Tech Tools to Help You Rock the Golf Course
With summer in full swing, you might be thinking about heading out to the green. Although you can get some work done while you're outdoors, sometimes you just want to go out and hit a ball. Whether you're playing to court new clients or hitting the links just for fun, these gadgets are sure to keep you in the game.
Find the Pin With Lasers
When are lasers not useful? The $300 Bushnell Pro 1600 range finder uses lasers to tell you exactly how far you have to get to the pin. The Slope Edition will even calculate gradients and distances uphill or downhill, but beware: That tends to be against the rules. Double-check with your course officials--but for competitions, you'll want the Tournament Edition.
Put Your Smartphone to Work
You probably already carry your phone with you when you're on the course. Why not put it to work? The GolfLogix app--available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 handsets--will give you an overview of the course, including the distance to the green. It will also keep score, and optionally it will connect you to the GolfLogix Member Clubhouse to track your games and connect with friends. The ad-supported app is free; you can choose to sign up for a year of membership in the Clubhouse for $20 annually, which will remove the ads and toss in a few more features.
Practice Your Swing
Practice at home without taking out a lamp. The $130 Electronic Swing Groover II works with most clubs in your bag and allows you to choose from three different ball heights. Once you know what your average distances are with each club, range finders and GPS distance meters become even more useful.
Track Speed and Power
Looking for a more portable way to track how quickly you're swinging at that little white ball? The $70 Medicus Power Meter clips to the shaft of your club. The faster you swing, the farther the ball should fly, assuming that you can swing straight, of course...
Get Instant Spoken Feedback
For even more immediate (and perhaps annoying) feedback, this $6 clip-on swing meter will sense your club direction and announce out loud which direction the ball is headed. The Perfect Solutions Hook/Slice Talking Swing Meter is supposed to be capable of saying "Nice shot," but some reviewers complain that no matter what, you're likely to hear only "Hook" or "Slice."
A Glove That Helps You Loosen Up
If getting feedback after you've hit the ball is too late for you, the $90 Senso Glove can provide audible feedback during your swing if you start to grip the handle too hard. Sensors all over the glove will even tell you which fingers are pressing too hard.
Putting With Lasers
With all these tools to help you land the ball on the green, you might also want assistance in getting it into the hole. Once again, a gadget powered by lasers is just the thing. The $40 PerfectLine Laser Putting System shows you exactly where the ball should go after you hit it. You can even get a putter with the laser built in for just $80.
Find the Sweet Spot
Here's a gadget that will tell you exactly where on the ball to hit. The $30 CheckGo Pro will spin a golf ball until it finds the balanced point, where you can then draw on the sweet-spot line. With any heavy spots lined up on the equator of the ball, it's more likely to roll straight on the green.
Chase the Ball in Style
Okay, enough ball hitting--it's time to go chase it. With many retirement communities being built around golf courses, golf carts are starting to take on a whole life of their own. A seriously accessorized golf cart may not help you get the ball closer to the hole, but it can get you closer to the ball in style. Although you can rent a cart, or even purchase one for a few thousand, these supercustomized rides can easily run into the tens of thousands.
Cruise the Course With a Segway
Does your local course frown on monster-truck-wheeled golf carts? Are overclocked speed demons not allowed on the fairway? Never fear: The Segway x2 Golf will wisk you around on low-pressure tires that won't harm the grass. The Segway also offers greater maneuverability for those times when you may be in the trees, while allowing other members of your party to head to the sand trap in their own Segway. Although these vehicles are marketed primarily at clubs to rent to their patrons, and are primarily distributed in the UK, you can pick up one directly for around $8000.
Find Your Golf Ball
Despite your best efforts, you've lost the ball. You've traveled up and down the rough in your Segway, but you just can't spot the little bugger. Good thing you've brought your Ball Finder Scout ($88). While you can find some smartphone apps that promise to help you track down your ball, the Ball Finder Scout uses a proprietary imaging system to locate your golf ball from up to 35 feet away and with as few as three dimples showing. It may not be able to get your ball out of the rough, but it will help you find it faster so you can whack it into the next hazard.
Find Your Golf Ball Even More Easily
If you think an optical ball finder isn't enough to track where your balls go, consider the $300 Prazza Golf Ball Finder. It uses RFID technology to play a game of "hot or cold" with balls that contain special chips. Pair the ball with the finder before teeing off, and the device will locate the ball within 100 meters. You'll be able to find your ball no matter how thick of a forest you've just driven it into. Just don't hit the ball into the lake; the device works only to a depth of 8 inches.
Keep Your Gadgets Powered Up
With so many gadgets keeping you in the game, you'll need a way to charge them all. Just like the solar-powered bags that you can buy to charge laptops, the Patriot Solar Golf Bag ($275 in nylon or $475 in leather) has built-in solar panels for charging personal electronic gadgets. The bag comes with charging tips for popular phones, and it can fully charge a phone in about 4 to 6 hours.