It’s hard to imagine that a $14,000 launch monitor could be the ticket to bringing more people to the sport of golf, but the more time you spend using Foresight’s new GCQuad the more you see the potential. And there may be no company that sees a greater potential for growth in golf right now than Foresight.

“There are 25 million people playing golf, at least occasionally, in the United States,” said Jon Watters, Foresight’s Vice President. “We think we can help triple those numbers.”

Foresight made its first splash in the golf world in 2010. The San Diego-based company released the GC2, a camera-based launch monitor barely bigger than a dozen golf balls that was not only extremely accurate and easy to use, but sold for roughly half the price of leading launch monitors.

“It was the first time a camera-based system was able to go head to head with a radar-based system,” Watters said. 

While well received, the GC2 played a secondary role to radar-based launch monitors among die hards because it didn’t provide club head data. That changed in 2013 when the company released HMT (head measurement technology), a complimentary launch monitor that attached to the GC2 to provide the whole picture at impact: ball and club data. It wasn’t just a “me too” product; its club data was arguably more accurate than what leading radar systems produced.

GCQuad_Isometric
Foresight’s GCQuad.

This year, Foresight is launching an all-in-one unit called GCQuad that the company says is twice as accurate as it previous models. It’s also at least twice as fun thanks to an add-on software called “Zombie Golf” that will sell for $495. Our Zak Kozuchowski exchanged emails with Watters about Foresight and the GCQuad for the Q&A below.

WRX: Shortly after launch, the GCQuad was already oversold by more than a month. Who is buying the new units, and why are they buying them?

Jon Watters: We extended a special offer to existing customers that allowed them to trade-in their existing technology as a partial payment for the new GCQuad unit. We have been overwhelmed by the response and corresponding orders that resulted from this offer. It was really cool to see two units from our first 10 production units getting traded-in for GCQuads. I think that speaks to the quality of design and engineering that goes into all the technology we produce here in San Diego.

Why they buy the new GCQuad may vary between customers, but again I think it’s because of the reputation we have earned in the marketplace in delivering the very best technology available today. In fact, all the new features in the GCQuad are a result of customer feedback and requests to make the experience with our products even better and easier to use.

WRX: How have launch monitors changed golf? Has Foresight made a specific impact?

JW: Launch monitors have impacted just about every aspect of golf. In many ways it’s similar to how smartphone technology has impacted our lives. In the span of a decade they went from a luxury item to being an integral part of our everyday lives. The same goes for launch monitors. Today, launch monitors are an integral part of instruction, fitting and even recreational gameplay because people are getting immediate, tangible benefits from using them. Our specific influence on this shift comes from making the launch monitor more accurate, reliable, user-friendly and cost-accessible to everyone who enjoys the game.

We were also the first company to make a launch monitor that could effectively support true-to-life golf simulation. Golf simulators used to have a reputation as “entertainment devices” and weren’t viewed as a serious golf tool. Now, thanks largely to our technology’s ability to go indoors without compromising accuracy or reliability, you see golf simulators everywhere: retail stores, hotels, recreational facilities and in the homes of casual players and tour pros alike. This simply wasn’t the case before Foresight Sports existed.

WRX: What allows Foresight’s launch monitors to be so accurate? How was the new GCQuad made to be more accurate than GC2 and HMT? Basically, the question I’m getting at is, “What’s Foresight’s competitive advantage at the moment?”

JW: There are two key things about our technology that offer a distinct advantage when it comes to accuracy. The first is positioning. Camera-based technology like ours allows our launch monitors to be optimally positioned to measure — not calculate — what happens at the moment of ball and club impact. Measuring from any other position, such as behind the golfer as other technologies do, means critical elements of data are being missed that simply can’t be calculated, validated or reproduced from other captured information.  

