Garmin Approach R10 Review – Best Value Launch Monitor Yet?

Time constraints, the covid-19 pandemic, and inclement weather all contribute to golfers spending less time on the golf course and more time indoors. In this Garmin Approach R10 review, we will look at the transformation launch monitors have undergone and how the R10 fits into the personalized launch monitor space.

To counter the effects of the time indoors and the lack of practicing golf in the outdoors, launch monitors are becoming increasingly popular and affordable.

Some launch monitors/simulators can cost well above $10,000 and go as high as $100,000 when you set up a personalized studio at your studio or home. This is most affordable for professional golfers that need to practice at any time of the day irrespective of the conditions outside.

Garmin is one of the best-known GPS equipment suppliers as one of the first to fully endorse the technology. To strengthen their foothold in the golf GPS equipment market they launched the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor earlier this year 2021.

The Approach R10 is based on Doppler radar technology that uses specialized radar to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. This is achieved by bouncing a microwave signal off the desired target and then analyzing the effect of the object’s motion on the frequency of the returned signal. This variation instantly provides highly accurate measurements of the target’s velocity relative to the radar.

It’s worth mentioning that Doppler technology is more predictable and accurate when used outdoors than the results achieved in an indoor setting.

Many of their wearable devices such as GPS watches and handheld GPS devices track provide information on distances to hazards and the pin.

The Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor follows Garmin’s G80 to provide a user-friendly and portable launch monitor that is affordable to the average golfer.

The R10 has already made big waves in the launch monitor industry and some people believe it will have the same impact as Skytrak did when it was launched in 2014.

Retailing at around $600 it will provide ample data points and gaming options but may not be quite as accurate with the same level of graphics that you would encounter on launch monitors priced at 3 times or more than the R10.

Garmin Approach R10 Review – Best Value Launch Monitor Yet?

Garmin Approach R10 Review

Pros

  • Lightweight, small, portable
  • Use indoors or outdoors
  • Affordability
  • Gaming options
  • Compatible with E6 connect software
  • Wide range of data points measured and calculated
  • Access to 42,000 global courses

Cons

  • Accuracy can be improved upon’
  • Better graphics available on E6 connect software
  • Subscription required to Play on home Tee Hero and E6 Connect

What’s in the Box?

Garmin’s Approach R10 Launch Monitor comes in a solid box with clear pictures and a description of what you can expect inside.

Once opened you find a sturdy bag that contains the following components

  • Garmin R10 Approach Launch Monitor
  • Tripod stand
  • Phone mount
  • Carry case
  • User/reference manuals
  • Micro USB cable

Some software apps require a subscription, but most are free. Access to the system requires you to download the Garmin App from the relevant app store applicable to your device.

The first thing that will catch your eye is the size of the Approach R10. It is approximately the same size as a standard deck of cards. This makes it extremely portable to carry in your pocket to use on the driving range or the golf course. Indoors as well if you have the space.

Setup

If you were expecting the setup of this launch monitor to be a long and complicated exercise, you will be extremely disappointed.

It could be worth your while to acquaint yourself with the instruction booklet for the more difficult part of your user experience, but for the setup, I do not believe this is required.

On the contrary, it takes only a few seconds to clip the magnet on the tripod to the back of the Garmin Approach R10.

Download the app from the Appstore, turn on the Garmin Approach R10, pair the monitor and phone in your Bluetooth settings, and you are just about ready to go. A solid blue LED light on the R10 will indicate when the Bluetooth connection is ready. Once connected, you add the new device to your phone and follow the on-screen instructions.

All that you now have to do is place the Approach R10, which is attached to the tripod, approximately six feet straight behind your hitting area, align the direction to put the golf ball directly in line with the target, and wait for the green light to blink indicating it’s ready to track your shot.

When using the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor indoors allow for 8 feet of space between the golf ball and the net for enhanced accuracy from the laser beams.

For increased accuracy, you have to align your device, golf ball, and target on every shot.

Battery

For increased battery life, the R10 has a built-in lithium-ion battery that will power the device for around 10 hours on a full charge. You should charge the battery fully before the first use. Charging the battery can be done from a standard wall outlet or via a computer USB port.

There is no power level indicator to show how much life is left in the battery but there is a LED indicator that flashes red to indicate low battery life. When fully charged the Led will be a solid red.

The battery can be charged in a standard wall outlet or on a computer USB port

During periods where the R10 will be unused for an extended period, you should leave the battery on 50% charge.

