Trackman vs Flightscope 2

March 28th, 2010 by John Graham Leave a reply »
Trackman Launch Moniter

Trackman Launch Moniter

Almost exactly a year ago, I did a blog post called Trackman vs. Flightscope where I talked about my experience with testing the two machines.  You can follow the previous link the read my initial review.  Basically, it states the Trackman is just more accurate.  This is especially true when it comes to the angle of attack.

I’d heard that Flightscope had come out with some new software and wanted to see how the two compared again.  One of my twitter followers sent me some results from a side by side comparison of the new Flightscope Prime with the new software and Trackman.

I am in the process of loading the data onto my server and will post it here when complete.  Data is located at the end of the post.

Until then, I will tell you what it shows.  For the most part, the two machines tracked the flight and launch of the ball almost exactly.

Flightscope Prime

Flightscope Prime

Some shots had variables in spin but not enough for me to say that one is worse than the other.  This test composed of a sand wedge, 6 iron and a driver.  Once again, the issue with Flightscope was the angle of attack.  Driver comparisons were pretty close but when it came to the 6 iron and sandwedge, the Flightscope was way off.  In 8 of 10 shots, Flightscope returned a positive angle of attack for a club professional.  This is just way off.

We all know that we are supposed to take a divot after the ball with an iron shot.  The only way to accomplish this is with a downward angle of attack.  Not only is the angle of attack incorrect but because it is incorrect, the club path numbers are inaccurate.   The angle of attack has a direct impact on the 3d club path.  Downward angles of attack create a more rightward path relative to the swing and upward angles of attack create a more leftward path relative to the swing.  So when Trackman says 2 degrees down and Flightscope says 2 degrees up, we have a major difference in club path.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  Flightscope would work very well as a fitting tool but if you want a fitting tool and a teaching tool you need a Trackman.  Just remember Flightscope is about $8000 and Trackman Pro is about $28000.  Accuracy is what you get for that extra $20000.

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Update:  I had some questions regarding the set up of the test so here’s a picture of the set up:

Trackman vs Flightscope Set Up

Trackman vs Flightscope Set Up

Here is the Data and screen shots from the 6irons in question:

Trackman Screen Shot for 6 Iron Data

Trackman Screen Shot for 6 Iron Data

Flightscope Screen Shot for 6 Iron Data

Flightscope Screen Shot for 6 Iron Data

Here are the screen shots to show that this data is from the newest version of software and firmware that Flightscope offers:

Flightscope Firmware Version

Flightscope Firmware Version

Flightscope Software

Flightscope Software

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43 comments

  1. George Webster says:

    Very interesting test.. When you say in your article the test was done side by side. What exactly do you mean..? Were the tests done off grass or mats ?
    Not enough information on the test set-up for my liking.. I also disagree with your downward attack theory. Looking forward to seeing your recorded data.. MW

  2. John Graham says:

    George,

    I added a picture of the set up for you too see. i think that was an excellent point and it needed to be rectified right away.

    Could you please elaborate on what you disagree with regarding my downward attack theory. I’m comfortable with the idea that there is some shaft deflection when the club and ball hit each other which would cause the club to go down as a result of the collision. This would make a divot possible after the ball with a levelish hit. Is this what you are referring too?

    John

  3. George Webster says:

    No, what i was referring too is that, when hitting an iron shot ( say seven iron) you can still have a steep angle of attack, and at the same time have a OUTWARD, IN…swing path. It all depends how you set up for the shot and what sort of shot you want to play.
    I’m talking about a fade or slice shot..This will indeed create a deeper divot with more spin drag. therefore less distance…

    Hitting down steeply doesn’t automatically mean an INWARD OUT swing path.

  4. John Graham says:

    I agree with what you are saying except that hitting down more (by itself) doesn’t create more spin. Curious where you see me talking about this information in this post? This is simply a post about flightscope and trackman data.

    John

  5. George Webster says:

    Sorry, yes got carried away with Golf Mechanics theories.
    Good to see the Data on screen, but think testing of this nature needs to be done on a level Playing field.
    No bias whatsoever…
    Would you do the same test at your own facility John?GMW

  6. John Graham says:

    George,

    What leads you to believe that this was not done on a level playing field? I would be happy to do my own side by side as an independent agency except that I don’t own either machine. However, for the benefit of all that read my blog, I’d be happy to except both machines. =)

    John Graham

  7. Gary Cree says:

    I wonder if there was something about the setup of the Kudu that caused the apparent inaccuracy of the results, or if there might be some interference from the Trackman when both units are side by side?

