(Feel free to move if this isn't an appropriate location)
I purchased a SkyTrak launch monitor, and I have been very pleased with the product thus far. I feel that my review/experiences over the past few years may be able to help some or create good discussion on practicing.
I don't have practice facilities readily accessible (25 min drive), so I've spent countless hours refining my swing in my garage with a mat/net. 3 years ago I was a 12 hcp and often struggled to make consistent solid contact, but have since lowered my hcp to the 4-6 range. It took a little while to learn the "feel" of different hits/misses while hitting into a net, but I was soon able to identify many different misses (fat, thin, toe, big slice, duck hook, etc) as well as a relatively solid hit. It was easy to make improvements to my swing, because the difference between my "better" shots and my "worse" shots was easy to determine.
As I continued to improve my ball striking on the mat, I saw positive (although somewhat delayed) results on the course. Last year, I had finally eliminated the majority of major mis-hits, and my "worse" shots turned into smaller draws and slices as well as small errors in distance control and starting flight path. I found that my mat/net practice sessions mostly consisted of solid feeling hits that went in the general vicinity of my target. I was no longer getting specific enough feedback to further hone my ball striking. I would spend a full week practicing what felt great at home, but when I took it to the course, I realized that I actually had a mild-moderate slice/draw that I wasn't aware of. Basically, it was like hitting an 8 iron and knowing that my ball likely landed somewhere on the green or fringe, but, but not knowing if it was left, right, short, or long.
I spent more time going to the range and hitting the course, but my schedule just doesn't allow me to go more than once or twice per week. My improvement plateaued.
I did some research, and ultimately settled on the $2k SkyTrak instead of the variety of different options. I considered the Optishot2 and GC2 based on other reviews, but ultimately settled with an in-between.
It was easy to setup, and after 5 minutes of experimenting with different ball positions, I've found it to be very accurate and consistent to the best that I can tell. I can't attest to the accuracy of the more specific measurements (spin, launch angle, club head speed, etc), but what I "feel" seems to be very consistent with what I see. The only thing that doesn't "feel" like what I see, is that my stock standard "good" feeling shot has a decent draw to it instead of being straight (remember my problem above?). Adjusting my baseline "feel" to what is reality, any shots that feel like a draw actually show up as a bigger draw, and what feels like a fade is actually a straight shot.
I can consistently judge a fade, draw, flighted, flop, and my carry to within ~5 yards after I strike the ball. It truly feels like I'm hitting on the range but with more specific information at my disposal (carry, launch angle, max height, spin). Even if the numbers aren't perfectly accurate, they seem to be accurate relative to other shots within the same launch monitor (aka spin numbers increase and decrease as would be expected based on swing/club, even if I can't confirm their overall accuracy).
I have no clue if SkyTrak was the best bang-for-buck, or if there are better products out there. I also haven't been able to take it outdoors to confirm flight patterns. It seems like a very poor setup for anyone wanting to take it to the range - indoor mat/net setup is its niche from my understanding.
I'm only a week in to using it, so my feeling may change over time, but I thought I would share my experience and offer to answer any questions if anyone has them. Happy golfing!
So, I have another lesson on saturday but I've been working hard maintaining my posture during the swing. Over the last few months i developed a trend where on the down swing i would lean my left shoulder toward the ball and my right shoulder would come under and 4 times out of 5 i hit the ball fat. Yesterday's range session showed tremendous improvement, and i was back to hitting good shots again. Now that I have this down, I think it's time for another lesson so I can work on whatever he tells me next.
Also, I bought a nike blades 4 iron for fun because I've always liked the look of blades but don't have the balls to actually play them, and I was shocked at how much distance I got, even on mishits. I was even more surprised when I put it on a tee and was hitting the ball almost as far as my 3 wood... just a lot more accurate. Can anyone say Beginners Luck? I think the true cause for this is actually the loft of the 4 iron. The one i have now(Cobra King Forged TEC), has so little loft it feels like i'm attempting to hit driver off the deck and is super tough to hit.