Rapsodo: Kinda Affordable Tour Level Swing Stats and Video

You may have always wanted a sophisticated launch monitor but didn’t think you could afford one. Naturally, afford can be a tricky word. Meet Rapsodo.

You may have always wanted a sophisticated launch monitor but didn’t think you could afford one.   Naturally, afford can be a tricky word.  If you don’t have more than $1000 in the bank, spending half of that on a device to track your golf swing is not affordable.  However, if you have some disposable income, or if that $1200 COVID-19 payout from the government is burning a hole in your pocket, here’s a new device that will give you almost Tour quality stats for every shot you hit and give you textable/ emailable video to boot.

This new device is called the Mobile Launch Monitor ($499) from Rapsodo, which I’d never heard of before last January’s PGA Show. But when I walked by the booth and saw Art Chou, who was once technical director for Golf Digest and before that director of golf club R&D for Titleist, I knew I needed to know more.  Chou is now the GM of Rapsodo North America.

It does require your cell phone to operate, but once you have that, it will do a ton of Trackman-like things that you’ll love. Really, how many people can go out and buy a $20,000 personal Trackman?

As Chou explained, “You get velocity, launch angle, left-to-right angle, total shot distance. But because this camera ( your phone) is sitting down in back of you, you also get a good deal of your swing, so you get a movie of your swing.”

Not only that, you get a personal shot-tracer with each shot because the phone tracks every ball. Chou pulled up a recent range session he had and demonstrated the extras that the monitor can perform.

“I can pick any individual shot and get the distance, the shot shape and all the data. Then I can play the video of that shot,” Chou said. “If I like that video, I can export it with a label. I can text it or save it to social, put it out on twitter. I can text to my teacher.”

He can also email it.

The way to make it work is to rest your phone on the cradle, which is actually the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor.  It communicates with your phone via Bluetooth.  The app asks for your location, and according to Chou, drops a pin like the Uber app does.

Put the monitor and your phone behind you, aimed where you want the golf ball to go. Then stand five or six feet in front of it and just hit your shot.  Bingo.  It’s captured.  It spits out data on distance, ball speed and launch angle.

You can use it behind every shot you hit to check the variations in your swings during a round.  You can use it on a range, and it will show you the dispersion pattern of the golf balls you hit.  If they are all 50 feet away from the target in one direction, for instance, your aim is way off.  If they are 50 feet away from the target in every direction, you probably need an emergency golf lesson.

Chou recalled the development of ball-tracking and launch-monitor technology over the years, from the times when it was done in a darkened room with strobe lights and special dots on the balls and Polaroid cameras. Getting data was rudimentary.  That, according to Chou, was how it was done in 1989.

“You had to draw lines between the double exposures on the ball and measure with a protractor,” he said.

Then a few years later, he said, the monitors were the size of a toaster oven. The tests moved outside, but there were still the strobes.

“Now it’s 2020, and it’s essentially done in your phone. It’s awesome,” Chou said with the enthusiasm of one who was there for the Polaroid days. “This has more computing power than what NASA had to put a man on the moon.”

It was intriguing enough that, according to Chou, Sir Nick Faldo was trying it out during PGA Show Demo Day.  Chou had the camera snaps to prove it.

The size of the Rapsodo looks perfect.  Small enough to pack into a computer bag, big enough so it doesn’t get lost easily: 3” x 5.4” x 1.5”   And the company says that it is within 2.5% of the accuracy of Trackman.

With purchase, 100 videos can be stored.  To store more, there’s a subscription option.

Rapsodo is in the process of adding a feature that allows users to connect with golf coaches and get advice on what to do with their swings, for a price that the coaches set.

Next, they hope to incorporate putting.