How to Use a Golf Launch Monitor on the Driving Range

If you’re looking to make improvements to your golf swing, then purchasing a golf launch monitor can be a smart, helpful decision.

I recently did research to find a golf launch monitor that I could take to the driving range as part of my new training plan to become a scratch golfer.

I wanted a golf launch monitor that was easy to transport to the driving range in my golf bag so I could keep it with me all the time. This means finding one that isn’t too big size wise.

I also wanted it to have good battery life as I learned from previous experience that the MEVO+ launch monitor’s battery would die too fast while I was using it at the driving range.

So I decided to keep my Mevo+ at home where it’s paired with a projector and an impact screen, creating an at home golf simulator for me to practice on and play thousands of golf courses thanks to the TGC 19 golf software.

But after doing research, I decided to give the PRGR H130 golf launch monitor a try as it was small and compact and double AA battery powered which gives it longer battery life.

Here’s what I’ve learned and am excited to share about taking a golf launch monitor to the driving range! Let’s dive in.

Using a Golf Launch Monitor at the Driving Range

#1: Understand What Golf Swing Data Is Tracked

Every golf launch monitor is going to be different in terms of what data it’s capable of collecting. Cheaper launch monitors will track just basic data while more expensive models can track several different golf swing metrics.

Here’s a list of what could be tracked by a golf swing launch monitor:

  • Total Distance
  • Carry Distance
  • Swing Speed
  • Ball Speed
  • Smash Factor
  • Apex Height
  • Launch Angle
  • Club Path
  • Club Face Angle at Impact
  • Angle of Attack

When I purchased the PRGR H130 golf launch monitor and took it to the driving range to test out, I discovered that it tracks only the first 5 metrics from my list above (total distance, carry distance, swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor).

This was good enough for me since I mainly wanted to track club distances so I could see how far I was hitting the golf ball before I start my scratch golf training plan.

However, if you want data on your swing path and club face angle at impact, then going with a more expensive golf launch monitor is a smart choice.

The Mevo+ that I also own, does track all of this additional golf swing data so I can take it to the range when needed if I want to see why I’m hitting shots left or right and make changes to my swing.

It’s pretty portable considering it’s small enough to fit in my golf bag, but I’ve heard the 2023 model for the Mevo+ has much improved battery life compared to the older model that I have currently.

Total Distance:

This is how far the golf ball travels overall after it lands and rolls to a stop. It’s a good metric for tracking drivers, woods, and hybrids that you’ll use on tee shots.

A good total driver distance to aim for is between 260-300 yards if you want to score low on a golf course.

According to my PRGR swing monitor, I am hitting my drives 290-295 on average.

Carry Distance:

This tracks how far the golf ball flies in the air only.

It’s a good swing metric to track how far your different irons and wedges are flying so you can learn which clubs to use on approach shots when hitting to the green.

Once you learn your carry distances of all your clubs, you can make smarter decisions on shot selection and hit clubs closer to the pin, which we give tips on in this article: How to Hit Closer Approach Shots.

Most golf launch monitors let you select which club you’re using in the settings before it begins recording data so the machine can know which club you’re hitting with and give more accurate data.

Swing Speed:

Swing speed is how fast the clubhead is traveling during the golf swing. It’s also known as clubhead speed.

Swing speed is a huge factor in how far you hit the golf ball, along with ball speed which we talk about next.

When using my golf launch monitor at the driving range, I’ve been able to learn that my driver swing speed ranges between 110-114 mph (miles per hour) on average. This is considered very fast or above average for golf swing speed.

The average golfer will likely swing their golf driver around 85-95 mph, and professional golfers swing 115-130 mph.

Ball Speed:

Ball speed ultimately determines how far you hit the golf ball. The higher your ball speed is, the farther the golf ball travels.

You need fast swing speed to generate fast ball speed. But you also need great ball striking to generate fast ball speed numbers. Mishitting golf shots on the club face will cause lower ball speed, compared to shots hit perfectly on the center of the face.

According to the launch monitor, my ball speed for my driver is usually around 160 mph.

If you want professional golfers on TV, they’ll usually show their ball speed on the screen after a tee shot and often times it’s 170-190 mph.

Smash Factor:

Smash factor is a quick ratio that is calculated on the golf launch monitor to tell you how well you struck the golf ball. It’s a ball striking data point that compares your ball speed to your swing speed.

When you strike the golf ball perfectly, you should achieve a 1.50 ratio for smash factor.

This means that your ball speed is 1.50 times your swing speed, which indicates that you’re transferring swing speed to your golf ball efficiently.

So if you have a 100-mph driver swing speed and you see a 150-mph ball speed, then you’ll also see a 1.50 smash factor score on your launch monitor.

Apex Height:

Apex is another golf term for the maximum height that your golf ball flew in the air before it started it’s decent down to the ground.

