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Swing Caddie: Voice Caddie's portable launch monitor makes practice more fun

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
Swing Caddie launch monitor
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The Swing Caddie launch monitor is about the size of a large cell phone. (Courtesy of Voice Caddie)

One reason golf is struggling to keep players, much less attract new ones, is that playing a round takes a lot of time. In this day and age, devoting three to five hours to an activity is more than most people can commit to.

Another reason for golf's recent struggles is that the game is hard. In order to play golf well, you need to practice. And practice takes even more time.

Because practice is hard enough to fit into one's schedule as it is, one of my pet peeves is "training aids" that are so complicated, or temperamental, that they suck up precious practice minutes.

I'm not a big fan of standing out on a hot or cold or windy practice tee, syncing my smartphone to some other device -- a set-up that seems to be all the rage recently -- or fiddling with tiny buttons. (The last device of this type that I tested failed to register nearly half of my swings, driving me to finally throw the piece of junk into a nearby lake. Seriously.)

Swing Caddie by Voice Caddie

Not all high-tech training aids are distractions, however. A perfect example of a well designed, easy-to-use practice aid is the Swing Caddie by Voice Caddie ($269).

Swing Caddie is a portable launch monitor, about the size of a large cell phone, designed not only to measure swing speed, ball speed, smash factor and yardage (in yards or meters), but also to make practice itself more challenging and fun.

Swing Caddie can be set to three modes: Practice Mode, Random Mode and Target Mode. The first simply records your stats. The second picks random yardages for you, and then provides feedback after you hit to let you know how far off the target distance you were. The third lets you set a distance and then records your next 10 shots, providing average swing speed, ball speed and distance to see how well you have the distance dialed in.

To set up the Swing Caddie, all you do is turn it on, pop out the little stand, and set it up about three feet behind where you're hitting. That's it! One of the best features is the credit card-sized remote control that comes with the Swing Caddie. This allows you to switch clubs and modes without having to walk back and pick up the unit.

Swing Caddie: The verdict

To be honest, I was amazed by the ease with which the Swing Caddie could be set up -- I had it operational and measuring my shots in less than three minutes. The yardages and speeds it provided were extremely consistent, though often the yardages seemed somewhat less than I expected. On the other hand, occasionally some of the yardages were more typical, so it might well have been me (or poor quality range balls) rather than the Swing Caddie.

Interestingly, when I made really terrible swings, the Swing Caddie didn't register them. I don't know if the club was outside the range of the device or what, but it was uncanny how it picked up every one of my good swings -- no matter which club I used -- but none of the clunkers.

The remote worked beautifully, and the display was easy to read and well laid out. And the various modes really did add to my practice experience. I especially liked the Random Mode, which allowed me to see how effective I was at hitting shots of all yardages with all different clubs -- more fun than I've had practicing in a long, long time.

For more information, visit new.voicecaddie.com.

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Swing Caddie

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

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