Location-based technologies for Golf

h/t kg, Intro GIS

In golf, more than any other sport, there seems to be a huge market for accessories that claim to “improve your game” without you having to do the actual work to improve. I know someone who has them all: A fishing pole to get golf balls out of ponds (why don’t you just avoid them in the first place?); brush-tees which supposedly give you greater accuracy and distance on your drive (they don’t help if your technique is bad); sunglasses that make lost balls stand out from the grass (but which also look ridiculous); and many, many more.

Location-based services and technology have also gotten in on the action. A GPS system called Sky Caddie was introduced a few years ago. The device contains detailed layouts of many major golf courses (more are available for download). It calculates distances between the receiver and specific target points, such as a sand bunker or the green, and tells how far you need to hit and in what direction.

A more recent addition to a golfer’s gadget collection is the RadarGolf System, available for $200. It allows golfers to locate lost balls with radio frequencies. The balls have RFID chips embedded in them, which are sensed by a handheld device using RadarGolf’s “Ball Positioning System (BPS™)”. When you lose your ball, just take out the device and wave it in the direction your ball went/may have gone. It’s more high-tech than the ball-finder sunglasses, but I think it makes you look just as silly. Still, for some it may be worth it to get the best score and not have to take an extra stroke for losing a ball.

These nifty tools are often featured in airplane shopping catalogues, so it wasn’t really a surprise to discover this technology in the September 2008 issue of enRoute Magazine, Air Canada’s in flight magazine. It was featured on page 38, along with other fancy GPS-related gadgets. The plate was titled: Location, Location, Location: New tracking devices keep you from losing your mind. I find this magazine often features geography-related articles and items of interest, which makes sense since travel is all about changing locations. The other novel gadgets featured on the page were:

1. GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr: A geotagging device that syncs with your digital camera to record the exact location of your photos.

2. Blackline GPS Snitch: A device you attach to your car that sends real-time information on its location to your mobile phone.

3. BrickHouse Security Locator Plus: Attach RFID tags to your important belongings so you can find them when they’re lost with the portable receiver.

4. Qstarz BT-Q1000P Bluetooth Data Logger, http://www.semsons.com: This device turns your PDA into a navigation system while it logs your trajectory, which you can later upload and view on Google Earth.

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