From GPS technology to fancy golf balls there is never a shortage of accessories for the golfer. Some can enhance your game and others just plain add style. Here are just a few accessories that I have tired recently. Any one of these is a potential gift for the golfer dad, grad, birthday, or other occasion:
GPS: The first GPS technology I’ve recently tried out is called GreenFinder. This is basically a yearly subscription that costs $35 but you only need an existing iPhone or certain BlackBerry devices to operate it. The plus side is that this is an application that you can add to a service that you already have and know how to use. Unfortunately, these are the only two platforms that are available at this time. The company website does have a sign-up page for those folks that have phones that run Android or Windows Mobile that will notify the consumer when these platforms are available.
I’ve got this installed into a BlackBerry Storm and definitely like many of the features. I find it easy to use and am especially fond of the “Use GPS” feature. By choosing this you get a list of courses that are close to your current location in order of increasing proximity. The other way to find a course is to search the current list. If you cannot find the course you want in the list. The current list is at about 10,000 and the company claims they add another 150 per week. If you can’t find a particular course you can request it to be added and it should be available within 24 hours. One must also take care when spelling the name of a course. The best way is to enter only part of the name or else you may get no result.
Again, the only glaring limitation is that you must have one of the phones that currently support the software and you must have the necessary data plan in certain cases. It is also essential to be concerned with battery life of your phone. I could imagine being in a very long round at one of our busy courses in Los Angeles and not having the battery life to support the application for the whole round but haven’t run into that problem as of yet. The GreenFinder site also has tips on battery life in the FAQs. The biggest benefit is not only that you don’t need to buy a separate piece of equipment but that if you have the right phone the cost can’t be beat. Check the website to see if your phone is compatible and for the other FAQs regarding if you can use this technology. You get measurements from the front, center, and back of the tee and can get other distances in the fairway and around parts of the course.
If you don’t have the right smartphone for the GreenFinder application then you can try the inexpensive Izzo SWAMI. The piece of equipment itself is only $149 and then the yearly subscription is another $35. It has an easy to read display and automatic course recognition. The challenge with this is device is that you must plan ahead. After the unit is charged and you have installed the accompanying software on your computer, you can load in 10 courses at a time. It is a good idea to check the available courses well in advance also so that you can put in a request if your desired course is not currently available and the company claims it will be available within 5-10 business days . Once your subscription is up, the ten courses that you have in the device at that time will remain. Some may be put off by the simplistic display while others will find it to be just what they need. I personally found it to be an easy to use piece and generally have plenty of time to charge one up and have enough time to request a course if need be.
This piece of equipment gives you the distance from the front, center, and back of the green. There is no other option as far as measurements are concerned though. As far as accuracy of the distances there are mixed reviews. I found it to be an acceptable accuracy but others claim the distances are off quite a bit. The battery is rechargeable and touted to last up to at least 12 hours (plenty of time for an L.A. course). In addition, Izzo announced back in March that the SWAMI would be available as a rental at many courses in the States for a fee of about $10 a round or providing them with cart rentals. Check your local course for details. These devices are also designed to fit into a docking station on some Izzo bags.
Just a Tee: Yes, Evolve Golf’s Vireo S3 tees are just that – tees. Some golfers prefer not to have to buy any tees and use whatever they get free from an event or that are included in another purchase. This particular tee claims to be different for a few reasons. Vireo S3 tees have specific marks on one side that are intended to allow you to consistently put in the tee at a particular height – something they refer to as the “sweet spot system”. The key is to find the height that you hit your driver the farthest/best – where the sweet spot is – and put it at that height each time. The company website even has a list of optimal heights depending on your driver. The packaging also shows a diagram of what they claim to be the ideal for smaller volume and 460cc drivers.
I can’t say that I noticed a major difference when hitting my driver off of this tee. I did try it at a range other than my usual since the only place at my regular rangeto hit drivers was off of a mat so it is hard to decide what contributed to my driver distance on that particular outing. The part I really like about this tee is the fact that it is a “sustainable” tee. They are not only harder to break but are biodegradable. I did use only one for an entire session at the range where I have gone through up to 5 wooden tees in the same amount of time at a grass range. Although I am in on the fact that this is not terribly important to much of the golfing population why should it remain that way? Why not start to take care of the environment more in every way possible even if it starts with something as small as a tee? A pack of 35 tees retails for around $6.
Your Personal Rake and Recovery: The Course Keeper provides an all-in-one rake, recovery, and repair system. This gadget can be put in your golf bag or mounted on to a cart. It includes a plastic rake with and adjustable handle that doubles as a means to retrieve your ball from a water hazard. The piece can adjust up to ten feet with the purpose of saving money on expensive golf balls (if you use expensive balls). There is also a nylon cover that has a divot tool, ball marker, and extra tees while protecting the device.
The Course Keeper is a nice addition for the golfer that has everything. It is quite convenient to have your own rake if needed for those moments when you can’t find the one at the bunker. The end has a rake on one side and a blade on the other for “proper bunker grooming” according to the accompanying instructions. I have an Ogio stand bag myself and it does stick out well above all of my clubs in the fully collapsed position but it didn’t ever fall out while walking with my bag on my back. My only other wish besides being a bit more collapsible would be an easier transition from ball recovery mode to rake mode. I have been in the position of having to hunt down a rake on certain courses so this would have sped up my game then. It is also nice to grab my ball that is normally just out of reach at the edge of the water. Retail price for the Course Keeper is about $50.
For the Ladies: Identity Golf sells a premium ladies golf ball “created for your game”. The two piece construction features an ionomer cover and large, high energy rubber core that provides distance off the tee plus a soft feel for the short game. Identity Golf touts the design as ideal for the way women play. There are five colorful designs available – strong, beautiful, classic, driven, and empowered. The best part of these distinct balls is that you’ll never be accused of taking someone else’s ball on a busy course. I found them to perform satisfactorily for my game. I’m no scratch golfer but I’m definitely socially acceptable and can break 100. These are perfect for a stylish golfer and are excellent as a gift. They retail for about $15 on the company website and are shipped free.