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Must Have Golf Technology Products & Services
In the “good old days” a caddie gave us the proper club for the shot to the green. After caddies became scarce we paced distance from sprinkler heads. Today portable distance measuring devices (DMDs) have changed all that. Arguments can be made on either side whether DMDs have helped or hindered the pace of play but one thing is for sure, the technology is useful, simple and affordable.
There are advantages to both types of DMDs, laser and GPS, and to a large degree it comes down to how much we want to spend and which one we like to use. Both have their advantages.
GPS devices use multiple satellite links and maps of courses stored on a chip in the device to identify which hole is being played, the green location, where the hazards are and where you are. They provide yardage to the front, back and center of the green, to hazards and some allow the pin icon to be moved around to more closely approximate the flagstick’s position. Lasers on the other hand bounce a beam off the flagstick or from wherever it’s aimed such as the top of a bunker and give the exact distance usually plus or minus a yard.
For 2016 there are lots of choices for DMDs ranging from the very simple to the much more sophisticated that even feature full game tracking capabilities.. Many companies produce both types of DMDs and have multiple models with several features in common. The USGA modified the Rules of Golf concerning use of DMDs rather than an outright ban use is permitted if there is a local rule allowing them. Laser rangefinders that adjust measured yardage for the slope uphill or downhill, the air temperature, elevation or any other factor, are all right for tournament play if the adjustment features are turned off and the local rule allowing DMDs is in place.
Last year, Arccos unveiled their revolutionary shot-tracking system. For 2016 they are showing off a new product called “Arccos Driver.” An ideal way for players of any skill level to try a shot-tracking product at a very affordable price ($79), the Arccos Driver is also all about having fun on the course and competing with friends or other players around the world using the new virtual game “Arccos Crowns.” Players simply attach the single sensor to the butt of their club and pair with the free app for iPhone and Android. After each tee shot the system provides users extremely accurate data on distance, fairways hit and a variety of other stats. www.ArccosDriver.com
The Tour V4 laser rangefinder comes in a Tournament model for $300 and Slope model which is $100 more. Both have Bushnell’s PinSeeker and Jolt technologies in a slightly smaller package than previous models and yardages are acquired more quickly. The Tour V4 Slope measures not only the actual distance but then adds or subtracts distance for uphill or downhill and may be used in tournaments if there is a local rule allowing DMDs and the distance compensation feature is turned off. Jolt is Bushnell’s feature that causes the unit to vibrate when the laser locks on the pin.
Bushnell’ NEO Ion watch has a long battery life and fits easily on the wrist. It comes loaded with more than 35,000 courses in 30 countries and automatically knows which course and which hole you are playing. Besides the distances to front/center/back of the green, the NEO Ion shows yardage to four hazards plus it can tell the distance of the previous shot you hit and counts the number of steps taken. The price is $200 and there are no fees for annual membership nor downloads. www.BushnellGolf.com
The Hybrid Laser/GPS Rangefinder ($350) packs the two DMD technologies in one unit. The laser measurement is confirmed by a “chirp” when it locks on the pin and with 6X magnificent this sleek unit is very handy to use. The GPS feature is preloaded with 30,000 course, gives front/center/back yardage and there’s no subscription fee. Callaway says battery life is 10 hours.
The GPSy Watch also has a preload of 30,000 plus courses and shows front/back/center yardage plus layup distance to hazards and doglegs as well as displaying the time. Shot distance measurement is included as is a record keeper for score, greens in regulation and putts. Battery life is 8 to 12 hours in GPS mode. The retail price for the GPSy Watch is $180.
The Callaway Micro Laser Rangefinder is one of the smallest on the market. It’s a nice compact size—only 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches by x 1.5 inches and weighs in at just 4 ounces. If the course has reflector-pins the prism mode is very fast, just a quick push of the button while Laser mode allows scanning for distances to hazards, trees, etc. Priced at $300. www.CallawayGolf.com
The award winning full game analyzer is now live. The all new Game Golf Live lets you capture in real time on your iOS or Android phone. It is approved for tournament play and acts as a GPS-enabled rangefinder as well with over 33,000 courses around the world. Game Golf Live is smart watch enabled on Apple with availability on Pebble and Android in the future. Stay tuned for the release of their Smart Grips in partnership with Golf Pride that feature the tracking tags embedded in the grip and even tell you when it is time to change your grips. www.GameGolf.com
The Approach S20 ($200) is a good looking GPS wrist wearable that includes the AutoShot round Analyzer which automatically records shot distances and works with the TruSwing sensor (purchased separately) to analyze your swing metrics. The readout has larger letters and number and the S20 comes preloaded with 40,000 course layouts and automatically updates frequently played courses at no charge. It even allows manual repositioning of the pin icon on the display for more accurate distance readings. Features include a digital scorecard and even notifications of email or text messages when paired with your smartphone.
The X40 is as sleek as they come suitable for everyday life acting as an activity tracker at the same time. This GPS golf band quickly shows distances on more than 40,000 preloaded courses. Like the S20 it also features the AutoShot analyzer for analysis on Garmin Connect. www.GarminGolf.com
GolfBuddy offers a full line of DMDs from handheld and voice GPS units to wearable wrist GPS devices and laser rangefinders. We like the LD2 model, the first ladies GPS golf watch while retails for $250. It small (less than • inch thick) and light in weight (1 ounce) and looks really good with the light sapphire Swarovski crystals above and below the face. The readout shows distances to hazards as well as front/center/back of the green and there’s an odometer feature plus dual shot distance measurement. The company says the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is good for 6 hours in GPS mode or nine weeks when used only as a watch.
