Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Golf’s New Gamification

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Anybody watch that little ol’ college basketball game last night between Louisville and Michigan? 

Whoa.  Talk about saving the best for last.  “The end of the road,” indeed.

Hats off to Louisville to reaching and staying number one, especially after the first half of the final, when I thought Michigan might be running away with the show!

Now that the Final Four is over, I can give my undivided attention to my favorite sport, the game of golf.

For the longest time, golf has been a sport that has exalted in its traditions and basked in its conservatism, technological and otherwise. 

But in order to keep the sport vibrant, everyone from golfing bodies to entrepreneurs are finding new ways of introducing, bolstering, and sharing information about the sport.

Yesterday in Augusta, chairman Billy Payne inaugurated a new “Drive, Chip and Putt Championship” for youngsters ages 7-15, which will hold its first finals at Augusta National just prior to next year’s Masters.

And though we’ve seen remarkable technology evolution with regards to playing equipment on the golf course, I think we’re just getting going in terms of using data and analytics to help the amateur golfer.

I’ve been using a product called “GolfshotGPS” for some time now to help me conduct some basic analysis of my golf game, but let’s face it, having to do data entry on the golf course takes time away from playing and enjoying the scenery.

Enter “GAME GOLF,” an outfit that originated in Galway, Ireland and who are working to bring more sophisticated analytics more easily to the game of golf, and doing so in a way where we mere amateurs will be able to “compete with the likes of PGA veterans like Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood (two pros who have done early prototype development of GAME GOLF’s technology.)

The idea is simple: Using GAME GOLF’s small wireless hub and a set of golf club “tags,” one for each club in a golfer’s bag, GAME will analyze all the critical elements of one’s golf game.  Think of it as having RFID tags on every one of your golf clubs.

GAME records every club used, every swing made, every yard covered in each round, WITHOUT pausing play to enter info into your Android device.

Then, GAME calculates key statistics: Scoring, number of putts, greens in regulation, driving accuracy, and so forth.  

But GAME doesn’t just give YOU, the golfer, data.  Golf is at its essence a competitive sport you play against yourself and others, so GAME will also share your performance with friends on social networks, and also help connect you with other golfers on GAME’s network.

I can tell you from having analyzed my own game with the limited data I’ve had access to, I’ve been able to improve my game (although improving my “mechanics” was where I saw my biggest improvement). 

Golf is an iterative game when it comes to improving, but the smallest of tweeks can have relatively big payoffs (Steve Stricker’s recent putting advice for Tiger Woods, by way of example).

If you know you’re 3 putting 60% of the holes you play…well, I hate to tell you, but you probably ought to head out right now and spend some significant time on the putting green.

But it’s the “fantasy” aspect of GAME that serves up the most intrigue for me. What if Tiger and Brent and Bubba and others also started using GAME during their Tour events, and now suddenly I and my fantasy golf friends could start competing directly with the pros in “virtual” matches.

First, yes, me and my amateur friends, we’d lose, and big time.

But, with the proper handicap adjustments, suddenly we find ourselves on the first tee at Augusta the first Thursday of April with Tiger and Phil, shaking in our boots and hoping we don’t kill someone in the fairway with our first drive.

You can learn more about GAME GOLF in the video below.  There’s currently a crowdsourcing fundraiser that has been extended to April 15th.

It’s too early to tell if this will be a golf GAME changer or not, but I think with golf, more information is always better than less.

GAME GOLF seems to provide just enough new information (without hassle in acquiring it) that has the potential to make me a better golfer, and to make the game that much more fun. 

Who can argue with that?

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

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