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Whatever happened to the trackable golf balls I was promised?


30 replies to this topic

#1 jfann1

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 01:45 PM

I read all the time about smart products coming out that are changing the game for all sorts of things.  In golf, we've already got companies like Arccos leading the data collection and analysis efforts.  I remember reading almost a decade ago about a company Radar Golf that was making golf balls that were trackable through a handheld device that would beep.  At the time, this seemed like the future to me.

The problem:
Lost balls are the worst.  They cost you money, they slow your round down, they balloon your score.  Tour pros have the benefit of the gallery to help them find their balls when they're in findable spots but amateurs don't have galleries.

Where Radar Golf went wrong:
No one's going to buy a separate handheld device that costs a ton of money just to track their golf balls.  No one's going to buy their golf balls either cause they aren't a big name.  I'm sure they probably tried but they need to license that technology to the ball companies and let them throw their marketing and production dollars into it.  With today's technology, your smartphone could act as the ball tracker and you wouldn't need an additional device.

The dream:
Your phone's the tracker.  Balls can be a dollar or two more expensive than they already are, they'd be worth it in the amount of time they saved you and you might actually save money depending on how many balls you lose.  Never worry again when your ball sails into the treeline.  Never worry again when you are playing in the fall when all the leaves are on the ground.  Never worry again when you hit a blind shot over a hill and walk over it only to not see your ball resting in view.  Rounds will move faster.  Scores will drop.  Peace will reign on earth.

Added bonuses:
An environmental benefit would be the technology would also make golf balls easier to find once they get lost in the woods, under water, etc.  Less pollution and a more robust used ball market.
Imagine how much extra data we could harness from a golf ball once sensors get small enough that we can put a few in there.  Spin, launch data, speed, distance, all measured at the source.

My question:
Why doesn't this already exist?!


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#2 zwhitworth

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 02:39 PM

I've thought about this alot as well.  My guess is that the manufacturers cannot maintain the current level of performance or USGA conformity with chips in the balls.

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#3 jfann1

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 07:52 AM

Performance might be an issue yeah but as far as I know, the Radar ball that was created in the past is USGA conforming?  I could be wrong about that though.

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#4 Vintage1976

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 08:22 AM

Pressure, payoffs or blackmail from the large OEM's parent companies to keep this on the shelf would be my guess. Can you imagine the carnage in board rooms if there was suddenly 1/3 or 1/4 the current demand for product in an industry this size? That kind of situation is simply unacceptable for any business to blindly march straight into if they can avoid it.
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#5 Stuart G.

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 08:38 AM

I suspect, by far, the most influence comes from the USGA / R+A and the rules of golf - which do not allow the use of such electronic devices to help you find the ball.

Sure, there are some folks who don't mind playing outside the rules but doubtful there are enough to really drive the market for a large selection or significant R+D costs of such products.


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#6 matchavez

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:30 AM

They're all at TopGolf.
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#7 Oldboy

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:45 AM

How bout some sort of traceable nano particle spray .. Spray your titleist and track on ur phone..

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#8 TPG1971

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:49 AM

 Oldboy, on 26 August 2015 - 09:45 AM, said:

How bout some sort of traceable nano particle spray .. Spray your titleist and track on ur phone..
What a great idea!
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#9 jfann1

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 01:22 PM

You'd think the USGA and the R+A would be all for this.  It indirectly improves one of the biggest issues in golf today (slow play) and isn't really against the spirit of the game as far as I'm concerned.  And how often do pros hit it into crazy areas only to have the gallery swarm the area seconds later?  They even have volunteers specifically for spotting pro balls during tournaments.  I don't need a gallery or a spotter, I just need a trackable ball!  If it were against the spirit of the game, they wouldn't have people assisting you left and right during tournaments.  

It would also make it easier to stomach paying $4 or $5 dollars for a ball when you know that as long as you don't put it in the drink or way OB, you'll be able to find it.  Most average players don't have an issue with playing a ball until it's beat up.  I had a friend once who played the same ball for 6 straight rounds until he finally lost it, and was sad to see it go!  

Lastly, you'd think a company like Titleist, Nike or Taylormade would be all for this and they'd actually be scrambling to be the first to release such a ball.  Whoever does it first would make a killing.  All these balls already compete on such a high level that an edge like this would be absolutely worth making the switch.

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#10 Interpol

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 06:22 PM

Sounds like a limitation of the technology more than anything else.  Keep in mind that a manufacturer would have to consider the following:
  • Fragile electronics.  You've got to place circuitry inside a ball that's going to get smacked by a metal club moving at up to 120mph or more.
  • Limitations of RF.  You don't want to place the circuitry on the outside of the ball where it'll fail sooner.  So putting it inside the ball means you've got to have a fully self-contained unit that encloses circuitry, a possible power source, and an RF emitter.  I can't imagine radio waves traveling through dense polymer or rubber too well.
  • Price.  All of these things will drive up the price of a ball over their non-electronic counterparts.  People are already cringing over paying ~$5/ball for ProV's.  Would they pay more for balls that may not be as reliable or perform as well?

