It’s the twenty first century and data, statistics, digital platforms and devices are increasingly influencing our everyday lives. So thank goodness we can leave that all sciencey stuff behind on the golf course to take a break from all pervasive big tech. Or can we?
At this point I have to declare my bias. For most of my ‘career’ – a noun that flatters the string of loosely related jobs on my CV – I have scratched a living in the tech industry so I have developed a generally positive attitude to all things tech. And yet I also love the traditions and challenges of the age-old manual process of getting out into the elements and trying to hit a small ball across a field and into a slightly larger hole in the ground. So how is the fourth industrial revolution of data transformation and intelligent algorithms wheedling their way into my analogue golf game? Well, quite a lot actually.
For a start, I use a website and their integrated online booking system to book my tee time. That data feeds into my club’s system so they can monitor course utilisation and run their business. And when I submit a scorecard or upload my score from a phone, my numbers are crunched and handicap indexes are calculated. Oh, and let’s not forget the massive data processing exercise that’s consumed the introduction of the new World Handicap System.
My most obvious use of data is my GPS golf watch that lets me know how disappointingly short I hit each shot compared to the pros, let alone Bryson DeChambeau. More on him later. However, the ball I play with and the clubs I use (including my PuttBANDIT), have all been designed, tested, manufactured, marketed, advertised, stocked, shipped and delivered using huge volumes of data and automation.
When I got fitted for those clubs, every data point was measured by the pro with swing path and ball flight analysis comparing a range of different club manufacturers, cast and forged heads, shaft flexes and the resulting ball flight. I was even fitted with a harness with a matrix of accelerometers that digitally recreated every swing motion. And when you go for a pro lesson you’ll probably get a similar analysis to show cause and effect, building a personal data profile that indicates where and how you can achieve improvement.
Grass roots technology
Even the courses we play are relying on increasing levels of technology from turf monitoring, fertiliser application, seeding, weather prediction, irrigation system control, course management and maintenance scheduling. You can even monitor and control the location, movement and operation of the mowing machines.
Next generation of inspiration
For some, data has become a massive element of their game. Data-driven golfers, like Bryson, have totally embraced data to understand how they can achieve incremental gains to improve their performance, going well beyond gym training and nutrition.
Tiger may have inspired a generation of golfers to focus on their fitness and athleticism. And now the likes of Bryson are building on Tiger’s inspiration with a data-driven approach in addition to athletic discipline. In fact Bryson is taking his physique to another level entirely, bulking up to hit it faster, harder and longer.
So, has Bryson inspired me? The answer is a definite yes. With a pre-round bacon sandwich (with butter) and my GPS watch, I’m all set to measure those 400 yard drives post lockdown. Old dogs – new tricks? Woof!
Enjoy your game
Tell us about your views and approach to utilising technology for your golf game. Email your tech tips to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll mention some of the most interesting in our monthly newsletter.
Paul Hart is a founding director of PuttBANDIT Ltd, co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT Ball Marker and enthusiastic improver. Paul now plays off a handicap index of 11.9 and prefers HP sauce on bacon. Other dietary options are available.