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Pro Tip: Launch Monitor Guide -- Know Your Numbers (and What They Mean)

 
Updated: Apr 06, 2022
Pro Tip Launch Monitors: Know Your Numbers
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Golf launch monitors are rapidly becoming one of the most popular golf tech accessories. With their flexibility, they can typically be used both on the driving range and in a garage. And the best part? You can improve your game and set goals for yourself all without breaking the bank.

GlobalGolf offers all kinds of launch monitors: from the SkyGolf SkyTrak Launch Monitor to the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM) to the Swing Caddie Portable Launch Monitors. Each launch monitor has its own perks.

SkyGolf SkyTrak Launch Monitor

SkyGolf SkyTrak Launch Monitor

SkyGolf’s SkyTrak can be used indoors and provides challenges and games to give you a focused practice session; plus, you can play famous courses from around the world. The SkyTrak launch monitor will hold you accountable during practice but also keep it fun. These launch monitors are on the higher end of the price spectrum at $1,995.00.


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Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor

Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor

The Rapsodo MLM uses a shot tracer technology, can track your shot history and will even show you playback video of your swing. The Rapsodo launch monitor pairs up with your iPhone (no Androids yet) and works outside; unfortunately, a home/net setup won’t give you accurate numbers. This launch monitor falls into the low-range price of about $500.00.


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Swing Caddie SC300 Portable Launch Monitor

Swing Caddie SC300 Portable Launch Monitor

The Swing Caddie launch monitors are one of the most precise on the market because they implement Doppler radar technology that tracks the weather and adjusts the numbers accordingly. As you can see on the screen, the Swing Caddie SC300 provides tons of data and even has a voice output that tells you your numbers after each swing -- no more looking at a screen if you don’t want to. This launch monitor also falls into the lower end of the pricing spectrum at about $550.00.



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No matter which launch monitor you choose, you’ll find the standard data numbers pop up on the display screen. What do those numbers mean? Are they “good” or is there room for improvement? Do you need to adjust your driver or choose different golf shafts?

Another big question is, “Why does it matter?” Once you get a handle on your swing’s data, you can make specific improvements without the guesswork. You’ll also find a deeper understanding of your swing, which will allow you to make small pivots during a round if need be (though we recommend making major changes on the range, not while you’re playing).

The Pros at GlobalGolf are going to dive into the numbers and provide averages from both the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour. That way, you’ll be able to take our launch monitor guide anywhere you go and work on your game with a set goal in mind.

Please note that amateur golfers may not drive the ball 345 yards like Bryson DeChambeau, but it’s still fun to compare. If you want to work on increasing your distance and club speed, check out this starter golf workout. For scale, the average male golfer has a swing speed of approximately 85 mph and the average female golfer has a swing speed of 65 mph.


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Carry Distance Is More Important Than Most Realize

Definition: Carry distance is the distance a ball travels in the air.

Significance: Knowing how far your golf ball carries with each club will allow you to make informed decisions on the course. Can you clear that hazard with a 7 iron, or would a 6 iron make more sense? If the green is fast and the pin is in the back, which club will allow you to hit the front of the green and roll the ball to the back?

By learning your carry distances, you will also be able to more accurately predict total distances depending on the weather conditions. Wet course conditions will mean less roll, keeping your total yardage close to your carry distance. However, if the course is like cement, you will know you can get a good amount of roll on top of your carry distance.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Distance LPGA Tour Average Distance
Driver 289 - 361 yds 246 - 258 yds
3 Wood 243 - 304 yds 195 - 217 yds
5 Wood 230 - 288 yds 185 - 205 yds
Hybrid 255 - 275 yds 180 - 194 yds
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 212 - 265 yds 174 - 185 yds
4 Iron 203 - 254 yds 170 - 181 yds
5 Iron 194 - 243 yds 161 - 173 yds
6 Iron 183 - 229 yds 152 - 163 yds
7 Iron 172 - 215 yds 141 - 154 yds
8 Iron 160 - 200 yds 130 - 143 yds
9 Iron 148 - 185 yds 119 - 132 yds
PW 136 - 170 yds 107 - 121 yds

Total Distance Often Depends on Course Conditions

Definition: Total distance is the total yardage a golf ball travels, including carry and roll.

Significance: Knowing your clubs’ total distances will allow you to calculate smarter plays. This is a good statistic to know if you’re playing to the middle of the green and have some wiggle room. It’s also important to know how far your ball travels when you are playing for certain layup distances.

Averages: Depending on the course conditions and your swing’s trajectory, you can take your carry distances and add the appropriate yardage to calculate your total distance. It can vary day by day or course by course.

