With Garmin’s impressive performance in other areas of golf tech, this Approach R10 launch monitor was eagerly anticipated by the golf world. Here we review the Garmin Approach R10 and test its accuracy against TrackMan to see how it stacks up against the most accurate launch monitors on the market.
We break this review down into the following areas, feel free to jump to any sections below:
- Key Features
- Golf Simulator Capability
- Outdoor Vs Indoor Use
- Ease of Use
- Golf Insider Verdict
- Also useful to know
What the Garmin Approach R10 tries to offer for the price is incredible. This launch monitor is sleek, well-built and very easy to use. The software and features for practicing and running a golf simulator are also really impressive.
The ball speed readings are accurate and so are the resulting carry and total distance. Club head distance is pretty accurate too when compared to TrackMan.
However, the Garmin Approach R10 is not as accurate for tracking spin and lateral error. It has 1 to 4º of error when measuring club path and face angle when compared to TrackMan, and doesn’t measure strike location on the face.
The Garmin Approach R10 is a brilliant tool for running a low-cost indoor golf studio (if you’re happy with okay levels of accuracy), it is also very good for golfers looking to work on distance control and/or working on developing club head speed. Finally, we’d say this is a useful tool for mid to high handicappers to track their data in practice.
From our testing, this isn’t accurate enough for 15 handicappers and below who specifically want to work on swing mechanics and reducing their slice or hook, due to the variance in swing path, club face and shot curvature data. We’re yet to find a launch monitor under $3,000 that would be accurate enough.
For the price, the Garmin Approach R10 is really impressive, if they upgrade the accuracy in future versions it will become a game-changer for club golfers.
Sorry for the long TLDR…
The Garmin R10 is a portable launch monitor that offers an indoor golf simulator experience with golf courses and driving ranges allowing you to turn a net or hitting room into an epic golfing experience. It even gives you club head and ball flight data allowing you to work on your golf swing at home or at the golf range.
It tracks the flight of every golf shot, along with the impact and club head data (see below).
It can sync with your phone camera to record your swing and works indoors and outside making it the perfect companion for golfers who are obsessed with getting better. All this for under $600 sounds too good to be true, so let’s dive into the details.
Golf Simulator Capability
With the Garmin Approach R10, you have the ability to play online golf rounds at 42,000 golf courses. To access all courses, you need a Garmin Golf Membership; you get a 30-day free trial with the purchase of your Garmin Approach R10. There are also options to connect your R10 to wider golf simulator packages, we dive into these later on.
If you are going to invest in golf launch monitor technology, you need accurate data, how accurate depends on your level and your plans for use. However, without accurate data, you won’t be able to work on your swing and your golf simulator experience will be unrealistic.
To measure accuracy we calibrated the Garmin Approach R10 with TrackMan 4 in a golf studio setup. We weren’t expecting it to match a $18,000 launch monitor, but this gives us a great insight into where the Garmin R10 works well and where it has too much error.
We initially set both up inside our golf studio with the suggested setup proposed by Garmin, however, in these conditions the Garmin Approach struggled to capture the shots being hit into our screen. We then moved outside where we had slightly more distance between the ball and the hitting net and found the Garmin to work perfectly.
Below is the data we collected in the latter setup with the Garmin Approach R10 and TrackMan.
The first key area to look at is accuracy in shot outcome. This shows us how well the Garmin Approach measures where the ball went against TrackMan which is incredibly accurate (not perfect, but close to it).
When looking at this graphic, you will see the Garmin data (green dots) are pretty close to TrackMan data (orange dots) when it comes to distance, but the Garmin is less accurate at tracking direction. It is generally within 5 yards with wedge shots, but this error increases as the clubs get longer.
If you simply want to get accurate yardages and information about how far you hit the ball, the R10 is a good solution, but it will not be accurate enough when it comes to lateral error for better golfers.