IMO the best way to implement ball tracking technology is to leave the clubs and balls as they are, and instead use something like the radar technology in TrackMan devices to track ballflight path and send that information to a display unit on the cart.

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#11 Evning

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 01:04 PM

All we need are disco ball like finishes.

when it is sparkling all over the place, you can be sure to find it.

also, shooting a ball that sparkles in-flight sounds pretty fancy.

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#12 cane700

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 03:22 PM

Top golf uses embedded chips in their balls. So they can hold up to average golfers use.

Of course if you can find your ball every time you don't need to buy as many balls. Probably why nobody is mass producing trackable golf balls.




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#13 Interpol

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 05:00 PM

 cane700, on 29 August 2015 - 03:22 PM, said:

Top golf uses embedded chips in their balls. So they can hold up to average golfers use.


That may be true, but there's a lot more to Top Golf's system than just RFID chips embedded in their balls.  Keep in mind that when you're hitting at Top Golf, you're hitting in an enclosed space that's about 1/18th the size of an average golf course.  From http://www.rfidjourn...les/view?9083/2 :

Quote

Each ball is equipped with an Impinj Monza 3 RFID tag chip with a unique EPC number encoded on it. That ID is captured by the reader, and Thinkify software links that number to the target zone ID and forwards it to the back-end system, where software provided by Infonaligy links the player with that specific ball and hitting bay. Other players then go through the same process.


So not only do you need the circuitry in the balls, you need RFID readers at the tee and sensors all over the course for something like this to work at a golf course.
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#14 firstbatch

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 05:08 PM

I think it would be cool if somehow the range finder companies could make some use of gps triangulation whereby you hit a ball off line into heavy rough or  into the woods.  You watch the ball let's say from the tee box as normal and see where it goes. You pull out the range finder and shoot the spot it went into the woods or heavy rough.  Then you proceed to go look for the ball and the rangefinder beeps or something to clue you in that you are in the right spot.  Seems a lot of times people hit errant shots but end of searching in places not where it was hit as they loose perspective on the ,location.  Seems like with a bit of technology the range finder could somehow interpolate the shot you shoot and designate a waypoint for it and the use that to guide you in the search area

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#15 matchavez

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 03:04 PM

You have two choices when you talk about this technology... think about it forensically. You either need to track the ball on its way out, and get a reasonably predictable path, etc... and that is only legit until it bounces, or be able to find it with assistance.

Since we can't have Trackman on every shot (yet), that leaves us with finding a ball in a field. That's not terribly difficult until you consider the following:

-You cannot affect the performance of the ball
-You have to be able to find a *specific* ball potentially among several
-The shape, size, mass, and contents are generally not updatable.

So you come back to "TopGolf" as a ball with an RFID in it. Let's assume that high performance balls would be unaffected with an RFID - that's a unique marker and it has the ability to be read - at 18 inches. That's a limit of RFID, because the energy used for reading it is "projected" into it. The rfid tag is passive and not powered.

OK, so TopGolf is out; RFID won't work because it has limited range. You then have two practical options...

1) A device that can find your ball in an area
2) A device that tracks the outbound ball
or both in combination.

Ways you can find a ball are color differences, material reflection, or maybe even bio/non-bio differences. Generally though this requires either line-of-sight or a temperature difference of 3c+. A long shot might be sound, since dimples would reflect somewhat distinctly, but that's a stretch.

Ways you can determine outbound are obviously ball tracking. The more accurate, the better, but once the ball hits the ground, ball tracking is very little help.

I think the only "practical" way to do it is not quite ready yet. Crazy as this may sound, to me the best way ball tracking will work is by having a drone "watch" your ball. To some degree, it would need to be able to track a ball, but its advantage is simple; it moves and can follow a ball. I would expect that in 7-12 years, you'll have the ability to have your drone follow, and even potentially fetch your ball. Imagine something like this...

In 2023, DroneGolfCo launches a combined ball tracking drone system. The drone will go out 250ish yards in advance of a drive, and await your ball. A simple doppler attachment to your bag will follow the launch, giving the drone advanced information over a cellular data connection of where the doppler expects the ball to land. The drone vectors, and then follows your ball, hovering over it. When you reach it, the drone flies off again, or goes back to your cart for some charge.

The only thing realistically that could change is the silver dots might become more common on balls you buy.

All this, or you can get a dog. :)

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#16 cardoustie

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 03:17 PM

put special ink in a sharpie like pen, make an i-phone able to track your markings

I'm sure in today's world this is easily doable . .but not profitable for the ball guys

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#17 Interpol

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 05:18 PM

 cardoustie, on 31 August 2015 - 03:17 PM, said:

put special ink in a sharpie like pen, make an i-phone able to track your markings

I'm sure in today's world this is easily doable . .