Recording

To keep track of how your swing develops you can record a swing video to the Garmin app and view the videos from your whole session or selected shots from your phone. It is possible to change the club in use on the app after the session.

Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor measures 14 data points as set out below. Audible feedback is available after every shot that can be muted to avoid annoying other golfers.

Data Points

Approach R10 measures the following 7 data points directly

  • Ball speed immediately after impact
  • Clubhead speed at impact
  • Launch angle relative to the ground.
  • Launch direction, right or left of the target
  • Club path direction at impact.
  • The angle of attack, vertical angle of the clubhead at impact
  • Backswing & downswing times with an accuracy factor of 0.05 seconds.

Approach R10 calculates the following 4 data points:

  • Spin rate
  • Spin axis
  • Clubface angle
  • Observed ball flight range
  • Total distance
  • Carry distance
  • Smash factor
  • Apex height
  • Swing tempo

Accuracy

Although the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor provides consistent feedback, the accuracy level could be improved. Look, you are not paying an arm and a leg for the R10 hence you cannot expect the same level of accuracy as you get from a $10,000+ launch monitor.

Consistency in the measurements is important though to ensure that you have an idea of the distance you get out of every club when playing competitions on the device.

Golf Simulation

Garmin offers several software options available to you either for free or on a monthly or yearly subscription. In addition to being affordable and portable, the R10 supports golf simulation apps as well. There are 3 apps available to provide you with the golf simulator experience.

Driving Range

The Driving Range Mode simulates your shot trajectory and distance on a virtual driving range and provides the full set of data metrics after every shot. You can record your session on your phone for playback at a later stage.

Feedback available on the driving range option include

  • Top-down dispersion map of all your shots
  • Total shot count
  • Number of shots hit with each club
  • Minimum, average, and maximum distances for each club
  • Average carry distances for each club

Play on Home Tee Hero

This is a subscription service available at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. There is a 30-day free trial period that requires you to select a subscription option before you can access approximately 42,000 courses that you and up to 3 other players can compete virtually. With the wide selection, you are almost certain to find your local golf course on the app.

Recreations of the golf courses are close to real-life with all hazards included. Graphics could be better as the Home Tee Hero graphics are quite cartoonish.

Competitive golfers can test their skills against golfers from around the globe in weekly tournaments.

Use the E6 CONNECT Software

If you want a more realistic user experience than the R10 graphics afford you, you can subscribe to E6 Connect Software that provides high-quality software and most photo-realistic graphics.

This is a rather expensive option with a basic 1-year subscription at $300, or an expanded 1-year subscription at $600. An alternative is to purchase it outright with a permanent license at $2,500.

Alternatives

1. Rapsodo MLM

Rapsodo’s R-motion places your phone on a cradle to track data points when used indoors or outdoors.

Although only the light version of the software comes standard, it can be upgraded at extra expense.

Access is provided to 15 virtual golf courses on the light package but can be increased by upgrading to the full package. There are competitive games available to compete with friends and family using multi-player mode.

Similar to the Approach R10, the R-motion offers a fully functioning virtual driving range experience

2. Flightscope Mevo

Flightscope’s Mevo competes in the same category as the Garmin Approach R10 providing similar functionality, accuracy, and Doppler technology.

In addition to the shared features, Mevo offers the ability to use  chipping/pitching mode for shots under 50 yards

The battery life on the Mevo is shorter than the Garmin Approach R10 making it difficult when you want to have a full day range session

3. Optishot 2

The OptiShot 2 is a golf simulator package that offers standard software as part of the purchase to be downloaded at no extra charge.

The software includes a simulated driving range and 15 golf courses as standard that can be increased with an upgrade in the software at additional cost

OptiShot allows for online tournament gameplay against 2 golfers from around the globe.

Conclusion

Launch monitors have become all the rage with the introduction of affordable devices below $600. Adding the simulation feature is sure to stimulate the market even more and get it into the homes of the average golfer, especially for those unexpected downtimes.

Although all the launch monitors discussed provide ample data points and a certain extent of accuracy, they cannot compete with the high-end market where you can pay $10,000+ to set up a professional launch monitor and golf simulator.

Garmin’s Approach R10 launch monitor with its golf simulator capabilities combined with its affordability is almost certain to become extremely popular amongst the average budget-conscious golfer.

Have you experienced the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor or some of the more expensive launch monitors?

Please add your thoughts and recommendation to the comments section below

Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.

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