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.
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?
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.