    We have been using the Kudo for three years for both teaching and fitting and, while there have been some “scratch your head moments” that required a reboot or recalibration of the setup, the performance of the units (we have 2) has been very good. We were aware that there were issues with some of the clubhead data in earlier releases of the software, and there was the requirement to mark the golf balls which wasn’t very practical on the range, but they appear to be resolved with this latest release. Last season I was also fortunate to have been loaned a Trackman with Ping’s nFlight software for over a month and while Trackman has some nice automated setup features, like the self leveling, there were occasions when TM seemed to get confused also. Unfortunately we were unable to coordinate a side by side test but I am hoping to do that early May when Ping comes to the club for a fitting day.

    I used the Trackman primarily for fitting since that is what the truly amazing Ping nFlight software is designed for but since a lot of my fitting sessions tend to turn into lessons I was able to use it for some teaching as well. No question that the TM is a slick and valuable teaching tool.

    Sandtrap.com has an interview with Chuck Winger, Vice President of Performance Products with the 4Trak simulator manufacturer aboutGolf (the sim used at the Golf Channel studio) which is an interesting read on it’s own. In it Winger is asked about the advantages of the 3Trak over Flightscope and TM.

    In part he responds:

    “I like to begin answering your comparison question, and I get asked this a lot, by stating, radar is cool. I used to sell FlightScope Kudus. I was frequently asked to perform side-by-side tests. I know the guys at EDH and ISG might not approve of this practice, but I can verify that I have seen these devices work really well in more than one side-by-side test. I have also seen tests where one or the other did not work. I will not speak of the details of when these tests did not work for both products for there are several issues why such a test would not work. Suffice to say I have seen both devices work flawlessly, both in side-by-side comparisons where the data was so identical you should be shot to state the differences.”

    These devices are precision instruments that need to be treated as such. A great deal of attention has to be paid to setup and calibration in order to get the most accurate results.

    Gary Cree

  8. John Graham says:

    Gary,

    That could very well be the case but I don’t know. I know from my very limited experience with both machines, the data from this particular test is in line with my experience. It sounds like Flightscope is trying to calculate Angle of Attack instead of measure it. The ball data seems quite similar to me making both machines great for fitting as I’m sure their are others. Due to my teaching bias, I would only purchase a machine if I could teach with it.

    I’m sure their are results from other tests but I have not seen them and would be happy to do so. At the very least, I know this test was done in a way to appear fair to both machines from talking to the tester who will remain anonymous.

  9. Gary Cree says:

    John,

    Since I’m in the market for a launch monitor myself, the two Kudu’s we have belong to another assistant pro, I have asked Flightscope to comment on this test. Perhaps they can shed some light on the problem.

    Gary

  10. John Graham says:

    Gary,

    Have you heard any response from Flightscope about this test?

    John

  11. Gary Cree says:

    John,

    I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with FlightScope. They will be sending me some documentation later today so I can post more details, but briefly I was assured that:

    - if the setup procedure for the FlightScope is followed precisely,

    - if the correct clubhead is selected in the software (choice of iron, wedge or driver)

    - if the ball is placed exactly the right distance from the unit

    the clubhead data is as, or more, accurate than Trackman.

    Otherwise the clubhead data will not be accurate. The ball flight data will be fine, just not the clubhead.

    In this test, for example, it appears that the ball may have been farther away from the unit than expected which would explain why the angle of attack is positive, etc.
    This is due to the way FS determines where the ball is, measured, versus TM, calculated.

    It is also possible that having the two units so close side by side could cause some interference. When FS does side by side testing they don’t place the units so close together. Hard to say.

    I wonder if the test can be done over again ensuring that the FS setup procedures are followed to the letter? In any event, after my conversation, I am feeling very confident that the FlightScope, with the latest software and firmware, is not less accurate than TM, but probably more accurate overall. Lot’s of reasons for that which I won’t go into.

    Gary

  12. John Graham says:

    Gary,

    I eagerly await any information that is factual describing and showing the difference between the two machines. I have provided actual pictures of actual screen shots from an actual test. I did speak with the tester about set-up and here’s what was said. “The set up was I believe in accordance with instructions from the company. The distance from the unit to the ball was 240cm and the mat height was also entered. The drives were pegged at 2.5cm which was also logged at set up. The unit and hitting mat were on a level paved surface. I used a simple aiming device to ensure that the FS was perpendicular to our intended target line. The same target (a flag)
    was used when “aiming” the TM with it´s inbuilt camera.”

    Is this the set-up procedure?

    John

  13. Gary Cree says:

    John,

    The setup appears correct.

    Not sure if the club selection, , may be affecting the results.

    Were there any discrepancies in the driver comparison?

    My FS contact has referred this issue to the technical people. I’ll post again when I have more to report.

    Gary

  14. I would also be interested to hear the information from FS. The pro (hitting in the picture above) is widely regarded as one of Europe’s best pros/fitters and I can say with certainty that he calibrated the machine according to the instructions. Now, whether or not some of the numbers got mixed up because of the proximity of both machines…hard to say?

