Rapsodo MLM Pro 2-31

Best Launch Monitor Under $1,000: Rapsodo vs. Garmin vs. Swing Caddie

Golf launch monitor technology is developing at a head-spinning pace. 

Even as someone who’s made it my job for the past several years to review these devices, I’m as shocked as anyone else at how quickly new, very legitimate products are coming to market. 

And the most surprising part? The recent development of great launch monitors for less than $1,000.

It wasn’t long ago at all — seriously, a couple of years — that for less than $1,000, you would be limited to something like an early-generation OptiShot. Fun and entertaining, sure. But nothing that was going to spit out the kind of accurate data that you could dependably use to improve your game. Or that would give you access to a full-blown golf simulator experience.

That has all changed. And I for one, am stoked.

But it’s also, well… confusing. Like, really confusing. We went from having no legitimate budget options to now having multiple worthy options.

We’ve arrived at the day where a lot of people can transition from thinking, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to play golf in my garage or basement,” to now thinking, “Well, I’m for sure going to set up my home golf simulator, but I’m confused about which one of these things is the right one for me.”

The Best Golf Launch Monitors Under $1,000: Rapsodo MLM2PRO vs. Garmin Approach R10 vs. Swing Caddie SC4

There are three legitimate contenders for the best golf launch monitor under $1,000: the Rapsodo MLM2PRO, the Garmin Approach R10, and the Swing Caddie SC4.

Here’s the thing: They’re all great. But they’re also all imperfect.

So knowing which one to get can be confusing. And annoying. And frustrating.

But I’ve got you. We’re going to score these devices in 13 categories. We’ll keep it simple, with a 0 (the lowest) through 3 (the highest) rating for each launch monitor in each category. At the end, we’ll total up the category scores to see how they stack up overall.

But here’s the deal (spoiler alert): It’s really, really close. So to get actual value out of this, you need to think about which of these categories are most important to you. From there, you can gravitate towards the golf launch monitor that scores the best in the categories that mean the most to you.

And after all, this, if you’re still unsure about choosing the best golf launch monitor under $1,000, take the Breaking Eighty Golf Launch Monitor Quiz. It’ll only take 30 seconds, and it’s a great way to get you off the fence about whichever devices you’re considering.

So, let’s get into scoring the Garmin Approach R10, Rapsodo MLM2PRO and Swing Caddie SC4. Which of these golf launch monitors reigns supreme in the oh-so-important under $1,000 category?

Prefer to watch your reviews? Here’s the video version:


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 3
  • Swing Caddie: 3

All three launch monitors are evenly matched in their presentation. You won’t get anything too extravagant or luxurious, but you wouldn’t expect that at this price point. What you do get is functionality, sturdiness, simplicity and an overall feeling of solid quality, commensurate with the asking price. 

I will say that, in the case of the Garmin Approach R10, the packaging is considerably nicer than the Garmin products I reviewed before this one. They significantly upped their game. And Rapsodo and Swing Caddie seem to have followed suit.

Overall, all three of these devices are well packaged with even better fit and finish than what you find with some higher-priced golf launch monitor options.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 1

Garmin’s compact design is slightly undermined by its chunky case. In fact, the R10 is smaller than the Rapsodo MLM2PRO, but because the R10 case makes it tough to toss in your golf bag easily, I’m giving the nod to the MLM2PRO. It’s the better on-the-go option for going back and forth to the range or wherever else you might enjoy a practice or sim sesh.

Rapsodo MLM Pro 2

Rapsodo MLM Pro 2: What’s in the box.

The Swing Caddie SC4 gets knocked down a couple of pegs because it doesn’t even come with a carrying case. That is, unless you want to spend $60 to buy one. Now I will say that the available-for-purchase case is pretty sweet. It’s high quality and comes with a useful alignment plate. But $60? Come on, Swing Caddie. Just build it into the price and give us what we want out of the box.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 3
  • Swing Caddie: 3

The setup and pairing processes for all three devices are straightforward and intuitive. That’s one of the best selling points about each of these products. I’d say that, even for the technologically challenged, you could likely be up and running with any of these within an hour of unboxing. Trust me when I say that is not the case with all golf tech.

When trying to rank one of these ahead of another, I kept going back to, “Yeah, but this one was just so easy to set up, as well.” So, I’m giving them all full points for this category.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 1

With dual cameras and Doppler, you’re getting an awful lot of shot-tracking capability in the Rapsodo MLM2PRO. That said, to take full advantage and to get accurate readings on spin rates, you need to use RPT balls, which are essentially Callaway Chrome Soft golf balls with large dots on them that allow the Rapsodo to better read the shot. The RPT balls are expensive (like $70 per dozen) and they wear out kind of quickly. So, there’s that.

