They say that Ben Hogan considered 150-yard stakes and yardages marked on sprinkler heads to be an affront to the integrity of the game. In those days, players figured how far the yardage was to the back of the green and then picked one club less to hit the approach to the pin.
Hogan wasn’t anti-information though. He just didn’t want to surrender an advantage he apparently had on the course, since he seemed to possess a supernatural depth perception. One time he quibbled with the yardage listed on the scorecard. “It’s 148, not 152,” he maintained. The next day the hole was measured and found to in fact be 148 yards.
You wonder that if Hogan still played today, whether or not his smartphone would be loaded with golfing apps to insure that he had every tool at his disposal to shoot the best possible round. With the prevalence of handheld technology (it’s a rare to find anyone within a mile radius who doesn’t have a smartphone… at least under the age of 50), there are a bevy of apps to choose from. Some of these apps can be pricey while many others can be downloaded – in their most basic iteration – for free.
GPS and Distance Tracking Golf Apps
There are several types of apps that can provide usable information during the round, and for analysis in the 19th hole. GolfLogix is a very popular GPS golf app that provides GPS distances, video flyovers of holes, a digital yardage book, handicap tracking and more. It currently has around 4 million total downloads. Golfshot is another type of GPS rangefinder that gives golfers flyover looks at over 40,000 courses and half a million golf holes, and you can upgrade with in-app features to get distances to hazards at your fingertips. Most rangefinder apps you can also program to suggest club selections—something that may be handy for the indecisive player.
Caddio is a crowdsourcing app that supposedly performs as your own personal caddie on the smartphone. Golfers share playing tips and inside knowledge of their home courses so that you always know when a green on a new hole is presenting a false front, or the putting surface falls away from that shelf you see from the fairway. If you’re a golfer who likes to travel and play new courses, Caddio will surely save you a few strokes in your round. And if you’re planning a golf trip, search beforehand to see if your upcoming resort course has its own app. Many do these days to enhance the golfer experience.
There are legions of scorecard and record-keeping apps to dissect your round every which way, allowing areas for improvement to easily be identified. Some even allow you to take pictures and make notes of holes. The Grint is a score-tracking app that also calculates an on-the-spot handicap licensed by the United States Golf Association (USGA) so you can always offer a level game.
Data and Swing Analysis Golf Apps
These days a smartphone is another practice aid, and can make it feel like teaching pro playing alongside you. V1 Golf allows you to upload swings for analysis, and then compare them with over 50 PGA tour swings. The SkyPro Swing Analyzer by SkyGolf delivers feedback at crucial points in the swing to check proper address, stance, and body positions throughout the motion. And another is the Game Golf Digital Tracking System, which gives you accurate distances from tee to green and numerous data points to really dig into the nitty gritty of your individual game. These and other coaching apps then allow you to send videos of your swing for professional analysis with an in-app upgrade.
While some swing analysis apps do not stray far from basic swing tips, others tap the expertise of the game’s top names. SwingSmart puts CBS teaching analyst, Peter Kostis, to work with 3-D swing point data to detect common flaws. Visulax Golf is a teaching app that eschews the physical swing and helps players with the mental game – relaxing, ignoring distractions, and developing a positive attitude on the course.
So are golfing apps helpful? You bet. Don’t be afraid to try an app to give your game a boost. Just leave the ringer off your phone on the golf course. Don’t be that guy.