If you’re in the market for a golf launch monitor or golf simulator, you know the name SkyTrak.
SkyTrak was put on sale in 2014 for the first time, and was one of the first really accurate launch monitor on the market for less than $5,000 making it somewhat affordable to a lot of golfers.
In my SkyTrak review, I'll take a deeper look at this golf launch monitor. I'll show you how to set yours up, exactly what's in our setup and how it is used, plus how it measures ball and swing data, and show you the capabilities of the unit.
How does the SkyTrak perform? How does it compare to other launch monitors that are on the market today? Is it worth getting if you’re looking for a quality golf simulator?
SkyTrak Launch Monitor Review
SkyTrak Initial Setup
The Skytrak is very easy to set up. Keep in mind, this is for new models. If you do purchase a used model, you may need to contact SkyTrak as it would have been registered with someone else. A new model will be an easy setup.
- You create an account online, use that account to sign into your unit, then use the WiFi in your home to access the Skytrak from any device. I regularly use an iPad or my laptop PC depending on what I’m doing (simulator or just practicing on the range).
- As far as physically setting it up in the bay at home, the most important considerations were leveling the unit and keeping it even with the mat. My Skytrak has a hard protective case with leveling feet so that part was easy. Getting it aligned and leveled is the most important factor to achieve proper accuracy of the SkyTrak, but it is not difficult.
- It is also important that you have a brightly lit room. My garage has big LED lights on the ceiling as I installed those for working on my cars and motorcycles at night years ago and they work great for the Skytrak. It’s very bright in there.
- It's very important to line your Skytrak up correctly and while it takes a little bit of fiddling, once you have it, keep it there so it doesn't miss shots or mistake shots. This is very important.
- White shoes with the white balls gets lost by Skytrak sometimes and won't register from my observations. White pants can sometimes be an issue so wear darker colors contrasting the white golf ball all the time. The SkyTrak likes if you have more markings on the balls, like putting lines or logos or customized printed golf balls.
Setting up the SkyTrak Simulator
These are the most bare bone essential things you MUST have in order for the SkyTrak to work.
- SkyTrak unit and I suggest the protective case as it has adjustable legs and a level on it to make sure the unit is level (utmost importance).
- Hitting net or screen - the SkyTrak will track real golf balls not foam balls so you need to stop the golf balls with a solid net or hitting screen.
- Hitting mat - you need a hitting mat because of all the balls you will hit. A high quality hitting mat will last a long time.
- A computer or Apple product to run the software on the Skytrak. You will plug the SkyTrak into the computer which will display your statistics nd data. This is essential because there is no other way to see the results of the shots.
- A screen to see the results. This is either the computer screen, TV or Apple product.
Optional Extras: You can upgrade your setup with a hitting screen which will return balls to you. This screen can then be used to project the images from an overhead short-throw projector. By doing this, you can create an immersive experience - notice the pictures below between Jim and Phil. Jim has a very barebones setup while Phil has an immersive experience.
The biggest difference in setup between fully immersive or bare bones is your needs. Do you want to have fun and enjoy the simulator experience or do you want to train and understand your numbers only? If you want only numbers and improvement then you can go barebones. if you want a video game like experience with something interactive, you can go all out with a projector and 16:9 screen.
SkyTrak Home Setup Examples
Below are a couple of examples from Phil and Jim which explains their setup with pictures.
Jim's SkyTrak Minimal Setup
Jim Pecoraro, who is a Golf Sidekick subscriber sent in his setup and SkyTrak review to help us learn more.
Jim: I needed something that was accurate indoors in my garage. I need practice features like driving range and club gapping; as well as statistics I was interested in, namely accurate spin numbers, ball speed and launch angle.
- I have the PowerNet - The nicer nets are 10x the price so that’s a consideration.
- I have the Quattro mat - I did tons of research on mats. There are many out there but this is the best IMO. It’s very durable because it's designed for outside use and I have hit thousands of balls and there is literally no wear. It is heavy and will last a lifetime. It is also relatively soft to hit off of and is easy on my joints.
- I use my laptop PC plugged into a TV to “project” the golf courses and practice range.
In my experience and doing research, it seems doppler based units are not accurate indoors and don’t typically offer robust features like those I was interested in.
Even Trackman 4’s can have trouble in indoor settings without enough space to operate. So I knew I needed a camera-based unit. The second main factor was budget - at the time of my needs, the SkyTrak was the most affordable camera-based unit at roughly $2,000 USD and I would have considered purchasing one at that price if I hadn’t gotten it for free from my friend.
In recent years, several companies have come out with more “affordable” camera-based units. The Bushnell/Foresight GC3 ($3,000+) and Full Swing Kit to name a few. The biggest differentiator for those units is the addition of club head data (face, angle-of-attack, path, etc.) but those features come at significant extra cost, often thousands of dollars.