Rapsodo RPT Balls

The Rapsodo RPT golf balls.

Now, are the Garmin Approach R10 and Swing Caddie SC4 also accurate? The answer is a resounding “yes,” but to varying degrees.

The R10 is mostly rock solid in terms of accuracy. However, it does occasionally struggle to pick up more subtle flight paths, like a baby draw or fade.

The SC4 was actually much more accurate than I could have ever expected from a device at its price. Even the spin rates were in line with the Bushnell Launch Pro, the most accurate launch monitor I own. However, things started to get a little dicey with the SC4 the further up my bag I went. Turns out, woods and drivers… Well, I found the SC4 to be a little untrustworthy when it came to giving me consistently accurate data with those longer clubs.


  • Rapsodo: 1
  • Garmin: 1
  • Swing Caddie: 3

Each of these units measures shots from behind the golf ball. That’s a space-killer relative to launch monitors like the Bushnell Launch Pro or SkyTrak+, which measure from the side of the ball. It means that to use the Rapsodo, Garmin or Swing Caddie, you need more room depth.

But the Swing Caddie only needs to be set up 5 feet behind the ball. The Rapsodo and Garmin both need to be set up at least 7 feet behind the ball.

So, what’s 2 feet? Well, an awful lot if the space in your garage, basement, living room or any other area that’s already tight. In fact, 2 feet of room depth could be the difference between pulling off an indoor golf simulator setup where you live and shopping for a new house with more room.


  • Rapsodo: 2
  • Garmin: 3
  • Swing Caddie: 1

Garmin extends its simulator compatibility beyond E6 and Awesome Golf to include The Golf Club 2019. You know what that means: More golf course options. Any golf simulator junkie is going to love that (even if a license to it costs more than the R10 itself…)

Garmin R10 Launch Monitor

The R10 on the range.

Rapsodo is in the middle of the pack, offering compatibility with E6 and Awesome Golf. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Garmin R10.

Playing the 4th hole at Pebble Beach on the Garmin R10.

Unfortunately, Swing Caddie only works with E6. And it’s a relatively limited experience, with only one course available for free.


  • Rapsodo: 1
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 3

Use our code “B80-SC450” at PlayBetter to get the Swing Caddie SC4 for just $499. At that price, it’s definitely the easiest on the wallet of these three.

The Garmin Approach R10 retails for $599.99. And the Rapsodo MLM2PRO comes in at $699.99.


  • Rapsodo: 1
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 3

Alright, if you hate subscriptions (who doesn’t?), you’re going to love the Swing Caddie SC4. That’s because you really don’t need to pay for anything beyond the unit itself.

Swing Caddie SC4 - what's in the box.

Swing Caddie SC4 – what’s in the box.

With the Garmin Approach R10, there’s an optional $120/year subscription. Yes, it’s optional, but you’re most likely going to want the Home Tee Hero and other features that it unlocks.

And then there’s the $199/year Rapsodo MLM2PRO subscription, which you basically have to have in order to use most features. Boo!

If you’re looking for something more “Pro” that doesn’t have a subscription, then the FlightScope Mevo+ is definitely the unit you’ll want to take a look at.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 1

The Rapsodo and Garmin app experiences are very similar. Both are absolutely functional and for the most part, enjoyable. I do wish they were a little more robust, more like the SkyTrak+ or Mevo Plus experiences, but I’m really not complaining. I give a slight edge to Rapsodo. But I will say that if you already own a Garmin product and are comfortable and familiar with that ecosystem, then I think it’s worth sticking with Garmin.

As for the Swing Caddie… How can I say this gently? Well, the app experience sucks. It feels unprofessional and lame. I’m holding out hope that things will improve with time.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 1

The Rapsodo gives you pretty much everything most golfers will ever need to know about their golf shots. With two cameras and Doppler radar, this device picks up almost everything. You even get video of your swing! Metrics include:

  • Carry distance
  • Total distance
  • Side distance (how many yards off-center you hit the shot)
  • Club speed
  • Ball speed
  • Smash factor
  • Launch direction
  • Launch angle
  • Descent angle
  • Apex
  • Shot type
  • Spin (if you’re using the Callaway RPT golf balls)

Rapsodo MLM Pro 2

The Garmin gives you most of the same data as the Rapsodo and it also has video capability. However, as a radar-based launch monitor, the Garmin is only actually measuring ball speed, club speed, launch angle, launch direction and back-swing and down-swing times. For the rest, it’s using an algorithm to calculate what it thinks are the likely results. I found spin rates to be totally inaccurate and not even worth considering.

