Getting the Most out of the Garmin Approach R10 with the Awesome Golf App
At around $600, the Garmin Approach R10 is a tempting purchase for anybody looking at personal launch monitors. Reports of inaccuracy popped up shortly after it was launched, but several software updates have greatly improved the R10’s ability to deliver accurate data, both indoors and outdoors. If you’re on a budget and a radar-based unit works for you (read here to see if it might), there is a lot to love.
Oh, but the Garmin Golf App? I just can’t love it.
Yes, it’s free to use. Yes, it’s got the full complement of ball and club data. Yes, it fits on a phone or tablet screen. Did I mention it’s free to use? With four practice ranges to choose from and a plethora of data points available for analysis, my expectations for the app were high. Somehow though, I can’t manage to find a range I even want to use. The interface just feels clunky and limited when trying to pick a target. Sometimes it works in landscape view and sometimes it doesn’t. If you want to see ball flight, you’re limited to displaying three data points. I’m not even sure I’d call it ball flight. There’s a tracer, but visualizing shot shape and height is challenging at best. Viewing advanced data points is possible, but requires navigating to a different screen after every shot, and even then, not every data point is visible without scrolling. Again, navigating away from the range view is necessary if one would like to see graphical representations of club path and club face angle. Sorry Garmin, but the app is bad and takes away from an otherwise great product.
There is the free, mobile version of e6 Connect, and the six simulator courses it offers are great. Simulator software isn’t cheap, so six above-average courses for a grand total of nothing is a big win. However, it’s a PC program at its core and the attempt at making it a mobile app just wasn’t executed very well. It’s confusing and almost impossible to pick an aim point on a tablet and you will probably need a magnifying glass to see anything if you use your phone. Not to mention, it doesn’t provide some of the most important data points to a golfer attempting a swing change.
So, where does an R10 user that wants more go from here? There are a few options, all of which come at an additional cost. If simulator courses are your priority, the R10 does accommodate TGC19 and an expanded, PC-based version of e6 Connect. However, if you’re more interested in a cheaper, full-featured practice tool with a bunch of fun extras included, the Awesome Golf app may be exactly what you are looking for.
It is Pretty Awesome
If you are short on time, or just want to see the Awesome Golf app user experience, take a moment to watch this short video.
Like I said, pretty awesome. It’s not perfect, and we’ll talk about that too, but first let’s talk about how Awesome Golf improves almost every aspect of using the Garmin R10 compared to the free software options I discussed above.
I do want to make a quick point, and it is important that you to understand it: For simulator golf, meaning 18 hole rounds at a variety of courses, there are better options out there. The Awesome Golf app does offer four somewhat generic nine-hole courses that you can play at a variety of lengths alone or with friends, but that’s it. You won’t find the Old Course or TPC Sawgrass here, so if that’s what you’re looking for you may want to explore other options.
With that small disclaimer out of the way, we’ll move on. For this practice-obsessed golfer, the heart of the Awesome Golf app is its Coaching Mode. The name is somewhat misleading in that the app itself offers no coaching at all, though I suppose someone more qualified than me could use it for coaching another golfer. With a single screen that displays ball flight, dispersion, height, and every other bit of relevant club and ball data you could really ask for, the Coaching Mode gives the indoor golfer an incredibly powerful tool for practicing and improving.
Working on swing path or club face angle or angle of attack? It’s all here. Almost immediately after a swing, a small window displays a graphic representation of the shot that shows curvature quite well, along with almost thirty different data points that also seem to be accurate. Hoping to test out a few different clubs to compare ball speed, launch and spin? You can do that too, as Coaching Mode allows you to create profiles for different clubs in a single session and then analyze the results in a table. While neither of these two features are revolutionary in the greater launch monitor universe, they aren’t exactly available (or easily accessible) with the R10’s free software options.
The Approach Shots mode is a somewhat standard target range with about a dozen greens ranging from around 50 to 275 yards, which (again) isn’t exactly revolutionary. What makes this mode so enjoyable to use is how easy it is to find and select a target green. Simple finger swipes stably move your field of vision around the entire area and a small overhead map enables precise aiming. While only limited shot and ball metrics are available in this mode, it’s a fun and interactive way to work on hitting greens.
While the Coaching and Approach Shots modes would be more than enough for me to justify purchasing the Awesome Golf app, there are several add-ons that are more about entertainment, though they certainly offer some value for those focused on improving their swing. Standard challenges like Closest to the Pin and Longest Drive are included, along with what Awesome Golf calls Shootouts. The best way I can describe Shootouts is to compare them to carnival games, only you’re using golf shots to knock down targets or accomplish other, similar tasks. While they might not be the most alluring modes for the most serious golfers, Shootouts do offer a chance to include family and friends that otherwise may not be all that interested in simulator golf.
As I mentioned before, Awesome Golf does offer four nine-hole simulator courses. In terms of design, they cover the standard types of courses most are familiar with. While diehard simulator golf fans will likely scoff, having them available in the clean and easy-to-navigate user interface makes them feel like an added bonus. Think about them more like a way to blow off steam rather than an immersive and realistic golf experience.
Can it be Awesomer?
Though the Awesome Golf app is good enough that I use it for 95% of my time working with the Approach R10, there are some things that would make it better. Software updates are included with a license (and there are supposedly more in the works), though some users have recently expressed their desire to see them come at a more frequent pace.
Probably the most common request I’ve seen while surveying social media is an expansion to the Virtual Golf feature. Though I use the app more as a practice tool, it appears many users want more out of the simulator golf experience, with things like 18-hole courses, control over wind, and an expanded course selection.
Selfishly, I would love to see an enhancement that allows users to export session data from the Coaching Mode. While the mode does offer a table view, analyzing the data on a tablet or phone just isn’t that convenient. Garmin managed to include this in their app, so I must think it’s something the people at Awesome Golf can accomplish.
One last thing worth noting is the buggy nature of using RCT balls with the Approach R10. If you watched the video above, you may have noticed wedge and short iron shots with RCT balls almost never display club data like swing path, club face angle, and angle of attack. While RCT balls are really the only reliable way to track back spin and other ball-based metrics indoors, something about their construction interferes with the R10’s ability to track the club. It’s very important to make clear that this isn’t an Awesome Golf app issue. The issue is common to all R10 platforms. Still, it’s worth mentioning for prospective buyers.
At $350 for a lifetime license, the Awesome Golf app certainly sits at a lower price range than most golf simulator software, which can easily approach $1,000. Still, it’s not free, and Approach R10 users have already made clear their thriftiness by gravitating towards a lower-cost approach to a personal launch monitor. The question consumers need to answer for themselves is whether the features improve the Approach R10 experience enough to justify the cost. Fortunately, Awesome Golf does offer a 14-day trial period for consumers to figure that out. Better yet, the trial period doesn’t require any payment information, so there’s no chance of falling into the unfair auto-renewal trap that many apps seem to use.
After 14 days, I couldn’t really envision a path forward using the R10 without the Awesome Golf app. I’ve devoted a winter to rebuilding my golf swing, and having easy-to-access, comprehensive data is invaluable to that process.
Available for both the Garmin Approach R10 and Mevo+, you can find the Awesome Golf app in both the iOS and Android app stores. If you have used it, share your experience with the THP community. We would love to hear your thoughts.