Swing Caddie SC200 Launch Monitor Review: Worth $300?
During this year’s PGA Show down in Orlando, I kept getting asked a variation of the same question “what’s blown you away so far?”
The answer? Not much.
Generally speaking I wasn’t overly impressed with most of the tech side of things.
However, the caveat to this was the Swing Caddie SC200 by Voice Caddie.
On demo day, I got the chance to head out and see the Swing Caddie 2 in action. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I was intrigued by it’s value proposition:
An entry level launch monitor, that can give you accurate distances and not break the bank.
I’ve now had the chance to hit the range with it a few times, and put it through it’s paces – so let’s jump straight into the review to find out if the Swing Caddie 2 is an upgrade over it’s predecessor and worth the $349 price tag.
First Impressions of the SC200
The packaging for the Swing Caddie isn’t overly fancy, but it’s very well done and I felt like I was opening a high end product while unboxing it.
Included in the box are:
- Swing Caddie 2 Launch Monitor
- Remote Control
- Leather carrying bag
- 4 aaa batteries
- Instruction booklet
The Swing Caddie itself is a pretty sexy looking device. It’s navy blue with a bright orange screen that I found to be extremely easy to read while on the range. It is slightly reflective, so bright sunshine could prove problematic, but I haven’t had any issues with visibility so far.
The device isn’t huge (15cm x 7.5cm x 2.5cm), and makes for the perfect size to slide into your bag while heading out to the course, or very easy to store in a locker at your home course.
Along with this size setup couldn’t be easier. Unlike say, a Trackman, you don’t need a computer or a big bulky device to use it. You literally turn it on, place it 3-4 feet behind the ball, set your mode and club – and away you go.
The Swing Caddie does a good job of giving you just the right amount of information to be useful. With this particular device, if it went into any more detail, I think it would make the user experience a bit more convoluted for the average person – and any less, and it would feel a little stripped down.
For every shot the Swing Caddie tells you:
- Carry Distance
- Swing Speed
- Ball Speed
- Smash Factor
It also tells you how long you’ve been practicing, the number of balls you’ve hit, and when you turn it on it will say “hi” and tell you the temperature.
There’s a mode where you can switch to have it tell you “total” distance rather than carry distance, but it’s simply an estimate based on estimated roll, rather than a 100% accurate reading.
The included remote is much higher quality than I was expecting it to be, and it had a little it of weight to it, which I love. I honestly don’t think they could have created a more user-friendly remote for this device – it worked perfectly, and whether I was changing my club, changing the mode, or changing my target distance – it performed flawlessly.
In fact it was so good, that aside from turning it on I never used any of the buttons on the device itself. I’m sure you could, but it would definitely make things more cumbersome.
So out of the gate the Swing Caddie 2 was off to a good start, and was certainly living up to my lofty expectations after my 15 minutes with it at the Show – but did the good times keep rolling?
Related: Check out my review of the Rapsodo MLM Launch Monitor
How Does it Work?
Similar to higher end professional solutions like Flight Scope or Trackman – the Swing Caddie uses a doppler radar based system to calculate your shot information.
The SC200 has built in temperature and barometric pressure gauges to help accurately calibrate itself for the most accurate readings possible.
However, if you’re expecting a true competitor to those products listed above – you’ll need to seriously readjust your expectations.
I think their tagline of a “personal launch monitor” nails what this is. It’s a fantastic training aid and way to make the range more enjoyable, but if you’re a professional or club fitter – this isn’t going to have the features or pin point accuracy to do what you need it to do (more on that below).
Swing Caddie SC200 Program Modes
One of my favorite parts about the Swing Caddie 2 is that it has a few different modes you can use, that are all ones I’d actually want to practice with.
This is just the standard mode where you tell it what club you’re hitting, and it gives you the information. When I first set it up, I pulled out a 7 iron, hit the ball and immediately she told me “one hundred fifty six yards.”
Wow, so far so good.
Most of the time this is probably the mode you’ll be using – unless you’re really trying to dial in a specific distance or work on your approach game.
This is one of two “games” built into the Swing Caddie that I actually really enjoy.
You can choose your distance in increments of 5 yards (or meters), and you proceed to hit a serious of 10 shots trying to hit that distance.
The Swing Caddie will then give you a score from 1-10 based on how good your shot was.
Is to really help you hone in on your, you guessed it, approach shots. Again you will have 10 shots, but this time before each shot it will give you a distance between 40 and 100 yards. You then have to try and get it as close to each distance as possible, and it gives you a score out of 10.
I’m still not entirely sure how the score in either mode works. Originally I was thinking you got a point for every yard you were off – and the lowest score was the best. However, I’m not sure that’s the way it works. I need to spend more time with it.
I found that any of these games (or any practice in general) works well when you have some clear distance markers on the range to shoot for. If you just have an open field and it tells you to hit it 76 yards it can be a little difficult to get a frame of reference.
Is the Swing Caddie SC200 Accurate?
So the question by now I’m sure you’re all wondering is, “is it accurate?”
The short answer is yes, it’s surprisingly accurate.
Does that mean it’s perfect?
Other people have gone through and compared it to a Flight Scope or Trackman, however I didn’t have that luxury – so I’ll just write about my experience. That said, pretty much across the board, most of the people who have made that comparison have seem to come up with the same conclusion that for a $300 device, it’s surprisingly accurate.