GolfBuddy pioneered clip-on voice DMDs and the new Voice 2 ($130) has several improvements and you can choose to listen to a male or female voice giving the yardage. The preloaded courses include 38,000 worldwide and there is automatic course and hole recognition. On the readout screen Play Mode shows front/center/back yardage, the Green View is from your angle to the green and there’s a Shot Distance Measurement mode too. The lithium ion battery life is approximately 14 hours or two plus rounds. A belt clip and wristband are sold separately
The CT2 GPS has up to 17 hours in GPS mode in a compact tactile design of ideal size to fit in pocket or clip to belt or bag. In addition to front/center/back distances display yardage to hazards can be shown and the Dynamic Green View allows the placement of the pin to be adjusted for better accuracy. The CT2 also has 38,000 course in 130 countries already in its memory. Retail price is $150. www.GolfBuddyGlobal.com
Headquartered in Espoo, Finland, Golf GameBook has been making golf more fun since its inception in 2010. It is the digital scorecard that gives you a gallery of fans every time you’re on the golf course and a diary to store your golf memories – like a clubhouse in your pocket. Supporting 25 different game formats, Golf GameBook is the most effective and social way to keep score in golf, allowing golfers to connect and share live results, comments, photos and videos – no matter where they are, on and off the golf course. The Golf GameBook app is available on the App Store for free. www.GolfGameBook.com
Leupold says the new GX-2i2 is, “Like Having a Caddie in Your Bag” and after extensive on course testing we found it to be a very good DMD. Besides quick and easy yardage measurements the unit includes a slope compensation feature for uphill or downhill shots that can be turned off for tournament play. Unlike most other DMDs the Leupold can personalized for the user and after yardage for specific clubs has been inputted, the GX-2i2 recommends the proper club for the shot based on the true range distance. The unit weighs 6.8 ounces and is a compact 3.6 x 2.9 x 1.4 inches. Retail is $329. www.Leupold.com
Precision Pro’s good looking new GPS Golf Band at $180 is reasonably priced, it’s thin, comfortable to wear and light at just 1.2 ounces. It automatically knows which hole is being played on any of the 34,000 preloaded course with data from iGolf. It displays distance to up to four hazards and has a shot distance measurement feature that shows the distance from one point to another, making it easy to measure how far your shot travelled. Battery life is eight hours in GPS mode or in watch mode lasts a whole year and there is a choice of white or midnight blue colors.
The Nexus Laser Rangerfinder by Precision Pro sells for $200 and is accurate to plus or minus a yard with the readout in one-tenth of yard increments. It has a 400 yard range, a scanning mode and 6X magnification. www.PrecisionProGolf.com
At last, a laser rangefinder that won’t empty your wallet! The innovative team at ScoreBand blew open the laser rangefinder market last year with the release of their affordable and precise ScoreBand PULSE. Ultra-compact, lightweight (7 ounces), accurate to +/- 1 yard and a range of 400 yards, the PULSE is accessible to all golfers seeking to lower their score with exact distances at only $169.99. The ScoreBand PULSE has quickly been embraced by thousands of satisfied golfers. Complete with battery, carrying case, wrist strap and lens cloth. www.ScoreBand.net
The SkyCaddie LINX GT Gametracker Watch uses both data from GPS and from measurements made on the ground for 35,000 courses all of which have been preloaded. Green shape is accurately displayed from your angle of approach and the pin icon can be moved to reflect its actual position. The watch also pairs wirelessly with the SkyCaddie Mobile GPS app to provide expanded views on a smartphone and there is a built in shot tracking system when used with SkyGolf SmartTags. Retail is $300 or $350 for the GT GameTracker package that includes 14 SmartTags. A membership is needed with prices starting at $20 per year.
They also have wrist wearable, the SkyCaddie SW2 Watch in a slim profile, lightweight unit. Thirteen hours of battery life in GPS mode and automatic course and hole detection with distance updates are all hands free. SkyGolf’s entire worldwide library of TrueGround Course Maps are preloaded and other features such as digital scoring and shot distance measurements are standard plus there’s a pace of play timer. The SW2 is also a multi-sport odometer that tracks location, distance, time, laps, speed, pace and calories burned during a run, walk or bike ride. It’s compatible with social sharing via Bluetooth and the SkyGolf 360 app. Priced at $180 no annual membership is required. www.SkyGolf.com
TLink TL1 is a lightweight Bluetooth device that pairs with your smartphone giving yardages to the front/center/ back yardages of the green for 30,000 worldwide courses. With the no cost An-droid or iOS app the unit also works as a pedometer, tracking your steps, calories, and distance walked on the course. A stat tracking feature is available for an extra an-nual charge. The TL1 comes with a wristband and a belt clip for $99. www.GolfTLink.com
Voice Caddie – VC 300
Designed to eliminate the hassle of complicated distance measurement during a round of golf, the VC300 ($129.99) is the world’s smallest and lightest golf GPS device. With the push of a button, the VC300 vocalizes quick, convenient and accurate measurements to the front, back and center of the green. The device automatically recognizes which course and hole is in play among more than 40,000 preloaded destinations. Simple touch and swipe technology makes the voice guidance clip easy to use and there are no additional subscription fees or memberships to pay for. www.VoiceCad
Meet the next generation of Zepp Golf, featuring the revolutionary Smart Coach training system. Simply take a few swings and Zepp will instantly evaluate the areas using 3D swing analysis and show where you can improve and offer you training programs that are tailored to your swing. Zepp 2 measures club speed, club plane, hand plane, backswing position, tempo, and hip rotation. You can even video your swing and analyze the frame by frame. Just attach the sensor to your glove, pair to your smart device and let Zepp help you become the golfer you aspire to be. www.Zepp.comWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?