An enjoyable and highly accurate launch monitor that gives you vast amounts of data at your fingertips. While it struggles with use at the driving range, when using real golf balls in a net or home studio, the Approach R10 is one of the richest and rewarding launch monitors on the market.
Huge amount of data on offer
High degrees of accuracy
'Home Golf Hero' a unique and highly enjoyable feature
Temperamental with alignment
No ball normalisation feature
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Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor Review
Portable launch monitors are very much in vogue at the moment and is one of the biggest golf gear trends we've seen in 2022. They offer a much cheaper alternative to the Trackman and GC Quad devices while also being portable enough to easily fit into a golf bag. Introducing the Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor, one of the more-premium devices in this sector of the market and, despite a few niggling concerns, represents a compelling overall package - but is it the best portable launch monitor on the market?
Watch: Dan Parker's video review of the Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor
It's a premium feeling, compact device that comes with a tripod and a phone stand all in a convenient carry case. To use, simply place the R10 around 6ft behind the ball and hit away. You then connect the device to a smartphone or tablet and all the data is display on screen. It's a fairly seamless process (we did have some problems with the initial connection out of the box), but when it's up and running the feedback onto your smart device is instantaneous.
The R10 Approach gives you a wealth of data at your fingertips after each shot hit. It comes with the obvious, industry standard metrics of carry distance, total distance, ball speed, clubhead speed and smash factor, but it also looks at a lot more. Also tracked by the R10 is an abundance of club path analysis including: face to path, launch direction, club face angle, attack angle, launch angle and spin axis. You can use and analyse this data as much or little as you want, but it gave us a clear understanding of how we were striking the golf ball and where to improve and offers a lot more insight versus the PRGR Portable Launch Monitor and on a more pleasant display than the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor.
Next, any launch monitor worth its money has to be accurate. While we haven't been able to pit the R10 against a more premium launch monitor yet, we have been able to corroborate that this is a highly accurate device when using proper golf balls. A good barometer we've used this year when reviewing other portable launch monitors is our on-course data using Arccos Smart Sensors. We've been using Arccos for the best part of a year now and it has tracked thousands of our real-life shots on course for distance. Very pleasingly, after going through our entire bag on the driving range mode, the total carry distances matched our on-course data. Similar accuracy was found in clubhead and ball speeds that matched our numbers on TrackMan.
We stress 'proper golf balls' because one place where the R10 does struggle is at the driving range. With no ball normalisation feature, using range balls often warps the data and gives misleading information. While the club path data remains sound, the lack of ball normalisation meant using the R10 at the range to gather distance data was tricky. This became increasingly frustrating as it's where a lot of people will be looking to utilise the device. While we wouldn't expect ball normalisation as standard on a device at this price, it was very frustrating to see such confusing numbers at the range.
Where we had most fun with the R10 was in a golf net, using real golf balls with plenty of space. Here, the R10 Approach was accurate, fast and gave us great feedback on our game. If you have a net in your back garden, or perhaps a home studio set up without a launch monitor, we think the R10 Approach is a fantastic option here.
We used two of the main features on the R10 Approach during our testing: Driving Range and Home Tee Hero. Driving range does what is says on the tin and allows you to go through your entire bag while the device tracks each shot. It will then log every shot and provide you with averages of each club. If you don't already have a clear idea about how far you hit each club, this feature makes it easy and clear to gain a deeper understanding of your game. There's also the option to record your swing and watch it back at a later date. This is where the phone handle comes in as it straps to your bag to record the swing - yet another useful layer of the functionality on the R10 Approach.
The Home Tee Hero feature is one that makes this product stand out from other portable launch monitors on the market. This feature is effectively a golf simulator, allowing you to play over 42,000 preloaded golf courses worldwide. We played our home course - Fulford Heath Golf Club - and were impressed with accurate is was to real life. The display and graphics on course have a more arcade style to them, but we found this charming. Think Wii Sports Golf but you're hitting real golf balls. In short, it's a lot of fun and makes practice more focused at the range or in a golf net and will complete any home studio set up you many already have.
Home Tee Hero does require a monthly subscription, but this is a model we're all used to now. Indeed, the £7.99 a month matches that of many TV subscription services and, like any subscription you take out, it's only worth the money depending on how much you use it and, for me, this represents decent value if you use it often. You're not locked into any contract and if you don't want it for a month you simply cancel the subscription as the Approach R10 still offers loads of functionality on its own through the Driving Range mode.
Overall, despite a few issues at the driving range, we think the Approach R10 is a fairly compelling package in the portable launch monitor market. If you have access to a golf net (at home or your local course) or are looking to create a home studio, this product is must-have if you're in the market. Home Tee Hero is a stand out and unique feature however, if you're likely to mostly use this device at the driving range, you might want to reconsider.
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Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands.
Dan is currently playing:
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2
Hybrid: Ping G425
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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