I started on practice mode with my 7 iron and hit about 20 shots.
One after another, it was pretty much right on the distance I was anticipating at about 155 yards.
Occasionally it would miss a shot altogether, which happens with any launch monitor regardless of the price.
I found that if you hit your shot well, then the accuracy was pretty much dead on. However if you top it, or have a bad slice then the information can vary wildly.
I found in general that the longer the club, the less accurate the device became. I have a tendency to have a bad slice, and there were times where I had a big banana slice with my driver, and it would tell me I carried it 260.
Probably not the most accurate…
Yet most of the time when I was hitting my drives straight-ish, it would give me a number that seemed pretty spot on.
I did hit one patch of time where I had my sand wedge out and was trying to play a game in approach mode, and for whatever reason it wasn’t recognizing any of my swings. I turned it on and off, and adjusted where I was standing a bit – and eventually it started to recognize them again.
This only happened once in my testing, but where you stand and outside conditions could play a role in your results.
Bottom line, for a device this portable and (relatively) affordable to be able to give you reasonably accurate distances? It’s one of the best training tools I’ve tested.
Just remember to always take things with a grain of salt, and if you get a few weird readings just remember the Honda Civic you saved by not buying a Trackman 🙂
Difference Between Swing Caddie SC100 and SC200
Inevitably, if you’re in the market for this device you might also go out and start looking at the original Swing Caddie (SC 100). Right now, I’ve seen these for as low as $169 – so you might be asking yourself if it’s worth it to buy one of those instead.
While I haven’t used the original personally, I can at least tell you some of the differences you’ll find in the two.
Here are the new features on the SC200:
- Voice distance output
- Customizable club lofts
- Shows swing speed/ball speed and smash factor after each shot without having the toggle between the two
- Barometric pressure calibration for increased accuracy
But aside from these the technology is pretty similar, as are the different modes (practice, target, and approach).
The question of whether or not the SC200 is worth the upgrade kind of depends on you and how you plan to use it. Do you have custom fitted clubs and lofts? Definitely worth getting the 200.
The new one will be a little bit more accurate across the board, but the rest comes down to personal preference.
In most of my testing I was the only one (or one of the only ones) on the range, and I really liked the voice distance output.
Much more than I expected I would.
It truly made for a hands off experience that just allowed me to focus on the shots, rather than deal with the fiddling with the device all the time.
That said, if you generally practice on a range with a bunch of other people the voice output could definitely get a little annoying – and if you’re having an off day, some of those distances could be embarrassing as well 🙂
There is volume control, so are able to lower it way down.
A Few Quick Downsides
Through this review, hopefully by now you’ve got a pretty good sense of what the Swing Caddie is, and what it isn’t.
I’ve made it pretty clear the accuracy is good with shots hit well, and sporadic with the shots that aren’t hit so well – but what are other fundamental downsides to this device?
First, if you’re someone who really likes to analyze your data after the fact – there’s no way to hook it up to your phone or computer and analyze/save your data.
It does save some of your information in the device, however. You can see averages for each club in the device – but obviously this is a bit limiting in what you can see.
If you’re looking for advanced metrics, you won’t find them here. For most people (myself included), there’s such a thing as too much information. Trackman in general, is too much for me – this is about right for me in terms of data. But if you’re looking for spin rates, launch angle etc. you’ll be disappointed by the metrics given here.
The price. At $300 I think it’s priced very fairly for what it is. However, it does take it just out of the “no brainer” mode for the casual golfer.
I met my friend Bob on the range one of the days I was testing it, and had him hit a few shots on it. He thought it was really cool, and said “I’d be all over it at $200.”
Fortunately, if that’s you, you can get the SC100 for around that price and just sacrifice a few features.
However, overall my gripes with it are minor, and again they all pretty much come down to the individual and what you’ll use it for.
Is the Swing Caddie 2 Worth it?
The question of whether or not the Swing Caddie is worth it, really depends on you and your practice habits.
Are you someone who rarely hits the range, and just prefers to play all the time?
Then there’s no real reason for you to spend $300 on a launch monitor that’s effectively just a range tool. Go buy Arccos or something that allows you to accurately figure out your distances on the course.
But if you’re someone who likes to spend time at the range, and more importantly is truly committed to dialing in your distances with each club – then I can’t think of a better training aid for the price than the Swing Caddie 2.
Personally, I’m not someone who spends much time on the range. BUT, and this is a big but, having the Swing Caddie has made me excited to practice again.
I’ve really enjoyed using it, and over the course of a half hour session, seeing my shots start out varying by 10-15 yards in distance, to really getting dialed in and moving to a variance of 2-3 yards is not only fun, but encouraging.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But is it really good for the price? Definitely.
So, to summarize, if you’re looking for a personal launch monitor to give you relatively accurate distances while on the range, give you a framework to make practicing fun, and to truly help you dial in your distances – look no further than the Swing Caddie 2 by Voice Caddie.
- Fun Games
- Surprisingly Accurate for Price
- Fantastic Build Quality
- Still a Little Spendy for Average Golfer
- Accuracy Issues on Mis-Hit Shots