Golf tech: Up your game with gadgets

Golf tech

I suppose all sports and pastimes use some technology. Soccer balls and tennis racquets are not the same now as in our parents’ times for example. But golf is a different world. Whether it is clubs, clothes or computing power, golf tech is way ahead of any other sport.

In this article, I am going to look at what have been the absolute game-changers in different areas of golf. I am then going to recommend what I think is the very best in each area.

Read on, and you too can be the most tech-savvy golfer in town.

Clubs

It is the area where even the most casual golfer comes face to face with golf tech.

You are more likely to hit a golf ball well now than you were was 50 years ago. New materials mean golf clubs are lighter and more responsive. Greater understanding of the physics of what happens when a golf clubface and a golf ball connect means golf clubs are much more forgiving. (Forgiving is a jargon word which merely means that if you mis-hit by a small margin all is not lost). It has been achieved by the brilliant research and development teams which all the major golf club manufacturers employ. Many have worked in the military or aerospace industries and bring all the latest engineering knowledge to your clubs.

Golf clubs were once made of wood and only wood. Playing with them was hard. If you don’t believe me keep an eye out for fun events where you can play with old clubs such as the niblet. You will be grateful you are playing in the twenty-first century. Now you can choose between steel titanium or graphite for the clubs and club heads.

To find out how a golf club gets made you can read all about it here:

There is one downside to this. Technological change is so fast, and there are so many innovations it is hard to keep up. I would advise you to go for one of the leading manufacturers and buy technology which has already been tried and tested for a couple of years.

A good choice is:

Callaway Men's Strata Complete Golf Set (12-Piece)
  • DRIVER & FAIRWAY WOOD
  • IRONS/WEDGESPerimeter weighting and progressive sole width technology for improved control
  • HYBRIDSDesigned for versatility and forgiveness on shots where you would usually hit a difficult long iron; (Headcovers included)
  • PUTTERMallet with T-Style alignment to help give you incredible accuracy
  • STAND BAGThe lightweight, durable stand bag comes with five convenient pockets, an additional cooler pocket, a rain hood and a backpack strap system

Callaway is one of the biggest golf manufacturers and makes very durable, very reliable clubs which incorporate the best technologies around. This set includes new technology such as perimeter weighting on the irons and sole width technology to help your accuracy. It also includes hybrid clubs which are easier to use. Callaway also offers sets for ladies Ladies Callaway Complete Golf Set - Driver, 3 Wood, Hybrid, Irons, Putter Clubs Deluxe Cart Bag All Graphite Womens Flex and juniors Callaway Golf Xj Junior Golf Set, Level 2, 6 Piece Set, Right Hand, White which are just as high quality.

Pros

  • Very reliable and durable.
  • New but tried and tested golf tech.

Cons

  • Not the most cutting-edge technology.

Balls

The golf ball is a sometimes ignored area of golf tech. But I would like to persuade you to spend more time on choosing the right golf balls for you. They can make a real difference to your game, and they do not cost too much. So, you may find you can get a significant improvement for very little cash. A great outcome, I am sure you will agree.

And there are now Nobel prize winners involved in the development of golf balls. Last year a golf ball containing the miracle substance graphene came onto the market. Graphene is a super-light, super-strong type of carbon. In a golf ball, it makes the ball travel very far indeed.

One ball which is using graphene is the Callaway Chrome Soft Ball. The golfing world was ablaze last year as top tour players hit unheard of distances using these new balls. For example, Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open with shots which were 19 yards longer than his tour shots from the year before.

There is some controversy though; some critics claim that the new balls make the game too easy. There have been worries that traditional golf courses would have to change if golfers can hit the ball so far. Callaway is carrying on using graphene though. This year’s development is the Chrome Soft golf ball. It gives fast speeds and low spin. It is fantastic for accuracy and has a very soft feel which makes for a lot of forgiveness. It is not cheap, but never mind. These golf balls will improve your game

Callaway Golf Chrome Soft Golf Balls, (One Dozen), White
  • Fast Ball Speeds & Low Spin Off The Driver
  • Distance & Control Through The Bag
  • Pinpoint Greenside Control
  • Ultra Soft Feel
  • Forgiveness

Pros

  • A complete breakthrough. These will transform your game

Cons

  • It is not clear how golf rulemaking bodies will regard this development in the long term.

