I have always been a gadget junkie for as long as I can remember. I bought the first MP3 player that was ever invented. It cost me $300 (from my caddying fund), and stored a whopping 32MB of data. I listened to the same 12 songs that whole summer, but it was worth it because I couldn't get over how cool it was! When GAME GOLF first came out I started salivating a bit. It was the first time I had a similar reaction to seeing the first iPod or iPhone, but this time for a golf product.
Since then I have spent thousands of dollars on all kinds of devices that may have improved my life (mostly Apple products), or just killed my attention span. I'm still not sure.
Golf has never been an area where I have purchased many gadgets other than GPS devices. Nothing has really ever caught my eye.
I've always believed that reviewing your rounds is one of the most important ways to improve as a golfer. We will only get to the next level if we figure out what is holding us back, and then work on it. Most golfers don't take the time to do this, which is why I thought there was great potential for a device that assembled this information for you.
I had some reservations about the technology, so I decided to wait a bit before I tried the product out. I never like being the guinea pig for a new product, and I usually wait until the dust settles and all of the glitches are taken care of.
I’ve now logged nine rounds with GAME GOLF, and you can see my stats here.
Is this is a viable game-improvement product? Is it worth your money?
I believe it is.
The folks over at GAME GOLF obviously spent a ton of time on product design. Everything about the presentation is polished, starting with the box. It feels like I am unveiling something significant.
I was actually a little worried about how big the tracker would actually be. I didn't want it to be cumbersome, or heavy on my belt. The last thing I wanted was to feel like it was distracting me during the swing. Luckily this is not the case. The tracker is small enough and light enough that you really don’t feel it on your belt.
This is one slick looking product, and it oozes coolness. I now resemble Data from the Goonies on the golf course, which was an unintended benefit.
That being said, this is not a phone or a tablet, and you're not actually interacting with the device itself. So while it looked absolutely awesome to me, I was more concerned with whether or not it would actually give me some valuable information about my game.
Setting it up
The process of setting everything up before my first round took me about 10 minutes at most. You're given a set of trackers that you need to screw into the top of each of your grips. It took some minor elbow grease, but I was able to get them all in my clubs in less than 5 minutes. The trackers are extremely light, so you are not going to experience any noticeable change in your club weight.
After I was finished installing the trackers, I downloaded the software, and entered the information for each of my clubs, and I was ready to go. The process is completely seamless, and it really requires minimal effort to get it up and running.
Using it on the course
The big rub on GAME GOLF is the clicking feature. It was the first question I had about the product when it came out. How am I going to incorporate clicking my club into my pre-shot routine?
After playing with GAME GOLF for a while I can say that it really isn't a big deal for me. I generally click my club as soon as I pull it out of my bag, and I haven't found that it inhibits my pre-shot routine at all. I'm actually going to be working on using it as a mental "trigger" soon, but have not gotten up to that point.
The next question is, what if I forget to click before I swing? Well I actually did that a couple of times, and they have a feature that will help with this. GAME GOLF will sense when you're standing in the same spot for a while, and when you upload your round it will ask if you hit a shot. I generally upload my rounds shortly after I play so it was easy for me to remember the club I swung if I did forget to click.
The only other scenarios that might become an issue are for tapping short putts in, and when you hit a ball out of bounds. Some players might forget to click when they are about to tap in their one-foot putt, which they can edit after their round. You also can add penalty shots after the fact in order to make sure your score is accurate (and to remind yourself of your disaster of a hole).
Overall, I believe it requires minimal effort to effectively use the product on the course. After a few rounds it becomes part of your overall routine, and you probably won’t even notice it much.
This was one of the most important elements for me. If I felt like it was somehow distracting me during my round I probably would not have continued using it.
Uploading your round
When you're finished with your round you connect GAME GOLFto your computer via USB. It will automatically start downloading your round so you can edit it before you virtually sign your scorecard. At this point you can review your shots, and make any edits in case you missed a click, or if a position needed to be changed.
This will require some work on your end. It’s possible that it might have detected a few shots you did not actually hit because you were standing in a spot waiting for your playing partner, which you can easily delete. I found this happened very infrequently though.
GPS technology is not exactly correct sometimes, so it’s possible it might have thought you were on the green, or in a fairway if you were less than three yards away. In order to make sure your stats are correct you can see whether or not it logged a fairway hit, or a green in regulation. You are able to edit the position of your shot to make sure it is accurate.
In terms of the distances of my shots hit, I found it to be spot on. I have played my course more than 100 times and I mostly know all my distances by heart, and the data backed it up.
The online software is extremely intuitive, and easy to figure out. I have seen other golf products that have had nightmarish database issues, so it was extremely important for them to nail this part of the product experience.
Some people might not like the effort it takes to log your round, but I actually think this is one of the advantages of using GAME GOLF. Keep in mind this is not a passive product; it will require effort on your part.
I said before that I am a firm believer that every golfer should sit down after their rounds and think about what they did. Having to go through the uploading process gave me a visual representation of what actually happened that day, instead of going through everything in my mind. I review every single shot, not only to make sure it was accurate, but also to think about what was going through my head and what I could have done differently if it didn’t work out.
I use all of this information to figure out what I should be working on in my next practice session, and I encourage you do to do the same if you end up purchasing GAME GOLF.
Is GAME GOLF Worth it?
There is a graveyard of game improvement products that have come and gone in the golf industry. Some of them were just terrible ideas, and others actually were good ideas, but golfers weren't willing to put in the work to use them properly.
Logging your shots, and uploading them online is not going to lower your scores in itself. If you're looking to just track your scores online and get your club distances, that's fine. This product can do that for you, and I believe knowing your true distances on the course can save you a ton of strokes by being a better course manager. Some of you are going to be shocked to find out how far you are actually hitting your 7 iron, and how many greens you are missing on the short side. It’s up to you whether or not that's worth the cost alone.
If you want to take it to the next level, I think GAME GOLF is a bargain in terms of how it can improve your game.
The product development team has created a very robust online system that serves as a database for your stats, and a fun social network at the same time.
Seeing all of your stats, and the insights section of your account is a gold mine of information. For the first time you will get a visual representation of where your game is deficient. I think golfers struggle so much with where to focus their practice time. If you really start to hone in on where your mistakes are happening, you will have a real blueprint of where to spend your time.
Additionally, being able to interact with other players, and see the stats of golfers who are shooting scores that you are looking to achieve, serves as a great motivational tool. You can see where their games are better than yours, and hopefully you will also use that information to change your habits.
For me it’s actually turned into a game, and it’s changed my focus on the course a bit. The one thing that became apparent to me is that I’m not hitting enough greens in order to get to the level of golf I want to be at. This is a combination not hitting enough fairways, and probably being a little too aggressive with my approach shots.
It sounds like I need to re-read my own book on course management (which is a best-seller on Amazon right now!)
I’ve found that when I’m playing a round now I am really thinking about these two stats, and it’s enhancing my focus, which was something I was not expecting.
For you, it could be that your scrambling percentage is way too low in order to shoot a 95, or you need to limit your three putts. As I said, there is so much valuable information to review once you start logging your rounds. Different trends will start to present themselves.
I’m giving GAME GOLF two huge thumbs up. It you’re willing to put the work in, I believe this is a great tool to help you achieve your goals. It also makes the process fun, which is probably the most important part about improving as a golfer. You can purchase a GAME GOLF on Amazon here.