If you're looking to perfect your golf game, a swing analyser or shot tracker is one of the best ways improve. There are a host of devices, designed to offer the type of feedback and analysis on your golf swing, as well as performance on the course.
And it's not just your swing that can benefit. You can also track shots around the course, using the information to hone your average distances, and better pick the clubs based on facts.
Golfers take note: The best golf GPS watches
Read on for our selection of the best golf swing analysers and shot trackers, and make sure you read the results of our group test of the best golf tech.
How to choose a swing analyser?
What do you need to look for in a swing analyser? Well, from our extensive testing, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
First is the standard of your golf. If you're a complete beginner, using a swing analyser is not a replacement for a good coaching session. And in fact, regardless of your ability, we'd advise users to try and combine a swing analyser with a coach.
Very few of us have the perfect golf swing, so swing analysers can be a little overwhelming – but for most high-handicappers, it's about recreating your best shot, not Rory McIlroy's. A coach can tell you which of the metrics you should focus on, and what those numbers should be. Without that guidance, the effectiveness of a swing analyser can be limited.
The best swing analysers
The upgraded Zepp 2 is a clip-on device that attaches to your glove when you're on the course or hitting on the range. The array of sensors notes everything from the speed of your hands to the tempo of your forward and backswing, before showing your data in the app which flashes up less than a second after you've hit the ball.
While the position on the glove is a little imperfect compared to other devices that stay on the shaft, it's the best experience when it comes to reviewing your data. It employs the universally accepted traffic light message to show which elements of your swing aren't matching up.
From there you can compare swings to professional golfers, or your previous library of top shots, using a really detailed and easy-to-use fast forward and rewind. There are also tonnes of tuition videos tailored to each element of the swing.
When paired with a smartphone, the app will even use the built-in accelerometer to track hip movements, a crucial element of a consistent swing and the Achilles heel of many a weekend golfer.
In short, Zepp 2 is the most user-friendly swing analyser, and one that's more suited to those not taking lessons. It's also added on-course features, including the ability to have every swing recorded on your round.
Check out our full Zepp Golf 2 review for our take.
Unlike Zepp's position on the glove, Garmin's swing sensor takes a different tact and attached to the on the club shaft via a wing-nut style screw
The steady position makes it a tad more reliable, and means it's able to pick up shaft angle and club lean, as well as the usual club speed, club plane metrics.
It's no-where near as user-friendly as Zepp 2, and out go the neat interfaces, colour coding and easily digestible data. But in terms of raw data, we found the Garmin TruSwing to be a fantastic swing tracker.
But it took us a coach to really get the most out of the Garmin. Our main fault was an in-out swing, causing pushes left and a snap hook right. The Garmin has a specific metric for that, but it took a coach to identify the problem, show us the metric and explain what an acceptable range for that metric to be. Once we had that info, the Garmin TruSwing became a very powerful tool – and had us returning more than the Zepp 2.
The app is nowhere near as nice, the shot review is clunky, data is slower to appear and requires faffing with your phone to look at the numbers. However, it worked really well when paired to the Garmin Approach X40 (Approach S20 is also compatible) as a way of getting immediate data on the wrist.
In-depth: Garmin TruSwing review
What is a shot tracker?
For some golfers, just getting in-round information isn't enough; they want a complete set of data to pore over when they return from the golf course – and that's where shot trackers come in.
Simply put, shot trackers record every golf shot you play on the course. From that data you can glean a tonne of useful information, that can be put into action on the range or your next round. That could be a tendency to hit left or right, the element of your game where you're losing the most shots (poor GIR, high putt average, low fairways hit), or you real-life average distances for each shot.
Shot trackers come in different forms. A couple do it on the watch – the Garmin Approach S20 and Approach X40, and the TomTom Golfer 2 – although we had issues with both. Read on for our best shot trackers.
Best golf shot trackers
The impressive Arccos Golf package uses club-top receivers to track every shot on the course, but unlike many on the market, you don't need to tap before every shot.
You pair each sensor with your phone, and then fire up the app before your round. It will then automatically detect your shots and plot each one on the course. In return you get virtual handicaps for each major area of your game, which can help you pick up shots, as well as finding your average distances for each club.
Full disclosure: we've only tested the Arccos Golf original version and we're still testing out the Arccos 360, which heralds better algorithms and sensors. But from our testing, while we found that not every shot on the course is recognised, it's much better than having to tap after every shot. You can get on with your game and get some great data after. Be warned, it is a bit of a killer on your phone's battery.
Cobra Connect driver range
While the Arccos tech above works for every club in your bag the Cobra Connect takes the company's tech and puts it in an actual club. That tech is found in the Cobra King LTD, Cobra King F7+ and Cobra King F7.
It works the same way – you pair the sensor with the app before you head out, and you have your drives mapped out within the app, with the landing position plotted by your phone's microphone listening for the next shot. Clever stuff, indeed.
Essential reading: Cobra Connect review
While you're not getting the full breakdown of the clubs in your bag, driving is a real focus for a lot of golfers. That means the Cobra Connect can help to provide real data on your bad shots. Do you tend to hit left or right? How many actually hit the fairway? The reality can often be very different from how we perceive our driving to be (sometimes for better and worse).
The Cobra King LTD is $449 and available at American Golf now, while the Cobra King F7+ is $399 and Cobra King F7 is $349.
From $349, cobragolf.com
TomTom Golfer 2
We didn't get on well with the Golfer 2's shot tracking when we first tested, but now it's been given a bit of a re-think, we're cautiously including it in the list. Why? Well, the benefit of the Golfer 2 is that the shot tracking is already placed in a device you're using on the course – and it's automatic. That's two big wins.
The main change from the original review is that the beep and vibrate function can be turned off, letting you get on with your round of golf uninterrupted. By doing that though, you'll be less aware of rogue shots, but less irritated on the course.
And that's the key issue: shot tracking is still a bit of a pig. While it's hardly as over sensitive as before, where carrying your bag or putting on a coat could cause fur or five incorrect shots to be tracked, it's still prone to mistakes. You can correct any rogue shot by pressing back, and cover the screen to log a missed stroke – so if you're invested in shot tracking, it's not a bad system.
That said, data is lacking after the round, and isn't up to the likes of Game Golf or Arccos because it doesn't know which club you've hit. But as an intro to shot tracking, it's worth a look.
Game Golf LIVE
The original on-course shot tracker, Game Golf has been used by golfing names such as Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and some dude called Barack Obama.
A set of club sensors come with a belt-worn sensor. Add the sensors to the tops of your clubs, and tap when you take a shot. The Game Golf LIVE system then plots the position of the shot on the course, and uses it to work out distance averages and areas of your game you need to work on. It's extremely data-rich.
The problem is that it's hard work. This comes down to having to tap in for each shot. The company has tried to mitigate this somewhat, and you can add shots after the event very easily and the belt sensor will try and guess when you've taken a non-tagged shot and post the location on the map just in case.
The issue is that we've used Game Golf a whole bunch of times, both the older version and the LIVE update, and the percentage of missed shots is too high. When I'm playing with buddies on a Saturday, I'm having too much fun to get into tapping. The answer is to make it part of your pre-game routine, but this reviewer just can't get on with it. Different strokes for different folks, but for us automated detection is the way forward.
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