The second key advantage of our launch monitors is the virtually unlimited ceiling of technological advancement. Just as with computer processors, image-capturing technologies continue to rapidly redefine the state of the art when it comes to size, power and precision. Like its GC2 predecessor, the GCQuad leverages the most advanced technologies available today — faster processors, higher resolution image sensors, next generation connectivity — it’s all in there. To put this in perspective, our GC2 was the most advanced and accurate launch monitor in the industry when we released it in 2010. Today, the GCQuad captures 10 times as much information as the GC2. Our core capturing and analysis technologies only continue to evolve and get better.

WRX: Can you foresee a time when people would rather play golf on a launch monitor instead of “real” golf?

JW: Absolutely. In fact, since the inception of golf simulators, there has been a segment of players who prefer the virtual game experience to the “real” experience. Back in the late ’90s I saw this firsthand when I was involved with an indoor golf facility in Louisville, Kentucky. And by all indications, the segment of players who prefer the virtual experience is only going to grow.

The reason why virtual golf is poised to see explosive growth is two-fold. The first reason is the evolution of the technology itself. Every aspect of the virtual golf experience continues to get better – more accurate, more real, more cost accessible – making it harder to justify the advantages of the “real” experience. When you add in the ability to engage players with gaming experiences like shooting at zombies or playing a round at a famous course with three other players from around the world, the appeal of virtual golf becomes obvious.

The second reason is the inherent scaling limits of the traditional game. We can build a facility full of state-of-the-art simulation bays at a fraction of the cost – and space requirements – of a golf course development or expansion. The reality is that worldwide land resources are limited, and new golf course creation is becoming increasingly harder to justify. The traditional game of golf is now in a state of attrition, and anyone who doesn’t see that isn’t paying attention. In my opinion, the virtual experience is critical for the game of golf to be viable moving forward, and I believe technology companies like ours will play a key part in making this happen.

WRX: You mentioned Zombie Golf. How did that come about?

Foresight_Zombie_Golf_Feat

JW: Zombie Golf is actually the first gaming app created by our in-house Game Studios team. The genesis of the idea itself came from a creative session we held with the team late last year. Everyone was encouraged to bring a game idea to the session that would engage, entertain and hopefully inspire a new audience of non-players to get in the game of golf. After discussing a myriad of ideas, Zombie Golf was unanimously voted the first game we would build to launch in conjunction with the PGA Show and the GCQuad introduction.

Beyond its appeal to both golfers and non-golfers, we see Zombie Golf evolving into a multi-level game that might even spill over into traditional golf play. Imagine playing a round of golf on one of our virtual courses and having zombies suddenly invade your course. That’s what we call changing the game!

Learn more about Foresight and the GCQuad at foresightsports.com

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41 COMMENTS

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  1. I still remember when Titleist developed the first launch monitor in the 1980s using golf balls with several dot put on with a Sharpie pen… and complicated cameras to catch the beginning of the ball flight from the rotation of the dots. They came around in a special van to hold the computer system and employees that accompanied the monitor.
    They toured the country and set up the launch monitor at golf clubs where only the single digit handicappers could use it …. because the hackers were too inconsistent to bother with …. and I couldn’t get on it !!!!
    The major problem in golf is the inability to hit with the driver…. because the shaft is too long and the loft too low. Perhaps somebody should invent a tee-box gizmo that would fire a golf ball through some kind of air cannon, with the golfer only swinging past a launch monitor that triggers the cannon to shoot the ball a decent distance, and straight …. maybe 225 yard …. ya think?!!

  2. Golf is dead! Golf is to complicated and expensive for the selfie generation. Girls hit the gym and social media, guys go cycling etc. where you can be ‘good’ and reach a decent level within 2 years. I love golf and play it a lot but it is just not attractive enough in these times. Sadly said!

  3. This idea will definitely pull people off of the course to go play a game indoors. Good. I’m tired of a 5hr rounds of cart golf. The ones that truly love the game will stay and play and keep some courses afloat some will sink. The ebb and flow of golf depends on the die-hards, and them passing the game on.

