With ball data accuracy and computing speed at the level of the professional units, this little beast is the reining champion launch monitor of golf simulation for good reason. It's ease of use and budget-friendly price point has caught the admiration of the golfing community, with ever-expanding features and fun.
What is the best home golf simulator?
Wow what a question. You can review 10 different products and get 10 different answers, as each monitor review will no doubt come up with a different top pick based on individual preferences. That being said, to pick a golf simulator to be the best it would have to be one tried and tested for top accuracy, features, ease of use, and price with hundreds of five stars customer reviews to back it up. In this monitor review the easy answer was the SkyTrak Launch Monitor.
But you don't have to take my word for it, a little known magazine called GOLF DIGEST (heard of it?) has awarded the SkyTrak the blue ribbon in the "Best Golf Simulators" category a whopping 3 years in a row - 2017, 2018, and most recently 2019. And I see no reason for the trend to stop there as I await this year's results!
In this SkyTrak review I'm going to dive deep into the benefits and potential drawbacks of owning one of these bad boys. Although the price might be a bit higher than your typical birthday present, I still believe the SkyTrak machine is well worth every penny, and pales in comparison to the cost of other launch monitors that produce a very similar experience.
By the end of this SkyTrak golf review, I think you'll see that being able to play simulated courses and hit balls anytime regardless of weather or time of day is priceless for any golf junkie. If you have a question or comments please feel free to contact our team via email or leave your email address at the bottom!
A Simulator for the Recreational Golfer
The secret to the success SkyTrak has achieved is that it has been able to provide the accuracy and rapid feedback of the elite commercial launch monitors while cutting back on some of the more unnecessary software features. This combination keeps the customers raving about the affordability yet premium experience found only with the SkyTrak.
It's no secret that every touring pro uses a golf launch monitor to some extent. And until recently, it took a pro golfer's salary and sponsorships to be able to afford the cash for one of these gadgets. A professional-grade simulator setup the pros use with a commercial launch monitor can easily set you back up to $30,000!
SkyTrak literally changed the game by offering a launch monitor that instantly and accurately measures ball speed, launch angle, backspin, side spin, carry distance, and tons of practice features, all while at a price far below the others, making it quite a deal and something I personally could not resist.
The premium $10k+ brands such as Foresight, Flightscope, and Trackman certainly provide more data than the SkyTrak model (such as angle of attack). But what does all of that extra data mean to the average recreational player? I think not a lot. I believe that the extra data gained from say the Foresight GC2 does NOT make up for the fact that it costs four times (or more) the price of the SkyTrak launch monitor. Another issue is that the extra data gained often requires a professional just to interpret it and spot issues. And I hate paying for unnecessary things.
I believe the SkyTrak product provides all the data and more necessary for efficient and fun game improvement for the recreational golfer. Also it works if you are a lefty or righty with no problems.
How Accurate is SkyTrak?
The big question that always comes up with launch monitors is how accurate and trustworthy the numbers are.
Well, one of the best features of the SkyTrak launch monitor is that it produces ball data accuracy that is extremely similar to the premium launch monitors, while staying at a fraction of the price.
Time and time again golf review product testers have reported back praising the accuracy when they review SkyTrak, especially since the "little guy" is able to keep it's accuracy numbers in the same category as the big name professional monitors.
As you may know, it can be quite difficult to directly compare one monitor to the next. Frustrated golfers who feel they aren't getting accurate shot numbers should always first ensure that the elevation is adjusted correctly, lighting is balanced, and that the ball and the SkyTrak are on the same level. I've found these simple adjustments often fix 95% of errors.
Also keep in mind a silly yet often overlooked detail - if your favorite driving range keeps the wind at your back, you'll certainly shoot shorter when using the SkyTrak (although wind and atmosphere can be adjusted in the SkyTrak settings).
The technology used by the SkyTrak golf simulator is high-speed cameras and sophisticated algorithms which are able to instantly calculate and display your ball data and direction. In other words, photometric technology means that the device captures high speed images of the ball immediately after your shot, which are then instantly analyzed to measure the various parameters described above. This is the same technology used in the high end models used by professionals.
If you want to avoid the biased information from ill-informed online reviewers, here are the launch data accuracy specifics for those of you who like numbers:
- Ball Speeds: 0 – 200mph (+/- 1mph)
- Launch Angle: 0 – 55° (+/- 1°)
- Back Spin: 0 – 12,000rpm (+/- 250rpm)
- Side Spin: 0 – 4,000rpm (+/- 250rpm)
- Side Angle: 0 – 20° (+/- 2°)
You may have heard of other models using radar to measure shot data. Radar technology is also an excellent choice for launch monitors, however, radar has the reputation needing a little more space to accurately record the golf balls' launch, such as at the practice range. The photometric technology of the SkyTrak is the stronger choice for home use which tends to be a smaller space (but naturally the SkyTrak can handle the wide open practice range as well). For me personally, the end goal was a highly accurate golf simulator setup in a spare room at home, which make the SkyTrak the obvious choice.
