Golf is a very old sport. In fact, while the modern sport refined by the Scottish is more than 500 years old, there are references in Dutch literature that seem to be talking about golf as early as the year 1261. More known for tradition than for cutting-edge technological advancements, the picture in your mind’s eye of a “typical golfer” most likely isn’t a young technophile. However, the sport of golf has seen a lot of science and technology infiltrate the game infiltrate the game in the last several decades, making gear, play style, and even courses obsolete. This series, Technology in Golf, looks to the advancements made or still to come in individual areas of the sport, from gear to courses to wearable tech. Stay tuned to for more installments! (See the previous installments, golf clubs or the history of technology in golf balls)

Golf is one of the sports that’s enjoyed by celebrities, executives, and people who just like to have their workout in beautiful surroundings while associating with friends and clients. Players like to keep a competitive edge, and wearable technology allows golfers to do that. Using wearable (and smart) technology to improve your game is growing in popularity, and the market is filling up with more gadgets and tricks to monitor your game, help improve your shot, and track performance on the course in real time (like tracking how far the distance your golf ball just traveled).

Wearable tech can help amateurs as well as pros with features like shot-tracking technology that automatically records shot information, such as club performance, shot dispersion, greens in regulation, sand saves and the number of putts per hole. 3D cameras can record your swings and provide feedback. Fitness and activity trackers can record your heart rate and distance walked on the course. Smart golf balls can track distance, or even use GPS or bluetooth to locate themselves if you shoot into the rough! Apps can record data for courses, track your par, record the time for each hole, and more. As we see technology advance and players adopting it to improve their game, I expect we can see even more products come on the scene.

A Garmin Product

Game Golf Live – GPS Shot Tracking is a system that gives players their stats in real time, The Bluetooth-enabled setup has a mobile app that is Android- and iOS-compatible. It becomes operational when golfers attach one sensor to their belt and another to the butt end of the club.

Before making a shot, player touch the sensor with the club. With the aid of their phone’s GPS, the position of each shot, the club selected, and where the ball lands are all recorded. Using their smartphone, golfers can view their stats as they play a round. (The layouts of 40,000 courses world wide are included in the software.) When golfers get back to their PC or Mac, they can upload the information and get astonishingly detailed stats and an analysis.

An Arccos Entry

The Arccos Golf Driver Automatic Stat Tracking system uses the GPS that’s built into the iPhone to keep on top of driver distances. There’s no need to tap the driver. This inexpensive device screws into the butt end of the grip of the driver. By looking at their phone after a shot, players see stats about their longest drives, fairways hit and missed, and averages of driving distances. The driver-only system easily distinguishes between actual and practice shots. Another feature is that players can engage in virtual driving games with other players around the world.

Apple and Garmin Watches

Not all wearable technology attaches to equipment. Watches are helpful to golfers too. The Garmin Approach S6 GPS watch has a color touchscreen. It’s loaded with maps of 40,000 courses around the world. Its features include SwingStrength, which tells players how hard they swing. SwingTempo delivers the ratio between a player’s upswing and downswing. PinPointers aids golfers in making shots when the pin can’t be seen.

The Apple Watch, Apple Watch 2 (GPS), and iPhone have a large number of apps available for players of this sport. They range from information about 33,00 courses worldwide, including distances to each hole, detailed views of courses, and more. Some apps are free. The watch has a color display. It also delivers weather forecasts and can guide golfers as they drive to the course.

Sports are full of competitive people who don’t shrink from using whatever product or technique they think may improve their performance. This list barely even touches the tip of the iceberg. While you’ll never see a pro actively using it in competitive play, wearing technology to record your game is, for a pro, just like doing a play-by-play for a football team after a game. The amount of data you can collect is invaluable to a professional sportsman.