Swing Speed / Club Speed Plays a Major Role in Gaining Distance

Definition: Swing speed, also referred to as club speed, is how fast the golf club is traveling when it hits the golf ball.

Significance: Though not the only factor, increasing swing speed plays a major role in increasing carry and total distance. As you will see with the Smash Factor section below, how fast you swing your club will impact your distance. Though obvious, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, you need to do work off the golf course to increase your swing speed; this could be working out and/or increasing flexibility.

Bonus Pro Tip: Your swing speed greatly impacts which golf shafts you want in your bag. Whether you want to find out if you are using the right golf shafts for your club speed or if your increase in distance is being hindered by your golf shafts, GlobalGolf can help.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Speed LPGA Tour Average Speed
Driver 113 mph 94 mph
3 Wood 107 mph 90 mph
5 Wood 103 mph 88 mph
Hybrid 100 mph - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 98 mph 85 mph
4 Iron 96 mph 80 mph
5 Iron 94 mph 79 mph
6 Iron 92 mph 78 mph
7 Iron 90 mph 76 mph
8 Iron 87 mph 74 mph
9 Iron 85 mph 72 mph
PW 83 mph 70 mph

Ball Speed Is Often Underestimated When It Comes to Increasing Distance

Definition: Ball speed is how fast the golf ball is traveling just after impact, or when it leaves the face of the golf club.

Significance: Ball speed correlates with how solid your ball contact is. If you are hitting the ball on the sweet spot of your clubface, you will have a higher ball speed; therefore, you’ll also have a higher smash factor (see below). This means ball speed plays a part in your swing’s efficiency and shot distance.

Bonus Pro Tip: Improving ball speed includes tightening up your swing, whether it’s focusing on your swing plane, squaring your clubhead at impact or whatever else you may be working on with your coach.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Speed LPGA Tour Average Speed
Driver 167 mph 140 mph
3 Wood 158 mph 132 mph
5 Wood 152 mph 128 mph
Hybrid 146 mph - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 142 mph 123 mph
4 Iron 137 mph 116 mph
5 Iron 132 mph 112 mph
6 Iron 127 mph 109 mph
7 Iron 120 mph 104 mph
8 Iron 115 mph 100 mph
9 Iron 109 mph 93 mph
PW 102 mph 86 mph

Smash Factor Is The Swing’s Efficiency Score

Definition: There are many ways to define smash factor in golf. One is to think of the velocities mathematically (ball speed divided by club speed). Another is to see it as your golf swing’s efficiency rate by determining the amount of energy transferred from the clubhead to the golf ball at impact.

Significance: Improving your smash factor increases your distance. To do that, you need to affect either one or both parts of the ball speed / swing speed equation. You can either increase your swing speed or you can hit your ball more squarely, which will increase your ball speed. You can also do both, of course. The USGA requires the maximum smash factor to be 1.50 in all golf club production, though the smash factor will be lower for higher lofted clubs.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average LPGA Tour Average
Driver 1.48 1.48
3 Wood 1.48 1.48
5 Wood 1.47 1.47
Hybrid 14.6 - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 1.45 1.46
4 Iron 1.43 1.45
5 Iron 1.41 1.43
6 Iron 1.38 1.41
7 Iron 1.33 1.38
8 Iron 1.32 1.33
9 Iron 1.28 1.32
PW 1.23 1.28

Spin Rate Is One of Many Spins to Study in Golf

Definition: Spin rate measures the speed a golf ball spins on its axis during flight. RPM stands for revolutions per minute.

Significance: You will notice in the Tour averages below that spin rate increases with an increase in club loft. Having a higher spin rate gives you greater control over accuracy, which is why golfers tend to want longer drives in the first place - - - they would then have shorter (and, theoretically, more controllable) approaches.

Bonus Pro Tip: Backspin also plays a role in shot trajectory and distance. If your drive has too much backspin, you will hit it too high and potentially get the dreaded backward bounce.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Rate LPGA Tour Average Rate
Driver 2686 rpm 2611 rpm
3 Wood 3655 rpm 2704 rpm
5 Wood 4350 rpm 4501 rpm
Hybrid 4437 rpm - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 4630 rpm 4693 rpm
4 Iron 4836 rpm 4801 rpm
5 Iron 5361 rpm 5081 rpm
6 Iron 6231 rpm 5943 rpm
7 Iron 7097 rpm 6699 rpm
8 Iron 7998 rpm 7494 rpm
9 Iron 8647 rpm 7589 rpm
PW 9304 rpm 8403 rpm

Side Angle Determines if You Will Hit a Power Fade or a Slice

Definition: After the golf ball leaves the club face, side angle is the direction a ball goes in relation to the target.

