iPhone Golf Apps: Are they the ideal solution, or impractical on the course?

At Gorilla Golf, we take a lot of interest in what our users are interested in an apparently the best iPhone Golf Apps, or Apps for Android devices are amongst the most popular items our readers look for.

Certainly, we’ve used and reviewed many of these products and while many of the golf apps we review are not designed to be used on course, some of the most popular ones are purported to be ideal to have on your iPhone or iPad to take with you out when you play, but is this really the case?




In this article, we are going to focus in on these apps; those that come in many different forms and offer a variety of uses, from scorekeeping and analysis, to distance measurement, rules clarification and more.

The question we ask is do these Android and iPhone apps actually really help you play better, more accurately and more quickly on course, or are they just a gimmick and a tad cumbersome to use in a real-life golfing situation?

Are they likely to be used once and then condemned to sit taking up space on your phone until you delete them, or will they actually be of benefit to the golfer every time they go for a round at the local course?



Having tested these items; here’s what we found:


The Pro’s

  • 1. Judging distance – If you’ve ever wondered whether a shot is 160 or 170 yards, 130 or 140 and constantly underhit or overhit shots, then if your app comes with a GPS system that can tell you how far your next shot is, we have found this extremely useful when it comes to club selection. This is especially the case if your app can measure the distance of your last shot, allow you to input the club you used and then save it so over time, you build up an accurate, on course record of how far you hit each club.


  • 2. Round analysis – When reviewing a round from memory, it can be hard to analyse it meaningfully. However an iPhone app that records the data of your round, how many putts you had, how many times you hit the fairways and greens in regulation (or didn’t), how many times you found the bunker or rough etc, is extremely useful as a diagnostic tool to dissect your game.


  • 3. Rules clarification – Occasionally in golf, especially if you are a beginner, you may need a clarification on a certain rule. Accessing the rules quickly via your iPhone or Android device is a great, quick way to clear up any on course issues you have fairly and quickly.


  • 4. Preview before you play – If you have downloaded an app that has access to thousands of courses around the globe, then we found it useful to preview the course you are playing on through the app. Some apps have excellent descriptions of each hole, the subtle nuances of the green and even how to tackle each hole and where to avoid playing. This is very useful to any golfer seeking to think their way around the course.


The Cons

  • 1. Time – The problem we found with some apps is that the amount of time to input your data at each hole can be time consuming. Especially if the software isn’t particularly intuitive. This can result in slow play at times and be inordinately frustrating for both the user and those playing behind. On the plus side, we have found many apps are increasing in both their ease of use and the speed of use as developers work to improve them.


  • 2. Lack of courses – A common complaint for many users is that they have gone to play a local course and found out that the data for that course doesn’t exist. This is a tad frustrating when you have paid for the app particularly for the courses near your home. Some companies offer you the chance to map your own course and send them the data, or they’ll map it for you for, but there’s no saying how long this will take or if there will be an extra fee involved for the service.


  • 3. Battery – If you use your iPhone or Android device heavily then battery life does become a problem. Using features such as the GPS system to measure the length of your next shot also can drastically reduce battery life and there are many reports of people’s devices running out of battery before they have completed their round. The rule here seems to be to make sure your device is fully charged before heading out to play.


  • 4. Some apps are better than others but in different scenarios – What is patently clear however is that some apps are far better used on course than others, while others are far better when used at home to analyse a round. Frustratingly, these two things seldom are in the same app. We’ve found the best analytical apps tend to be more awkward to use on course, and the better apps used on course, lack the detail in the analysis of your game when you get home.


In conclusion, our advice is that apps can help you improve your game and be of benefit on the course, but it is incumbent upon the user to get to know the app well, learn to use it quickly and then how best to analyse the data it provides.

If you have an iPhone or Android device or similar, they are well worth checking out – see our list of top iPhone golf apps for more details on the ones we’d recommend!


Photo’s courtesy of Surburban Men website and Applie iPhone 5 Facebook page.


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