On the Tuesday before the Presidents Cup at the posh Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., TaylorMade announced it has partnered with Samsung Electronics and made myRoundPro, TaylorMade’s statistical analysis platform, available for the first time on wearable devices.
Samsung’s new Gear S3 watch and Gear Fit2 Pro fitness band, each with built-in GPS, are the first products that allow golfers to use myRoundPro without using their smartphone during play.
The myRoundPro system is not new, but it has been upgraded and offers some interesting features that could make it appealing to a wide range of golfers.
First, it’s free and works with any golf clubs a player uses regardless of brand. Second, like other shot-tracking systems, myRoundPro uses the GPS feature on a smartphone (or the GPS function available in the Samsung wearables) to overlay shots on course maps. It determines how far each shot is hit, keeps score and determines average distance with each club.
One of the best features of myRoundPro is its ability to break down a golfer’s game into specific areas, then show strokes gained averages in those areas compared to players of different ability levels. For example, a 13-handicap player can compare strokes gained for driver, approach shots, short game and putting compared to scratch golfers or a 10-handicap player. That insight reveals areas where a player needs to improve most.
For Samsung, the partnership with with TaylorMade and myRoundPro offers consumers who are thinking about wearables and smartwatches another reason to consider a Samsung product.
“We are seeing a shift in the market place from fitness bands to smart watches,” said David Ng, senior manager of product marketing at Samsung North America. “By 2019, we expect that the smart watches are going to surpass fitness bands in sales. The number one activity that people use smart watches for is fitness tracking, so things like golf and running are a natural.”
And anybody wondering why TaylorMade would get involved with a free shot-tracking system and consumer analytics is missing the forest for the trees.
For decades, equipment companies have gathered data by enlisting employees and focus groups of players who sign nondisclosure agreements to test prototype clubs and balls. The results help companies understand how next-generation products will perform in the real world, and the same type of tests are conducted to see how the gear made by competing brands stacks up.
Shot-tracking systems such as myRoundPro, Arccos and Game Golf gather exponentially larger amounts of data. Instead of capturing information on a few hundred shots over a week, data on thousands of shots are captured every week. Many consumers also input demographic information such as their age, handicap, gender and how often they play, along with information about their clubs, into shot-tracking systems. It’s a treasure trove of information gathered by real golfers.
“It’s a goal of TaylorMade’s to be the most-connected brand in golf,” said Nick Robbie, TaylorMade’s director of emerging opportunities. “That means a variety of things to different teams within the TaylorMade organization. But as much as anything, for us, it’s about data. How do we use connectivity and data to enhance our relationship with golfers and how do we foster more of a one-to-one conversation with users rather than the mass approach. Really, data is pivotal in everything that we do and it really helps us inform out decisions.”
TaylorMade isn’t alone in shot-tracking. Cobra partnered with Arccos last year, and now all Cobra drivers come standard with Cobra Connect, a driver-tracking system akin to Arccos Driver. Some golfers love seeing how far they hit their Cobra driver, while Cobra loves collecting data on consumers who use the company’s products and Arccos exposes more golfers to its shot-tracking system, hopefully inducing them to buy a full Arccos system.
The upside for golf equipment makers in shot-tracking is massive, so look for more partnerships and systems to be developed. As golfers become more analytically minded, they will want the data that systems like myRoundPro collects and brands will want the data to create better products and learn more about their consumers.
(Note: This story appears in the Oct. 16, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)