Please also note that this will underpin your golf simulator experience too, misunderstanding the flight of your ball will mean accurate and non-accurate iron shots will not be represented correctly on your screen.
Club Head Speed & Ball Speed
If you are on that never-ending quest to increase ball speed, you will like the functionality of the Garmin Approach R10 portable golf launch monitor, offering you total and carry distance alongside ball speed and club head speed data.
You will get good ball speed and club head speed readings from the R10. We did find that the club head speed data is overestimated with the wedges and irons, but it is nearly perfect with the driver. Some launch monitors will have areas where they thrive and struggle; the Garmin Approach R10 seems to be modeled toward giving the most accurate information with driver when it comes to club head speed and ball speed.
The Garmin is also much more accurate on ball speed than it is club head speed, suggesting it directly measures ball speed and then estimates club head speed. Whereas TrackMan measures both directly.
Next, let’s look at impact and club head data for Trackman vs the Garmin Approach R10. This is a bold move from Garmin to try to produce club head data on impact, as there are no known good solutions under $3,500 currently on the market.
Despite quickly displaying numbers for all shots, they were not accurate enough for serious golfers, or those who want detailed information on their swing mechanics. Below we have the average error between the Garmin R10 vs TrackMan for key impact factors that we use when coaching.
The first three rows show that there is on average a 1.5 to 4º of error when the Garmin Approach is trying to measure club face angle, club path, and as a result, club face to path. If you’re newer to golf these might sound like unfamiliar terms, but they essentially describe where your golf ball flies and how much it curves.
For context, a 4º change in the path-to-face relationship on a 180-yard 6-iron would result in 16 yards of extra left/right curvature. This is related to the shot outcome error we saw at the start of this section.
The other variable that determines how and where a golf ball flies is impact location and sadly the Garmin doesn’t measure this.
|Club Face Angle Error º||Club Path Error º||Face To Path Error º||Angle of Attack Error º||Smash Factor Error|
Based on this analysis we can firmly say this is not the launch monitor for better golfers looking to fix a slice, or a hook and trying to learn how to accurately square the golf club face. Other golf launch monitors such as the Mevo + (with the additional club path package) would be a better fit.
Before we move on, we do need to put these results in context. This is 7 times cheaper than the cheapest launch monitor that accurately measures the above. The Garmin Approach R10 provides ballpark figures for face and path and pretty accurate numbers for smash factor, ball speed, club head speed, carry and total distance.
Indoor vs. Outdoor use
As we mentioned earlier, we had trouble getting the Garmin Approach to work indoors with the setup Garmin suggested. We were tight for space but tried adjusting the setup so we had an extra 1-2 feet behind the golf ball and to the net. In the end, we headed outside and found more space between the ball and net was the key to getting it working consistently.
Once outside, we found that the results became much better with at least 12 feet of ball flight to work with. The extra distance needed might have been due to the hitting speed during our testing being higher than average club golfers, but Keep this in mind if you are planning to use this close to Garmin’s minimum space requirements.
We also tested the Garmin Approach outside on a golf range to assess how it performs when it can track the entire ball flight. We couldn’t get TrackMan out to the golf range, but similar to our indoor data, it was pretty good with tracking carry and total distance but tended to be a few yards off with tracking spin, curvature and lateral error.
What is the minimum space for the Garmin Approach R10?
Garmin recommends a minimum of 15 feet, placing the launch monitor 7 feet behind the golf ball and having a minimum of 8 feet to the net. We found that we needed 10 feet to the net to get consistent data from the Garmin Approach R10
This is a really hard question to answer. The closest launch monitors in terms of price are the FlightScope Mevo and the Swing Caddie range. Neither of these attempts to measure the direction of the golf ball or offer the ability to run a golf simulator. The software that runs the Garmin is also far beyond what you’ll find with the Mevo and Swing Caddie launch monitors.
We haven’t been able to test all of these launch monitors side by side yet but from our separate tests we’d guess the Mevo was a little more accurate with shot distance data, and the Swing Caddie is slightly more accurate when measuring club head speed.