The bottom line is that this launch monitor delivers very accurate ball data. The SkyTrak launch monitor provides incredible value for money and is guaranteed to give you an excellent representation of your ball flight model, ball speed, and other shot data that you can turn around and use to improve your game.
How Much Does SkyTrak Cost?
No doubt, if you want to make an investment in a SkyTrak home golf simulator, you need to have an idea of what it will set you back.
One of SkyTrak's top selling points is that they offer a premium product in terms of accuracy and speed while keeping the price point well below other commercial launch monitors. They managed this by eliminating some of the more complicated feedback numbers that are often unusable anyway for the average person.
Because of this, the SkyTrak launch monitor typically sells for just under $2,000, three to five times less than the models producing similar accuracy stats. For the most current pricing click here:
Keep in mind, the SkyTrak product itself comes with basic features, but if you want to be able to golf famous courses, you will need to purchase additional simulation software for an annual fee. Continue reading and I'll show you how you can get a complete and comprehensive indoor setup that will make any friend jealous, all for A QUARTER of the price of a Trackman unit BY ITSELF!!
While the monitor SkyTrak provides is extremely portable and can easily be taken to hit some range balls for some fun, most golfers are hoping to set up golf simulators from the comfort of their own home. After all, much of the appeal is the practice anytime, rain or shine, no pants required convenience that comes from simulator golf.
So if you're lucky enough to have a spare room in the basement or space in the garage, or you've convinced your wife to let you set up shop in the living room, you will need a few additional supplies before you are ready to golf indoors.
If you want to set up a true SkyTrak golf simulator where you are hitting balls like Tiger Woods, read on to see what I believe you'll need at a minimum.
Feel free to shop around your favorite store for the below suggestions, however, if you're looking to save some time, I am big fans of the bundle packages at the Rain or Shine Golf website as they offer excellent value and quality and have a strong reputation preceding them. The SkyTrak Compact Golf Simulator Package has all of the below suggestions, including the SkyTrak monitor, all for just over $6k! About a quarter of the price of what some launch monitors of similar accuracy cost just for the unit! They offer payment plans and ship quickly so you'll be practicing toward some serious game improvement in no time.
If you want, here's a full breakdown of what you'll need for a golf simulator setup at home:
- Golf Simulator Space.
A space that is at least 9' high, 10' wide, and 12' deep. This goes without saying. No one wants their swing speed disrupted by a ceiling fan.
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor and Protective Case.
This goes for any golfer whether they plan on using their launch monitor in- or outside as all launch monitors tend to be magnets for the ball coming off the net. Trust us, it's worth the investment to get the case protection. Check out current prices on Amazon or Rainorshinegolf.com.
- Game Improvement Package.
This software package comes as an annual subscription at about $100 bucks per year and will open up seemingly endless content such as target practice, shot tracer technology, skills assessment, bag mapping, and cloud storage. In addition it supports integration with The Golf Club Game, TruGolf e6, Creative Golf 3D, Fitness Golf, and more. That being said, I would like to point out that the SkyTrak golf simulator comes standard with a practice driving range app at no additional cost. So if you want you can try out the basic setup first, but I think that after a couple hundred shots you'll see the additional subscription is well worth it for the added fun. Learn more about different plans with this comparison table on the SkyTrak Golf website.
- Golf Net and Screen.
The net and impact screen setup should be both portable and durable, although this depends on how temporary your setup will be. The screen absolutely needs to be able to withstand the repetitive pressure from hard drives off your iron. Read here about the best golf nets, or check our recommendation on Amazon.com or Rainorshinegolf.com.
- Turf Golf Mat.
Not only does it feel unnatural to stand with your feet on a linoleum or hardwood surface, but believe it or not your flooring material and golf mat quality can impact the data accuracy of your launch monitor! Be sure the mat you get fits within the specific net and screen size you purchase and gives you plenty of length so that your nose isn't up against the screen as you practice. Nothing anywhere beats shoes on the grass, however for the best readings be sure to do the right thing and get yourself a high quality mat. Read here about the best hitting mats, or check our top recommendation on Amazon.com or Rainorshinegolf.com.
- Projector and Ceiling Mount.
This is where the video game experience really comes in. While I believe you can still get plenty of good practice sessions in while simply hitting a ball into a net and glancing at the data on your iPad, the real fun happens when the simulator software is actually projected and your shot and ball data is out in front of you as you play a golf game on the world's most famous courses like Pebble Beach. In our household, the projector also doubles as our poor man's movie theater. A couple of beanbags and some popcorn and the kids and family are entertained for hours! Check our recommendation on Amazon.com or Rainorshinegolf.com.
