Tracking golf shots wasn’t even a thing a few years ago, but with some big brands now in the market and millions of rounds being played on their platforms, it’s safe to say this tech is here to stay.
Modern GPS technology has made shot tracking both easier and more useful. Some systems are now so sophisticated they offer an electronic caddie function to give your best club selection for each shot based on your previous performances.
But with so much tech on offer, and none of them for less than £225, how do you know whether one could really help you improve? And if it can, which should you buy? We’ve tested five of the latest systems (including the Arccos set-up that comes free with Cobra’s latest F8 woods and irons) to help you make a more informed decision.
How can a shot tracker help lower my scores?
The majority of tour players now analyse their stats to see where they can get better. For club golfers, knowing – exact – average distances with each club has obvious benefits. You can also identify trends; if you always go in the trees right on the fourth, aim further left. If you frequently fall short of the green, take more club. If your short game stats are abysmal, get practising! You can pore over as many or as few of the stats as you want, but as you do, you’ll realise it becomes addictive.
What information can I access on the course?
Late last year the R&A ruled that the Arccos Caddie featured can be used whenever rangefinders are allowed (in competition play), as long as you remain in Tournament Mode which turns off access to elevation changes. That means you’re allowed access to an artificially intelligent caddie, but you should not be able to see or access data which takes into account wind, weather or elevation details. You shouldn’t view any app or device which calculates your heart rate either.
Isn’t there a free app where I can track?
Yes. Game Golf offers a free app that works without the need for sensors in your grips. It offers access to similar levels of data and analysis as the full-on Game Golf system, but it’s not automatic – you need to tap the app before every shot (which is a bit of a pain and means keeping a phone in your pocket). However, it does give you data on greens in regulation, fairways hit, shot dispersion, scrambling, putts per hole, average distances and more.
Review: Arccos 360 £249
14 ultralight grip sensors. You’ll need an iOS or Android enabled smart phone. £279.99, including Arccos caddie one-year subscription.
You need to know:
Arccos launched in 2014 and for the last two years they’ve partnered with Cobra. They reckon more than 60 million shots have been hit on the platform. They developed the original artificially intelligent caddie (in partnership with Microsoft), which has now been approved by the game’s ruling bodies. Simply position the sensors in the grips of your clubs, download the app and off you go. Arccos say golfers who use shot tracking and their tour level analytics package improve over 46 times faster than those who don’t. Batteries in the sensors are expected to last for five years.
By using a phone’s GPS capability, costs are kept under control, but it does mean the phone needs to be kept in your pocket for the system to work, which for some golfers is a drawback. Rumour has it Arccos is working on a new “patch” which can be dropped into a pocket, stuck to a cap or hung around the neck (eliminating the need to keep a phone in your pocket) which we think will make the system a lot more attractive.
We love the idea of the AI caddie, which after five rounds starts to make club recommendations (for tee shots) based on your previous shots. The system considers wind speed, wind direction and elevation to give “Plays Like” yardages, too. Just bear in mind the caddie function will set you back £49.99 a year for the privilege. The analytics package is everything a budding tour statistician needs to improve.
Review: Shot Scope V2 £225
1 x Shot Scope GPS watch; 20 x lightweight club tags. You’ll need either a smartphone, tablet or computer to access your analytics online.
You need to know:
Shot Scope started out in 2014 and former Walker Cup player Gavin Dear has been a driving force behind the company. The V2 utilises a GPS watch, to give distances on your wrist, but also record where shots go. Shot tracking is seamless (shots don’t need to be tagged) but for accurate putting stats you need to tag where the pin is as you putt out. You get access to over 100 tour-level stats, and dynamic yardages give accurate distances whichever angle you attack the pin from. Shot Scope say their software updates are free and always will be.
Millions of golfers have chosen GPS watches as the simplest way to access accurate yardages. So it’s a master stroke by Shot Scope to utilise watch tech in their tracker. We’re big fans of the V2’s different modes, which mean it’s possible to access just yardages, gather data without showing yardages or do both, so you can comply with comp rules.
Serious golfers have been at the heart of Shot Scope from the start and it’s thanks to this eye for detail that Shot Scope has developed one of the most useful analysis platforms. You can drill down into interactive graphs and charts to learn everything about your game. Stats are broken down into tee shots, approach shots (outside 50 yards), short game (inside 50 yards) and putting, and the guys at Shot Scope reckon their data is so good at helping you improve, you don’t need an electronic caddie to tell you which club to hit.
A sound option for golfers wanting to really break down performance. As the system includes a GPS watch, it’s really good value, too.
Review: Game Golf Pro £299.99
14 x smart tags (5g) for each club in your bag. 1 x GPS tracking medallion hub (to fix to your belt). Game Golf Pro doesn’t need to pair with a smartphone to work; its GPS medallion automatically tracks and stores every shot. To access real time shot tracking and distances you’ll need either an iOS or Android enabled device.
You need to know:
The original stat tracker. Since launching in 2014, 200 million shots have been tracked and 20 billion data points recorded. Game Golf Pro is brand new for 2018; it uses the same grade sensors you’ll find in a Tesla car, which Game Golf says allows you to go hands-free on the course. A GPS hub connects to your belt, so you don’t need to access your phone on the course.
Game Golf can lay fair claim to creating the shot-tracking trend. The key to the new Pro version is not having to tag shots, which could be frustrating and easy to forget with the original system. We’re big fans of going hands-free and not having to keep a phone in your pocket, which has been a drawback of some systems. We also like the ability to distinguish between a practice swing and real shot, which historically some systems have struggled with.
At nearly £300 a pop the Pro version is a sizeable investment (the previous Game Golf Live version was available for £139) so you’ll need to really want to improve to justify the cost. A smart caddie feature (which is coming later in 2018) will also make recommendations for every shot, where currently others only work for tee shots. There’s also a free coaching dashboard available online, which enables you and a coach to analyse performance and create lesson plans.
Review: Skycaddie Linx GT £299.95
1 x SkyCaddie fully-featured LINX GT rangefinder watch; 15 x Smart tags. You’ll need a smartphone to view live shot tracking and either a tablet or computer and internet connection to access your analytics online.
You need to know:
SkyCaddie are GPS fanatics, measuring every course on foot (rather than aerial photography) and constantly updating them. The Linx GT is a top GPS watch with tons of features, and the shot sensors are very much an extension to this tech. Unless you only want basic yardage information SkyCaddie have payment plans from £14.95-£39.95 (per year) so it’s likely you’ll end up paying an annual subscription for their services.
SkyCaddie are a top golf GPS brand, but with the competition now offering free apps and yardages, their services (apart from the most basic information) are paid for. For us the Game Tracking Edition is more of a bolt-on system to an excellent GPS watch, more so than say Shot Scope who started out shot tracking (and perfecting their analytics platform) before integrating a watch.
Take nothing away from the Linx GT watch, it’s a pleasure to wear. Golfers have the option of playing shots tag free (but you will need to go back after your round to manually enter which club you used for each shot) or tagging each shot by touching the club’s sensor to the watch. The watch’s GPS capability replaces a phone’s, which SkyCaddie says improves accuracy by up to 300%.
On the surface the SkyCaddie offers all the same basic analysis (GIR and percentage of fairways hit etc) and insight into your game as the other trackers here, but if you’re looking for real depth the others can offer more.
See our Top 10 GPS Watches here