Golf Gadgets

A look at low and high tech items for enhancing time on the links

Phillip Ellis, GolfToday
Posted 9/20/18

Since the game’s humble beginnings in Scotland in the fifteen hundreds, golfers have all shared one thing in common besides their affection for the sport. They love gadgets. By definition that means anything that will help them hit the ball longer or

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Golf Gadgets

A look at low and high tech items for enhancing time on the links

Posted

Since the game’s humble beginnings in Scotland in the fifteen hundreds, golfers have all shared one thing in common besides their affection for the sport. They love gadgets. By definition that means anything that will help them hit the ball longer or straighter, putt better, look more stylish and, in the end, lower their score.

The tee is a good example. It started off as a pile of sand intended to elevate the ball off the ground on the first hole. The original manufactured tee rested on the ground with a raised section that lifted the ball. The patent by a pair of Scottish golfers, William Blossom and Arthur Douglas, was registered in 1889.

Percy Ellis invented the first tee to penetrate the ground in 1892. The rubber topped peg was known as the “Perfectum”. It wasn’t until the 1920’s, that Dr. William Lowell Sr. popularized the “Reddy Tee”, a basic wooden tee with a flared top. The golf world took a giant step forward.

Spiked golf shoes showed up in 1857 in a Scottish publication titled, “The Golfer’s Manual.” It touted wearing stout shoes with small nails or sprigs in the soles that allowed the golfer to walk safely over various terrains. Screw-in-spikes were introduced in 1891, and Spalding introduced the first “saddle oxford” style shoe in 1906. In the 1990’s metal spikes were replaced by plastic and, by 2010, spikes went away almost completely.

Today’s golfer wouldn’t think of heading to the links without a bag to “tote” all their sticks; but early players simply grabbed a handful of clubs or tied them up with string. The modern bag wasn’t invented until the early nineteen hundreds. In 1939 the USGA helped define the modern bag by setting the limit of 14 clubs per bag. Another milestone happened in 1986 when manufacturer Sun Mountain added legs to their bags and thus the “stand bag” was born.

One of the most popular modern gadgets is the rangefinder. Introduced originally by a Scottish company, go figure, Stroud and Barr, it has been used in combat, surveying, hunting, and golf. There are two basic kinds: the laser based binocular and the GPS. Bushnell is a popular brand of laser style that can cost hundreds of dollars. GPS models can be much cheaper.

I’ve been using an app-based rangefinder called Sky Droid. You just load it on your phone and download the course you’re playing. The cost is only a few dollars, and it displays yardage, terrain, slope, and most information needed to make the correct club selection.

A few weeks ago, I played golf with a good friend who was using a Golf Buddy. It’s a GPS about the size of a small box of matches. His was attached to his hat, although it would work just as well on a shirt, pants, or bag. Once he walked to his ball or got ready to tee off, he simply touched a button on the gadget and it announced the distance to the front, middle, and back.

I compared yardages against my phone app and they read about the same. The real advantage to the Golf Buddy was ease of use. No sighting or digging out your phone, just one touch and Bob’s your uncle. The cost is around $100.

Last but not least, is an article I read on the new computer golf ball coming out in the near future. The company claims that you can’t lose it, because it omits a signal you can track from your phone. I’m not sure how that helps if it’s in the bottom of the lake. It can also download valuable information such as your ball speed, flight trajectory, and other info. The bad news is that a dozen will probably cost about three dollars less than a Buick, and you will have to lug another gadget, your laptop, to the links to analyze all the data.