Significance: If the number that shows on your launch monitor’s display is positive, the golf ball will end up to the right of your target. If the number is negative, the golf ball will end up left of the target.

Use the side angle numbers to help you focus on your swing path. Are you hitting the ball too much from the inside? Play around with these numbers until you achieve your desired ball flight and side angle.

Launch Angle Will Help You Drive It Further Off The Tee

Definition: Launch angle is the initial angle of ascent of the golf ball (in respect to the ground) just after impact.

Significance: Finding the ideal launch angle range for any club, but especially your driver, will help you gain the optimal amount of distance. If you hit your golf ball too low, you will gain some roll in dry conditions, but your carry distance will be short. If you hit your golf ball too high, your ball will not roll and simply land a shorter carry distance away. When it comes to choosing between two evils, hitting it higher typically gives you more distance, especially when you have a lower swing speed.

If you’re in the average male swing speed range (85 mph), your ideal launch angle would be 12-16 degrees. If you’re in the average female swing speed range (65 mph), your ideal launch angle would be 14-19 degrees.

Finding your launch angle sweet spot isn’t all about the swing. You can also fine tune your driver’s loft to adjust your clubhead at impact into the optimal position.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Angle LPGA Tour Average Angle
Driver 10.9° 13.2°
3 Wood 9.2° 11.2°
5 Wood 9.4° 12.1°
Hybrid 10.2° - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 10.4° 12.7°
4 Iron 11.0° 14.3°
5 Iron 12.1° 14.8°
6 Iron 14.1° 17.1°
7 Iron 15.3° 19.0°
8 Iron 18.1° 20.8°
9 Iron 20.4° 23.9°
PW 24.2° 25.7°

Attack Angle Will Help You Compress Your Iron and Wedge Shots

Definition: Attack angle is the vertical angle a clubhead is in when it connects with the golf ball. A positive attack angle means you are hitting up on the ball, which is ideal for hitting a driver. A negative attack angle means you are hitting down on, or compressing, the ball, which is ideal for irons and wedges.

Significance: A healthy attack angle for each club provides better ball control. If you were to hit up on a wedge, you can practically see it flying across the green with no end in sight; however, if you were to hit down on it (even though that’s not intuitive), you have a much better chance of producing backspin.

The attack angle works in conjunction with the launch angle to produce your ideal ball flight. For your driver, following this simple equation below will help you figure out if you’re heading in the right direction:

Driver Loft + Launch Angle - Attack Angle = Positive Degree

Bonus Pro Tip: An easy way to play around with attack angles on your launch monitor is to experiment with different ball positions at setup. And if you’re taking really big divots, it probably means your attack angle is too steep - - - make sure you protect your wrists in pursuit of progress!

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Angle LPGA Tour Average Angle
Driver -1.3° 3.0°
3 Wood -2.9° -0.9°
5 Wood -3.3° -1.8°
Hybrid -3.5° - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) -3.1° -3.0°
4 Iron -3.4° -1.7°
5 Iron -3.7° -1.9°
6 Iron -4.1° -2.3°
7 Iron -4.3° -2.3°
8 Iron -4.5° -3.1°
9 Iron -4.7° -3.1°
PW -5.0° -2.8°

Apex Will Work in Tandem With Launch Angle and Attack Angle

Definition: The apex measures the peak height of a golf ball’s trajectory.

Significance: Knowing the apex of your ball flight will allow you to both gain distance and manage the course better. If you think your ball flight is too high, compare it with the Tour averages and check your launch angle and attack angle. These numbers are also handy to have in your back pocket if you have a tree you need to clear.

Bonus Pro Tip: Your apex won’t fluctuate much between clubs, so noting your driver apex compared to your irons’ is another way to judge if your launch angle is right for you.

Averages:

Club PGA Tour Average Apex LPGA Tour Average Apex
Driver 32 yds 25 yds
3 Wood 30 yds 23 yds
5 Wood 31 yds 26 yds
Hybrid 29 yds - - -
3 Iron (M) / 7 Wood (F) 27 yds 25 yds
4 Iron 28 yds 24 yds
5 Iron 31 yds 23 yds
6 Iron 30 yds 25 yds
7 Iron 32 yds 26 yds
8 Iron 31 yds 25 yds
9 Iron 30 yds 26 yds
PW 29 yds 23 yds

There you have it, a golf launch monitor guide! Enjoy taking a deeper look into your game any time of the year with GlobalGolf’s personal launch monitors. You can find the SkyGolf SkyTrak, Rapsodo MLM and Swing Caddie launch monitors, among others, on Globalgolf.com.


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