T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair .
It's been a long, cold, snowy winter here in New England. Not that I'm complaining. That's what you sign up for when you live in these parts.
At a certain point though, all this dreary weather makes us long for spring and the start of golf season. This past weekend, we got a hint that perhaps -- just maybe -- spring is around the corner after all. With temperatures in the low 50s, scores of golfers flocked to the local driving range, myself included.
Along with hitting golf balls outside for the first time since November, I was very much looking forward to trying out a new device that caught my eye recently -- a product called the Swing Caddie SC100 from Voice Caddie.
The Swing Caddie SC100 is a portable launch monitor. Who wants to lug that around, right?
Consider this: This particular portable launch monitor is slightly bigger and weighs about the same as an iPhone. It comes in a small pouch and includes a remote. You can tuck it into the valuables pocket on your golf bag and you won't even know it's there.
Once you're at the range, you simply set the monitor on its stand behind your hitting area and with the tiny remote that clips to your belt loop you can adjust the settings -- the club your hitting, and the mode you're playing.
In just a few minutes, the Swing Caddie changed the way I'll practice going forward. While the Average Joe golfer might wonder: Why do I need a portable launch monitor -- the data is only going to confuse me? Let me tell you, the Swing Caddie is an invaluable practice tool.
Not all of us have the skills to be a world-class player, but that doesn't mean we don't take our golf seriously. The Swing Caddie -- a tiny, standalone device that doesn't require a smartphone app -- will give you the key information you need instead of overloading you with the technical information you don't understand.
The instant feedback LCD display measures the following:
- carry distance
- swing speed
- ball speed
- smash factor
You can select from three different modes, as well -- practice, target, or random.
Have you ever played golf with the person who thinks he or she hits his or her clubs a lot further than they actually do? Are you that person?
After a quick warm up and in about five minutes time, I was blown away by the consistency with which the Swing Caddie allowed me to practice. It takes the "guessing" factor out of the equation and really allows the user to dial in consistent distances at which there ball travels with each club in the bag.
Here's a video showing how the Swing Caddie SC100 works:
It's one thing to follow the flight of your golf shot and see that you did something wrong -- a hard hook, a massive slice, etc. It's another thing to be able to, instantaneously after hitting that shot, look back at your portable launch monitor to try and make sense of why that shot happened. Was your swing speed a lot faster than your previous shot? Slower?
Based on the swing speed element on the display, you can quickly develop rhythm and tempo to help frequently repeat the swing that bares the best results for you.
The Swing Caddie is not a substitute for lessons from a PGA Professional. It is, however, an incredible practice tool that any player who takes his or her game seriously -- regardless of ability level -- should have as a companion at the range.
The Swing Caddie SC100 retails for $269. You can learn more about the device -- and others offered by Voice Caddie -- at www.voicecaddie.com .
You can also follow Voice Caddie on Twitter, @vcaddie .
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair .