Here’s the Rapsodo MLM review in a sentence: Any golfer who spends a decent amount of time practicing on the range should seriously consider snapping up one of these little beauties as they make practice more productive, and also more fun.
Mobile Launch Monitors are one of the best gifts for golfers because even if no golfer needs one, every golfer wants one. They might not even know they want one but trust me, they do. It’s like with a GPS golf watch, when you have one you wonder how you ever got by before getting one.
It wasn’t so long ago that launch monitors were out of the reach of the average golfer. Those things were expensive and generally only the professionals used them. The high end ones are still extremely pricey and well out of the reach of the average golfer, but technology has advanced so quickly in recent years that you can now pick up something for under five hundred quid that does everything most golfers will need.
Sure, it won’t give you the wealth of information you would get from a twenty grand machine, and the accuracy won’t be as pinpoint either, but there are mobile launch monitors out there now that cost less than some of the best drivers and are pretty close to the industry leading models like Trackman and GC Quad. They don’t give you quite as much data, but you get the basics and the numbers are very accurate.
Rapsodo MLM comes into this budget category but it stands out from its competitors because it’s unique. It does things other devices in this price range don’t. What things? You’ll have to read on to find out.
At this point though it’s important to mention that Rapsodo is currently not compatible with Android and is not expected to be until sometime in the middle of 2022.
Rapsodo MLM: price and availability
The Rapsodo MLM is widely available in most golf retail outlets as well as online. The RRP in the UK is £449 and in the US you can pick one up for $500.
Rapsodo MLM: Features and functionality
The primary function of the Rapsodo MLM is to give you data on your shot but what makes it stand out from its competitors is that it also provides a video of it, with the information overlaid on screen. It does this via an iPhone (or iPad) which sits on the device and communicates with it via bluetooth. The MLM records the shot data and sends it to your smart device, while the Rapsodo app accesses the camera on your device and records a video of each shot you take.
So you can go right through your golf bag and hit several shots with each club, and by the end of the session your gapping will be complete and you'll know exactly how far - and how straight - you hit each club.
That’s the most simplistic definition of what it does, but there are a lot of cool features that enhance the overall experience of using it.
Overhead GPS view is a nice touch. The MLM app on your iPhone will determine your satellite location and provide you with an overhead view. You just need to pinpoint where you are (for instance which end of the driving range bays, unless you are out on the course) and then you select which direction you are hitting the ball. What this means is that when your session is finished you have an overhead view of the range and a breakdown of where all of your shots finished up.
As well as it just being a really cool graphic, it’s useful in terms of showing the dispersion of your shots. You’ll instantly know if you’re leaking too many shots to the right or the left, or if you’re leaving them short due to striking them poorly.
Smart club recognition is another clever function. You just wave the head of the club around in front of the device and it will automatically detect which club it is and select it for you to save you having to bend down and do it manually. This is ideal for older golfers or those with back problems. It’s also cool if you’re just lazy.
You can ‘build your own bag’ by selecting which clubs you usually carry and discarding those you don’t. You can change that easily any time you want to mix things up again with an extra wedge or ditching a long iron for a hybrid etc. If you replace any clubs the MLM is also invaluable for checking there is no change to your usual distance.
In terms of the data recorded, you will have access to carry distance, club head speed, ball speed, smash factor, apex, launch angle and launch direction. The MLM is at its best when used outdoors on a range or the course but you can use it indoors with a net. Shot tracer will not work when hitting into a net but you will get all of the usual data you would get outside as the MLM uses Doppler Radar technology to calculate results.
You can store up to 100 shots in the free version, but by upgrading to premium it allows you to build a library of thousands of shots. Personally I don’t see any reason why you would need more than the hundred, but each to their own.
Speaking of premium though….
Rapsodo MLM: Insights
Rapsodo recently launched their 'Insights’ feature which is essentially a more in depth way of collating all of your shot information. It will analyse all of your shot data and compile reports on each area of your game along with tips on the areas that need improvement and how you can do it.
For example, the launch angle of your driver may be too high which would cause you to lose distance. Conversely, you may hit your irons too low. Without data you may not pick up on this, but even if you have the data you may not understand it. With Insights you don't need to as it will break everything down for you.
Insights will highlight your strengths and weaknesses and can even let you know how you compare to other golfers in your handicap range. So now I know that I hit my 7 iron further than most of my peers, but that my dispersion with my wedges leaves a lot to be desired. This came as something of a shock to me as I thought that wedge play was a strength of my game when in reality it is most definitely not.
You’ll get all manner of useful info from Insights and this will appeal to the more obsessive golfer who enjoys a deep dive into the analytics side of the game. There is a basic version of Insights on the free platform but the full experience is only available on premium and currently costs $99 per year.
Another feature of premium is that you can view your swing in slow motion and you also have access to online coaching.
