You can’t say you weren’t warned. Since the invention of the pencil, golf has been leaning in towards its numbers, and with the emergence of Big Data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the game is now smarter than it has ever been.
Thanks to rapid advancements in computer science, Artificial Intelligence has hit the sport of golf with a bang. And what AI says is, we are our data, and the numbers never lie. And the numbers are huge, the very embodiment of Big Data. There is no more vivid example in golf than the US PGA Tour’s ShotLink system, which tracks every shot hit every week and produces player data in 653 statistical categories, including the revolutionary strokes gained statistic, a predictive-analytics model that calculates how a player is performing from every place on the course compared to the field.
Over the past few years, in-round stat programs, like those from leaders Arccos and Game Golf, have tracked almost three million rounds and more than 250 million shots, providing amateur golfers with statistical profiles for every club in the bag – something they’ve never been able to get before.
“Golf is one of the better sports for data,” says Game Golf founder and chief executive John McGuire. “It’s very data-driven. Our job is to take the data, contextualise it, and make it useful. Data on its own is no good; data on its own is dry. It’s the stories you tell from the data. That’s what’s relevant.”
To be able to track one’s performance throughout the bag, on any course, in any conditions, and to have that data instant and at your very fingertips is a luxury that’s suddenly a reality for everyone.
“I’m telling you right now, we are 10 years behind every other sport,” said 2018 Memorial Tournament winner Bryson DeChambeau, one of the game’s “geekiest” players. “And I feel like we’re at the forefront of all this technology, all this information, all this stuff that can allow us to play better.”
Now it’s time for you to embrace real-game analysis that used to be reserved for tour stars like DeChambeau. Coupled with scoring, GPS capabilities and gaming options, we suggest you add Arccos 360 or Game Golf Pro to your game. Both systems require you to put small sensors into the ends of your grips. What really is setting this technology on a game-changing path is artificial-intelligence features like Arccos Caddie and the just-released Game Golf Smart Caddie. Using your historical playing data and an ever-expanding universe of other player and course statistics, your phone becomes the smartest caddie that has ever existed, giving you club selection and strategy guides for every hole. The sensors in these devices continue to get smaller and lighter, and the need for carrying a phone in your pocket isn’t even required for Game Golf Pro.
Meanwhile, Arccos 360 uses a high-frequency transmission instead of Bluetooth to communicate with your phone, so your battery life will be better throughout the round. These systems automatically track each shot and keep your score, and the tens of thousands course databases give you distances from anywhere on the course. Both systems give you a score for each part of your game: driving, approach, short game and putting. These devices also give your teacher access to assess your progress and dial in your lessons.
Here’s a closer look at both products and another big mover in performance tracking – Shot Scope – and how they will literally change the way you play golf.
Data is power. Be in control of your game with Shot Scope V2. Developed by a team of elite golfers, V2 automatically collects more than 100 Tour-level statistics, each handpicked to facilitate game improvement.
Meaningful stats, broken down into bite-size data segments for easy analysis makes understanding your game easier than ever. With Shot Scope, data is laid out in interactive graphs and charts so that you can drill down into every aspect of your game. Discover the intricacies of your game and understand how you play like never before. The overview contains average scores and stats for the round versus your season average. The hole view shows which club was used for which shot and the distance of each. This information makes it easy to relive the round and visualise every shot for an accurate analysis.
Lifetime tags allow an unlimited number of clubs to be automatically tracked and compared so that you know what you need in your bag. View the distance and usage of each club, filter by season and compare different clubs of the same type to determine which works best for you. Make informed decisions on the course with data-driven decision making on any shot from any distance.
Shot Scope is coming to Australia soon.
Game Golf Pro
Game Golf Pro, the next generation of Game Golf’s round-tracking club sensor based game analysis tool, is better according to chief executive John McGuire, because it’s smarter, more technologically robust and sleeker than ever.
That’s what two million rounds, users in 137 countries and 60 billion GPS data points can do for you, especially when you throw in the kind of computer chip technology typically reserved only for driverless car technology.
McGuire says the new version, part of five new products in Game Golf’s current lineup, is emblematic of where golf could grow in terms of lasting golfer improvement. He sees the game on cusp of fundamental change in how players and teachers understand how to improve.
“I think we’re starting to see stuff that we haven’t seen in other years,” he said. “We’re all paddling in a small pool at the moment, but I think over time that pool becomes the industry. It’s a cultural change taking place just like when players switched from metal spikes to plastic cleats.
“Change does happen in this industry. And when you see the OEMs getting interested in something like this like TaylorMade and Cobra with Arccos and Cobra Connect, you all of a sudden are going to see a lot of larger companies start to watch this very carefully. I think that’s the start of us breaking out of the small pond that we’re all paddling in out into the larger market.”
The big change in Game Golf’s line up is Game Golf Pro, which has a sleeker, more sophisticated grip sensor to track club use and distance stats. McGuire says the more sensitive sensors, typically found in autonomous car technologies developed for Tesla, are sophisticated enough to determine the difference between a practice swing and a real swing for cleaner data collection.
But the biggest change is the system no longer requires players to tag the belt sensor with the club before hitting a shot. The Game Golf Pro system has the option to be used without a phone.
Game Golf Pro also will feature an artificial intelligence component called Smart Caddie, an idea first seen by Game Golf rival Arccos with its Arccos Caddie. Smart Caddie uses a players’ current data to make club and strategy recommendations on how to play a hole during the round.
“Times change. Disruption happens over time no matter what, and the data side of this can create new models around disruption that are really engaging, advance the sport and attract a younger clientele,” adds McGuire.
The Game Golf Pro system, which includes 14 club sensors and the belt clip pack, is available now.
Visit gamegolf.com for details.
Arccos and Microsoft partnered in January 2017, and the fruits of that partnership, Arccos Caddie, officially hit the market in May this year. The product uses Microsoft’s artificial intelligence to give you advice on what shot to hit. You know, just like a caddie would, except this caddie makes its decisions completely based off of data, and it certainly can’t carry your bag.
It gives you strategy for the hole from the tee by using geotagged data points (which they have on the more than 40,000 courses in their database), forecasted weather, including wind speed and direction, your history of shots recorded with Arccos, and those shots hit by others using Arccos. Instead of you thinking maybe 5-iron is the right play, Arccos Caddie will tell you which club will give you the greatest opportunity for success on the hole.
“Every shot in golf involves a decision-making process, and the caddie’s role has historically been to help you make more intelligent choices. Today, however, less than three percent of players have access to a caddie,” said Sal Syed, chief executive and co-founder of Arccos. “Everyone else is missing out on a crucial source of information that can help inform every shot. With Arccos Caddie, we’re democratising the caddie experience through the power of AI and the Microsoft Azure cloud.”
You need the Arccos system to get the benefits of Arccos caddie, so that involves putting an Arccos sensor into the end of each of your grips. Download the app, and the sensors pair with your phone. The system will track all of your shots, break down and handicap each aspect of your game, give you distances and allow you to play games. And now, it’ll tell you what shot to hit.
Visit arccosgolf.com for more information.