Golfing Tech Talks - Episode 1
Written by Gerrit van Rooyen for Wellington Golf Tours -
As someone who has never played a game of golf, at first, it was difficult to keep up with Steve when he was talking about his passion for the sport. Therefore, since starting to write for and work on the website for Wellington Golf tours, I had to read up a lot about golf.
So far I have read a lot about the history of the sport and what makes it good for you, as mentioned in some of the previous posts, something I will write more about later as I discover more. What I wanted to write a bit about this week are some of the advancements made in the technology of the great sport of Golf. I have always had an interest in the technology behind things, which is why I did my degree in Design. Now, I won't be telling you how the sport works etc, ever in these posts as I am sure everyone reading these know a lot more about it than I ever will, but I wanted to write about some interesting tech stuff I found, that hopefully, you will too.
In the past, I saw some screens where a golfer could hit a ball into and it would give you a readout about your statistics etc, electric trundlers and motorized golf carts. This is as far as my awareness of golfing tech stretched. But looking at the recent PGA 2019 merchandise show, it has become clear that there are a lot more being invested in pushing the tech behind the game forward.
Most of us have heard of Google Glass, I am sure, and have at least heard of the term augmented reality or virtual reality by now. For a while now, AR (Augmented Reality) has been used for simulations and virtual tools etc. It seems golfing has a stake in this too! I specialised in Augmented and Virtual Reality at university and I have to say, this seems like a good fit. The tool showcased at the merchandise show was the LiveViewGolf Swing Map and looks similar to Google glass in that it overlays information on the screen in front of your eyes. Apparently it will golfers track all kinds of things about their golf swing, being able to diagnose your form in real-time. For now, it is in the patent-pending stage, but with what I have seen in areas such as surgery and other training tools, this could be a real hit. It really just depends if golfers can make use of it.
Speaking of helping golfers with their swing, apparently, there has been this thing called RoboGolfPro around for a few years now that has recently had a bit of an upgrade. According to what I have read so far, it is vital that golfers develop muscle memory, especially with the swinging action. The RoboGolfPro is a large rig that moves with the golfer to help train this muscle memory. It appears to me like something you might see in the gym, a machine that helps you train a specific muscle. RoboGolfPro creators are claiming to be working on a full-body suit that has sensors to even further help your golf game, assisting you with your stance and a whole range of things. That is if you can afford the current $150 000 price tag.
One thing that I always wondered about is how you get used to actually hitting the ball and not just outright missing it with the swing. Apparently, this is a problem with beginner golfers and another muscle memory thing that needs to be learned. A cool training tool, called the SQRDUP training aid, was showcased that uses a green laser line that shines downward from the bottom of the club, creating a line on the ground. This will allow people learning how to swing to see how far down they still need to go.
Coming back to those simulators I have seen on TV, there has been a lot of advancements made in that sector as well. Most of us have seen the screens that you can hit into, but a really cool thing, created by Full Swing Golf, actually an artificial green that can do a range of amazing things.
Firstly, there are a series of lights that can display all kinds of information directly onto the green so you can see how your stance is, set a line to hit along to see how good your aim is, but even more exciting is that there are a set of actuators built into the floor that allows for the simulation of all kinds of terrain slopes! The lights can also create a sort of topographic map so you can clearly visualise these slopes and train your putting technique perfectly.
These types of simulations are only indoors for now and require an expensive setup that you will only see in good golfing academies, but I feel with the advancements made in Augmented Reality, we might soon see overlays designed for outdoor use. Imagine being able to get live statistics about not only your swing (as with the glasses talked about before), but being able to see target lines as well as topographic lines on the ground around you, specifically set up for how you want to train.
I have only scratched the surface of what is available on the tech side of golfing and will continue to look into it. If I find something else interesting I will write another post about it in the future and starting with this entry, I hope you look forward to some more “Golf Tech” posts.
As always, if there is anything you would like me to write about or you have some suggestions about how I can improve my knowledge about the great game of golf, leave me a message in the comment section below.
Hope you all had a great weekend!