It’s a golf swing data point golfers use to see how high they are hitting their different golf clubs from drivers, to irons, to wedges.

Then you can make adjustments if you need to increase the height of your drives to gain more distance.

The apex height of a driver is usually around 90 feet. Most golf clubs travel a similar apex height, so irons, woods, driver can vary by as little as 3 yards (9 feet).

Launch Angle:

Launch angle is important to learn if you are struggling to hit your driver high enough and want to unlock extra distance.

The ideal launch angle for your drives should be around 14 degrees.

This gives the golf ball a nice high-flying height to be able to carry farther on the golf course, unlocking longer overall distance for driver tee shots.

Club Path:

Club path is the journey the golf club takes on the downswing to the golf ball and is measured at impact when the club head makes contact with the golf ball.

If you’re pulling golf shots left, you might have a leftward swing path and if you’re pushing shots right, you might have a rightward swing path at impact.

Club path can tell you which direction you’re swing the club through the hitting zone so you can make adjustments to your swing to fix a slice, fix a hook, or learn to hit a draw / fade golf shot.

Club Face Angle at Impact:

While the golf club may be moving on a certain club swing path during impact, the club face angle is also important to monitor as this tells you if the face is shut, open, or square.

When the club face angle is closed (to the left) it can cause sidespin on the ball that creates a hook or pulled golf shot to the left.

When the club face angle is open, it creates sidespin on the golf ball causing a slice or fade or pushed right golf shot.

You can make adjustments to try and get your club face angle to 0 degrees so the ball is struck straighter by the club at impact.

Angle of Attack:

This measures the angle the golf club is coming down on to the golf ball at impact.

With irons, you want to be swinging down on the ball, with a descending angle of attack (negative numbers), so the club strikes ball first, then turf.

With driver, you want to swing up on the ball, catching it on the upswing so it can hit the ball off the tee.

The ideal angle of attack for each golf club is different. There are charts that show the different expected angle of attack degrees for each iron, wood, driver, wedges, that you can compare with as you gather data from your golf launch monitor.

#2: Setup the Golf Launch Monitor Correctly

Before going to the driving range to use your new golf launch monitor, spend some time watching a YouTube video tutorial about how to use your specific launch monitor.

Power On / Power Off:

Find the power on button to turn on your golf launch monitor. After you finish your driving range practice session, don’t forget to power off the device to save battery life!

Select the Golf Club in the Settings:

At the driving range, adjust the settings to choose which golf club you’re hitting with. Also check if the launch monitor records and saves data after each shot. If not, you’ll want to have a notepad handy to record the data.

Set the Monitor the Correct Distance Away from You:

Each golf launch monitor will have its own instructions for where to set the machine relative to your golf stance.

Some launch monitors get placed in front of you face on and others will be back behind you, so they are looking down the line at the range.

These devices also get set a certain number of feet away from you to give the radar technology the proper distance to make calculations.

Resource: How to Score in the 70’s Golf Training Plan

#3: The Rule of 10

Once your golf launch monitor is ready to go, divide up your range balls into sets of 10.

I like to hit 10 balls with each of my golf clubs, to give myself plenty of data as opposed to only hitting 1, 3, or 5 balls.

After hitting 10 golf balls, I usually have a good idea of how far I’m hitting that golf club on average as well as average swing speed, carry, etc.

If you plan to test all 13 clubs (putter excluded) in your bag, this will require 130 golf balls which means you’ll likely need to purchase two large buckets (70-90 balls per large bucket).

#4: Hitting to Targets on the Driving Range

In addition to finding club distances with a golf launch monitor, it’s also handy to have the device when you’re hitting to different targets on the driving range.

For example, I like to setup with alignment sticks to aim myself at a 150 yard target on the range. Then I’ll hit 9 irons to the 150 yard target and see how close I can get to it.

Meanwhile, I also have the golf launch monitor going, tracking data about my swing and I can look at the device to see how far each shot went if I notice I hit short, long, or right at the 150 yard target.

If I’m trying to shot shape, hitting a draw or fade, I can refer to the golf launch monitor for checking my club path and face angle data after each swing to learn why I hit it with too much draw or why I sliced on accident instead of drawing the ball.

Side Note: Remember, not every 150 yard target is actually 150 yards away. Using a laser rangefinder to get the accurate distance is recommended and then use the golf launch monitor to further dial in your golf club distance.

Overall, these are helpful tips for how to use a golf launch monitor on the driving range.

You can learn important data about your golf swing, you can find club distances, and you can use it to help you correct a slice or learn to shot shape, hitting draws and fades with your clubs.

Check out the following recommended golf launch monitors on my golf resource page which has all kinds of recommended golf training aids and equipment.

Golf Practice Plans to Follow

Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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