Rapsodo MLM: Performance
The first thing to say is that the Rapsodo MLM is great fun to use and extremely simple to set up and operate. There’s nothing complicated about it and you can get started very quickly.
Initially you’ll need to download the app to your smartphone (or iPad 2017 models and newer) and then calibrate it with the device, which is a straightforward enough process. Once that’s done you’re off and running.
You can be set up within 30 seconds of arriving in your range bay. Power up the MLM, open the Rapsodo device on your smart device, pop it in the slot on top of the MLM and ensure that it’s placed around six feet behind you. Take your golf stance and check that you can see yourself on your phone screen and that the ball is in the marked area for recording the data, then take your swing and wait for the feedback.
You have the option of audio or you can just look at your phone after each shot. When the range was quiet I had the volume cranked up but on busier days I was conscious of not annoying golfers in the adjoining bays and turned it down low. It will work with bluetooth headphones or you can switch the volume off completely too if you prefer.
The most impressive thing for me was just how accurate the shot tracer was. Honestly, I have yet to hit a shot that didn’t show up correctly on the tracer; whether it was a big slice, a slight draw or perfectly straight, the shot tracer picked up the path of the ball along with all of the relevant data.
How accurate is the data? A lot more accurate than you’d probably expect for a device in this price range. The Rapsodo is renowned for its accuracy and I found it to be very much as advertised. I know my stock yardages for my irons and I could see immediately that the Rapsodo was on the money. The pro at my local range watched me hit some shots and was so impressed (with the device, not with me!) he actually ordered one online there and then to use in lessons with his students. The video function was the thing that swayed him.
Not everyone is particularly interested in swing data, particularly the deep dive technical stuff that most casual (and many serious) golfers don’t understand anyway. Being able to record your swing and have all the relevant data overlaid onto a video that you can send to your friends or post to social media is just a really cool thing though. It’s also pretty damn useful as it allows you to chart your progress in a way that’s more entertaining than just looking at a load of numbers. Seeing your swing with all the data overlaid on top of the video just seems a lot less boring for the casual golfer.
You can compare videos too and it’s interesting to look at your data from a couple of months previous to see if you’ve gained or lost distance.
Disclaimer: I lost distance, but I put that down to the cold weather slowing my swing down!
Having access to this kind of data is invaluable if you change clubs or even if you’re only considering making a change. If you’re looking to switch up your driver you can just fire off 20 shots with the potential new one and compare it with 20 drives with your current one to see which performs best. Rapsodo will provide you with a detailed breakdown of all of your shots, work out average distance and even show the dispersion on an overhead map of the driving range.
Perhaps you’ve bought some new irons? If that’s the case you’ll need to re-do your club gapping as it’s highly unlikely your distances with each club will be the same as they were with your old set. You won’t want to go on the course with your new clubs using your old yardages but one quick range session with the Rapsodo will sort you out.
How? Easy. Just hit half a dozen shots with each club and disregard any poor ones. You’ll know which ones you flushed so that’s your gapping yardage sorted.
I did try using it for chipping but the results were mixed and I would not advise it. This isn’t a failing that is exclusive to the Rapsodo as it was a similar story when I tested the Garmin R10. Is it really important to know the distance a chip shot has travelled though? You can tell with your eyes and if you need to know it that badly you could just pace it out. These devices are designed for longer shots and they do a heck of a job.
A word of advice when it comes to driver though. Make sure you have the setting on “carry distance” and not “total distance”. This is important otherwise you may end up having to deal with crushing disappointment. “Why’s that, Dave?” I hear you ask.
Well, here’s an entirely hypothetical situation that certainly didn’t happen in real life and it most definitely didn’t happen to me. No sir.
But picture this. You’ve been working on a slight swing change to add more distance to your drives and you decide to put this new change to the test with the new Rapsodo MLM device you’re reviewing. Your usual carry distance with driver is around 210 yards but this magical swing fix is suddenly producing drives that are showing on the Rapsodo as 235-240 yards. Some even maxed out at 250 yards!
You naturally assume this is down to the swing change you’d implemented after seeing it on a Youtube tutorial and you can’t wait to tell all of your golf buddies about this miracle fix. So you do tell your golf buddies about it. And then the next day you’re looking through the settings on the device and see that for driver it’s set at “total distance”. Oh no! Your heart sinks. You select “carry distance” and go back to the range and to your horror your drives are showing at 210 again. Nobody wants that, so yeah, make sure you don’t make that mistake.
Rapsodo MLM: Verdict
I love this thing and would highly recommend it to any golfer who spends a decent amount of time on the driving range. You can use it on the course too, but other than for recording videos there isn’t really too much point in that. It’s on the range when the Rapsodo really comes into its own.
Considering what it does and how accurately it does it, the Rapsodo MLM is an absolute bargain. If you buy this little device you won’t regret it and your practice sessions will be transformed overnight. But only if you are an Apple user.