by Brendan Mohler
Of the several golf GPS tracking devices currently on the market, Game Golf is among the most intriguing. The device got a publicity boost when President Obama was spotted using one during a round on Martha’s Vineyard a few weeks ago, and based on the hype and recommendations from a few friends -- President Obama not among them -- I had to try it. The result was not disappointing.
Game Golf is easy to use out of the box and requires almost no attention while you’re playing. Before the round, create a profile on GameGolf.com and register each of your clubs by typing in the make and model. Install the red, one-gram tags into the butt end of each club. The device takes two hours to fully charge, giving you 10 hours of playing life. Hopefully, you’ll only need about four. If you only need it for one round, charging it for an hour is enough.
Once you’re on the course, clip the red Game Golf device to your belt or pocket and turn it on a few minutes before you tee off so the GPS can load. The device automatically figures out what course you’re playing. (If only it could provide directions on how to get there…)
Before each shot, simply tap the butt end of your club to the device, which will vibrate twice and give off a slight beep completely unnoticeable to your playing partners. The device is so sensitive that I accidentally touched a club to it when I didn’t need to, but that’s no problem. You can add or delete shots later. When the round is over, race home to your computer. That's where the fun really begins.
The device plugs into a USB port. It does require that you download software from the Game Golf site in order to upload your round, so make sure you have the latest OS X update. My old Macbook wasn’t exactly able to handle the Game Golf software, but then again, it can hardly handle web browsing anymore.
My round uploaded in minutes, and I looked over my scores to make sure they were correct. It turns out I had forgotten to tag about nine shots; mostly shots around the green and tap-in putts. The computer had me down for a 71 when I really shot 80. Rather than fudge my score, and become susceptible to criticism from my playing partners (two of whom were my bosses, no less), I added shots where I needed to. This process was easy and actually kind of enjoyable because you get to see your round plotted over a Google Maps layout of the course. Who knew adding shots to your scorecard could be so much fun?
When making sure my scores on each hole were correct, I looked back at where Game Golf had tracked my shots. The device was deadly accurate with only a few exceptions that can easily be corrected by clicking and dragging on the map.
Here is what that process looks like. You can zoom in tightly to ensure you're being as accurate as possible.
When your scores are set, the system asks you to “sign,” making the round official. It even reminds you that your reputation is at stake. How realistic.
What’s left is similar to the PGA Tour’s ShotLink database, which, for the non-golf writers out there, is a detailed stat breakdown for every tour player, PGA Tour event, course and hole. Game Golf isn’t quite that detailed, but that’s a good thing. Most golfers only need simple feedback.
Below is the landing page once your round is registered and signed. From here, you can click on ‘Analysis,’ which offers a look at your performance with each club and from a variety of distances. This is what my driver break down looks like.
This is where Game Golf can be humbling. There are plenty of golfers out there who think they drive the ball 300 yards all the time; Game Golf will tell them differently. It’s kind of jarring when you smash one only to find out it went 245 yards. If you’re serious about improving your game then this is the kind of honest feedback needed.
Here is my driver dispersion. I always thought my misses off the tee were more left than right. After my round Thursday, I found I was wrong. Granted, I was battling a push fade all day, but the only drives I hit out of play went well right.
Here is a look at all my approach shots from outside 100 yards. More than the driver breakdown, this information, if processed correctly, will tell you a lot about your game.
If you hover over one of the balls, it tells you on which hole you hit that shot, in addition to the distance from which it was played. It’s always nice to relive your good shots, and it really can’t hurt to see your bad ones on the screen, unless you finish a round with six three-putts.
Ouch. That hurts.
There are plenty more statistical breakdowns that Game Golf offers, but in the interest of time I won’t bore you with my round. Another cool feature of the device is the ability to compare your stats to others, including tour pros Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk. It can be a little disheartening to see your numbers alongside theirs, but it’s enlightening to see where they excel. You can also view stats of anyone in the Game Golf system, which offers a great opportunity for trash talking if you can get a few of your buddies on board. You can also set up competitions and challenges that anybody can enter.
Game Golf is a highly valuable device. I don’t really consider myself a stats nerd, but I do want to start shooting lower scores. Game Golf can help you do that. At the least, you can enjoy having your rounds plotted like you’re playing on Tour.