    Steven

  15. John Hellstrom says:

    They used the correct club selection for each shot, as stated by the FS manual. Furthermore, they used Prime, not Kudo.

    John H

  16. John Graham says:

    John,

    They used the correct club selection for each shot, as stated by the FS manual. Furthermore, they used Prime, not Kudo.

    Thanks for pointing out that correction about the Kudo vs Prime from a previous post. I missed that. Yes, it was a Prime that was used with the new software and firmware.

    John

  17. John Graham says:

    Gary,

    Were there any discrepancies in the driver comparison?

    The driver comparisons were fairly close. So much so, that I would be not be able to say conclusively that one machine was better than the other. There was very little club data collected at all for the sand wedge comparison with the Prime. Absolutely no data at all was collected by the Flightscope Prime about the Angle of Attack with the sand wedge comparison.

    John

  18. Gary Cree says:

    My apologies. It’s been quite a long time since I last posted on this topic. We opened two weeks early this year and it’s been non-stop ever since.

    I have been corresponding with the local Flightscope rep and his tech support guy periodically and now my questions have been escalated to the senior engineers at Flightscope. I hope to have some definitive answers/comments very soon.

    regards,
    Gary

  19. John Graham says:

    I welcome any and all information on the topic that can be backed up and verified. I hope to hear from you soon.

    John

  20. Britt Bauer says:

    Just curious if any of you have experienced short distance readings. It seems the the short time I have had the Flightscope, the yardages are lower than would be expected. Thanks for any feedback.
    We are an indoor fitting studio, with about 8 ft to the ball, and about 14 feet in from of the ball. About the correct specs required by FS.

  21. John Graham says:

    Britt,

    I have not had any experience with short distance readings. If I remember right, part of the accuracy is determined by how many revolutions the ball has completed before running into a net or some other blockade. If it isn’t reaching that minimum number of rev’s(I think 2) the accuracy may suffer.

    When you use it outside, is it more accurate?

    John

  22. Jeremie G says:

    Is this actually a joke? I worked with both units a lot. I think such information is relevant and is going to help many people.
    First take a look at your own setup pictures, the Flightscope is not even adjusted, the positive angles you are having is because you failed to setup the machine, c’mon this takes 3 balls!!!
    So both in centering and leveling you are way off… or the guy hitting Topped EVERY shot on the heel… Now it could make sense if the guy puts his shoulders like that! hahahaha….

    You should get someone qualified to setup this machine, then only you can compare it to trackman.

    For it to work best it needs adjustments for every different golf swing, atmospheric pressure should be change to fit real distance you get with irons that very day.

    Setup professionally it can be precise to 1-3 yards margin of error. Is it better than Trackman? No it ain’t. It has a lot of problems reading women swings as well.

    However it does a great job for 20k less than the real thing. I worked with both units for more than 3 years fitted many other pros, I am one myself.

    The real problem is this unit is made for 3 clubs, 56* 7iron and driver, other clubs will suffer from not so perfect readings.

    Perhaps if you need help you can contact me.
    golfjer@hotmail.com

    Good luck,

    Jeremie

  23. John Graham says:

    First take a look at your own setup pictures, the Flightscope is not even adjusted, the positive angles you are having is because you failed to setup the machine, c’mon this takes 3 balls!!!
    So both in centering and leveling you are way off. You should get someone qualified to setup this machine, then only you can compare it to trackman.

    Wow, pretty bold. Clearly you didn’t read the other comments as this topic was discussed and information was given and accepted that shows this above comment to be false.

    This post is about club data. I have already stated that the ball flight data was close enough for the machines to be equal on that point. You make no mention of how good the club data is when set up ‘professionally’ as you put it.

    Next time, bring some facts and read up a little before you spout off like that. As a professional, it would be a more appropriate thing to do.

    Perhaps, if you need help, you can contact me.

  24. Tony Luczak says:

    Please be careful with the accuracy of Trackman or any non video or camera based system. We’ve tested Trackman and have created false positives many times with Trackman. Until there is a video based system, dopler will never be able to accurately measure club head motion and shaft deflection.

  25. John Graham says:

    Tony,

    Thanks for comment. I will email you so I can better understand by “false positives”.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    JG

  26. Kim Robinson says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the dialogue above. Can you recommend an article that compares all launch monitors and covers all relevant aspects, including degrees of variance and price?

    Regards,

    KR

  27. John Graham says:

    Kim,

    Wow, what a great a question. I don’t know of any article that includes an objective comparison of all the launch monitors with the aspects as you requested. I think it would make for a great post but gathering all of them up and comparing them side by side for a particular shot would not be possible. Without the ability to compare across the same shot, I think a fair comparison is not possible.