The Swing Caddie offers the least data, including just carry distance, launch direction, swing speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, apex and spin rate. But you know what? Most of us don’t need more than that anyway.


  • Rapsodo: 0
  • Garmin: 0
  • Swing Caddie: 3

Being the only launch monitor on this list with a built-in screen, Swing Caddie stands out.

Why is that a big deal? Because it means that you can get immediate feedback without needing another device.

This is perfect if you’re the type that just wants to head to the range, quickly set up your launch monitor and start getting data. Rather than messing around with making sure everything is connected between the device and your phone or tablet. This feature goes a long way in making the Swing Caddie an easy choice for golf minimalists.

Swing Caddie SC4

Now you can, of course, use the Swing Caddie with the app loaded onto your phone, tablet or computer. Unfortunately, for me, that’s been a worse experience than just hitting shots and seeing the read-outs on the built-in screen.


  • Rapsodo: 1
  • Garmin: 3
  • Swing Caddie: 2

Overall, I’ve had very good experiences with all of these golf launch monitors. But the Garmin Approach R10 has been a cut above in terms of consistency and reliability. I’ve used it for two years now and really can’t think of any issues. It’s just a workhorse.

The Swing Caddie SC4 has also been steady-eddy. Again, it’s the simplest of the devices when you want to just get numbers from the built-in screen. And while the app leaves a lot to be desired, it is still reliable. It’s just that the app gets in the way of an overall enjoyable user experience.

The Rapsodo MLM2PRO has worked out a lot of bugs, but there are still users complaining about connection issues, missed shots, and dropped connections during a session. That’s frustrating, for sure, it seems to be less of an issue with it’s most recent firmware update.


  • Rapsodo: 3
  • Garmin: 2
  • Swing Caddie: 1

For me, the detailed practice modes, accurate spin rates, and more robust feature set give Rapsodo the edge.

But there’s a lot to like about each one of these devices. They all have their pros and cons. My preferences won’t necessarily be the same as yours. That’s what this list is all about: An opportunity for you to choose what’s best for you.

So, What’s the Best Launch Monitor Under $1,000?

  • Rapsodo: 27
  • Garmin: 27
  • Swing Caddie: 26

Ok, seriously, I didn’t do this on purpose. I went through each category and assigned numbers based on my experience with each of these devices relative to each other.

This is how it came out. I thought about changing it to have a more definitively clear “winner.”

But this feels like an accurate reflection of each of these. There isn’t a clear winner. It really does come down to which device fits your needs best – as they all do a good job with waht they promise to do.

Disregard the total points, if you wish. What I would recommend is that you drill down on the categories that are most important to you. Pay attention to those scores more than any others.

Do you just want an all-in-one unit that you can bring out to the range and get quick numbers without having to fumble around with connecting to a phone or computer? Then get the Swing Caddie SC4. It also happens to be the least expensive and takes up the least amount of space indoors.

Do you want a reliable workhorse that does everything either best or nearly best and gives you the most simulator software compatibility? Then it’s the Garmin Approach R10. Especially if you’re already a Garmin user.

Or do you want what I think is the most accurate overall, most portable and the launch monitor that delivers the most data? If so, then the Rapsodo MLM2PRO should be a no-brainer.

The bottom line is this: We’re all spoiled. Not just me. Not just you. All of us. To think that we have this many great choices for personal golf launch monitors that cost less than $1,000, is seriously crazy.

So, rather than stress about which is the right choice, get on with picking one and start enjoying the insane amount of fun that these things can unlock for your golfing life. You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

And remember, if you’re still on the fence, our quiz is sure to knock you off. And if your budget is a little more flexible, here’s our full list of the best golf launch monitors on the market.

Buy These Golf Launch Monitors

Best Launch Monitor Under $1,000
Rapsodo MLM 2 Pro Launch Monitor

Rapsodo has knocked it out of the park with the MLM 2 Pro. This is hands down the best launch monitor under $1,000, and even gives more expensive competitors a run for their money.

Buy from Rapsodo
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Best Launch Monitor for Most People
Garmin Approach R10 | Portable Golf Launch Monitor

The Garmin Approach R10 is hands down one of the very best launch monitors you'll find for under $1,000. Highly recommend.

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Best Value Under $1k
Swing Caddie SC4 Golf Launch Monitor - USE CODE "B80-SC450" to save $50

For the price, the Swing Caddie SC4 is probably the best value on the market right now. Use the code "B80-SC450 at Play Better to save $50."

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    • Sean Ogle

      The Garmin R10 does, but it’s all calculated via algorithm rather than directly measured. So it’s there, but the data wont be as accurate as the more expensive devices that have it like the Skytrak+ or Mevo Plus with Pro Package.

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