Cheap Vs Expensive Launch Monitor Test

In this cheap vs expensive launch monitor test, we try and determine if you get what you pay for

Cheap Vs Expensive Launch Monitor Test
(Image credit: Future)

Cheap Vs Expensive Launch Monitor Test

Launch monitors are becoming more and more commonplace among golfers of different abilities - no longer is their use exclusively by tour pros. The emergence of the best portable launch monitors that come in around the $500 mark means that access to vital shot information is much more accessible. Knowing how far you hit each club is crucial when you find yourself over a testing approach shot out on the course and the best golf launch monitors can also provide invaluable feedback during a coaching session when trying to make a swing change through be able to quantify any improvement.

So do you get what you pay for when it comes to launch monitors? That's what we wanted to find out, as they can cost upwards of $15k. So we took the Rapsodo MLM, which has an RRP of around $500, and the Foresight Sports GC2, one of the very first premium launch monitors to hit the market that came in at around $9k. It is worth pointing out that this model has since been replaced by the Foresight Sports GC3 but at the time of filming (Summer 2021) represented a premium, reputable launch monitor that golfers had access to.

As you can see in the video below, we took them both to the driving range at West Hill Golf Club and hit lots of different shots with various clubs and both launch monitors running at the same time to see what differences, if any, in the data there would be and try and determine if one was more accurate than the other. Perhaps more importantly, we wanted to conclude if a less expensive portable launch monitor is something you should consider investing in?

Ease Of Use

Rapsodo MLM
The Rapsodo MLM works in conjunction with the free app on your iOS smartphone resting in the slot at the front positioned six feet behind the ball. The lines on the screen and the GPS overhead view help you align it correctly and select your hitting direction for enhanced accuracy. Navigating through the app on a small screen is a touch fiddly but its arguably as user friendly as it can be.

Foresight Sports GC2
The GC2 unfolds and has a little stand at the front that you pop out. You need to place it in front and on the target side of the ball so be careful not to shank one! It pairs with your iPad to display all the data you collect from the device but the GC2 has a screen itself that displays the key parameters like ball speed, launch angle, spin and carry distance, so you don't need to keep looking at a small screen to stay up to date with your performance.

Accuracy

Rapsodo MLM
The data stacked up very well with what we were accustomed to, like with saw on the Garmin Approach R10 and PRGR Launch Monitor, with subtle differences in strike creating small changes in launch and carry distance. There were a few anomalies that were easily discounted, and the data points are fairly basic (frustratingly backspin is not included) but there’s enough on offer to form valid opinions about your clubs’ performance - we liked seeing the standard deviation for each club.

rapsodo MLM launch monitor data

The data on the Rapsodo is clearly displayed and when you tap on the club it will show the averages

(Image credit: Future)

Foresight Sports GC2
It's difficult to know which launch monitor, if any, was absolutely correct but knowing how far the flag was away and seeing where balls landed the GC2 seemed to be absolutely spot on most of, if not all of the time. We didn't get any questionable readings although sometimes when hitting on grass shots weren't detected - possible because grass and mud got in the way of the cameras capturing the ball off the clubface. But this happened very infrequently.

foresight sports gc2 data

The GC2's app screen is somewhat archaic, but the data is presented in a clear and concise fashion

(Image credit: Future)

Features

Rapsodo MLM
The Rapsodo MLM has a clever feature where you hold the club in front of your phone's camera and it will automatically record the club you're hitting. It also provides a video playback of your swing with a shot tracer graphic, which most of the time reflected the shot we just hit. It also uses your phone’s GPS to see where all of your shots land on your actual range or course.

Foresight Sports GC2
The main feature of the GC2 is its accuracy and consistency - it doesn't have many bells or whistles although there are some nice graphical displays in the app that shows the results of your shots in different ways, although the overall feel of the app is quite dated. If you add on the HMT to the GC2 you then also get club data, but you do need to put at least one sticker on the club for it to be tracked, which some might find inconvenient.

Versatility

Rapsodo MLM
It comes with a compact carry case that easily clips on to your bag. It’s only compatible with iOS devices currently but it does come in both an outdoor and net mode tailored to the two most common practice scenarios.

Foresight Sports GC2
Not as compact or easily portable as the Rapsodo MLM - it comes in a much larger protective case. But because it doesn't track the ball flight in its entirety - just the first few feet - it is easily useable indoors on a simulator, under a covered bay or hitting outdoors either on the range of the golf course.

Overall Appeal

Rapsodo MLM
A little more affordable and more suited to the golfer that is content with more basic information about their shots. Easy to get set up and the app is well-designed although the fact it is only compatible with IOS devices is a stumbling block.

Foresight Sports GC2
Not many golfers will be able to afford the accuracy of the GC2 or its replacement the GC3. Perhaps they would be better off booking a session to gain access to the information with their local pro as the clarity it provides is arguably worth the time spent.

Conclusion

In summary, we were very impressed by what the Rapsodo MLM offers for the price. The carry distances, most of the time, stacked up well against the premium GC2 and as long as you spot the occasional dodgy reading the takeaways from the data will be useful in ascertaining how far you hit each club. It has lots of extra features too that broaden the appeal, like the video playback with shot tracer and the ability to see a dispersion chart on the actual range you're hitting on. 

The GC2 provided a simpler, faff-free and more reliable experience. It can be used more easily on the course too - just plonk it down, turn it on and away you go - but the data readings were far more consistent. That said, it is a lot of money to own one when the Rapsodo MLM does a similar job for far less money.

Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.


During these enjoyable years he has had some money-can't-buy experiences, like interviewing Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy one-on-one and covering the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. 


One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 87 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 4.7.


Joel's current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2, 9° 

Fairway wood: Titleist TSi3, 15° 

Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18° 

Irons: TaylorMade P770, 4-PW 

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 50°, 54° and 58° 

Putter: Evnroll ER2V 

Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x