Golf tech clothes

We golfers are a tough lot and quite happy to get out there in all weathers. But we have to admit that being wet and cold does not feel right. And it makes it harder to play well. I have played on the links courses in Scotland and know what it means to battle the wind and the rain to get those good shots.

Playing in the rain is a specific skill. Here are some tips:

Wipe the grips on your clubs after every shot. It will stop your hands slipping.

Take an umbrella to keep the rain off you and your gear.

Keep towels in your waterproof golf bag. You will need them to wipe down your equipment.

Keep your golf ball dry. It is harder to control a wet ball, so put the ball down at the very last moment.

Understand wet sand. The ball will go further and faster if you are hitting out of damp sand. So be prepared to alter your play to account for this.

Golfers have always known how to wrap up warm. But traditional clothes could be cumbersome and restrictive. Those days are over now though. Modern high-tech fabrics mean you can be protected against the elements and still move freely.

In cold weather, the trick is to layer your clothing. Start with a cotton layer; it is natural and breathable and will feel good next to your skin. Or you can go for a polyester base layer in a hi-tech fabric. You can get these for golf stores, but if you play in icy conditions, it is worth checking out ski stores as well.

The fabric is all important here. Gore-Tex is the longest established, but there are newer and more flexible fabrics on the market now. Of course, flexibility is all important as you cannot swing properly if your clothing is restricting you.

Make sure your clothing has good pockets. It is especially important in the rain as you will want to use them to keep equipment, such as tees and ball markers, dry.

Breathability is essential. Golf is a physical game so you will be generating heat. If your clothing is not breathable, you will get sweaty and clammy. Very unpleasant and not good for your health either.

Fulfilling most of these requirements is the zero-restriction clothing range like the jacket below. Not only is it stylish and features breathable fabrics with Gore-Tex layers but there are plenty of extra features such as durable zips and pockets.

Zero Restriction Men's Power Torque 1/4 Zip Packable Rain Jacket, Black/Black, X-Large
  • Bemis Abrasion Tape at Pockets for Added Durability
  • Power Torque Back for Freedom of Movement
  • All Seams are Sealed for Waterproofness
  • Interior Wind Flap and Anti Chafe Chin Guard
  • One Hand Draw Cord

Pros

  • Very practical and comfortable.

Cons

  • Looks good but not at the forefront of fashion

Golf-tech equipment you can take on the course

If our elders could travel to our time, they would wonder what on earth is going on out there on the golf course. Who are all these people walking around while staring at a small device with a screen? Do people need to look at their watches that much? What is that weird sort of camera that guy is pointing at the pin? Yes, welcome to the world of on-course golf tech.

The rangefinder: your personal caddy

If this is a new world for you, start with looking at rangefinders.

A few years ago, you had to be a top professional to access the information and expertise you can now get from a range finder. They provide information on distance, ups and downs and hazards on the course.

You will play more quickly because you no longer have to manually calculate the distance to the pin, or to an obstacle which you need to overcome — no more guessing or using course markers.

You will also be more accurate. A rangefinder removes the guesswork, you can calculate to inches, not yards.

Rangefinders factor in undulations on the course, so you know what to expect. It is like having an expert caddy with you at all times.

There are two types of rangefinder, which work in entirely different ways.

First is the laser finder. It emits a laser beam aimed at a target. Second is the GPS, which works by using a mapping system locked onto the same GPS satellite technology as you use in your car.

