially when you’re hitting into an impact screen using a projector, I actually like the delay when you’re using the unit outdoors. When I have my laptop set off to the side, I like being able to watch the ball fly on the range in front of me and then turn to the side to see if the SkyTrak+ mimics the same ball flight.

Using the SkyTrak+ Indoors and Comparisons with the Foresight Sports GC3

I talked about the limitations of only being able to use the SkyTrak+ reliably when hitting off mats. But honestly, unless you’re a tour pro, you’re likely to use a golf launch monitor/simulator indoors more than outdoors. After all, that’s what makes these devices so incredible. You can now play golf in your garage, basement, living room, etc. And in all those places, you’ll be hitting off of a mat regardless of which launch monitor you’re using.

So, setting aside the whole hitting surface issue, how does the SkyTrak+ launch monitor perform indoors?

First of all, this golf launch monitor has data for days. Combining photometric and dual-doppler radar technology, the SkyTrak+ gives you everything most golfers could possibly need, including:

  • Ball speed
  • Clubhead speed
  • Carry and total distances
  • Distance offline
  • Smash factor
  • Backspin
  • Side spin
  • Club path
  • Face to path
  • Face to target
  • Launch angle
  • Angle of descent

I mean, there is a ton of information available for every single shot you hit.

But is it accurate?

To find out, I called on a teaching pro friend who uses a Foresight Sports GC3 to teach lessons in his indoor studio. If you don’t know, the Foresight GC3 is the exact same device as the Bushnell Launch Pro. The only difference is that with the GC3, you get everything the unit can do out of the box and without an annual subscription. With the Launch Pro, you pay as you go. Each device is generally regarded as among the most accurate in the golf launch monitor industry. So, I thought a shootout between the SkyTrak+ and the GC3 would be an appropriate test.

PlayBetter golf reviewer Marc swinging in a golf simulator using a SkyTrak+ and Foresight Sports GC3

And I gotta say, the SkyTrak+ scored quite well on the exam.

We set up the SkyTrak+ and GC3 immediately next to each other and with the exact same alignment. We were able to find a sweet spot for the ball placement that allowed both units to read the shots simultaneously.

Shot after shot and with an assortment of clubs, the SkyTrak+ and Foresight GC3 were within one to two yards of each other in carry distance. We were initially noting a bigger disparity in total distance, but after adjusting the course conditions to normal on both golf launch monitors, they were measuring total distance almost identically.

Ball speed and swing speed also measured nearly identically.

I was pretty blown away by the results. I mean, the GC3 retails for $5,999 compared to the $2,995 asking price for the SkyTrak+. To get matching distances and speeds, which are likely the most important data points for most users, is incredible and suggests that the SkyTrak+ might be a hell of a bargain.

But before we get too excited, I must note that not everything was quite as perfect. Consistently, the SkyTrak+ was measuring backspin and side spin rates lower than the GC3. The differences weren’t tremendous, but they were greater than what we were seeing with the distance readouts. But, really, who’s to say which device was producing the more accurate spin rates?

However, the bigger issue was with the club path measurements. It wasn’t a constant issue, but there were numerous shots where the GC3 suggested, for example, a slight pull (slightly closed club face relative to the swing path) while the SkyTrak+ read what would be a severe yank to the left (extremely closed face).

My friend has made numerous Golf Digest top teachers lists, is a member of multiple halls of fame and is a former minitour player. In other words, I’ve got to trust that when he says the SkyTrak+’s club path readings were off, he knows what he’s talking about.

Again, this wasn’t a constant issue. For many shots, both the club path measurements were very close for both launch monitors. But occasionally, the SkyTrak+ would produce some wildly inaccurate path data.

So, is the SkyTrak+ pinpoint accurate as the GC3? I can’t say for absolute certainty, but I don’t believe that it is.

But does it measure the most important things accurately and does it “usually” measure the other data points accurately? I think that’s a resounding yes.

Another comparison between the SkyTrak+ and GC3: The GC3 shows you a visual confirmation on the unit itself when the ball has been placed where the unit can read it. With the SkyTrak+, you get no such confirmation. Again, the 40 percent larger hitting zone is awesome, but it would be that much better if you got a visual confirmation that you had the ball placed correctly.

On the topic of ball placement: With the original SkyTrak, you had to have the ball’s logo facing the launch monitor to get accurate readings. And while that’s still suggested with the SkyTrak+, I didn’t notice much, if any, difference regardless of where the logo was facing. That’s a nice improvement.

I also love that this new SkyTrak golf simulator isn’t one of those devices that requires dots on the ball or a specific kind of golf ball. I find that annoying and too high maintenance. Instead, you can use whatever ball you have on hand.

Another awesome advantage of the SkyTrak+ as it pertains to indoor use is that it measures shots from the side of the golf ball rather than from behind. That means you need considerably less room depth than what is required with a lot of other products.

SkyTrak Golf Simulator Options and Subscription Requirements

One of the best things about the SkyTrak+ is that it is compatible with six different third-party simulator software packages. Through TruGolf E6 Connect, the Golf Club 2019, WGT by TopGolf, Creative Golf, Fitness Golf and ProTee Play, you’ve got endless golf course and game options. Of course, each simulator software package includes a subscription price. 

SkyTrak software showing shot dispersion from side and above

As for the SkyTrak+ itself, there are three software options.

  • Basic Software. This is what’s included out of the box with no extra fee. You get a fully functional practice range and the ability to store your shot history data.
  • Game Improvement. For $129.95, you get a more advanced practice range that includes bag mapping, skills assessment, wedge matrix, shot optimizer and practice randomizer and the ability to use your SkyTrak+ with the aforementioned third-party simulator software options. Also, IOS users get WGT by TopGolf’s Closest-to-the-Hole Challenge on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
  • Play & Improve. To fully unlock all that your SkyTrak+ can do, you’ll need to pay $249.95 annually. You get everything in the Game Improvement plan plus a 15-course pack from TruGolf E6 Connect and 15 courses on WGT by TopGolf plus the WGT by TopGolf Closest-to-theHole Challenge on six different courses.

As for putting with the new SkyTrak golf simulator, you face the same limitations as with pretty much every launch monitor/simulator. That is to say, it’s decent but not ideal. This, along with hitting out of the rough and sand, is the least realistic part of playing a round of golf on a simulator.

Bottom line: If you’ve got a SkyTrak+, the space to swing a golf club indoors and at least the Game Improvement software package, you’re living the dream. From the comfort of your home, you could be playing golf courses like Bandon Dunes, Oakmont, Torrey Pines and Prairie Dunes. Does it get much cooler than that?

Is the SkyTrak+ for You?

When you factor in all of the variables — price, accuracy, data points, subscription options, simulator software compatibility, space requirements and portability — I think the SkyTrak+ at $2,995 out of the box is very fairly priced.

It gives you a lot more data and far better accuracy than several cheaper options. And it comes pretty close to matching what you get with some more expensive devices.

If you’re a teaching pro, playing pro, or someone who just wants to know that they are getting absolute accuracy, you may find better value by spending another $500 for something like the Bushnell Launch Pro.

But if you’re cool with a little bit of a readout delay and maybe a bit of inconsistency when it comes to things like club path data and spin rates, but you still want a launch monitor that gives you close to perfect accuracy, you may prefer to save the money and buy the SkyTrak+. I highly doubt you’d be disappointed.

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.

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