For all your tech-loving and gadget-craving golf friends, we’ve rounded up a list of great products that make for thoughtful and fun gifts that improve your game.
BEST LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $5,000
AT OUR 2023 Equipment Hot List summit, which took place in Arizona last November, Rapsodo paired its second-generation mobile launch monitor, MLM2Pro with iPads and Android tablets to give testers instant feedback on the shots they hit.
“We’re proud to be the official launch monitor of the Hot List,” said Shawn Curtis, director of golf at Rapsodo. “The MLM2Pro is jam-packed with innovation, features, fun, data, video, and insights that enhance the practice and play experience, both indoors and outdoors.”
Indeed, it does. The MLM2Pro delivers measured performance data including clubhead speed, launch angle and ball speed, plus calculates readings such as smash factor, descent angle, carry and total distance. Players can also program the type of ball they’re using (premium or range ball) and location elevation for hyper-accurate results.
“Being able to check shot-performance data in real time improves our process,” said Stina Sternberg, vice-president of digital content for Golf Digest. “Our testers, who give carefully-considered scores on a number of Hot List criteria, can certainly see and feel whether a club is working for them, but getting confirmation via the MLM2Pro helps.”
Besides being a high-end launch monitor, the MLM2Pro also functions as an at-home golf simulator. Users can play up to 30,000 different courses, including some Major-championship venues, and they can practise indoors using the “3D virtual range”. The simulation package is as sleek, cool and fun as it sounds, in part because Rapsodo partnered with some of the top developers in golf sim to add this feature to the device.
The MLM2Pro is engineered with a built-in two-camera system and Doppler radar. The high-speed “impact vision” camera captures impact (240 frames per second) and initial ball flight. This allows users to see slow-motion GIFs at impact, making it crystal clear whether they’ve struck it dead-centre, or towards the heel or toe. The camera can even measure spin rate and spin axis when the player hits specially-designed Callaway Chrome Soft X RPT (Rapsodo Precision Technology) balls. Although it’s possible to collect the data outdoors, the process of retrieving the balls is easier when hitting into an indoor net. Either way, the custom pattern printed on the ball’s cover makes it possible to track the Chrome Soft X from impact.
“Accurate spin axis readings are imperative for indoor measurements and we believe the accuracy provided by the MLM2Pro isn’t currently available on any other device in its price range,” Curtis said.
BEST SWING TRAINING AID
GForce Swing Trainers
I’m not normally one for swing trainers or practice aids. I find some to be a bit gimmicky and have long been a subscriber to the theory that ‘the secret’s in the dirt’.
However, I had the chance to do some pre-testing research about the GForce swing-trainer clubs before they arrived, so when they did show up I knew what to expect. Still, when I used them the first time, I was only game to venture to my golf club’s practice nets at first, for fear of where errant balls might fly. The shafts of GForce clubs are ultra-whippy – intentionally, of course – but that doesn’t alleviate the initial fear factor.
My first few shots into the nets were terrible. I struck them thin and it wasn’t easy on those early swings to adjust to the light and whippy shaft that completely alters the overall weight of the club in your hands. But that sensation didn’t last long.
At first, I swung it like a regular club, which revealed a lot about my tempo and sequencing. As such, it took only about five swings before I was flushing the GForce 7-iron, because it forced me to start my swing a lot more slowly and to sequence my motion a lot better. My confidence grew. Nothing changed once I left the nets and went to the practice fairway. I was flushing it there as well.
Very quickly, I could see how the GForce clubs work and what I had to concentrate on. By only ‘accepting’ swings with the right tempo and sequencing, the club coaches you into making only the right movements.
I will definitely warm up with this club before each round because it helps groove the right tempo. I’m a golfer who is prone to snatching the club back from address or transitioning too fast from the top of the backswing – or both. The GForce clubs train you to correct your tempo and sequencing.
Switching to the GForce 55-degree wedge, I managed quality strikes from the outset, thanks to my swing feeling ‘grooved’ by the GForce 7-iron. I tried several full swings, half-shots and chips around the practice green and the results were the same. Even with shorter swings, I still found I had to get the motion correct to make proper contact.
