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The Techiest Courses in Golf

by Craig Better

Oct302013

MercedesIt wasn’t all that long ago that booking a tee time online was a pretty big deal.

Now, some courses will rent you a hovercraft (yes, just like the one in that viral Bubba Watson video).

Whether it’s practical or promotional, I’m seeing a growing number of golf courses incorporating more tech into their experiences.

Here are some of the more interesting things I’ve seen, and definitely tell me what you’ve come across, too:

Greenhorn Creek Resort and its Solar Golf Cart Phone Charger

Solar Golf CartThis one may be my favorite. In Angels Camp, Calif., the Greenhorn Creek Resort has installed solar panels on the roofs of its golf carts so you can keep your smartphone or tablet charged no matter how many apps you’re running.

Multiple Courses and their Visage Cart-Mounted Screens
SilverRock Resort in La Quinta, California and the Old Edwards Club in VisageHighlands, North Carolina are just two courses where you’ll find Visage mounted on the carts. Similar in theory to the older, cart-mounted GPS systems, this one is sleeker and slicker. You get a touch-screen display (that actually works) to navigate each hole, order food, and track your score (which is emailed to you after the round). Courses can better monitor your pace of play and, of course, push marketing messages to you.

Windy Knoll Golf Club and its Rentable Hovercrafts
HovercraftI’m sure you’ve seen the viral video of Bubba Watson driving his Oakley-sponsored hovercraft across a golf course, but now you can drive one, too, if  you play at Windy Knoll Golf Club in Springfield, Ohio. This summer, the  daily-fee course purchased two of them and became the first course in the  world to add hovercrafts to its golf cart fleet.

Multiple Courses and their Custom Smartphone Apps
No longer content to be a mere map or mention in another company’s app, U Michmany golf courses have begun launching their own, proprietary apps. One example is the University of Michigan Golf Course, whose software provides GPS and hole descriptions, the ability to book tee times and order food, and the ability to share your round on your preferred social networks.

Rivermont Golf & Country Club and its Hole-in-One Kiosk/Camera
Just One Along with fellow Georgia course Kingwood  Country Club & Resort, Rivermont installed something called Just One, an  automated kiosk/camera system that allows you to record your hole-in-one  and closest-to-the-pin attempts on par threes.

 Multiple Courses and their Digital Caddies Cart-Mounted TabletsDigital Caddie
Like Visage, Digital Caddies hopes to succeed where previous, cart-mounted  GPS systems failed. It’s Android tablet-based system, called The Players  Network, can already be found at several OB Sports-managed courses in Arizona (The Raven, Longbow, and Lone Tree) and OB has plans to add it to its full, 50-course portfolio. Likewise, National Golf Management reportedly agreed to install The Players Network at its 20-plus courses in and around Myrtle Beach.

Multiple Courses and their G1 Player Management SystemG1
Currently in beta tests at courses in Arizona and Florida, Golf Channel’s G1 system promises you’ll never again need to wait in line to check in at the pro shop, then try not to lose your receipt so you can give it to the starter. Instead, you’ll be met and checked in right in the parking lot by a tablet-toting attendant, then catered to all day based on your stored profile and purchase history.

Future Golf Courses and their Mercedes Vision Golf Carts

MercedesOK, this one will probably never see the light of day, but it was too cool to  leave out. During this year’s Open Championship, Mercedes-Benz unveiled  its concept for a “smart” golf cart: a solar-powered, joystick-operated vehicle  with heated seats, touch-screen sound/communication system, iPad/iPhone  docking stations, and my favorite, a horn that yells “fore.”

Have you come across any golf courses using consumer-facing technology  that improves (or detracts from) the experience?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bethesda Bear October 30, 2013 at 11:53 am

Wow. All things considered, I’ll take a tour caddie with a yardage book. Can help me read putts, also. Who is this tech for? The same people who make gourmet meals with a pressure cooker and a microwave?

2 Brian Laskin October 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

All pretty good … but check out Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island – air conditioned golf cart .. and .. SEGWAYS !! The Segways are very cool for individual transport on the course. see .. http://www.palmettodunes.com/hilton-head-golf-carts.php

3 Doug Roberts October 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm

This is a subject worth forgetting. Although renting a Hovercraft is kinda difficult to ignore. I was playing recently and as I walked up to my ball which was laying right next to the big red 100…..My buddy says you have 98 to the center. He had his gps watch on….I look at him and point to the big red 100 and say geez thanks….Tech is drawing away from the joy not adding to it. IMHO

4 John October 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I’ve used an “air-conditioned” golf cart. It’s a bucket of ice, a hose, and a fan that blows on the back of your neck. A bit of an overstatement. I prefer the mango-scented iced towels at the Boulders.

Haven’t used a segway on the golf course, but they have had them at Kierland for 5 years or more. Looks like fun.

5 Gus October 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

My favorites are the Hole-in-One Kiosk/Camera (for obvious reasons), the Visage Cart-Mounted Screens (don’t have to worry about having your phone die because you’re running GPS on it. Also love the scoring and emailing capabilities), and Solar Golf Cart Phone Charger (for courses that don’t have Visage installed.) All for anything that helps make the in round experience better.

6 john gillespie October 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm

How da heck do you get out of that hovercraft thing? Hard to see any doors.
I agree with Doug, keep it simple. My bro in law wanted to buy me a GPS, I said every sprinkler head is marked, why would I need that??

I guess, for the first time you play a new course, the GPS in cart is good, but other than that I like old school golf

7 Jerry October 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I know there’s all sorts of advancements going on underground — turf moisture sensors and such — but nice to know courses aren’t shying away from technology above ground, too. I’m all for anything that makes it easier and faster to get onto the golf course and to play briskly. Nice article. Thanks.

8 chris m October 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I agree with Doug Roberts; I’ve seen too many people get lost in the world of range finders and other gizmos. It is pretty funny when you are 50 yards out and someoone lets you know that it is 51 or 47…how does that help one create a shot that is feel-based? Or the other side; “hey I’m 267 out – what should I hit?” And they can’t hit their driver, off a tee, more than 215. They should invest in their swing but that entails work and effort – a toy is so much easier.

9 Cam MacLachlan October 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Who needs it, what ever happened to walking the course? Just more stuff to increase the already painful pace of play I would say…..

10 Craig a October 31, 2013 at 5:54 am

I agree with most of the comments above. While I am a tech type guy who loves his gadgets I am increasingly making sure they have no part of my golf round. BUT since you didn’t mention this product I thought it was appropriate to share.

golfskatecaddy.com

While it doesn’t look practical it does look fun.

11 R. Preston October 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I remember when courses that rented laser rangefinders were considered ‘ahead of their time.” Man, we’ve come a long way.

12 Gerald October 31, 2013 at 8:03 pm

To the companies still trying to make a business of cart-mounted GPS: guys, save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money. Nobody’s going to look at or fiddle with your system when they can use their FREE and very good if not great GPS apps on their smartphones.

13 BillS November 4, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I don’t much care for technology in golf, but it makes sense to market to those who like it. I am curious about how noisy the hovercraft is. I live in a coastal community and can hear the search & rescue hovercraft from about five miles away. I know the golf course ones are newer and smaller, but it’s difficult to imagine they can totally mask the noise from all that air being pumped.

14 Krista Kennedy October 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I love technology, and from the comments above, embracing or discarding it is an individual choice, which is nice to have options. My family and I were golfing in Kaanapali Kai when a golf property home for sale popped up on the GPS. I am curious what people think of advertising on the GPS?

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