Hold the smartphone: Golf apps allow players to analyze game in real time

Golf apps

Hold the smartphone: Golf apps allow players to analyze game in real time

Equipment

Hold the smartphone: Golf apps allow players to analyze game in real time

Combine computing power that exceeds the systems that flew Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon with access to a global positioning system and the internet, then put it all together in a package that comfortably fits in your pocket.

That’s today’s smartphone. Whether you opt for a phone that runs Apple’s operating system or a unit that is running Google’s Android software, it’s probably better to think of your smartphone as a miniature computer that happens to make phone calls rather than a phone that also takes pictures and runs different applications.

Golfers are passionate, well-educated and tend to be tech-savvy. As smartphones have matured into devices that we take with us everywhere, developers have made better and more-sophisticated apps to enhance our on-course, and off-course, golf experiences.

Most smartphones are now capable of shooting broadcast-quality, high-definition videos, and the V1 Golf app takes full advantage. The app allows players and coaches to create slow-motion swing videos, edit them and save them in virtual lockers. There is a drawing tool that makes adding swing planes easy, a flip tool that creates left- and right-handed views, and a swing library filled with star players hitting from down-the-line and face-on perspectives so you can compare your swing to the game’s best.

18Birdies

One of the handiest features of the V1 Golf app is its ability to send a swing from a golfer to a teaching pro, then let the instructor add voice-over audio to the clip, highlight portions of the clip, then send it back to the student. This is an excellent way for students and teaching pros to stay in touch between lessons, ensuring that the golfer is doing drills correctly.

Another smartphone function a lot of golf apps utilize is the GPS, and two of the best are Golfshot Plus: Golf GPS ($29.99) and Golf Logix (Free-$49.99 per year).

Your smartphone’s GPS allows Golfshot Plus to determine which of the 40,000 courses in its database you are playing. Then the app reveals distance information to targets and hazards in full color. It has flyover videos that give you a bird’s-eye view of the hole you are about to play and allows you to enter your score, the clubs you used and stats.

Golf Logix has many of those features as well, but also offers something that could be extremely helpful to a golfer who has trouble putting. Golf Logix has gone to scores of courses in every state and used lasers to map them in extraordinary detail. Using that data, Golf Logix created topographic maps of those greens that show fall lines, subtle rolls and breaks, just like the maps relied upon by PGA Tour pros.

18Birdies (Free-$45/year) is an app that also offers GPS features, but it aims to be a lot more than a system that shows you where you are on the course. Based on your previous rounds, 18Birdies can display club recommendations that also take into account the real-time course conditions and your playing style. It can keep score of all kinds of exotic games and golf bets, track your stats and keep you connected with friends through social media feeds.

Several shot-tracking systems, such as Arccos, Game Golf and Shot Scope combine hardware with smartphone apps so you can collect data related to your game without inputting it into your phone manually.

These systems require golfers to screw lightweight tags into each of their clubs. Using Bluetooth and near-field communication systems, they detect which club you just used to hit a shot, then combine that data with information supplied by your smartphone’s GPS to overlay the shot data on a map.

By connecting one shot to another, the apps can determine how far each shot went, your score and how far you tend to hit each club in your bag. Over time, they can reveal your tendencies and provide advanced analytical looks at your game. And they do it without requiring that you reach for your phone before every shot.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, your smartphone will sync directly to all your clubs. For some golfers, that future is today.

Cobra Golf introduced the Cobra Connect system last year, embedding an Arccos-powered sensor in the grip of Cobra drivers. Using Bluetooth technology to link to a smartphone app, Cobra Connect gathers driving data, and now all new Cobra woods and irons come with Cobra Connect. When golfers buy a set of irons, Cobra will give them extra Arccos sensors so they can track the performance of all 14 clubs.

Even more exciting, these companies are developing platforms that will allow information collected by the apps to go directly to a player’s coach (after permission has been given by the student). So, before a lesson, a coach will be able to see what areas of the game have been strengths and what areas need extra attention.

Technology is allowing golf apps to come full circle. It has never been easier to get mid-round course information, to analyze your performance, check in with your instructor and get feedback on your game. And everything you need to make it happen fits in your pocket. Gwk

(Note: This story appeared in the April 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

18hr

> THE FORECADDIE Betsy King works to bring clean water to needy > BY THE NUMBERS Is Tiger Woods’ Tour Championship win predictive (…)

More Golfweek
Home