Golfers love technology. For all the arguments that our game is one steeped in tradition, history and antiquity, the fact remains that to improve our game we embrace technological advances. The development of a new type of golf club that promises straighter, longer shots, a more comfortable form of shoe or a trolley that will take the effort out of walking often means that we are happy to open our wallets at the Pro shop and spend our money year upon year.
The latest technological gizmo to make a convert of thousands of golfers is the golfing “app”. For those of you who still use a Mashie Niblick and think that a hybrid club is a gentleman’s lounge that opens for a ladies night once a month, a golfing “app” is an application that you can download onto your smartphones. Once downloaded, you can then use these applications for a variety of different functions.
nRange Golf GPS
Long gone are the days when the only Blackberry you would see on the golf course would be the tasty variety while you hacked your way through the rough. Apple’s no longer fall from trees, instead both now have their own special pouch for on the latest golf bag.
The reason for this is because of the apps, that have been developed for the phones. There are many available for each type of phone, one being the NRange Golf application for BlackBerry, iPhone and for Android.
Put simply, NRange is a rangefinding and scoring app. What this means is that the software offers you detailed information on 20,000 golf courses, in 22 countries. Furthermore, the designers claim that they are able to get any US golf course mapped for their subscribers in as little as two days.
In short, if the course you are playing is included in the app, you switch on your phone, select your course and immediately, using the phone’s built in GPS system, your phone will be able to tell you the exact yardage of your current shot. Furthermore, you can record your score on the phone and retrieve information based on past rounds to analyse how your game is improving.
In short, it does much of what a caddy does, short of hauling your clubs around the green and admonishing you for missing a relatively simple approach to the green.
The cost for this app? The initial download and first three courses are free, after that you can opt to pay for any additional course information you would like adding.
If you are willing to pay for the app, then you can get yourself something a little more in depth. The iPhone and Android GolfShot GPS (Global Positioning System) App reviews have been almost unanimously favourable. For many it is the perfect golfing app for the iPhone featuring 35,000 courses worldwide, satellite imaging, accurate measurements of shot distance, scoring facilities and ease of use. In short, if you use your iPhone on a golf course, you are probably likely to want this app. The cost is $29.99, which considering how much of a battering a credit card can take at a Pro Shop, is excellent value for money.
The question is though; do these range finders, phone apps and other technological advances really help your game?
Certainly, there are drawbacks. Somehow, recording your score with a pen and pencil just seems right on a golf course. Calling from your mobile telephone is forbidden at many clubs. While using it in as a GPS system may seemingly not contravene these regulations, it is sometimes frowned upon and it may make some people feel uneasy.
It is easy, however, to see the appeal of not having to scrabble around for a pencil at the start of every round, and keeping score in the wet is much easier on a phone than on a slowly deteriorating piece of card.
But the real joy and benefit of these items comes from yardage. The GPS qualities mean that even the novice hacker has an increasing awareness of the importance of yardage. There is no “this looks like an eight iron…” with the GPS system, you know which club to hit. There are many clubs which forbid the use of these aides during competitions.
Golfing apps are just the latest technological advancement on the golf course. Like many other advances, the traditionalists will fiercely resist them, but as long as people see the scores starting to improve, there will always be a market for the next new golfing app.
Editor: I use the IPhone Golfshot GPS – it is accurate and really does help with club selection. On the other hand, I do feel a little geeky using it and my buddies don’t hesitate to give me a ration of grief… As for scoring and keeping a record of your shots (putting, driving, etc.) – it has a complete program for that as well – but I find it a little cumbersome for the time being. As for the cost – it is a great deal as compared with the handheld GPS systems on the market, if you already have an IPhone.
Image by nRange