Review: SwingShot Cyclops On-course Camera

Your own one-eyed camera crew
I don’t think any golfer would really want to be followed around by the papparazzi, but having your own camera man record your every swing could be useful. It would point out the good and the bad, documenting where you have played, keeping videos of your range sessions and seeing how that all translates on the course seems like it could be a very valuable production.  The SwingShot Cyclops camera is a HD video camera on top of a shaft with a stainless steel turf spike at the bottom to make it simple to stick in the ground anywhere on the course.  
Use SwingShot to record lessons with your pro for later review, swings on the range, and most importantly of all – your entire round of golf without requiring the help of anyone else.  It is so much better than just a camera at the range where you make all good shots, but this will help you learn from your bad shots on the course too.

While it is technically possible to record your round with a digital camera or a smart phone, none are as easy nor as functional as the SwingShot.  The basic functions of this unit makes it a great tool specifically designed for recording your golf round.   It has ample memory and battery life and its unique design enable it to do what other multipurpose cameras simply can’t do, that is, record yourself from the fairway, bunker. rough, and greens without requiring the help of anyone else.

There are really 2 parts to the main camera unit that sits on top of the stick.  There’s the button on top and on the bottom.  The bottom has the buttons to control the power, mode, and recording time, and I am told they are hidden in the bottom of the camera to make safe to use the camera in the rain. There are 4 mode choices – course, scenic, range, and lesson – each especially designed to make it easy for golfers. Course mode has a 10 second delay followed by an adjustable 30/45/60/75 second recording HD video at 720p | 60fps video. Scenic mode offers identical functionality only the recordings are 1080p | 30 fps. Range mode has a 10 second delay followed by an adjustable 10/15/20 second recording at 720p | 60fps video. The delay is a nice feature since it gives you more than enough time to take a couple practice swings, get settled into the shot, commit and hit.  I actually would have been fine with it a little shorter, but I would imagine that some might feel rushed and then not make good swings. Finally, Lesson mode is essentially like any other camera in that it will simply record continuously until it runs out of battery or memory (approximately 2 rounds or 2 hours of continuos recording in the model I tested). Lesson mode would be great for recording a playing lesson since it is hard to absorb everything your pro is telling you, and it would be nice to be able to review it later.

Once you get everything set on the bottom, then you screw the top camera unit onto the stick.  From then on all you need to operate the camera is the single green button on top, which is basically start (and stop) because it automatically records for the burst you have it set for.  With the unit all assembled and ready to go, you can stick it in your golf bag and head to the range or course.  On location, you just grab it and stick it in the ground.  I set is back a few feet so I was completely comfortable.  I would say I probably had it back about 8′.  Point the arrow at your target, tap the button, and walk up and hit your shot.  It really is about as easy as it gets.  Plus as you can see by the video below, it comes out crystal clear. 

So now you have the video,  it is time to put it to use.  There is a small screen on the unit, but it is only to confirm what the camera is seeing not for playback. It is simple USB connection to transfer video the computer or an iPad, where all your flaws can be as big as the screen.  It was immediately evident what had happened to my swing over the winter, flat, fat and more flat.  Not only can you watch the swing in HD, you can also narrate so you can really add to the experience.  Did the shot go right, left or down the middle, how did it feel off the face, etc.  The microphone pics up the audio very nicely and seemed to do well even with a slight breeze.  While I didn’t comment on this video, down the road as I use it more for practice rounds I could really see great benefit in describing the plan and result to go with each swing. 

Seeing yourself on camera isn’t always the most fun, but it can be useful.  I really was able to improve my swing, by just watching a few shots of it.  I didn’t document every swing, but just a handful of holes to see what was happening.   If I take a lesson this spring I could just keep the camera running the whole time to recap everything the instructor said. Trying to work things out on the range, I can envision really working hard with this unit.

While the camera unit might be great, I almost lost it.   I was in FL playing some winter golf, and had already played 18 holes and was going to play another 9 and see what my swing was doing.  I started out recording each shot.  It was going well, but the groups in front of us were so slow, even with my recording and messing around with the camera we were still waiting on every shot.  I stuck it in the ground took a video of my swing, and walked up to the green, finished out the hole, and completed my round, leaving the camera behind in the ground.  I got in my car, drove to my condo and didn’t even think about the camera until the three days when I was getting ready to head to the course again.  I called the course and asked if they had it. They said they had a wiffle ball bat type thing, was that it?   I ended up making arrangements for them to ship it to me, since I had already traveled to a different town. Honestly, it was the second time ever I had left something behind in 30 years of playing golf.  So if you leave wedges behind or if you regularly lose things on the course, this might get left behind too.  It just depends on your mind set and distractions.  One little feature that won’t necessarily help you locate the unit is the GPS, but it can give a location for each swing. Especially if you use it a bunch of times in a row at different locations, it might really help you figure out what went right or wrong.

If you happened to be at a range that you can’t stick it into the ground, it will work just fine standing in your bag.  I did that a couple times indoors and the videos turned out great.  It isn’t too bulky either so it fit in the bag just like a 15 club would. I also saw SwingShot use a plant stand base too, so you can get creative to make it work for those needs.  My only concern with durability is the unscrewing and screwing on of the top every time you want to turn it on or off.  I’d prefer to have that button on the side or top.  I just wonder if the plastic threads might eventually wear out.  My only other concern could be slow play.  It shouldn’t slow your round down, as I could still easily play at a fast pace using it.  If you already slow things down on the course, don’t use this for every round, but only the ones when no one else is around or you are just practicing.  The Golden Rule applies. Be considerate.

If you are serious about getting better, and could really benefit from having a cameraman like the pros have, the SwingShot Cyclops is the perfect tool for improvement.  It is simple, convenient and takes great HD video.  If you don’t leave it behind, you will start seeing what you need to work on, how to do it and where you’ve played.  It is hard to find all these benefits in an easier to use package.

For more information:

Quick Hits.
+Easy and convenient
+60frames/second HD video
+Fits in any golf bag, just like a club
+Multiple modes and timer
+Video is one the best ways to improve your swing

–Might get left behind
–Taking the top on and off all the time.