On an iPhone?  Wishful thinking.
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#18 nbg352

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 05:39 PM

Golf ball companies need you to lose their golf balls. They hope that your golf balls are never, ever found. Golf ball companies need you to buy as much of their product as you can so they can maintain their margins.

So stop all this foolish thinking about devices that find your golf ball, Be good consumers. Buy more balls and lose them happily, and then buy more, ok?

Edited by nbg352, 31 August 2015 - 05:41 PM.

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#19 Interpol

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 06:15 PM

 nbg352, on 31 August 2015 - 05:39 PM, said:

Golf ball companies need you to lose their golf balls. They hope that your golf balls are never, ever found. Golf ball companies need you to buy as much of their product as you can so they can maintain their margins.

So stop all this foolish thinking about devices that find your golf ball, Be good consumers. Buy more balls and lose them happily, and then buy more, ok?

Heh...want to create a successful golf ball company?  Make balls that are super spinny and fly all over the place so people lose them more often and have to buy more!

(The above staement is one of the reasons why I never went to business school)

Edited by Interpol, 31 August 2015 - 06:16 PM.

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#20 xabia

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Posted 01 September 2015 - 10:08 AM

 Interpol, on 31 August 2015 - 05:18 PM, said:

 cardoustie, on 31 August 2015 - 03:17 PM, said:

put special ink in a sharpie like pen, make an i-phone able to track your markings

I'm sure in today's world this is easily doable . .

On an iPhone?  Wishful thinking.

I tried to formulate a way to make this work using a combination of techniques already mentioned, nanoparticles, ink or a spray combined with a phone (I am an engineering who specializes in nanoparticle technology) and I don't see any way to make it work.  There are a combination of factors that make the issue seriously technically challenging, so I stopped pursuing it.

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#21 rk100

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 06:41 PM

Here's a company doing it, yes the cost are high but new tech always is - http://chip-ing.com/...ale?language=en

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#22 Dysfunkshun

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 09:02 PM

$105 for 6 balls...for that price, I want the Space Jam Bugs Bunny technology, where Bugs guides my ball to the hole

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#23 Need2golfalot

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 07:24 AM

Fart spray plus dog could work well. ;-]


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#24 Dysfunkshun

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 05:39 PM

Apparently, OnCore has been watching this.  Just got an email to check out the new Genius GPS tracking golf ball:

https://www.indiegog...e-genius-ball#/

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#25 Dpavs

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 05:52 PM

Currently I have everyone one of them ever made in the trunk of the flying car I was promised back in 1970. It's parked right next to my jetpack in the sky garage.

We will probably see these some day in the not too distant future truthfully but it feels like another thing that the game just does not need. The bigger play here for me would be to produce a ball with a chip inside that could record all the metrics involved in a practice round and then upload those recorded metrics to a program which would analyze them against the course layout to show the round could have been better optimized through different line,  lay up points, club selection, etc.

Edited by Dpavs, 10 October 2017 - 05:55 PM.


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#26 Dysfunkshun

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 12:45 AM

That is almost exactly what this new OnCore genius ball is claiming to do.  It says it tracks all the metrics plus GPS.

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#27 Dpavs

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:42 AM

Close but it lacks the intelligent software to analyze the data... that's left to you. Taking it one step further, real time data crunching and suggestions would be even a bigger deal as essentially it would provide an AI caddie for any one using the golf ball. This kind of thing is where the real value lies imho.

Edited by Dpavs, 11 October 2017 - 08:47 AM.


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#28 Jc0

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:01 AM

You are basically look for tile for golf. For those who don't know what tile is, it runs off of bluetooth and can track the item if you are within 150ft it.

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#29 Bill Broderick

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 02:05 PM

 nbg352, on 31 August 2015 - 05:39 PM, said:

Golf ball companies need you to lose their golf balls. They hope that your golf balls are never, ever found. Golf ball companies need you to buy as much of their product as you can so they can maintain their margins.

So stop all this foolish thinking about devices that find your golf ball, Be good consumers. Buy more balls and lose them happily, and then buy more, ok?

While we're designing unprofitable products, maybe Duracell and Everrady can design batteries that last forever and still cost $1.50 each.

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#30 Spooky67

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 03:14 PM

I'd love a trackable golf ball. nothing is more frustrating to me than a shot that wasn't that poorly struck but winds up in some thick rough and is never found, OR the shot that has a blind landing and again- struck well, but you NEVER find it. I hate that. It's one think for me to yank a ball 100yds into the woods, but it's another thing to have a shot/ball that should be playable but you can't find it. My friend and I were talking about the subject of spotters and galleries on the PGA finding balls and how much we'd like the same opportunity...lol.


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