Pros: Combines GPS and motion sensing technology to track every shot with minimal disruption to the flow of the game. Advanced data capture lets golfers learn the true distance and accuracy of each of their clubs to formulate a better tee-to-green strategy.
Cons: The device itself does not double as a rangefinder, requiring players to carry a separate product to identify the distance to the pin. Less avid golfers, the kind that play only a few rounds a season, can probably get by without Game Golf’s more advanced features. There are more affordable options for players who only care about their average score and putts per hole.
Bottom Line: When released earlier this year, the makers of Game Golf promised to revolutionize how golfers play, compete, socialize and improve their game. It’s safe to say they’ve kept that promise intact.
Introduced with great fanfare at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando this past January, Game Golf has been one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise abysmal year punctuated by store closings, employee layoffs and shrinking participation. If the sky is falling, as many industry experts proclaim, Game Golf hasn’t felt it. The product was sold out shortly after making its splashy debut.
Like other technology apps that have come before it, Game Golf records your rounds and analyzes your performance. But it does this with unparalleled ease and sophistication. The device itself, which is smaller than a deck of cards, clips to your belt. A set of durable tracking tags are attached to your clubs. When you’re ready to address your ball, touch the tag to the sensor on the device. You’ll hear a subtle beep and the device will gently vibrate indicating that it’s ready to track.
When your round is over, connect the device to your computer. Game Golf will transmit your data to its website where you can review your match. Like other pre-existing shot tracking systems, Game Golf will crunch your fairways hit, greens in regulation, average score and other standard insights. Where Game Golf truly separates itself from its competitors is through its ability to calculate the mean distance that you hit each club and the tendency you have to leave shots short, long, left or right of the flag. While Game Golf isn’t quite ready to tussle with the undisputed king of shot tracking systems – ShotLink – the margin of separation continues to shrink as the platform evolves.
Game Golf sells for $249 and does not include any annual subscription fees. The device can be bought online or through participating Apple stores.
Data and Accuracy
There are literarily hundreds of shot-tracking apps in the marketplace. And all of them are nearly identical in being able to track your FIRs, GIRs, putts per round, scoring average, etc. For a golfer who only plays a few times a year, this is plenty.
As for the avid golfer, the kind who can explain the difference between static and dynamic loft – you better bring the heat. This is the sort of player that will pour over results to help themselves identify what areas of their game fall short of levels attained by elite amateurs and pros.
One of the criticisms directed at Game Golf early on was that it didn’t make full use of its shot-tracking data collection. Yes, the system has always been able to measure and display shot distances, accurate to within five feet of the actual landing area. And it can’t be overstated how important it is to know how far you can actually hit your ball to lowering your score. But it’s also equally if not more important to be aware how well or poorly you’re controlling your shots as the distance to the hole increases.
The recently released Shot Performance Analysis feature is a breakthrough in advanced analytics allowing golfers to view their both their tee shot and approach shot accuracy. The new component displays a visual pattern of all your tee shots, mapping the distance each shot has travelled as well as the direction relative to the center of the fairway. On approach shots the flag becomes the target, allowing you to gauge your proximity to the hole using different clubs and from different distances.
Game Golf developed the Shot Performance Analysis component based on feedback collected from tens of thousands of avid golfers engaged with the platform, but it’s worth understanding how Columbia University Professor Mark Broadie’s research on golf shot performance has been equally influential.
For those who not familiar with Professor Broadie, he developed the acclaimed Strokes Gained Putting statistic adopted by the PGA Tour. He has also theorized (and proved through quantitative analysis) that the quality of a golfer’s shots from outside of 100 yards have a greater bearing on score than the quality of shots around the green. Or to put it another way, an average golfer would gain about 9.3 shots per round having Tiger Woods hit all their shots over 100 yards out but only 2.2 shots with Woods doing all the putting.
“We believe Mark Broadie’s strokes gained analysis is truly transformative, and it has certainly influenced how we’ve designed our analysis features,” says James Wang, Vice President of Product at Active Mind Technology, the makers of Game Golf. “One example of this is how we created visualizations of shot dispersion and distance from off the tee; similarly for approach shots, we visually show shot dispersion from various distances and various lie types. The intent is to help users formulate better tee-to-green strategies armed with this data.”
