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Arccos Smart Grips initial review


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#1 BigWyoming

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 12:56 PM

I purchased the new Arccos Smart Grips about three weeks ago from Amazon. Installed and have about 6 full rounds in with them now, so I've gotten a sense of the caddie platform and some of the pro's and con's of the product. As I haven't seen many posts from people with the integrated grips I hope this helps anyone currently shopping them.

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As you can see, the grips with the sensors built-in are Lamkin's. I believe the specific model is the REL Tour but I'm not 100% sure. In any event, it's a good quality grip that installed easily. Not a premium grip by any means but perfectly fine and inoffensive. The set comes with 13 grips and 1 screw-in putter sensor. The grips retail on the Lamkin website for $2.99/grip while you can get a replacement smart grip from Arccos for $7.99.

For me, the pairing process was a bit of a chore. My guess is that this has as much to do with me using an Android phone (Google Pixel XL) as anything, which seems to be a recurring issue with Arccos. The Arccos app uses the phone's camera to pair each sensor. You basically just point the camera at the butt of the grip and select the club and, in theory, hey presto it's that easy. Unfortunately it isn't quite like that. With about half the grips the camera had a hard time focusing on the grip and would take multiple (sometimes very multiple) tries to get it to work. Other times, if I left another club out of the bag while pairing a different club the software would pick up the wrong club. Imagine trying to pair a 6-iron while your 7-iron is sitting on the table in front of you and it picks up the wrong one.

The biggest problem here is that you start in the bottom of your bag with your wedges and pair them sequentially up to your driver. Where the suck happens is when you get halfway through your bag and pair the wrong club. There is no intuitive or clear way to go back and change a paired club in the middle of your bag so I had to start the whole process over (twice).

It wasn't like this pairing process was a brutal dealbreaker. But it is not as easy as advertised either, which should be expected with any new technology. Basically, so long as you don't expect to have the pairing process done in 10 minutes you'll be fine.

On the course is a similar story. From tee to green I would say the software and the performance of the sensors is phenomenal. I put my phone in my pocket, hit a shot and the system (nearly) always picks it up. Out of maybe 5 or 6 rounds played so far I think the system has only missed two full shots.

Around and on the green is a different story. The system has a really hard time with putting. I would guess that only about a quarter of the time does the software get the number of putts hit correct. For some reason, it almost always adds a putt. I haven't figured out why this is. It could be the way the putter head hits the ground when I lean over to pick up a ball or the way I carry it off the green. In any event, as I walk off a green I almost always have to change the number of putts using the app. This is super easy to do and requires only one button push, but it's definitely an issue.

Here is a 1 hole example of some good and bad in the system:

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This is a par 5 at my home course. It looks like I did great - a 292 yard drive in the fairway, a great 6-iron and then a 1-putt eagle. That is kind of what happened - except for the first drive that I blew 30 yards out of bounds to the right. So what you end up having to do in situations involving a ball in a hazard, OB or lost ball is that you have to manually add penalty strokes. This is a small point, but an important one. It would be nice if there was a way to tell the software if a ball was OB, in the water or something else. As it stands now, all the AI knows is that there were 2 penalty shots on this hole - and it has no idea on which shot or with what club I hit the ball OB. In the bottom right corner you can see the method to change the number of putts.

Here is an image of how the AI caddie works:

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This is a short par 4 at home that doglegs hard to the right. As you can see, it factors in the elevation change and the windspeed. This gives you "plays like" numbers that are very, very useful. There have been several times where the AI gives me a different club selection, usually into the wind, than I would have made myself and it has almost always been the better choice in retrospect. If for nothing else, this "plays like" calculation makes the whole system worth the purchase in my book.

Where the caddie needs some help is when it comes to strategy. What it has no way of knowing on this hole is that the trees down the right side are about 80 years old and way, way too tall to carry at that angle. It also can't understand that they hang over the right side of the fairway, making it far more important to get your tee shot up the left hand side. I don't blame the AI for this. But it's something to be aware of. When it comes to calculating yardages this system is amazing. But it can't do the thinking for you.

Here is a look at what the system tracks on a round by round basis. The most helpful thing here is the way it gives you a handicap for each piece of your game.

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And this is a look at how it tracks you over all your rounds in terms of your distances hit.

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There are a couple issues with this - some that I think will get better as more rounds are saved in the system. Look at my 8i range, for example. For whatever reason, the club I use when I need to punch out from trees is often an 8-iron. Unfortunately, there is nothing that tells the system that the shot I hit out of the trees was a recovery. It just understands that I occasionally hit an 8-iron 60 yards. This in turn impacts the club selection choices the AI caddie makes. This probably gets better over time but kind of exposes the inherent problems of relying on averages. But in truth that's a fairly small quibble. I can't make much of an argument with how it is tracking most of the clubs in my bag.

Finally, there are some phone specific issues. First, and most significant, this thing is a battery hog. I don't know if it's any better on an iPhone but playing 18 holes on my Pixel XL will use up about 80% of my battery. If I use any other apps while I'm walking this gets much worse. I notice that time matters here. I often get out early in the morning and walk 18 before going into work. I can do this in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. On those rounds, and if I stay off email, texts, etc. while I walk, I can get off the course with around 40% battery remaining. But on more social rounds around 4 hours I am lucky to finish with any battery life remaining. So, if I want the system to work I basically need to make sure my phone is fully charged first. That's a bit of a hassle. And for whatever reason, I can't run the app in airplane mode on the course, even with location settings on.

Second, the app has an impact on my phone for the rest of the day. I think this is because the app "listens" through the speaker for an impact - but after using the app for a round the external speakers on my phone will no longer work until I restart the device. Not even for a speakerphone call or a regular call. So if someone calls me after a round, whether I'm on speakerphone or not, I can't hear them. So I've just gotten in the habit of restarting my phone after each round is complete.

Similarly, I have to restart my phone prior to each round or the app won't track any shots. No idea why this is the case. It just is.

Is any of this a dealbreaker? Not for me. I love seeing the averages and the "plays like" calculations are great. The way it tracks my handicap for different segments of my game is a great learning tool and is exposing for me, for example, that I am not as good at scrambling as I thought I was. And after just a few rounds, the AI and tracking is showing me clearly that when I am in between clubs I almost always miss short. That stuff is awesome.

So if you're comfortable being an early adapter of a new technology and think that's part of the fun, you'll love Arccos. If you want a fully-formed, perfect product right out of the box you're going to be frustrated. It takes some fiddling and resetting to get it to work. That's just part of the deal. You can't simply put your phone in your front pocket for 18 holes and not think about it. It's almost there, but not quite yet.

If anyone has any specific questions I'll try to keep checking back in to answer.


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#2 stanford88

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 08:23 PM

I bought and installed the grips too.  I have used them for 2 rounds so I can't say much about the caddie feature.
Bigwyoming did a great write-up.

I use an iPhone X.  I didn't have any problems with the pairing process (the iPhone X camera was spot on) or on-course performance so far.  My major gripe is that the putter sensor didn't fit the butt end of my Toulon putter.  Otherwise, it has been magical.  Battery does get drained on the phone but easily completes 18-holes to 30-40% left.  And the Apple Watch app is very fast and accurate -- most surprising and pleasant feature. I hope they'll be able to detect with the watch only and get rid of phone.

Thomas

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#3 Mysticfalcon

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 04:59 AM

I was very close to picking one of these up myself but wound up with the regular 360.  I have a few spots in my bag that change more often than they probably should and I thought it would be much easier to just screw in the sensor.  
Too bad they don't have a Pure Grip version.   Much easier to change grips quickly.

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