    Can’t keep growing a game it’s got to shrink at some point…

  4. I can definitely see this growing the game (however that’s defined) especially in major cities like NY or Tokyo. I can’t even imagine how the average NYer is even able to play regularly lugging their clubs on the train or driving an hour out of the city. But I can see a simulator range a few blocks away having a lot of appeal.

    Throw in some goofy games like the Zombie thing and put them into places like Dave & Busters and now you have more people playing at night or during the winter and it’s fun for the average non-serious golf person similar to how TopShot golf is.

    I guess it comes down to the definition of growing the game, though. I mean I consider myself a pretty serious golfer even though most of time is spent on the typical outdoor range not on a course. How is that any different than playing on a simulator? Might even be better for my game simulating holes instead of standard range work

  5. So trackman gets crushed on these boards for being ‘too expensive’ but this will grow the game? Seems like sponsored content and should be labeled as such in all fairness.

  6. Golf grew because of the advent of seeing players like Palmer and Nicklaus on television. There was an explosion of players and courses throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There was also the explosion of baby boomers who when unable or unwilling to jog or play tennis transitioned to golf. Now that boomers are slowly leaving golf, they are not being replaced by millennial athletes . I introduced my 3 kids to golf at an early age and currently non of them play because of time and expense.
    I don’t know if this less expensive launch monitor will re introduce them to golf , but it fits the explosion of the smart phone, tablet and lap tops. And most importantly, time. Maybe these guys are onto a trend. We need more meillenials in golf to,replace the baby boomers. It’s called critical mass and golf is barely hanging on.

  7. Likely to grow the acade space game but not the actual game unless it gets a few new folks to step outside to a course. Plus it’s not like an arcade will be selling clubs (and if so not decent ones). The real market is as it has been- pros, instructors, and fitters.

  8. i think the GC2 is what the major golf retailers use in their hitting bays. Employees have told me they are off about 30% on distance.

    For example i was hitting a 9 iron 125-130 in a bay. Same day went to the outdoor range, no wind. I was about 135 all day with it. My usual distance for a nine iron.

    Just give me the outdoor’s and a laser.

  9. This is not the future of golf. Notwithstanding the investment, which I’ll get to next, there is NO ONE I currently know that calls me up on a beautiful summer day and asks me to come spend a few hours in their dark basement rather than playing the real sport outdoors. Simulated rounds are good for winter, and that’s it. And even then, I still golf in Jan and Feb if we get a mild day. The market for these is fitters and indoor simulators. People who do personally purchase will do it for two reasons. 1) Practice and the need for good information. And these are the serious ones who know what to do with that information. or 2) for fun. If you are buying it for the practice, not only do they need to be serious golfers, but they also have to be able to afford a $15k investment. The market there is SO small. If you are buying it for fun, you already have affordable options out there like Opti Shot that cost less than $500. Sure the accuracy and data isn’t great, but it’s just for fun. If simulated golf was truly the “future of golf”, I would have expected by now to see a lot more of my buddies owning Opti Shots. And here’s the other thing, you also need SPACE to use it! You can’t just set this up in your living room and even most basements don’t have the required ceiling height. There are so many reasons why these things are never going to take off. They’re great in the markets they are in right now. I think the only time we will see somewhat of an uptick in this market for personal LMs, is when affordability meets accuracy. The closest I’ve seen so far is the SkyTrack that you can get for under $2k. But even that isn’t jumping off the shelves. Get out there and play.

    • Indoor golf facilities are growing, people are too busy too play 4 hour rounds, and the weather is not always sunny.
      These things are growing golf whether you are a hater or not.
      Not all units are being brought for personal use only.

  10. What an f’d up world…all phones have done aside from turning the human race into fat fat zombies who look down at a screen all day as they walk into oncoming cars, is slowly put an end to human communication and interaction. I suppose golf courses will eventually be obsolete in the same way. I’m glad I’m now in my 60’s and won’t be around to see the ugly future we have painted for our race.