Skytrak was a nice middle ground that gets 90% of the practice features for 20% of the cost. Overall I love the set up I have. It could be better if I wanted to spend more money on a projector and impact screen, but I have limited time to set that up and this is great for my needs.
Phil's SkyTrak Setup - Immersive Experience
Phil Stoops is a big Skytrak fan and subscriber to Golf Sidekick and also reviewed the SkyTrak after years of usage. Below is his setup.
I have the Skytrak and my home sim setup which is around $8,000 to complete, consists of:
- Return net with the Ball Impact Screen
- Hitting Turf
- Optoma EH200ST Full 3D 1080p 3000 Lumen DLP Short Throw Projector
- TV monitor
- Laptop mounted off to the side to run the SkyTrak software
IMPORTANT: Phil says "I like the E6 driving range and games but I can't hit my driver because my ceiling is too low. You need at least 10 feet of space" - that's important to keep in mind.
Jason P's Home SkyTrak Setup - Luxury
- SkyTrak + Case
- Projector: Optoma GT1080HDR Short Throw
- Premium Impact Screen
- Turf Surround
- Synlawn Precision Putt Pro hitting insert: Free sample from Synlawn, but only about $6/sq. ft
- Basic Dell desktop PC dedicated to just running ST and E6: ~$500 w/ upgraded NVidia GPU
- SkyTrak Game Improvement Package: $99/year
- E6 Connect Basic Subscription Package: $300/year
- Solid performance and comparative accuracy compared to a $20k machine
- Lots of features to choose from and a lot of great software for courses and games
- Take it to the range it wirelessly connects to an iPad or iPhone
- My friends and I use it to play accuracy games and to look at our actual distances while hitting range balls vs. into the net.
- Great battery life
- You need to adjust the ball so the logo faces the infrared dot
- Mat shifting and misaligned aiming spot makes inaccurate results - make sure its aligned by using alignment sticks
- White clothes or shoes confuse the machine
My Top Tips to Get More out of SkyTrak
- The best tip I can give is to put it in a place that is easy for you to regularly use. If you have to drag out all your gear every time you want to practice (within reason), you won’t use it. Especially for those who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend or time to build a true permanent sim.
- Use alignment sticks to make sure you are hitting the ball to where Skytrak wants you to aim. The unit prefers a shot direction into the net so it will pick up the correct information and be accurate. Sometimes the mat slips or you just forget where to hit. Use alignment sticks.
- The SkyTrak does not lie so use the distances to understand your carry for each club and make better decisions out on the golf course. It's a powerful tool for simulation but also for understanding your game.
- Use the balls you play with too. Don't use cheap balls. Learn by using what you play with on course.
- Don't wear anything white at all when using the SkyTrak. It will confuse the machine because the golf balls are also white.
- Chris says "Wish I bought a 16x9 screen. My Homecourse screen is roll up projector style and although it's convenient it's 4:3 and the 16x9 is more realistic/immersive especially playing courses." So if you are looking for a great experience, try not to skimp and go for the effect you really want.
Frequently Asked Questions - SkyTrak
How does a SkyTrak launch monitor work?
The SkyTrak launch monitor tracks your shots using cameras. On impact, the launch monitor will take super high-speed images. The images are quickly fed back to SkyTrak’s software, which then works out datasets which includes everything from clubhead speed to back spin and carry distance.
What Does Skytrak Measure?
Ball speed, launch angle, backspin, side spin and side angle are directly measured, and other data points such as carry and total distance are estimated.
- Post shot ball speed and launch angle
- Total distance
- Carry, roll and offline distance
- Side and back spin
- Side angle
- Flightpath and angle of descent
- Clubhead speed
You can budget at least $2,000 for a high quality launch monitor like a SkyTrak launch monitor. For an extra $1,500 (total: $3,500) you can skip the hassle, and get a full SkyTrak golf simulator setup like this one.
Skytrak Accuracy - Is it accurate?
SkyTrak is going to offer the best on-screen shot analysis and accuracy (up to 98% as accurate as Trackman) for the money.
The SkyTrak is accurate. The carry distance especially is spot on. The shot shapes are almost always accurate as well. There are however, a few exceptions:
Occasionally, a driver shot will clearly be off on carry distance. Usually it’s a bit low. I am unsure why but this is the nature of indoor hitting with a fastr swing speed and happens with most units.
99% of the time the shot shape is consistent with my feel, but sometimes shanks and tops often look weird on the display. Again, not a huge problem because I’m not concerned with what a shank would do on the course!
SkyTrak Distance Issues?
Sometimes your mat can shift and your SkyTrak can have distance issues. It's always advisable to screw the mat down or secure it in a way that it will not slide.
You can reset the unit also and make sure the firmware that is running is the latest edition.
