With Google Glass, vital golf stats never are far

Google Glass, an eyewear-like computerized device that retails for $1,500, provides prompt metrics on a golfer's swing.

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Finding one device that can provide yardage on the golf course as well as track launch angle and swing speed might seem impossible, but Google Glass can do all that and much more.

Glass, an eyewear-like computerized device that retails for $1,500, has been around for more than a year but remains relatively unknown. Yet the golf capabilities of Google Glass are, well, eye-popping.

It might seem counterintuitive to strap a device around your eyes that provides near-instant feedback, but Glass is much less intrusive for a golfer than you might think, and it provides prompt metrics on a golfer's swing.

“You're not looking at the top of your eye socket,” PGA Tour player Billy Horschel, a Glass proponent and spokesman for the product, said during a demonstration last month at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course. “So you're looking down. It doesn't even bother me.”

Horschel, 27, has been experimenting with Glass this year and finds the device helpful in swing analysis.

Two swing apps that currently exist for golf were exhibited: GolfSight by SkyDroid and Swingbyte.

GolfSight is a GPS rangefinder made for Google Glass that can provide yardage and allows the golfer to keep score as well. GolfSight's database features more than 25,000 courses, including most U.S. layouts.

It takes about a week for most users to become acclimated to GolfSight, according to Paul Goldstein, president and chief executive of Goldstein Technologies, which developed the app.

“Wearing Glass for a few days to get used to the gestures and be able to find it correctly the first time, and then it's like second nature,” Goldstein said.

Glass’ user interface is controlled by voice or finger movement on the side of the glass temple.

Swingbyte is a little more complex, requiring the Swingbyte device to be attached to the club's shaft. Data such as swing speed, face address, club path and loft can be displayed on Glass and transmitted to an iPad or iPhone for further analysis.

“Glass is a much better experience because you don't have to fish for your phone. You don't have to put an iPad on the ground or an Android tablet on the ground. It's just right there in front of you,” said Alex Pedenko, Swingbyte's chief executive officer. “It's less data, but then all of that gets uploaded to the cloud, as well, and you can look at it and you get full 3‑D and all the numbers are there.”

The USGA is aware of Google Glass but has not tested it for conformity.

“The USGA, with the R&A, closely monitors the impact of technological advances on the game and regularly tests equipment to ensure conformity with the Rules of Golf,” according to a USGA statement issued in response to questions about Google Glass. “Our obligation is to preserve golf’s fundamental challenge and ensure that skill – and not an over-reliance of technology – determines success of the game.

Google is in its explorer stage with Glass. At $1,500, it would be an expensive accessory for most golfers. With a second version in the works, Google confirms that the price will drop and the device should appeal to more consumers.

“Our product is maturing,” said Sidney Chang, the senior manager for business development at Google Glass. “As we have more apps, we're like, this is a great solution for golfers, so let's try to get that message out to golfers now. So I think it'll just be an evolution, whether it's apps or the hardware. I think we'll continue to get better and better.”

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