Conceptually, I liken the GForce clubs to how some golf clubs cut ultra-small holes in their practice putting greens – ones that are only just big enough to fit a golf ball in them. The idea there is: if you can hole putts to cups that size, you can sink them easily to a regular-sized hole. It’s the same with these clubs: if you can hit good shots with the GForce clubs, you’ll find it will seem like a piece of cake to strike your regular clubs. Order yours at gforcegolf.com – STEVE KEIPERT
BEST TURF-CARE SOLUTION
Everyone knows plants need water to survive, but have you ever considered why that is?
Anyone who has spent time on golf courses will have noticed the impacts of underwatering and overwatering on the turf. It is intuitive that with irrigation, more water would produce better results, but this is clearly not the case when sustained rainfall sees grass drowning in the soil. We now know that this negative impact is caused by the turf absorbing all the available oxygen in the water, and then suffocating as the oxygen-depleted water traps the roots and prevents new water containing oxygen from penetrating.
Fundamentally, the most important reason why we irrigate turf is to harness the ability of water to carry oxygen to the roots of the plant. Higher oxygen levels in water are known to improve the plant’s ability to create energy through photosynthesis, develop new roots, resist pests and diseases, utilise nutrients in the soil and withstand environmental and mechanical stresses. These are all important characteristics for turf, especially on golf courses that are constantly subjected to the impacts of weather, the seasons and players.
After witnessing these impacts on courses across Sydney, an emerging technology has become the frontrunner in solving these perennial problems. Nanobubble Technology’s Sports Turf Solution is a proprietary system that can increase oxygen levels in irrigation water from all sources, including dams, lakes and bores. The system works by creating nanoscopic-sized bubbles of oxygen gas in the water. The diameter of the bubbles is about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, meaning they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Due to their incredibly small size, the bubbles remain stable in the water, without floating to the surface and popping like the visible bubbles we are more familiar with. This gives nanobubbles the unique ability to hold more oxygen in water and hold it for longer than traditional methods like jet aerators and paddlewheels. Over time, these bubbles eventually release their contained oxygen into the soil, making it available for the turf to absorb.
As this technology essentially allows the use of gasses in a liquid form, the potential applications of nanobubbles are almost limitless. Nanobubbles can also be used with other gases besides oxygen to achieve different effects. The use of the gas ozone in nanobubbles has been studied for many years in food safety, pest control and wastewater to eliminate pathogens and bacteria that can cause problems for organic systems. The best part about using ozone nanobubbles instead of ozone gas for these purposes is the ozone naturally converts to normal oxygen with no chemical residues, off-gas or waste products after it has been used. It is known that irrigation water with low oxygen levels provides an ideal environment for growth of Pythium on courses. Outbreaks of organisms such as Pythium have been effectively treated with our nanobubble technology showing eradication of the pathogen, reducing the need to replant turf and also mitigating the risk of spread to unaffected areas.
Through increasing the amount of oxygen held by the irrigation water, the wholistic benefits to the whole course are displayed. Factors such as temperature, weather and seasonality that can wreak havoc on even the most well-maintained courses can be mitigated by the constant provision of high-oxygen water to the turf. The impacts from the fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals used on courses for a variety of reasons are also reduced through ensuring oxygen levels remain elevated regardless of conditions. Many greenkeepers using NBT’s Sports Turf Solution note that the turf requires the use of less chemicals, fertilisers, and mechanical aeration when this balance is re-established. Additionally, it enables courses to maintain a more consistent level of quality throughout the year regardless of the season or climatic conditions faced across Australia.
Nanobubble Technology’s Sports Turf Solutions is operating at leading Australian golf courses, and the company continues to work in partnership with the University of New South Wales and other research institutions on more ways to improve water quality using this novel technique. Visit nanobubble.com.au for more information.
BEST GAMING APP
Amateur Golf Challenge
It’s time to put your clubs down for a minute, pick up your mobile phone, and get the Amateur Golf Challenge (AGC), the hottest golf gaming app taking Australia by storm.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie to the game, AGC’s immersive and exciting golf challenges are perfect for golfers of all stripes. And the best part? You don’t need to worry about burglars, sandbaggers or club heroes trying to steal your victory because, in AGC, the winning is all down to you. Say goodbye to boring club comp rewards and hello to the thrill of backing yourself in any strokeplay, matchplay and Stableford competitions across Australia. And if your round is a winner, you could take home up to $1,000! This app will have you feeling like a pro. But that’s not all – AGC’s seamless and exclusive integration with Golf Link and Golf Australia means you can simply play golf as you normally would, and AGC will receive your scores as they are published by Golf Australia.