Are you consistently slicing your driver, but hooking your 3-wood? If you lay up with an iron will the gain in accuracy at a loss of distance translate to a better score? The Analysis tab can help you identify patterns in your game and will ensure practice time is spent working on the right things to lower your score. You can also use this feature to test drive a new club and compare its on-course performance against your existing gamer. Savvy golfers and industry professionals will quickly realize the immense opportunity this tool has for improving the teaching and club-fitting experience.
Features and Usability
One of the best features of the Game Golf platform is the visual map overlay of your previously signed rounds. There’s nothing quite like being able to review a round of golf you’ve played hole-by-hole, seeing the flight of the ball superimposed against the course with club and distance information available at your fingertips. When combined with Game Golf’s other statistical tools, the visual map can help you ascertain some amazing discoveries about your playing ability – whether it’s on certain holes, certain golf courses or specific situations like those long carries over water where a 5-yard miscalculation can be the difference between being wet or staying dry.
Whether you access your Game Golf profile over the web from a desktop computer or through the mobile app, the visual map is rendered the same way. It’s worth noting that the map can be a bit sluggish when viewed from a mobile device but that’s a minor quibble.
Another potentially great feature is the comparison tab where you can measure yourself against other golfers within the Game Golf community. For instance, you can compare the average length of your drives against Lee Westwood’s and feel wholly inadequate (unless of course you’re a member of GolfWRX). The tab lets you filter by all the usual stats (Fairway Accuracy, GIR, Scrambling, etc.) in addition to limiting the result set by a range of rounds or by golf course. It might be fun to see how your friends performed over the same period of time, but for the most part the comparison feature is still very primitive.
Future updates to the compare tab might allow a golfer playing to a 15 handicap index to measure themselves against the average single digit player based on a variety of criteria. “I don’t want to give too much detail here, but yes, this is something we’ve thought a lot about,” says Wang. “We know that more tools for comparison will add a lot of value for our users and help them even more in figuring out what areas of their game to focus on improving.”
In terms of statistics, Game Golf has just about everything covered. They have recently added sand save percentage, correcting a glaring oversight. Putting statistics themselves could use a pretty big overhaul, but Wang assures me that a future update will contain more detailed stats that are simple, intuitive and seamless.
Active Mind Technology has tried to strike a balance between catering to the community’s desire to immerse themselves in advanced analytics while at the same time not neglecting simple, but critical usability enhancements such as improving the scorecard.
A new drop down menu allows a user to quickly access any hole and make edits. There’s also an overview screen where you can review your round at a glance, as well as add or remove putts directly instead of having to wade through each hole’s shot-by-shot view.
Having been able to try out the device over the past several months, I’ve only had one instance over the course of 18 rounds where a scorecard was botched while being uploaded to the site. And even then, the support team at Game Golf was able to recover my shot data within the same day.
Judging by what early adopters have reported, most of the problems with scorecards were due to rounds recorded at nine-hole courses. Platform updates have since resolved those issues and Game Golf is able to handle both 18 and nine-hole rounds, as well as partial rounds and situations requiring shotgun starts.
As far as the platform’s social sharing capabilities, they are adequate for now. Users can brag about their rounds through Facebook, Twitter or email without much fuss. Push notifications let you know when any of your followers have posted rounds of their own.
John McGuire, CEO of Active Mind Technology has often referred to the platform as having a “stickiness” factor, but the reality is that the individuals within the community are still very much disconnected from a broader and more engaging social experience.
Game Golf is compatible with Microsoft Windows and Apple operating systems. I have had the opportunity to run Game Golf on my MacBook Pro as well as on a laptop running Windows 8. The software runs flawlessly on Apple but has crashed on occasion on Windows. Even when it runs smoothly, data transfers with the Windows app can be a little slow.
Game Golf’s online media hub, which lets users view their rounds and stats, can be accessed through a web browser or iPhone app. Beta testing for devices running Android was recently completed and the app is now available for download from the Google Play store.
