Golf, like most of the world’s best pastimes, is a statto’s dream.
Percentage of fairways hit, greens in regulation, average number of putts taken per round, scrambling percentage – you can lose yourself for hours in the minutiae of your game. But only, of course, if you’ve got access to the relevant details.
Game Golf is a neat GPS system that tracks all those stats and more, using a bijou unit that clips on your belt – and just a bit of added user input.
So, if you’ve ever fancied knowing how far you actually hit each club (rather than relying on that optimistic estimate you tell your mates) as well as keeping track of every shot you ever play, this could be the gadget for you.
Teeing it up
Game Golf comes in a smart box: along with the main unit, there are 18 tags for your golf clubs (14 for the set you play with and four spares). Then there’s a cable to link the unit to your PC or Mac for uploading each round and charging the battery.
You need to set up an account on the Gamegolf website and download software to your computer. Then input some details about the clubs you use, and you’re good to go. It’s an encouragingly simple procedure.
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Swing when you’re winning
In principle, Game Golf is very easy to use. Before each shot, tag the club you are going to use by placing the handle, with its appropriate red tag in the butt, next to the unit on your belt. A reassuring beep and a vibration let you know that the tag has been logged. Then play your shot as usual, remembering to hold your pose on a good one. When you get to your ball, the tagging of the next club you use tells the system how far your first shot went – and the collecting of those juicy stats begins.
A word of warning: we were disconcerted to discover just how taxing it can be at first to remember to tag the club before each shot. It’s not a disaster if you forget (you can add shots to the system later on), and you soon get used to the process, but expect it to be a couple of rounds before the action becomes second nature.
This is where that added user input we mentioned comes in. Each round needs to be uploaded to your computer and the Game Golf site, so you can then access your collated stats over your computer or smartphone. Before you finalise your round, you will want to check things carefully. For it is here that you can add those shots that you didn’t tag out on the course, and make sure the unit tallies with your scorecard. It is here, too, that some shortcomings of the GPS system become clear.
GPS is accurate only to within a few feet, so you will find yourself dragging your shots back onto the teebox (or edge of the fairway, perhaps) if the system has moved you off line. It’s worth taking time with this process as once you finalise your round, there’s no going back. You could change every single shot if you want to – a true test of a golfer’s character.
The more data the system has, the more accurate the information you will get out of it. Over time, Game Golf will let you know the true distances you hit each club, your driving accuracy or lack thereof (along with stats on where you’re missing), your approach shot accuracy from various distances and so on.
Apart from being fascinating in its own right, this information can also act as an invaluable training tool. If you can spot certain trends in your play, you will be better able to judge which parts of your game need improvement and work. You should then also be able to see your stats, and your game, improving before your eyes.
The 19th hole
Game Golf is also keen to create its own community of golfers. To that end, you can search for fellow golfers to see what they’ve been up to – and also set up and enter various challenges. These are varied and might include average driving distance, number of fairways hit, greens in regulation over a number of rounds etc. You can also compare stats with other players: Ryder Cup protagonists Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Jim Furyk are brand ambassadors, so it’s the matter of a click or two to see how your driving stats compare with the pros. Possibly a bit more encouraging would be to line up a few mates you might have a chance of impressing once in a while.
This community aspect is a nice enough bonus to Game Golf, but for us it’s very much 19th hole relaxation, compared with the on-course action that is the behemoth of stats collection.
Game Golf Verdict
Game Golf is on to a winner. It’s new tech, and there have been frequent improvements to the software and stats in the few months the product has been on sale.
The GPS technology has innate shortcomings. But as long as you’re prepared to put in a bit of effort when you’re finalising your round (and we confess to rather enjoying that part of the process), the statistics you’ll get out of this little unit will be fascinating and – far more importantly – useful in improving your game.