With AGC’s user-friendly interface and intuitive design, signing up and using the app is a breeze. And it’s available for download on both iOS and Android devices, so get it and start playing anytime, anywhere. For more information, check out playagc.com
BEST HOME SIMULATOR PACKAGES
24/7 Golf Simulators
Are you a golf enthusiast looking to improve your game and have some fun? Look no further than a 24/7 Golf simulator fitted with the all-new Rapsodo MLM2 Pro launch monitor. Not only does the MLM2 Pro offer advanced tracking capabilities (see our Best Mobile Launch Monitor, on page 61) and an easy-to-use interface, it also makes setting up a 24/7 golf simulator a breeze. With the MLM2 Pro at the centre of your setup, you can have a high-quality simulator that is available to you 24/7, without ever having to leave your house.
To make your set-up complete you’ll need a few additional items, including a hitting net, mat and projector or screen. Through 24/7 Golf, these items are all readily available and easy to find, making it simple to create a fully functional golf simulator in your home.
You’ll have the ability to play virtual rounds on famous courses, practice on a driving range or work on your short game at any time of day or night. And with the advanced tracking features of the MLM2 Pro, you’ll have all the data you need to analyse and improve your game in real-time. Visit 24-7.golf for more information.
BEST GAME ANALYSER
In this day when data about your game is readily available, you’re putting yourself 2 down on the first tee if you’re not taking advantage of it. The leader in tracking your game, Arccos, is like having a caddie on your phone – and on your bag – complete with a yardage book GPS-co-ordinated to that particular day and all its weather conditions, giving you distances from every conceivable and inconceivable location on the property.
Arccos Caddie uses GPS-enabled sensors that either attach unobtrusively to the butt end of your clubs or are embedded in otherwise normal-looking grips to track your round. That’s every shot hit with every club. When you pair it with your phone, it provides club recommendations based on a myriad of metrics. It provides a suite of statistics (yes, the tour standard strokes-gained metrics are in there) so you know everything from how bad your bunker game is to how you’re hitting your 5-iron farther than your 4-iron. In short, it tells you just where in your game (driving, approach, short game, putting) the issues are and how much you need to improve to reach your goal.
The new Arccos Link allows users to track their shots without using their phone. The wearable device is small and lightweight, weighing less than 25 grams, and clips to a golfer’s belt or side pocket. The Link is compatible with iPhone and Android devices and is weather-resistant with a battery life of up to 10 hours and quickly charges via a standard micro USB cable (included). Check out arccosgolf.com for more.
BEST LAUNCH MONITOR UNDER $10,000
Full Swing KIT
Analysing your golf swing is essential if you want to improve your game. Even 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods has been using his own metrics to evaluate his swing. Now, he’s added a new tool to his arsenal, the Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor from Big Swing Golf, to track every swing he makes. And now, you can use the same launch monitor to track your golf swing and improve your game.
The Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor uses Doppler radar-based technology to track ball flight. It tracks 16 data points, including ball speed, clubhead speed, launch angle, spin rate, face angle, ball-flight apex, carry distance, and total distance. Up to four of those metrics are displayed on an OLED screen on the compact unit. The device is portable and can be easily stored in a golf bag.
The Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor is not only accurate but also affordable. Priced at $7,999, it’s a fraction of the cost of other well-known ball-tracking gadgets.
Woods himself has given the Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor his seal of approval, stating that he worked closely with Full Swing to make sure it was the most powerful and consistent launch monitor that he could trust his game with.
The Full Swing KIT provides visual and audio feedback in real-time, displaying analytics in useful charts, graphs, and metrics. It also has an inbuilt Full HD 1080p 60fps camera that records every golf swing you take. You can play back your swings anytime and share them with your friends, instructors, and golf coaches. Plus, with full access to historical data from every shot you have taken, you can track and monitor your progression.
The Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor is easy to set up and use. Just place it 10 feet behind the ball and have eight feet of ball flight to your net or screen to start playing. You can pair it with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple AirPods for live analytics and the complete suite of features. Connectivity is available via Bluetooth and WiFi.
To get started, all you need is your Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor, an iPhone or iPad, and a paid e6 Connect subscription.
With the most connected app in golf, you can access every data point from any session and use the information to improve your golf game.
Order your own Full Swing KIT Launch Monitor now via bigswinggolf.com.au