Remember the days of green grass golf stores? These were typically the club pros – head golf professionals at private or resort courses who actually owned the golf shop. Their annual income was made giving lessons and selling members or resort guests golf equipment, golf balls, tees and swanky country club apparel. These were also the guys you went to when you had problems with your game. Back then they helped fix your game one of two ways: most of them took you out to the range, watched you swing and made changes based upon what they saw. The more sophisticated ones had a video recorder, recorded your swing and worked with you to develop a plan of action. Some even let you take the video home and watch it.
Today, the good teachers use swing monitors and golf simulators. If you’re truly anal about your game, Golf Tec goes one step further and has everything computerized. Your first session involves being hooked up to a monitor somewhat reminiscent of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. Don’t get me wrong, a number of friends have used Golf Tec and swear by it; different strokes for different folks. Even the golf superstores (i.e. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golfsmith) have simulators in their stores that will help you decide which clubs are best suited to your swing. They don’t fix your swing, they cater to it.
As the technology surrounding golf continues to evolve, nothing is bigger than being able to analyze your swing. There are gadgets that sit in the ground, attach to your club or attach to your glove. While some work better than others, they all provide valuable feedback. Connect it to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and you’ll get valuable todbits of information like club speed, ball speed, hand plane, club plane and tempo. Some will even tell you how far you hit it – using some relevant mathematical formula I guess. Just look on the range before a PGA event and you will see that most of the players are using some sort of technology to help them improve. Some are even wearing these devices during practice rounds to better evaluate their strengths and weaknesses on the course. And now Game Golf has taken it one step further.
Game Golf has created a system that when downloaded through their website, shows you exactly where and how far you hit each shot during your last round. Of course, there are a few important steps that must be followed in order to glean this data. First, start by screwing the sensors into the butt end of each club, including your putter. These plastic sensors are clearly marked and weigh next to nothing so you won’t need to redistribute the swing weight. Once that is done, go to the Game Golf website and create your account. Input all of your equipment and be sure the sensors are on the right clubs. Make sure the unit is fully charged, which takes about two hours. A full charge will last 8 -10 hours, which better be enough time. Now you’re ready to head to the course and give it a try.
Using the Game Golf unit could not be easier. Simply clip the device to your belt and press the word “GAME”. The unit will vibrate and emit a slight beep, indicating the unit is ready for use. Now all you need to do is tap the tag in the butt end of the club to the unit before each shot. The unit will vibrate letting you know that the shot is being recorded.
After you’ve finished your round, it’s time to download the data to your smartphone, tablet or computer. This is where the fun really begins! Plug one end of the charging cord into a USB port on your smartphone, tablet or computer and the other end into the connection on the Game Golf device. Go to www.gamegolf.com<and log into your account. That’s it; everything else just seems to happen! The Game Golf system automatically recognizes the course you played and then applies each shot to an aerial view of the course through Google Maps. Within minutes it loads your score (be sure to check it against your scorecard to make sure it’s right. This is important when using the social apps. I’ll explain later).
In the event you have forgotten to record a shot, no problem. You can add shots where they need to be. Shots that aren’t as you remember them can easily be changed by dragging the shot path to the correct location. Then, Game Golf will show you such important data as club distance, shot dispersion, driving accuracy, fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per hole. Just think, no more scorecards that look like hieroglyphics. Game Golf also allows you to calculate each club’s performance during a given round and expose things to you – like maybe you shouldn’t be carrying a fourth wedge.
Game Golf is a great tool for teaching professionals as well. No more asking a student how they played. If they are using the Game Golf unit, the pro can see it for themselves, broken down hole by hole and shot by shot. Then the pro can help the golfer formulate a strategy based on where they are placing the ball, which clubs they are selecting, and what decisions they are making. Teaching pros that have already implemented Game Golf have seen their students improve quickly by a significant number of strokes.
Game Golf has already been approved by the USGA and is being used by several PGA professionals including Jim Furyk, Headley Chesson, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. President Obama uses it too, for what that’s worth. Furyk doesn’t speculate on the future of the product but does say, “Golf is supposed to be fun. I think that this well help make golf more fun.”
Graeme McDowell actually played a major role in the development process, offering feedback on how it could not only benefit him during practice rounds, but the average golfer as well. By adding a shot dispersion feature, he could see where his tee shots were going. Then he can consult with his swing coach, review the data and make the necessary corrections. Adds McDowell “I can share my rounds of golf all over the world via Twitter and Facebook and there’s nothing quite like that in golf today.”
Which brings us to another feature, the Game Golf Challenge, which was made popular recently at the Puerto Rico Open and WGC-Cadillac Championship simultaneously. Chesson Headley was at the tournament in Puerto Rico, while the other three were competing in Miami, yet all four played together in the Game Golf Pro-Am Challenge. Since Game Golf tracks each shot and keeps statistics, players from anywhere can compete with each other. Throughout the contest, fans were able to make predictions, such as longest drive, fairways hit and greens in regulation — then the Game Golf pros uploaded their rounds and stats to social media.
Fellow golfers, it’s time to embrace wearable technology. In the words of John McGuire, CEO of Active Mind Technology. “The future of wearable technology is going to be completely different in three years. It’ll be more about the platform than the hardware, because the hardware will continue to get smaller. Where technology is at now is only the tip of the iceberg for the golf industry. I believe it’s going to play a big role not only in professional golf, but the recreational game as well going forward. It already has in a short amount of time.” And Game Golf has already amassed some mind-boggling statistics to back this up: the device is already being used in over 55 countries worldwide with 80,000-plus rounds and 60 million golf shots logged. More than 5,000 rounds of golf are uploaded per week.
The Game Golf system retails for $199 although I have seen them online for $179, and is available at most major golf retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. For more information on Game Golf or to get your hands on one, go to www.GameGolf.com