Many golfers have great difficulty choosing between the two. But there is one product on the market which does both. That is the

Bushnell Hybrid Golf Laser Rangefinder GPS
  • First ever integrated Laser/GPS display
  • Dual battery source (CR2 for Laser and USB for GPS)
  • PinSeeker with JOLT Technology
  • Range to a flag: 400 yards
  • Accurate to 1 yard

It is relatively new on the market and has many of the best features of a laser and a GPS.

To calculate the distance to the pin, you use the hybrid’s laser function. It is easy to use, with ‘Pinseeker with Jolt’ technology. It vibrates when the laser locks onto the pin.

In complicated scenarios, you can use GPS technology. For example, if you have to make it around a dogleg or have to make a shot uphill, it will give you information to calculate the distance to the next point. It has two batteries one for the laser and one for the GPS. The two technologies ‘talk’ to each other, which means you can see the front and back distances of the green to the pin. And the accuracy of the laser measurement of the pin is within one yard. 

Pros

  • It combines the accuracy of a laser with more detailed features of GPS. A genuine advance in rangefinder technology

Cons

  • A bit cumbersome for carrying around the course.
  • Needs practice before you are proficient in use.

The golf swing analyzer: learn as you play

If you want to improve as you play, then swing analyzers are what you need. They have developed golf tech by leaps and bounds by harnessing modern computing power to the amateur game. A few years ago, this computer brain was only available on the PGA tour. Now you can unpick your game and measure your shots every time you play.

You can have more computing power than took us to the moon all those years ago. And all to improve your golf game!

Swing analyzers work by using a gizmo on your golf glove or club to collect information. It then breaks all this down into angles of shot, speed, trajectory and all the other factors which make up a shot.

The principle behind the technology is simple. It records every aspect of your golf swing through the gizmo. The high-powered computing technology crunches up the information and measurements. The analyzer then compares this with a perfect swing.

But it is also a learning tool. Once all this information has been put together and compared to the perfect swing you get the results. They come in a form which you can easily understand and with suggestions about how you can improve.

One golf swing analyzer which I would recommend would be the:

Arccos Golf 360 Golf Performance Tracking System
  • Arccos users know the exact distance to any point on the course, learn precisely which club to use in every situation and identify actual strengths and weaknesses of their game.
  • Developed in partnership with Microsoft, Arccos Caddie shows your optimal strategy on any hole in the world. It analyzes every shot you've taken with Arccos, as well as 100 million+ shots taken by the Arccos community on more than 40,000 courses.
  • Arccos 360 is hands-free and fully automatic. Unlike competing products, it requires no tagging, tapping or other annoying disruptions to a player's routine.
  • The updated low-profile sensors are 50% smaller and lighter than the original Arccos Golf system. Arccos 360 sensors feature a permanent battery that is designed to last five years. The sensors come standard with a no-questions-asked, two-year warranty.
  • A free mobile app available for iOS or Android phones

This swing analyzer has sensors which fit onto each club in your golf set. They automatically log and analyze every shot you make. You will know exactly how far your ball has gone and what you can do to make it better.

It will measure correctly using a system called Live Shot Tracking, GPS 2.0 and Tour Analytics.

It will also help you choose the best club to use for any shot. And it has a caddie function which will point you to the best strategy. To use the caddie function, you will need to take a subscription, but many golfers think it is worth it.

At its most powerful, this system can give you this information for any hole and any course. It has a database of more than one hundred and twenty million shots from over forty thousand golf courses. I’m sure you will agree, that this will give you all the information you can need.

To access this information, you will need to have your phone with you when you are playing. There is a free mobile app to let you do this.

Pros

  • It is very accurate and only registers actual strokes, not practice swings or movement inside of the golf bag.

Cons

  • The batteries are non-replaceable.

Golf tech conclusion

Golf tech has made the game easier and more fun. It has also made it possible for us amateurs to access the sort of technology and information which was once way out of our range. My advice would be to enjoy the golf tech, but do not let it completely overwhelm you.

Nothing will ever replace the joy of working out for yourself how you get past that hazard. There is no better way to learn than a good gossip with your favorite gold buddy. So, blend it all together and enjoy golfing.

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