Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor Review
I long ago ceased to be a range rat. When first I decided to take up golf, I spend a full year doing nothing but hitting range balls for fear of embarrassment at a course. But once I had confidence that I could consistently send it forward, I visited the range only after an (infrequent) lesson.
Two things keep me away from the range. The first is that with limited resources, I would rather spend my time and money playing golf than practicing it. The second is that once I had a basic swing down, I never felt as though I really learned anything at the range. Hitting ball after ball downrange could possibly grove a good swing. However, it might also groove a bad one.
That last has changed with the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor. The feedback that it offers makes practice much more meaningful. With each swing, I got immediate data and imagery on distance, ball speed and launch angle, as well as a shot tracer and shot dispersion statistics.
Finally, practice can be purposeful. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. And the Rapsodo MLM can help get you there.
The Rapsodo MLM really is amazing. Not terribly long ago, launch monitors were very high end equipment, suitable only for large operations. Today, the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor is a portable radar system that functions by harnessing the computing and photographic power of an iPhone.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor is produced by the same folk who developed the simulator distributed in the USA under the name SkyTrak. Rapsodo also makes hitting and pitching units for baseball and softball. Rapsodo says that the golf MLM uses the same machine learning technology that helps all MLB teams track their pitching performance.
It’s a data driven world.
Setting up the Rapsodo MLM is fairly easy. After downloading the app to your phone, you go through a setup process that basically consists of waving and rotating your phone above the radar unit. I had trouble getting it to work initially, but with some perseverance I was able to get it calibrated.
Fortunately, the setup is a one-time operation. After that, my phone connected to the Rapsodo MLM very quickly and without trouble.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor is set up about eight feet behind your ball, with the iPhone propped up in it, facing the player. As shots are hit, data is collected and the results displayed on the screen, along with tracing video of the ball flight. A GPS map can be summoned to show shot dispersion.
Once setup is completed, the whole experience is quite seamless. There is virtually no tinkering with the device during practice, which means that you can concentrate on your swing and not on the technology.
Aiding this is an auto club recognition feature. Once set up, the device will automatically recognize the club you are using after you wave it for a few seconds in front of the camera.
The Rapsodo MLM is pretty much magic.
One feature of the device that I am unlikely to ever use is its ability to post shots via social media in real time. The idea is that players can engage in real time competitions, which will increase their motivation. As completely intrinsically motivated person, I just don’t have any need for that sort of thing.
Your mileage may vary.
The Rapsodo MLM comes in a nice structured case. With a hook, it hangs easily from your bag, much like a laser rangefinder.
With its small size, the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor could theoretically be taken to the course. Now that the season is winding down and my home course is often all but deserted, I think I’m going to try that. I am absolutely certain that my swing is different on course than on the range, and the Rapsodo MLM would prove me correct.
I have run into a couple glitches with the Rapsodo MLM, however. First I find that it does not always record swings — and not just the complete failures to launch. In my recent bucket of 75 balls, the device recorded 54 swings. A few of those I understand. I was quite stiff when I started and duffed a couple.
Further, of those that did record, a few only recorded the tail end of my swing. The videos actually start with my follow-through.
I think that there is a good chance, however, that I did not have it properly aimed or at the proper distance behind me.. I also think that I probably need to pause more between shots.
Also — not a glitch, but a characteristic of the phone — I had some trouble seeing the screen when the light was wrong. I think a hood of some sort over the phone could work, but as I write this, I am wondering if it might interfere with the radar. I might design and 3D print one to see what happens.
Further experimentation is needed. I plan on doing a followup article a couple of months from now when my game is forced by Michigan weather off the course and into the range. I’ve got this notion that if I use the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor consistently over the winter, I will enter the next season ahead of my usual schedule.
“We’re excited to be able to leverage Rapsodo’s strengths in tracer technology and real time data to make training for the game of golf easier, more accessible, and fun,” said Batuhan Okur, founder and CEO of Rapsodo. “The Mobile Launch Monitor’s personalization and accuracy will enhance players’ skills and experience.”