As other golfers headed for the bar, steady rain and gusty wind did not deter Dave Bien from finishing his round during a recent pre-Memorial Day tournament. He has been golfing for 25 years and his passion for the sport includes a deep appreciation for its technology. “Technology’s impact on golf is enormous” he says.
Golf is changing. The colossal challenge of driving a 1.68-inch ball into a series of similarly small, 4.25-inch holes dispersed across acres of green still exists. But the sport is adapting to technological advances - as well as new generations of prospective golfers.
Even some of America’s oldest golf courses are investing in technology focused on the future of the game including year-round simulators and diagnostic driven training equipment. Dave believes these changes are helping to make the sport more accessible.
“Ultimately you still have to be able to hit the ball,” says Dave. And be willing to play through unpleasant weather to win, as Dave did on that rainy day.
Let’s explore connected golf using emerging and future technology.
As your tee time approaches, a connected course could track pace of play and notify you of delays due to preceding golfers – allowing you to get in a few more practice swings at the driving range. A connected clubhouse could recognize you and your preferences – imagine your usual pimento cheese sandwich automatically ordered and ready just in time for your quick pause at the turn. All golf carts are connected, providing important information, weather updates and even entertainment as you travel – or even hover – down the fairway.
Golf courses naturally change over time. Slight shifts in the green or new landscaping might sway you to try a different approach to the pin. A recent proposed change to the Rules of Golf beginning in 2019 would allow distance measuring devices during competition play. These devices allow better distance estimations which can inform the player’s swing and choice of club. Currently most range finders look like binoculars, but there are already audio GPS models that clip onto glasses. Sticking to eyewear, the future might include holographic rangefinder glasses that superimpose a distance measuring scale over a golfer’s field of view. Augmented reality could also incorporate weather conditions like wind direction that impact ball flight.
In other wearable news, at a recent North American golf technology event, industry experts discussed how connected haptic suits someday might be used to modify a golfer’s swing. And if, with all of this technological assistance, you still manage to shank your ball into the woods, hopefully you’ll be using a smart ball with a GPS chip for easier retrieval.
Golf of the future might also provide additional choices for partners. Faster, higher resolution live streaming made possible by 5G could allow golfers to virtually connect and “play” with friends or coaches elsewhere. Virtual and augmented reality could even deliver the experience of playing with holograms of golf legends or even of oneself for training purposes – so you can see that troublesome alignment error from the angle you need to finally fix it.
As the golf industry looks to adopt new solutions to create a more enjoyable experience, golf will likely look and feel very different as new innovations hit the course.