There is no doubt in technology being part of helping to draw in new golfers…and I for one am very excited about it. There is a lot drawing down golf right now but on the most part the New Stuff of golf is really helping golfers, new and old, enjoy the game more.
Things Helping Golf
Here is my Top Five Tech devices that have helped golf and introduced non-golfer to the game of golf.
LCD HD Televisions
This one is a no brainier. Not since the first color TV’s in the mid- 70’s arrived has anything outside of standing on the golf course cleared up what non-golfers see of the game of golf. I am sure you have seen these large screen pieces of of eye candy hanging one after another in appliance stores or in sports bars, but nothing compared to one sitting in your living room watching golf in High Definition.
As someone who spent 30 years managing a graphic art operation I am pretty critical when it comes to digital processing and over the years golf on TV has been very, very disappointing. The criticism of golf being boring to watch could be contributed to the analog pictures we have been seeing for more than 50 years. An entire generation or two have seen golf in one dimension and if you are not a golfer it was impossible to understand what the concept of what was being seen
Now with HD broadcasting, if you have a large enough screen, it gives you a feeling of actually standing in the fairway with he players. GONE are the golf shots that seemingly go off to the Right (for right handed golfers) and then mysteriously land next to the hole. Now, through high pixelization of the viewing screen you can actually SEE the ball as it was actually hit from the camera they place directly behind the players. With digital processing the camera can actually track the ball going in its true direction and flight.
Recently, I was invited to attend a Sunday afternoon social of which I was the only golfer out of 50 people who attended. As the case with casual gatherings go the television is left on for conversation…in this case the hostess wanted to show off her New 60″ LCD HD Flatscreen TV. As part of the socializing she wanted to show people the difference in HD broadcasting and regular broadcasts. That day she popped over to GOLF on the Golf Channel.
The quality of the picture naturally caught everyone’s eye. What I was amazed with was the non-golfers in the room actually started watching the Golf and discovering things they did not see the last time they watched golf on TV.
It was not long before the host, knowing I am the only golfer in the room, asked if I could give the group an explanation of what they were seeing and more about the game. This offered me an unusual opportunity to explain from the screen what they are seeing and the breakdown to them visually the difficulty of shots the professional golfers are able to pull off. This would have been impossible to do with non-HD broadcasting.
The narrow fairways are now seen in their true depth. The sloping greens can now be better understood and now with being able to clearly track the flight of the ball….well, needless to say, these non-golfers interest in golf changed from that one device. If this is taking place all around the world I can see that the HD TV is the number one tech device to get the non-golfers to take the next step and actually head out to a golf course to learn to play. This is GOOD for golf.
Number 2 on my list of Tech devices that is helping golf is the Golf Simulators. Yes, those virtual golf cages are the next step in introducing golf to the geek and non-geek alike. I will have to say that the first versions of the virtual golf simulators really stretched a golfers imagination with the low quality resolutions and the fact that you have to stand mostly in the dark to hit a ball that has a spot light on it.
Now, with the age of technology the simulators are starting to get a little closer to reality and project a golf feel. The new simulators have spurred the interest of the curious non-golfers to step out of the theater and onto the tee box to actually see if what they did in the cage translated into reality. In most cases it does not which opens the door to the golf instructors who are using the golf simulators as a teaching device for these newbies to the game of golf.
These tech devices are working to bring in another type of non-golfer to the game which is good for golf.
Custom Club Fitting is number 3 on my list of tech devices helping golf. Gone are the days when the beginner or average golfer only had access to Off The Shelf golf clubs. Now, using the latest in engineering techniques, golf club manufacturers can feature every possible configuration of their clubs in one place instead of a picture in a catalog.
One of the most frustrating things I have found from the many, many beginner golfers I run into is their inability to feel comfortable over the ball when they are trying to hit. Discounting their swing flaw they naturally are going to have, over 90% of those people I spoke with had miss-fitted clubs. There were women swinging men’s clubs that were too long for them and tall men swinging junior clubs also in the mix. The reasons were too many to reveal here, but boiled down to them not knowing there was a right and wrong fit to a golf club.
Today, almost every place golf clubs are legally retailed there is a fitting Cart for at least one, if not all, golf club manufacturers. And each of them have adapted the Screw On Clubheads. So not only can the right weights and lengths be determined but now the right shaft can be configured in the fitting. This feat of technology is not only providing the club manufacturers the opportunity to get a closer fit, but it is building a higher level of confidence in the new golfer. It is removing from their thoughts that the club is the problem in why they can’t hit the ball and they can quickly move on to getting expert instruction on their golf swing. The new and easier club fitting is now helping bring and keep golfers into the game and this is good for golf.
Video Swing Analysis
My number 4 tech device that has helped golf is the innovation and acceptance by teaching pros everywhere of the Video Swing Analysis. Gone are the days when the teaching pro spits out a half dozen instructions like, “taxi up to the ball more”, “Bring that Chick-wing in a little” and “you need to Hit to First Base more”….Yes, these are actually just a few of the things I have been told or have overheard instructors over the years describe to their students on their golf swing. Now that can be explained better in a video of their swing.
Technology now has the ability to take simultaneous videos from a number of angles of a golfer’s swing..and take those video’s just about anywhere. The old adage of a “picture is worth a 1000 words” is amplified in the golf instruction world with the video. I have many opportunities to have my swing videoed and then broken down to me so I can place those visions in my head so my brain can better understand how to solve the swing problems. And YES…I have had a few instructors just turn the monitor around to face me and say…”can you now see what I see?!?!”…
Yes, video analysis has been around for awhile, but NOW…..the technology can be a two way street where the student and instructor can be in different parts of the world communicating on the internet. This makes getting the same consistent teaching from the same instructor a possibility especially if the student is out of town or moved to another part of the world. It also allows for the golf teaching to expand beyond the driving range and bring it indoors during bad weather. This helps keep the golfer’s interest going towards wanting to improve their game. This is good for golf.
The number 5 Tech thing on my list is the most controversial but most innovative for both new golfers and salty veterans. The controversy is minimal since it is based on the traditional golfers feeling it takes away for the experience of playing the game from experience and eye sight to determine the distance a player needs to hit the ball. It is this lack of experience (an maybe eye sight) that frustrates a lot of newbies golfers since they are not completely aware of how far they can (or cannot) hit the ball.
This lack of experience results in lack of confidence which leads to hesitation or underestimation of their abilities. This leads to pace of play issues. It is one thing to know that the flag is a long way away but for the golfers who is not interested in losing their golf ball in the alligator pit in from of the green they can not see from the fairway, the information the GPS devices offers is what keeps them playing the game.
The new GPS technology use to be exclusive to the large units attached to the golf carts. Now not only are there speciality handheld devices but applications are being developed so the GPS program can be downloaded into cellphones. This adaptation of street technology to the golf course use has heightened the interest of new golfers to want to use this GPS technology on the golf course.
All of the technology that is being developed for golf is good with some better for golf than others. Maybe I will do the top five worst technology devices in golf to give you some comparison.
Let me know how I can help.