Back in 1998, the best technological advancement in golf was EA Sports’ Tiger Woods video game series. Fortunately for those non-gamers among us, the game has moved on considerably since then. We now have robotic trolleys, lightweight clubs, laser & GPS rangefinders and indoor virtual driving ranges. But how much has technology changed the game we love and what is likely to happen in the future?
We caught up with Anthony Douglas, a man in the know as founder and CEO of Hole19, an online platform that connects the world of golf, to get his views.
Without a doubt technology has impacted golf for the better. We see it in every aspect of the game, from clothing to coaching and, despite its very traditional and historical origins, the game of golf has embraced technology. Quite frankly, it had to.
Fundamental to the adoption of technology, regardless of the area of golf it addresses, are two key propositions: it must make your on-course golf experience great and help improve your game. Chances are, if it does those two things, you’ve either already used it, or are likely to do so in the future.
Even as recently as this year, the launch of the Apple Watch brought another dimension to how we can use technology. Now, instead of shouting at your friend on the other side of the fairway to gauge distance, you can simply use GPS, synched to an app on your phone and glance down at your wrist. Easy. For those who have embraced the use of this type of technology, the days of guessing distance to the front, middle and back of the green are long gone. Even for those that still struggle, apps can personalise golf lessons depending on your performance.
In spite of all the advancements made, there is still more that can be done to reinvigorate the game for digital natives. To them, the adoption of technology isn’t a development, it’s natural. How the industry moves forward from here will be key in exposing a younger audience into the game to safeguard the future of the sport.
The biggest challenge with the we want to address is, ‘how can we reduce slow play’? This is where we see technology playing a key role. Regardless of the advances in equipment, course design or products like buggies and automated trollies, a round still takes around four hours. How could we speed to this up? If we could even take 15 or 20 minutes off a round, just imagine what that could do in terms of increasing revenue for the clubs and helping encourage a growth in participation rates.
The day will come, not far from now when, at the touch of a screen, you have a system that connects golfers to each other and the clubs to provide a seamless, engaging and complete experience. It will tell you when a lesson is due, what you should be working on, which course is best to hone the skills learnt in that lesson, books your tee time, orders refreshments directly to you, on demand, on the course and then feeds the results of your round back to you and the instructor to start the process all over again.
It stops short of cleaning your clubs, but you get the gist.
The Hole19 app is just the next stage of golf tech, which is now available for download through Google play and App Store. With over 35,000 course maps available, GPS tracking and real-time data analytics, Hole19 may become a fan favourite for serious as well as new golfers. Try it out, and get the latest and greatest golf technology integrated into your game. Get it here: Hole19