SkyTrak Will Change Your Practicing Lifestyle
While hitting golf balls in to a net repeatedly will certainly improve your game, the amount of time one can spend doing this without any additional feedback is negligible. Without some sort of simulator software, practicing at home can get boring quickly. The last thing you want is for practice with wedges and drivers to feel like a job!
This is what makes the SkyTrak so valuable to improving your golf game. Multiple ball flight data points including ball speed, ball carry distances, club data, and so on, are all instantly and accurately displayed for your review.
One thing that amateur golfers struggle with is learning exactly how far you hit all of your clubs. If you truly want to manage your golf game, it is paramount to be able to know your distances for each golf club.
You also want to be sure that you're getting the maximum performance from each club fitting. As an example, perhaps you have an adjustable driver, but have never adjusted it properly. With the SkyTrak you can test your driver with different settings and have instant feedback in order to find your optimal launch angle, optimal spin rates, and therefore obviously the optimal ball flight distance on your long drive. This is a great way to fit the clubs you currently have in your golf bag that maybe you haven't adjusted properly for optimal club performance. Just see how these small changes over time make a big difference when you find yourself back playing a round on your favorite golf courses! There's a reason you see so many club fitters with a SkyTrak in the shop!
One of the best features of the SkyTrak simulator software is its bright high quality images of the virtual range and fairway with a considerable amount of data points being displayed simultaneously, all without feeling overwhelming (no small feat!). Notice the irons selected from the menu depending on the session:
You can also easily pull up your shot history library across several key categories. Much like scanning sports statistics, I was surprised at how quickly my eyes got used to looking over the numbers and spotting areas for improvement.
Another feature that people love best about the SkyTrak golf simulator product is the beautiful 3D images that display your dispersion tendencies. Notice how easy it is to visualize your ball flight for a particular golf club over a number of hits.
Get Ready To Challenge Yourself
Although the SkyTrak golf simulator comes with a virtual driving range, much like hitting balls into a net without a launch monitor, the virtual driving range will likely get boring fast.
When this happens, you'll be glad to know that for $99/year you can subscribe to the "Game Improvement Package" which will give you access to a seemingly endless list of exciting features. More on the "Play and Improve Package" later.
In this SkyTrak golf review I found that the features and engaging games were well worth the $8 bucks per month subscription cost. Once you have learned your golf club ball flight distances as described above, you can take this knowledge to the golf simulator challenges such as hitting targets or a more comprehensive Skills Assessment Challenge where you are given a series of challenges and afterwards a comprehensive score based on your performance.
While I found the results to be humbling, as my high school math teacher would say - that just means there's room for improvement!
The bottom line is that the launch monitor SkyTrak provides goes above and beyond instantaneous and accurate data. It also provides fun and stimulating challenges to keep your practice sessions entertaining.
When looking for a launch monitor product, you first need to look at basics like what software your budget can handle. But beyond that you want to be sure that your golf simulator is a product you will look forward to using daily and not something that feels like an obligation. I've found the SkyTrak to fit into just about any budget and provide insane amounts of fun just from using it, but also the fun that comes from watching your numbers improve.
Setting up your SkyTrak at home could not be easier. No calibration is required and the unit itself is WiFi network embedded, meaning no wires, cables, or tethering. In other words, straight from the box you can connect wirelessly to your device's network mode and immediately get started with gaining a better understanding of your swing and shot dynamics.
The SkyTrak monitor comes with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to 5 hours of continuous power after charging via USB charging cable. This means if it's a beautiful day and you feel like you want a little sun on your face, you can easily take the lightweight 1.7 lb unit down to the range for some outdoor game improvement.
The following devices passed compatibility testing: ios Mac iPad Air (or newer), iPad Mini 2 (or newer), iPad Pro, iPhone 6 or newer, PC: Google Pixel C, Samsung Galaxy Tablet S, S6, Tab S2, or S8, Windows versions 7, 8, or 10 computer with Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.0GHz systems or higher with Wi-Fi.
From the device of your choosing, you can then connect to your TV or Projector as suggested above. If this isn't an option for you (however, PLEASE strongly consider it because trust me, projectors make it all so much more fun!) you can consider getting a stand for your laptop or other portable device to be able to quickly glance at your screen after each shot.
Where the Real Fun Begins
SkyTrak launch monitors have an important bonus feature - they have tons of integrations with companies leading the golf simulation industry. One of these is World Golf Tour.
For those of you who don't know, World Golf Tour (WGT) is a highly addictive online virtual golf game. They use some of the best 3D photorealistic georeferencing technology to allow you to play the most famous golf courses in the world (Congressional, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, and so on). What's more, you can compete with your buddies for a couple of multiplayer rounds at home, hook up with players online, or enter virtual skills challenges or tournaments for prizes.