    I will look into it though.

    Thanks for the comment.

    JG

  28. Kim Robinson says:

    Thanks John. Also, I note that various “performance centers” use more than one brand of launch monitor. Is this because various brands serve only one purpose (i.e. FS is least expensive and can be used for high volume club fitting while TM would be used for the accuracy demanded for teaching) or is it likely that one model was purchased before the other and the center owners found another model performed better so bought it and held onto the earlier purchased brand of monitor? I’m trying to determine if it is better to do all your research and land on one brand and then become committed to that brand.

    KR

  29. John Graham says:

    Kim,

    Another great question. For most of the places that I know that carry both, it occurred because of reason 2. They bought the cheaper one and then saw the potential and went ahead with the more expensive one. I’m sure there are situations that out there like reason 1 and I’ve heard of at least one place that charges more for trackman and less for flightscope.

    I also know flightscope and trackman will be coming out with new machines in the near future so we’ll have to wait and see how that changes things.

    JG

  30. James Presnail says:

    isn’t it possible that with the angle of attack measurements that we all believe to be ‘off’ with FS are actually ‘on’ because we are hitting off of mats with concrete under them? I’m just saying even a club pro’s angle of attack with a wedge won’t decend for very long on a mat with concrete underneath of it… i wonder if the angle of attack is measured better with FS off of grass?

    (im debating buying FS over TM… i stumbled upon this post looking for other peoples oppinions)

  31. John Graham says:

    James,

    The angle of attack should be measured before the club has even made contact with the ground or mat. I agree that it won’t descend very long on a mat compared to grass but if Flightscope is measuring Angle of Attack after the ball has been hit then it has a bigger problem then poor readings.

    Be aware that I believe Flightscope is coming out with a new product soon called the X2 I think. I hope to do another review after it’s arrival and there is also a new trackman that will be launched as well.

    I will do my best to offer the most objective side by side comparison out there.

    JG

  32. Thurman Matthews says:

    Hi there.

    I have stumbled upon this great debate while searching for a device for my practice.

    I am a South African, now living in Dominican Republic, and have used and enjoyed the FS before in the World Of Golf and The Pro Shop.

    As a scratchy fellow – lol – i need a unit to practice with at home.

    Now here’s my question: Why would I be concerned about an AOA when I can really feel it in my hands and with the students I have they do not have enough feel yet to know what their true AOA is?

    Furthermore, using video it becomes glaringly obvious if there is an upward path before or after impact.

    Beyond that, the real value of either FS or TM is about the behaviour of the ball i.e. spin rates, path and launch angle and carry. Don’t you think?

    Just a thought.

    Thanks for a great debate,

    The Man

  33. John Graham says:

    Thurman,

    Great questions.

    Without an accurate AoA, the clubs true 3d path into the ball can’t be accurately measured. (see D Plane)

    It’s for this reason that previous Flightscope models have not stacked up to Trackman. That may be changing with the X2 but the jury is still out on that one.

    I think for a player trying to practice distances, either machine is fine. For a player trying to understand exactly why the ball did what it did, Trackman is ahead.

    JG

  34. Patrice says:

    Hello John,

    Great articles about the Prime and the X2.
    Following your article about the Prime, I read the following article from a Prime user : http://waddengolfacademy.com/a-dramatic-improvement-in-flightscope-performance/

    He mentioned that he can use the Prime with the X2 software (V6) and that it apparently fixes the AOA issue of the prime.

    What do you think ?

    pat

  35. John Graham says:

    Patrice,

    I have not heard any feedback on this situation. I will keep my ears open and see what I can find out.

    JG

  36. Patrice says:

    Thanks John
    I have finally ordered a X2 (after reading your deep analysis and watching your videos).
    I hope I did the right choice since my last LM purchase turned to be a wrong choice (Zelocity Tracker) : not accurate product, difficult to set up when hitting from a matt, bad customer service and a company to avoid !

    I will give you my feedback once I receive my unit
    patrice

  37. John Graham says:

    Patrice,

    I think X2 is a fine choice and thanks for reading. Please keep us posted.

    JG

  38. Stan says:

    Sorry for my very late comment, but I revisited this great discussion while reserching documents and video on the “out-in” and vertical steeping down shot. I fully agree with your statement that “…Downward angles of attack create a more rightward path relative to the swing…”, but…it isn’t just the opposite in TM data? Just reading one shot, let’s say n. 1, I see club path -5.2° (left) and horiz.swing plane -3.0°. So club path is more leftward than swing with an attack angle -2.7°. Am I missing something?

  39. John Graham says:

    Stan,

    That’s very interesting. Only 1 explanation. Must have been a left handed golfer.

    JG

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