FORT WORTH, Texas -- Nike's co-founder, the former University of Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman, once said, "If you've got a body, then you're an athlete." The company's new NG360 (which stands for Nike Golf 360 degrees) website and app aim to apply that mantra to golfers.
The app is designed to transform you into a more athletic, lower-scoring golfer by combining golf instruction, game tracking and fitness with technology and motivational techniques that will be familiar from some of the most popular sites on the Web.
The centerpiece of NG360 is a new iPhone/iPad app. With a slick interface, the app lets you keep score and track several key stats like driving accuracy, fairways hit and putts per hole on more than 30,000 courses in the United States and Canada. While it does not provide GPS information about the courses, the scorecards are in the app itself, so you don't need a data connection while you play.
The information you input is automatically entered into Nike Golf's NG360 website, where you can graphically see trends in your performance, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your game, and where you can compare your performance and swing with other NG360 users.
To sharpen your skills, NG360 allows you to use your iPhone's video camera to shoot and upload clips of your swing. Once your swing is in the system, you can view it in slow motion and stop it on any frame. On the NG360 website you can draw lines and make circles over the video -- just like teaching pros do -- and even compare swings side-by-side. If you want to be humbled, compare your swing to Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Suzann Pettersen and other Nike staffers. Sorry, Tiger Woods does not appear in the app (at least not yet).
If you want a knowledgeable set of eyes to look at your swing and provide instruction, you can send it to PGA professionals on Nike's Swoosh Staff for evaluation.
To encourage you to keep working on your game, NG360 awards virtual trophies. For example, if you card four birdies in a row, you'll be awarded the Schwartzel Cup. (Charl Schwartzel finished with four birdies to win the 2011 Masters.) Thankfully, other awards are a little easier to attain, like the Cool Customer for making six pars in one round. These awards are reminiscent of the badges that Foursquare users get for frequenting certain places or businesses.
An equally large component of NG360 is fitness. The app comes pre-loaded with dozens of golf-specific exercises developed by Gary Gray and David Tiberio of the Gray Institute, a leading center for the development of functional exercise programs for athletes and people recovering from injuries. Paul Casey demonstrates them, and they're categorized into groups like Power, Balance, Endurance and Resiliency. There are also complete workouts, and everything is available on the website, too.
If you want more than just online fitness advice, there is a long list of trainers and facilities across the country where you can get in-person help.
On top of that, the company, which already has 1.3 million Likes on Facebook and 440,000 followers on Twitter, hopes to further enhance its digital relationship with golfers. Users can connect with other golfers on the site and can synch their profiles to their existing Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Nike also owns all the data that's entered into NG360, and the company may use the information it gathers in the development of future Nike Golf equipment.