In the pages of Gorilla Golf, we have already taken a look at some of the best (and some of the worst!) iPhone and iPad golf apps available today and while there is seemingly a new app every few days promising to turn the high handicapper into a formidable golfing talent at the touch of a screen, are these apps actually any use when you venture out onto a real life golf course?
- Firstly that the app you are using is user friendly. Nothing is likely to alienate your playing partners, or those queuing up behind you, if you are taking an extra minute or two over every shot because you ‘just need to find the right menu to put the information about that last shot in’. For an app to be useful on a golf course it has to be as quick and easy to use as filling in a scorecard, or consulting your yardage book (if you use one!).
- Secondly, the app needs to be be able to analyse the data you put into it and relate that to you in a meaningful way over time. So you can see if your putts per round are decreasing, if your length from the tee is increasing and how many greens in regulation you are hitting compared to six months or a year ago.
- Thirdly, if you are going to take your iPhone and especially your iPad out onto the course with you, then you must have somewhere safe to store it. It may well be more practical, safer and quicker to note down information on the scorecard or in a notebook and input it into the device at home (particularly if you are not using any GPS related features).
Fortunately, there are many iPhone and iPad golf apps that fulfil the first two criteria and they can provide useful information for the golfer, allowing them to ascertain valuable feedback from it. The question is, how can golfers use the feedback to improve their game and the answer is that there are several ways in which the information provided by iPhone and iPad golf apps can help beginners improve their game, namely;
1. Accurate yardages (Suggested App: Golfshot Golf GPS £20.99)
Many amateurs will have a rough idea how far they can hit each of their clubs, but unfortunately these figures are often ‘best guess’ estimates based on how well they hit one particular drive, out of hundreds of others, on the driving range, with the wind behind them, on a good day.
Knowing how far you can hit each club consistently is one of the secrets to lowering your golf scores – it is certainly why professionals know to the centimetre how far they can hit each club and why caddies are sent to walk around the golf course before play to take yardage readings. By using a GPS enabled iPhone or iPad app, that accurately measures your shots, you can build up a clear picture of how far you hit each club and store this information.
Thus, not only do you have accurate yardages between tee and green given to you, but you will also know which club to use based on previous play to get there. Obviously, these items cannot be used in competition play, but on practice and social rounds they can provide invaluable feedback to the beginner about the state of their game.
2. Scorekeeping and analysis (Suggested App: Golf Genie Tee to Green Pro)
Arguably the most common method people use iPhone and iPad apps on a golf course is to keep a record of their score. The better golf apps will not just record your strokes on each hole, but will also record the number of putts you make, ask if you hit the fairway and the green in regulation (and in the future, they may be able to access GPS systems to measure the distance of each shot).
Over time, this builds up into an invaluable profile of your golf game, showing you clearly which aspects of your game you will need to improve upon. Too many wayward drives? Too many three-putts? Too many shots not reaching the green? These statistics are all stored in your handy gadget, ready for you to use to identify where you need to work harder on your game at the range or with your teaching professional.
3. Rulings (Suggested App: Rules of Golf)
Golf, as we know, is essentially a simple game. Get the ball in the hole in as few a shot as possible. However, there are times when situations arise on the course and you need to consult the Rules of golf. There are apps available that will allow you to find the correct ruling for your situation in seconds, allowing you to play to the rules quickly and efficiently.
4. Swing recording (Suggested App: Golf SwingPlaneHD)
You don’t even need to be on the course to gain benefits from some apps. There are a few available that will create a movie of your swing and then will allow you to compare it with the swing of a top professional golfer, such as Rory McIlroy or Luke Donald.
This will allow you (or ideally, a professional) to analyse the movement and suggest fundamental changes to your swing, which will hopefully eradicate any detrimental effects and accentuate a clean, fluid motion, leading to cleaner hitting and better ball striking on a more consistent basis.