Friday, January 23, 2009

GPS’s for cars & for golf

I have long-enjoyed my car GPS system. It is a useful device particularly when I travel interstate and hire a car but don’t know where I am going. My knowledge of my former hometown, Sydney, is fading which isn’t surprising – despite visits I have not lived there for 30 years! Now all I need to get around are addresses and my GPS. A few times it has directed me to attempt the impossible but it mostly works well.

Readers of this blog will also know that I play golf. Now GPS technology is being applied here. Golf basically involves hitting a ball with different golf clubs in the direction of a golf hole. The club you select depends on the distance to the hole (and perhaps various hazards) as well as how well you can hit. Distances you need to hit and distances you can hit can both be measured from a pair of satellite signals that can be monitored by a GPS.

Finally, I purchased a GPS for my golf and used it for the second time today. It gives distances from where you stand to the back, centre and front of greens/water hazards/bunkers and so on. It also tells you how far you hit each shot and the composition of your game between various types of shots (fairway, putts, and bunkers) as well as distances hit by club.

Yesterday there were blustery (north-west swinging to south-west) winds so distances were only part of the story in deciding what golf club to use but the device itself worked well. From officially placed pin-markers with a straight trajectory to a green – these define reference distances - the accuracy of the GPS was normally within 2 metres and mostly within 1 metre over 200-450 metres which is better than my imagination.

On one 5 par the GPS told me that the water hazard in the path of my second shot was between 145 and 165 metres out. This was useful information and led to a (cowardly) risk-averse strategic shot.

The golf GPS is a fun gadget that records the details of a subset of 12,000 golf courses around the world. Indeed you can easily record your own ‘course’ or modify the records of a course you play on a lot. You can also work out how far you hit various clubs and receive recommendations on the club you should use. You can finally use it to assess your game.

Like the car GPS my guess is that it will be most useful when I play out of town and don’t have much memory for the local distances. I am playing at Wodonga Country Club over the next week and judging distances there has always been a challenge for me. The course is now on my GPS.  The following week I will be in New Zealand attending an important conference and the strenuous mental efforts I make will certainly call for a relaxing round of golf there. Yes its on my GPS too.

I shot 4 under my handicap yesterday under terrible weather conditions. Today I played in a “Pool” competition at my beautiful golf club and won the money. The GPS definitely helped.

I wonder if I can get paid for this type of testimonial.


jc said...


If you need GPS for golf you shouldn't be playing.

Anonymous said...


I believe that GPS distance measuring devices are illegal under the rules of golf unless your local club has allowed their use.


hc said...

That's so John but I think most clubs (and certainly mine) now do.

I am surprised to be told that devices for measuring wing and course gradients remain illegal.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harry great note thanks for sharing. JC - you need to go watch golf channel and see how many people are using these things.

I only wish someone would develop a software add on for my Garmin 60CSx so I don't have to spend $400 on one of the units that are out for golf. I already spent $400 on my GPS, why no $100 add on for golf course maps is brutal.