The Game Golf device is sturdy, compact and weather resistant. The device can store up to nine rounds of golf and go about 10 hours or 36 holes before needing to be charged. When charging, a user can either plug in the device to their computer using the provided USB cable or they can connect the cable directly into an iPhone wall charger.
Setting up the device itself is pretty straightforward. Register a profile on the Game Golf website and download the appropriate software for your computer. Plug in the device to your computer so that it can be recognized. At the same time, remove the tags from the packaging and screw them into the grips on your golf clubs. Once your online profile is setup you’ll be prompted to identify the make and model of each club you’re tagging.
Once you’re out on the course, turn the device on. Game Golf will automatically discover your location, usually within five minutes. A set of indicator lights will notify you when it’s ready to go. Since releasing the product in January, Game Golf has done an outstanding job mapping courses. As you would expect, the United States has the most coverage (over 18,000 identified so far). International courses are also well represented – a list that includes more than 3,000 in the United Kingdom and 1,700 in Australia alone.
Some golfers have wondered why the device doesn’t double as a GPS range finder or provide instant statistical feedback and analysis as you progress through your round of golf. The makers of Game Golf wanted to ensure that their product would conform to USGA rules for tournament use – which it does. From a more practical standpoint, everyone from Bob Rotella to Gary Player believe that having too much information at your fingertips not only affects the pace of the game but can actually wreck a golfer’s score.
So is Game Golf a slam-dunk decision for each and every golfer?
With the exception of a casual player who rarely tees it up outside of a summer scramble tournament, the answer is a resounding yes. The ability to accurately track your shot distances and analyze your misses is a must-have feature for anyone who takes their game seriously and wants to improve their performance.
It isn’t simply a matter of putting meaningful data into the hands of recreational players – other technology vendors will come along with their own take on stats. Game Golf has succeeded because it has taken an idea — tracking your score — and made it inherently simple. And like other award-winning products we see in other sectors, once we start using them we often wonder what we did without them.
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GolfWRX Spotlight: Crossrope weighted jump rope & app
An 18-hole round of golf averages out to just under five miles of walking, which on its own is a good workout. Once you throw in some potential uphill trekking you get some serious cardio too, but if you all looking for a quick workout between rounds of golf look no further than Crossrope.
Crossrope – The details
Crossrope is a system of the weighted jump rope that allows you to quickly switch the weight of the ropes you are using to boost your workout—they range from 1/4 lbs all the way up to 2 lbs depending on the kit you start out with. There is an accompanying app that helps you go through multiple workout routines and is available free, or you can upgrade to the entire library of workout routines along with more workout tracking options.
This is NOT your middle school jump rope
The handles are heavy duty and feature precision bearings to allow the rope to move smoothly around as you go through a routine. They are also ergonomic and fit into your hand naturally, which making gripping easy, something that is really nice when you’re swinging a 2 lbs coated steel cable around. The handles also come with a fast clip system to make changing cables depending on your selected workout easier too.
The ropes themselves are made from braided steel and are almost impossible to tangle, allowing them to be easily transported and stored when not in use. All in you are getting a premium piece of workout equipment that is effective and easy to store—hard to same the same thing about a treadmill.
When it comes to a workout, skipping rope is one of the most effective cardio workouts you can do, and with Crossrope, you can get both cardio and low impact weight training when using the heaviest ropes, and follow along with the guided workouts.
As someone that hadn’t used a jump rope in over a decade, starting out lighter was a nice way to ease in before moving up, and I was pleasantly surprised how easy and fun some of the workouts in the app were. If you are looking for a fun way to add something to your workouts, or you just want to try something new to get you into golf course walking shape, this could be right up your alley. To learn more check out crossrope.com
WRX Spotlight: Athalonz EnVe—The best golf shoes you’ve never heard of
One of the coolest parts of being in this part of the golfing world is being able to shed light on smaller companies that typically get overshadowed by their bigger corporate brothers.
So, this post is about one of those products that is definitely competitive against top golf shoe companies, and it’s made by a company called Athalonz, which is based out west in Arizona. Typically known for its innovative baseball cleats and insole packages, Athlonz newest addition takes the patented design to the world of golf with the EnVe golf shoe.
