Garmin G80 vs Trackman – Which One Should I Buy?
Today we are going to be looking at 2 launch monitors that vary greatly on one aspect: price. Do you have to spend thousands of dollars just to get accurate information on your swing? Do cheaper launch monitors work just as well as more expensive ones?
These are the questions we will be tackling in today’s comparison review. We tested 2 launch monitors on the course, at the driving range and with an indoor net. And while there were things that we liked (and disliked) about each of them, there can be only one winner. Read on to find out which is the best.
Who Should use a Launch Monitor?
The launch monitors we are going to be talking about today can be used by anyone. But the Garmin Approach G80 is definitely more for the casual player. The Trackman will definitely appeal more to the amateur level golfer and anyone who competes in tournaments or wants to give lessons.
The Trackman 4 Key Features
The trackman device that we were fortunate enough to try out was the Trackman 4 Launch Monitor. Easily one of the most technologically advanced monitors on the market today, the Trackman 4 utilizes 2 very sophisticated radar systems.
One radar system is dedicated solely to tracking the trajectory of your club, swing path and face angle. The other radar system is dedicated to tracking the ball. It gives you data on smash factor launch angle, carry distance, total distance, height and hang time.
The device itself looks and feels like an iPad. It features a color touch screen display on which you can clearly see each shot put up against a distance chart. Each shot is represented by a golf ball on the screen. When you click on a golf ball, it gives you all the data from the shot.
- Dead-on accurate
- Gives shot data on short pitches and long drives
- Gives ball trajectory info
- Gives landing positions on courses
- Measures loft, attack and ball speed
- Very good at picking up every shot
- Very expensive
- Some advanced metrics are hard to decipher and utilize
- It’s pretty big to carry around on the course
- The battery life is short
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The Garmin Approach G80 Key Features
The Approach G80 is a handheld device (about the size of a small smartphone) that provides data on 41,000 courses around the world. In fact, it will automatically detect which course you are on via GPS connectivity.
As a launch monitor, it also uses Doppler radar technology to track ball speed, distance, smash factor and club head speed. It also uses GPS data to account for things like slope to give you a fairly accurate “plays like” distance for any given shot.
It features a 3.5” color touchscreen display. When looking at a map of the course you are on, you can actually touch on any point to see the distance to that specific spot. It also has a Tempo Training feature that gives you valuable feedback on your backswing and downswing.
- Has added golf GPS features
- You can use it indoors and outdoors
- Includes a virtual practice feature
- Simple operation
- The color display is easy to read even in direct sunlight
- Comparatively affordable
- The Garmin Connect app isn’t very useful
- Overheats when left in GPS mode
- The radar technology it uses is basic compared to the Trackman 4
- It does not automatically detect which club you are using
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Without question, the Trackman 4 was the more accurate of the 2. It picked up every single one of our shots when set just a few feet in front of us. It gives out a satisfying little chime when it has picked up your shot too.
While we found it cumbersome to carry around on the course, it was ideal for the driving range and our indoor practice set-ups.
One thing that we realized very quickly about the Trackman 4 is that this is a device geared towards pros and instructors. Some of the metrics simply went over our heads which means that no matter how accurate they were, they didn’t help us too much.
The Approach G80 was very accurate although it is very hard to compete with the Trackman, but it was easier to have with us on the course. It can easily fit in your pocket or in your bag. It can however, get a bit hot when we left it in GPS mode for too long. It gives basic swing metrics that are helpful and it is an excellent piece of kit to have for personal use., but not as in-depth as the Trackman 4.
As we alluded to in the intro of this review, the price difference between these 2 devices is night and day. The Garmin Approach G80 will cost around $500 while the Trackman 4 is more in the neighborhood of $19,000.
The Trackman 4 is not the only model the company makes, however. You can get older models like the Trackman 3 for a few thousand dollars less than the Trackman 4.
Which one Should you Buy?
So, do you need to spend thousands of dollars to improve your swing? No. The Garmin Approach G80 provides basic yet valuable information that you can use to improve your game overall. Do cheaper devices work as well as more expensive ones? Unfortunately, no.
The Trackman 4 was deadly accurate and we were blown away with its performance. In fact, it was too impressive. There were metrics that we simply didn’t understand and therefore couldn’t use to our advantage.
The Garmin Approach G80 was not as accurate, it provided less data and sometimes it didn’t even register swings. But it also didn’t give us data that we couldn’t understand.
In the right hands, the Trackman 4 would be the superior device. But for the average player, the Garmin G80 is more useful. So which one should you buy? The answer depends on what kind of player you are.
If you can utilize all the advanced metrics the Trackman 4 doles out, then by all means, go for it. If your needs are more basic, the G80 is more up your alley.
The Garmin G80 Personal Launch Monitor
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