You can reset your Skytrak. You need a small paper clip. On the bottom of the Skytrak you see a tiny hole in the bottom of the middle screw hole. Push the paper clip and hold for 10 seconds. The Skytrak should be turned on when doing this. You should see the lights flashing and it will reset it. Now try again.
Skytrak Software - What's available?
I did lots of research between WGT for Skytrak ($100 per year), E6 Basic ($300 per year), and The Golf Club 2019 ($1000+).
Overall, I think E6 is a nice middle-ground value. It doesn’t have as many courses (15) compared to The Golf Club 2019 (50K+) but has all the features you would want and the graphics and overall package are great.
WGT is more of a toy and not as sophisticated with graphics and camera angles as E6. It’s not perfect but for someone who plays indoors for 4-5 months a year, it’s a good solution.
I bought the “Basic” level plan for E6 through the Skytrak website. I wish it had more courses, but for the money it seems like good value.
Make sure your laptop has the processing power to run the software to avoid lag and to keep up with the software. You want to have a great experience so never skimp on the specs of your technology.
Skytrak Vs Trackman
The main difference here is the Skytrak is a photometric launch monitor while the Trackman uses Doppler radar (much more accurate).
The second huge difference is the price of the Trackman is 10 times that f the SkyTrak.
When I compare the two golf simulator units, the spin rate and the launch angles were similar.
The Trackman offers many more features but the Skytrak is consistent and accurate enough and for the price is good value.
Skytrak Best features
The features on the Skytrak that I use the most are listed here in order from most to least used. These are on the Skytrak software itself, not E6:
By far the most-used feature. When you are in the driving range, you can set a green (big, medium, small size greens) at random distances within a set range. I like to do 40 to 140 yards so I can practice my wedge game. Every time I practice I finish my practice by seeing how many greens in a row I can hit from that range. Most I’ve ever gotten is 22! It has totally transformed my distance control inside wedge distance. I also use this feature for other distance sets but most often use it for wedges.
You can set easy, medium, and large fairway widths and practice “hitting fairways” with different clubs. They also do doglegs.
General driving range
This is the basic driving range but I use it a lot. I use it before a round of golf to see how far some standard clubs (6i, 7w) are carrying so I can adjust for the round that day. Stuff like that. Skytrak has many other features that I used a few times but rarely use any more. They include a bag mapping feature (I prefer to use the driving range), a wedge matrix (same thing although this one is pretty cool), a long drive contest (never used this).
Most of the following were done using just the driving range feature, but are things that are only really possible when you have access to a home simulator / launch monitor as they take too long or would cost too much to pay for a fitting each time
I am not a trained club fitter, but have gotten quite good at knowing my delivery characteristics and what types of launch numbers work well for me. An example is the decision between using a 2iron (Srixon Z u85) or a 7wood. I noticed you have made the switch as well. For me, it came down to the 2iron being a great club off the tee but very one-dimensional. Couldn’t hit it off the deck, out of the rough, or basically anywhere else. I was looking for something that flew roughly as far but spun more and launched higher. After testing both on the monitor, I knew I had found my new go-to club! See the picture below to compare the numbers.
I was interested in what the adjustability on my Driver (Callaway Epic Max LS) would do to the ball flight. I tinkered mainly with loft settings and found it actually made quite the difference! See below. It was interesting to me that the loft settings (8°, 9° and 10°) did not really affect carry distance but had a big impact on dispersion. The 8° setting was by far the most accurate so it’s what I’ve gone with and I haven’t looked back!
Wedge Launch Angle
I have always struggled to hit full wedge shots. I tend to “flip” at the bottom and present too much loft so the ball just goes super high and not much distance. You can see from my numbers above that I have some speed, so I should be able to control wedges to score well. Well, I found after hitting my wedges a lot on the Skytrak that my launch angles were all way too high (35-40° depending on club). So, I worked to reduce the launch angle through trial and error as I find “YouTube” swing tips to be a tough go. You can see through the numbers that I have been able to fix this problem, or at least get better and it’s made a huge difference to my game.
None of these things would be what I call “typical” use of the machine for most players. But if you get into that sort of thing, having a launch monitor in a home-simulator-style setting is an absolute game changer for equipment and swing-related improvement.
Overall, depending on your budget I think the SkyTrak is just as good as any other launch monitor in the mid price range.
Decide between if you want to have the Skytrak for improvement in your game only or if you want it for hitting balls in the winter or in your free time, or finally, if you want a full sim experience. This will guide your buying decision regarding the full setup. I would personally love a ful all out setup over the barebones because I don't like working on my game, just having fun with friends.
Of course, the Trackman and similar models more upscale launch monitors that will provide even more detail for pro level golf, but is that worth $20-$30k vs a couple thousand dollars? I think the data with SkyTrak is solid and it provides us with a total midrange solid practice set up to learn and more importantly enjoy hitting some golf balls while having some fun.
by Jim Pecoraro, Chris B and Phil Stoops (all Playas)