GOLF's annual celebration of the best of the game's technology breakthroughs—The Techy Awards!—are back with big news. Clubfitting innovation has paved the way for a shoe-fitting revolution, SuperStroke's groundbreaking grips are even more gripping, and new rangefinders are totally out of sight. (Push) the envelope, please…
TECHIEST "SMART" SHOE: SAMSUNG IOFIT
You've heard of smart watches and bands. Now you can get a smart shoe. Yep, Samsung spinoff IOFIT offers wearable technology that provides swing feedback based on your balance during the motion. The information is gathered by pressure sensors placed in the interior of the shoes' soles and transmitted to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth. Once your swing is analyzed, IOFIT's swing library lets you compare your motion to the pros'. There's also a swing-comparison stat function and the ability to send your data to your personal coach for further analysis. The shoes themselves come in two styles, "classic" and "sport," and feature lightweight midsoles, a breathable lining for all-season comfort and multiple outsole traction elements. Battery life is about five days.
TECHIEST GOLF APP: BIOMECH GOLF APP & PUTTING SENSOR
$49.99 for sensor, $99 per year for app, $199 per year for instructor version; biomechsports.com
Designed to analyze the putting stroke in real time and provide interactive drills and instruction from PGA teaching pros, BioMech's sensor-and-app combo is a difference-maker on the greens. The snap-on sensor (which can be used with any putter) captures everything your body and putter do during the stroke. The iOS app shares tons of vital information, including face and loft angle, path, detailed timing to 1/1,000 of a second, target-line length, 2D and 3D isolated views of the path of the putterhead, and more. To show you exactly what you're doing wrong or right, the optional video component can be played back in sync with data captured by the sensor. All this info is saved in a cloud-based storage system for easy access, and the sensor and app can be used indoors and outdoors.
TECHIEST GOLF SPIKE: CHAMP’S PIVIX
$14.99 (18 spikes); champspikes.com
The latest and greatest from Champ is the PiviX, and its unique spring-flex technology has made it Jordan Spieth's spike of choice. The ergonomic design that feeds the spike into the turf provides optimum traction as you swing and walk. And because of its extremely low profile and light weight, you'll get closer to the turf than you could with past models, improving stability, balance and feel throughout the swing. The patented wear-indicator at the bottom of the spike turns solid when it's time to replace the PiviX—although they're so durable that you may wear out before they do.
TECHIEST PUTTER GRIP: SUPERSTROKE WITH COUNTERCORE
Watch any Tour event and you're sure to see a lot of one thing on the greens: SuperStroke's oversized putter grips. The design sweeping golf in recent years is aimed at quieting the small muscles in the hands and wrists and engaging the bigger arm, shoulder and back muscles during the putting stroke. The result? More consistency— and a farewell to the yips. SuperStroke's newest innovation is called CounterCore. A 50g weight in the butt of the grip produces a slightly counterweighted feel. You can adjust the weight, depending on preference, or remove it completely. For tinkerers, 25g and 75g weights are also available.
TECHIEST WEARABLE RANGEFINDER: B1 VOICE CADDIE
Weighing in at just 29 grams, the B1 GPS band from Voice Caddie is about as slim and light as any wearable rangefinder. Preloaded with more than 30,000 courses, the B1 yields distances to the front, middle and back of greens, while a high-visibility display makes it easy to read in all conditions. Other key numbers, like driving distance and yardage to the hole, let you brag to your buds about your prodigious clout off the tee and accurately size up approach shots. B1 features include an ergonomic design that won't interfere with your swing, 10 hours (or two 18-hole rounds) of battery life and glove-friendly tap sensors that make changing functions fast and easy.
TECHIEST HANDICAPPER: ECONOMIST EAGLE
Want to destroy your buddies in the next Masters office pool? Check out EAGLE (Economist Advantage in Golf Likelihood Estimator), the Economist's new handicapping system. By combining a player's World Golf Ranking and the par and length of his remaining holes in a given major, EAGLE can, more or less, predict his chances of victory. While not an exact science (EAGLE made Jason Day the favorite to win this year's British Open and PGA), it's fun— and provocative. EAGLE assesses the 10 worst major collapses since 2001, and ranks the best performances of all time. The greatest week ever? No shocker: Tiger at the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15 strokes.
TECHIEST GOLF ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE: REALITEE
$40 for 18 holes; realiteegolf.com
REALiTEE is taking the golf-simulator experience to a new level, with the addition of (among other features) live-play short-game areas. Imagine: You enter a two-acre indoor course with 12 simulators and 18 flagsticks, and you play a full round on some of the greatest courses in the world, such as Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. After you hit your full shots on a given hole, you move to an actual greens complex, where you chip, pitch and/or putt on a synthetic surface. The entire REALiTEE experience will be interactive, utilizing smart watches that allow you to brag to your friends on social media. Look for the first location to debut in Boston in 2017.
TECHIEST SHOE SALESMAN: FOOTJOY
Playing in kicks that don't fit is bad for your game (and your attitude). The folks at FootJoy get this, and they've developed a system that uses BodiTrak technology (in conjunction with a proprietary algorithm) to find the exact shoe fit for any golfer. Through extensive research, FootJoy engineers have determined that golfers fall into one of three golf-shoe categories ("mobile," "duel" and "structured"), and that players swing faster when they slip on the right shoe. How much faster? Up to 3 mph with their driver (or about nine yards). Made up of a pressure mat and an iPad outfitted with a custom FJ app, the FootJoy Performance Fitting System is a mobile unit and can be found in hundreds of golf shops across the USA.
TECHIEST PUSH CART: BIG MAX AUTOFOLD FF
We all know it: Exercise is good for our health and our game. The easiest way to get the heart pumping? Get out of that cart and walk. This might not appeal to those who dread big, bulky push carts, but the new Autofold FF from Big Max is a game-changer. Featuring a unique push-button folding mechanism that allows the three wheels of the cart to open and collapse automatically, it eliminates the need to wrestle clumsily during setup. And when it comes to storage, the new fold-flat design makes the cart as easy to load into your trunk as a normal golf bag. Plus, the durable frame holds any size bag and offers customizable storage compartments for all manner of accessories.