  11. Companies like this are definitely the future of golf. Kinda sad… golf is meant to be played outside in the fresh air. That being said, you’ll see more Zombie golfers in the future.

    • Totally agree, but would you rather play virtual golf at Pebble Beach in your own home, or drive 30min for a $60 tee time, only to play on crap greens and bunkers that aren’t taken care of…. Unless you’re paying $100+, you’re not playing true golf on a well manicured course.

      • Sounds like you need to move somewhere with better golf courses if all you’re playing on are those with crap greens and unkept bunkers. I play “true golf” all the time on great semi-private courses that run me $40-50/round. If you define “true golf” as a round that is only played on PGA tour quality tracks then maybe you should find a different hobby. And, frankly, if you’re investing $14K in a LM or sim because you’re such a course snob then you’re part of the reason why those local courses can’t keep up with the high standard of conditions you so nobly demand.

        • Read below man. Their price point is no where near competitive to create demand. They will continue to just try to grow their market share of pro golfers and golf shops and are completely ignoring 85% of the market…

          I moved from Mich to VA and there is quite the difference with public courses and how far your $ takes you…

      • I think your definition of “true golf” is a little different from the guys who invented the game or my own. I agree that bunkers with massive footprints and the like in them is unacceptable, but expecting every course in the world to be of similar quality to PGA Tour courses is a bit unreasonable or realistic. Play it as it lies.

  12. Other games I’d like to see and play during our long (long, long) winter….
    Golf Battleship
    whack the ballpicker
    tic tac toe
    caps (like the beer drinking game)
    duck shoot (like the carnival game)
    that challenge shooting range in the dirty harry movie

  13. I can see this being the case in very crowded urban environments or in winter. However, fact is you’re still hitting off a mat. Half of the challenge is dealing with lies, wind, hazards, breaks on the green, green speeds, etc.

    • Probably the most valid comment so far. Regardless of price (and $14K is a good price currently) the ability for larger facilities to incorporate this kind of technology will help grow the game because it makes the game more accessible and enjoyable for a whole new demographic. I’d hate to see the traditional golf course go away (hopefully that will never happen), but the potential to grow the game is there. All of you guys complaining about cost because you want one in your garage are completely missing the big picture. It is unlikely that a $1000 LM will ever be made that also incorporates the same level of accuracy. If you want, we can use the smartphone analogy again. Look at the price? Has it changed much over the past decade? If anything, prices have gone up slightly. Yes, there are smartphones available at more affordable prices, but they are inferior in quality and function because they use older technologies to reach those price points. To that point, it is possible one day to get a GC2-quality device for ~$1000, but it will look like a toy in comparison to whatever current-gen products come to market. The biggest drawback of this technology is like Adam said, no wind, no variation in lie, or breaks on the green.

  14. If they’re going to compare these to smartphones, then lets continue with the analogy…

    Apple was only widely successful as a company when they put a device (iPhone) in our hands that was 1st better than anything else, and 2nd affordable to the masses. Prior that they were branded as a luxury computer company, marketed for all but available for few.

    Now to Foresight… without question putting launch monitor data in people’s hands makes golf affordable because you can practice for free and play virtual courses for free… something everyone would take advantage of…. for the right price…

    These things need to get to the $1000 range to have any sort of ROI for us golf fans. If they are truly looking to “grow the game” and grow their business, they should really learn from Apple… your software is your IP, get the cost to manufacture down and make it a reasonable price point, and these would be in the garage of every MILDLY interested golf fan…

    Avg golfer does not need club path data and all that noise, we want distance, club head speed, spin rate and enough data to put a reliable line on the ball. If you had $1000 for a golf season, would you spend it on 10-12 rounds of golf, or unlimited rounds of virtual golf, rain or shine, in the comfort of your own home…

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