These have started appearing on the world long drive circuit due to the amount of traction they get, allowing players to swing harder. So for the last few months, I have gotten to wear them and see if they are as good as the company claims.
Athalonz EnVe: Living up to claims
The main selling points of these shoes are focused on two things
- Design that delivers more power and stability
- Custom comfort that lasts all day
These are somewhat difficult to combine into one shoe, and though they are on the heavier side, Athlonz are completely worth it for the benefits. It is obvious that they made strides to hit each box on the list for a great shoe. The patented design has been adapted from their baseball cleat and introduces a spikeless golf shoe with a circular design that allows the player to gain traction through the golf swing. This gives a player the chance to swing harder and faster without losing their footing. They also offer insole packages that help with correct bodyweight placement to help add an extra layer of consistency.
Secondly, it’s very noticeable that there was plenty of thought given to comfort with a roomy toe and custom insoles to fit your style. Additionally, ankle padding helps to provide more stability and comfort.
On another note, they have a good sense of style with a more classic, casual take. In addition to the pictured white/brown color, there’s a black/grey colorway as well.
After multiple months of wear in all types of conditions, these shoes have performed great for me with all the traction I need and while feeling great throughout the round.
I am a person who tends to support smaller companies when I can if they make good products. Any support for them goes a long way—especially in the golf business. Since these shoes will set you back about $150, I wanted to be sure they are worth it for the money and they absolutely are. Seriously, for anyone looking to boost their shoe game and help alleviate aching feet and ankles, give these a shot.
GolfWRX Spotlight: Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII
Every golfer should have an accurate, reliable, easy-to-use rangefinder. With the new Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII, you get all of that and more in one of the smallest, lightest packages on the market.
Not only do you get a ton of features, but when you consider these devices start at only $199.99 for the 20 G II and then $229.99 for the 20i GII ( slope adjusted version ), you get one of the best values in a rangefinder from one of the most well-known consumer optics companies in the world.
Review: Nikon CoolShot 20 GII and 20i GII
First Target Priority and 8-Second Continuous Measurement: “First Target Priority” is Nikon’s way of making sure you are picking up the flag and not a tree behind your intended target. There is nothing worse than thinking you have your distance dialed in to then have a shot fly over the green. With how quickly it lets you know the ranger finder is locked, getting that distance and double-checking can happen remarkably fast.
In the eight-second continuous measurement setting, the rangefinder will continuously measure the field of view as you scan the target area for approximately eight seconds. This setting is great when playing unfamiliar courses or trying to figure out the exact spot to a dogleg, tree, or hazard on your intended line.
Bright, 6x Monocular: Nikon is known for its glass and multi-coating technology, from telephoto camera lenses to rifle scopes, if it’s Nikon glass, it’s going to be clear, fog-resistant, and high-contrast for easy viewing. From a viewing experience perspective, the Coolshot 20 GII’s 6x monocular has an adjustable diopter for sharp focusing, along with long eye relief—meaning you can keep your glasses (or sunglasses) on when acquiring your target.
Slope-Adjusting ID Technology: With the 20i GII you have the option to get the slope-adjusted distance for any shot thanks to Nikon’s ID Technology. The mode can be turned on and off by the user to comply with USGA rules to make it legal for tournament rounds. Having tested it out on hilly terrain it’s easy to see why so many golfers mis-club going into greens when elevation changes become a lot more dramatic.
The Nikon Coolshot 20 GII’s size and weight make it ideal for anyone who regularly carries and wants the benefit of knowing distances but without having to worry about weight—it weighs about the same as a sleeve of balls.
The size allows you to hold the units stable. However, I could see for those new to the rangefinder space, it could take some time getting used to when first getting acquainted with it. The best bet for this is to take it to a range or just step outside with it on your next walk and get used to hitting targets before you take it to the course—plus it makes for a fun game to see how good you really are at estimating distances.
Overall, for the price and size, it is one of the best rangefinders on the market. Plus, with a five-year warranty, you can be assured of years of use with the Nikon CoolShot 20 GII rangefinders.
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