What the Garmin Approach R10 tries to offer is incredible for the price, if they could find a way to improve the accuracy, even if the price doubled, we’d say this is the top pick on the market for value.
Ease of use
The Garmin sets up in just over a minute, never has any connectivity problems with the Garmin app, and you can access the software incredibly easily. Even if you are not a real techy person, the learning curve here is quite simple.
The app has a lot of functionality. It will take you a while to learn and use all of the functions within the app, but getting up and running is very quick and easy.
Golf Insider verdict
If you want to work on things like distance control or increasing club head speed, the Garmin Approach R10 is a great solution. If you want a fun, low-cost golf simulator experience it is also incredible. Finally, the R10 is a very cool option for mapping your range sessions with reasonable, not great accuracy.
It’s a really fun piece of golf tech with good accuracy in terms of speed and distance. However, it struggles to offer accurate data when it comes down to lateral error of golf shots and impact data (specifically club face and path). The software is really impressive, and the Approach R10 feels stable and sturdy. If Garmin comes out with a version 2 launch monitor that is slightly more accurate the big companies like Foresight and Trackman are going to have a serious challenger on their hands.
Also useful to know
You can take the Garmin Approach R10 with you wherever you go, it’s lightweight, quick to set up and works indoors and outdoors. We’d just suggest you allow a few more feet than the minimum requirements between the ball and the hitting net to get reliable data.
The Garmin R10 claims to have 10 hours of battery life. We didn’t attempt to test this all in one session – if you can manage for 10 hours on a range, give us a call! Over a few days of use we didn’t run out of battery, so hats off to Garmin, our bigger challenge was our phone battery which will run down quicker when you sync it and record your golf swing.
The Garmin Golf App’s capability and functionality are really good. With the Approach R10 having a clip that will attach directly to your golf bag, you can watch your stats in real time and start to learn about your game. Track things like club head speed, ball speed, spin, launch angle, launch direction, and smash factor.
It also stores all of your practice sessions so that you can revisit them at any time on your phone.
If you are a golf tech person, compatibility is important. The Garmin Approach R10 works with all Apple and Android devices and is compatible with the E6 Connect, Awesome Golf, TGC 2019 Software, and Pinseeker App Compatibility.
It is also useful to note that Titleist Pro V1 RCT and Pro V1x RCT (with Radar Capture Technology) golf balls can help improve data and functionality. Garmin claims a spin rate accuracy increase of up to 30x by using these golf balls with the simulator indoors.
We used these throughout our testing and data collection with the Garmin R10 and TrackMan to ensure we obtained the most accurate results.
We tested the Garmin Approach R10 against the Trackman to show you how it stacks up against the best in the business. Trackman is a more comprehensive tool, but it is considerably more expensive. To stay in the same price range as the Garmin Approach R10 and still get good functionality, consider the Flightscope Mevo and if you can stretch your budget the Mevo Plus. The Plus version allows for a bit more accuracy and some extra parameters with the club head data. We will also test the new Rapsodo launch monitor and report back on whether this could be an alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the R10 worth it?
The R10 is worth the money if you want a lower-priced launch monitor that has a good simulator capacity and total distance capabilities. For golfers looking for detailed club data, the Garmin Approach R10 is the only solution at this price point, but we’d suggest the accuracy of the data isn’t good enough to really work on your swing mechanics when it comes to fades, draws, hooks and slices.
Is Garmin Approach R10 accurate?
The Garmin Approach R10 is accurate when it comes to certain data points, including total distance, carry distance, clubhead speed, and ball speed. It is not accurate with data points such as clubface angle and swing path.
Does Garmin R10 need wifi?
The Garmin connects to your phone via Bluetooth, meaning wifi is not needed for range practice and data collection. Wifi will be needed to download courses for simulator use, please check with specific simulator packages to determine if you will need wifi whilst playing the courses.
Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK
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