When I first entered the world of WGT, I wondered if I would ever leave again to go back to normal life. The graphics are incredible and I found the game motivated me even more to practice and improve!
In my opinion, one of the biggest concerns of golfers looking to invest in a golf simulator is that the appeal will diminish over time. And I think for bare bones simulator software that displays ball flight numbers on a black and white screen, this is a legitimate concern. However, I am now a believer that with access to a SkyTrak golf simulator setup in your house, you will literally never get bored and never stop looking forward to your next chance to get over there to play a game or practice.
But there's one caveat to this. As you can see in the comparison table on the SkyTrak Golf website, access to World Golf Tour requires the "Play and Improve" plan which charges an annual fee of $199/year. If this is something that puts you off, I would say go for the free included SkyTrak golf features to start, and then decide which subscription you want to upgrade to when the appeal wears off.
Another option for fun that is especially popular with the kids is "Protee Play" which is another annual subscription to unlock fun games such as Zombie Golf.
The Golf Simulator Problem: Short Game Shortcomings
If you've read any other golf review on a golf simulator, you know that the short game is often one of the worst parts about golf simulators. And that's not just a SkyTrak problem, that's a golf simulator problem across the board.
Many times the complaint you'll hear is that putts and chip shots with a wedge don't get recognized by the SkyTrak unless hit relatively hard, which of course means that the accuracy of your shot is off and your golf ball will fly over the green.
This has left many a frustrated golfer ready to kick their golf simulator (reminder - don't skip on purchasing the protective case!) However, I've found a few extremely basic adjustments do the trick to get your SkyTrak golf game back on track.
In fact, if you read through enough SkyTrak reviews, I would argue that it's pretty simple to see who has their SkyTrak golf simulator properly setup, and who probably needs to try a few of these tips:
- Make sure the SkyTrak is perfectly level AND at the same level as your ball (with or without tee). This easily done with very minor adjustments.
- Double check that the altitude is adjusted correctly in your SkyTrak user settings. This is important for a long shot, but also can affect the short game too.
- Adjust the lighting in your room to ensure it is well balanced, you don't want a spotlight effect from one particular lamp throwing off your accuracy.
- Ensure the red dot from the SkyTrak laser isn't blocked by any dust or objects.
- Consider upgrading your golf mat and golf balls. Believe it or not, poor quality golf mats and balls can throw off golf simulator accuracy. So if you thought you could get away with a rug, turns out you can't.
- When all else fails, call the SkyTrak team directly. I've heard many times that their customer service is easy to access and excellent. SkyTrak Support
Ultimately, as anyone who has used golf simulators before knows, there are going to be some aspects to playing a game using the SkyTrak system that won't feel 100% like playing on the course. I hope that goes without saying. The good news is that the adjustments come naturally with time and users will still be able to have a total blast with the launch monitor SkyTrak provides.
Of note, if you want to have more data on your swing speed, club path, swing changes, and swing metrics, the SkyPro swing analyzer worn on your hand is compatible with the SkyTrak!
Is SkyTrak Worth the Money?
In this SkyTrak golf review I hope I've been able to answer your questions and show you everything the incredible SkyTrak simulation experience can provide.
Of course, every golfer has a price range in mind for a simulator product. However, I would argue that if you can't afford the SkyTrak price tag, you would be better off saving up in the long term for the SkyTrak experience than going the cheap route for a short term fix. As I stated before, while I believe any type of numerical feedback will improve your shot practice, the basic models can get boring fast. If you're looking for reasons to make an investment into golf simulator software that will provide endless hours of entertainment while improving your swings and yardage, there is no better value for your money out on the market than the SkyTrak. It is absolutely worth the money and will last you many hundreds of thousands of shots.
If you're anything like me, once you review SkyTrak and all it offers, you can't help but make the decision to put it at the top of your golfing wish list. The question of whether or not SkyTrak is worth the money is not matter of IF, because certainly the value provided greatly exceeds the cost, but a matter of WHEN you can finally add a SkyTrak to your toy collection. And recent introductions of payment plans certainly shortens that time span!
As everyone with a SkyTrak can confirm, being able to hit balls and play simulated courses with your friends regardless of time of day or what the weather, temperature, or humidity looks like outside is a priceless benefit. One of the unexpected benefits I found was being able to immediately test out a pro tip on the Golf Channel. Just that one small change has seriously improved my golf skill progress! Do you want to try out a couple different balls to determine which works best for your golf swing and equipment? You'll never have an easier time than with access to a SkyTrak setup.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my research and for reading through my recommendations!
Last update on 2020-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API