High-Tech Tools To Improve Your Golf Game
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Tiger Woods has just shot his best round of the year - a 65, six under par - at The Barclays tournament in New Jersey. While Woods seems to have recaptured some of his natural talent, there are a lot of things the average golfer can buy to try to improve his or her game. Golfers have a seemingly unquenchable desire to spend hundreds of dollars in pursuit of a score like that.
New Hampshire Public Radio's Jon Greenberg has this report on some of the advance tools that are a regular part of their quest.
JON GREENBERG: When that guy next to you on the golf course pulls out his BlackBerry, it might not be yet another intrusion of mobile communications. He might actually be playing golf.
Art Bruinooge, president of an insurance company in Nashua, New Hampshire, owns one version of the latest aid for the avid golfer. His handheld device is called a SkyCaddie.
Mr. ART BRUINOOGE (President, Sadler Insurance): It's hooked up to satellites, and basically as I walk the course, it will change, you know, the yardage for me.
GREENBERG: The same way that GPS navigation helps drivers get to their destinations, products like SkyCaddie and GolfLogix help golfers get to the green.
Mr. BRUINOOGE: You hook it up to your computer. You download the courses that you want. And, for instance, I've got hole number one listed here for Nashua Country Club.
GREENBERG: On the screen, the power of GPS shows Bruinooge as a little dot on a map, distances to the pins, sand traps and so forth conveniently noted. These units are completely legit in the eyes of the U.S. Golf Association. They merely provide any amateur with the same information that professional golfers get from their caddies. But Bruinooge also has a black box filled with illicit items. Golf balls bearing the label Bandit.
Mr. BRUINOOGE: They've got a super reactive core. They're a little bit smaller. Their aerodynamics are much different than other golf balls. And the claim is they go up to 30 yards longer than a regular standard ball.
GREENBERG: Bruinooge sets his ball and takes a swing.
(Soundbite of golf swing)
GREENBERG: The Bandit delivers.
Mr. BRUINOOGE: Yeah. That went real well.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GREENBERG: Technology does have its limits. While Bruinooge walks to take his next shot, we can step off the course where digital technology is part of the practice scene.
Mr. SAM FROGGATTE (Chief Executive Officer, EyeLine Golf): You want to putt better. That's where it usually starts.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GREENBERG: Sam Froggatte owns EyeLine Golf, maker of the Putting Laser+. Clip it on a putter and it projects one red line showing the path the ball should take and another line to make sure you hit the ball square. Froggatte boasts a clientele that includes over 200 players on the PGA tour where, as they say, they putt for dough.
Mr. FROGGATTE: If I can learn to swing the putter where that laser line travels, I'm making a perfect stroke.
GREENBERG: EyeLine makes all sorts of training tools. Most focus on getting your body to do what you want, but one deals entirely with your mind.
(Soundbite of EyeLine Golf Distraction MP3)
Unidentified Male #1: If I can just manage to par the last two holes...
Unidentified Female: (Unintelligible).
Unidentified Male #2: (Unintelligible) be here again.
Unidentified Male #1: I'm down two shots.
GREENBERG: You can download an MP3 file called distraction, add it to your playlist, pop in your earbuds and swing away. If you can keep your concentration through this, you'll keep your cool anywhere.
Mr. BRUINOOGE: Didn't hit it well.
GREENBERG: So, now, back to Bruinooge on the links. The news is not good.
Mr. BRUINOOGE: I'm in the trap. So there's really no technology that I know of that's going to help me get out of the trap. I just have to hit that shot myself.
GREENBERG: Bruinooge has organized a special golf tournament in a few weeks. Players will be able to use every golf widget known to man both legal and illegal. But as Bruinooge notes wryly, at the end of the day, you still have to be able to hit the ball. For NPR News, I'm Jon Greenberg in Concord, New Hampshire.
(Soundbite of music)