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Gear & Equipment

So you're in charge of running this year's Masters pool. Well, there's an app for that

By Stephen Hennessey

The Masters is less than two weeks away, and many golf fans are likely to enter pools to predict who will contend for the green jacket at Augusta National. If that sounds like you, a new smartphone app that launched this month could prove helpful.

DraftKings (available in iTunes) is believed to be the first fantasy app that incorporates golf (along with pro and college football and basketball, baseball and hockey). Fans can use the app to run their own free Masters pools--or hold similar weekly PGA Tour fantasy competitions.


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If you want to run a league where more is on the line than simply pride, DraftKings also hosts individual leagues for a small commission based on the overall purse that's available.

The app offers several public golf contests with cash prizes for the winners, each requiring an entry fee to play. (Last week, I won $45 on a $12 entry fee for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.)

For the Masters, DraftKings is running a contest with $300,000 in guaranteed payouts, including a $100,000 prize to first place. The cost, however, is not for the faint of heart. To get into the game requires a $200 entry fee.

For more, go to DraftKings.com.



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Gear & Equipment

Live scoring for your weekly grudge match? Oh yeah!

By Ryan Herrington

We're all for the entertainment that arises when gathering with your buddies after a round, adding up your scores and figuring out who beat who in the myriad of games that were being played. What if, though, all those calculations took place in real time, allowing for the drama to play out on the course over the last final few holes?

Blog-Vpar-scoring.jpgVPAR, a London-based company, offers a phone app that can create a live-scoring experience for anything from match- or stroke-play tournaments to your regular four-ball grudge match. The app's latest version can track up to 32 golfers and monitor multiple games simultaneously. (The company also offers a tournament management system for clubs hosting larger events.)

You can share live leader boards on Facebook and Twitter to keep others away from the course up-to-date on all the action.

The VPAR app, available on iTunes, has a $8.99 yearly subscription fee, but also offers other features, notably GPS distance measuring capabilities and stat tracking functions. For more information go to VPAR.com.
 




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Gear & Equipment

This new app tells you how far your clubs will actually travel

By Stephen Hennessey

ORLANDO -- Playing a course in different conditions always presents a challenge to golfers in terms of club selection. Certainly having a local caddie helps, but is there a scientific way to approach club selection away from your home course? The FlagHi app aims to solve this question.

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A former software developer with IBM, Nate Regimbal partnered with low-handicap golfer Mark Stratz to develop an app that calculates new carry distances for a user based on temperature, humidity and elevation changes in a new location you're playing in.

After inputting your carry distances for each club in your bag, and the baseline conditions on your home course, the app ($4.99/one time fee) will calculate your adjusted carry distances once you input three data points at the new course--temperature, humidity and elevation.

A difference between your 6-iron normally traveling 178 yards or 191 yards can be the difference between hitting the green or being short, Stratz points out.

The Pro version of the app ($9.99) has an added "Plays As" feature, which allows the user to use a scrubbable yardage scale to tell you which club you should hit. If you have a160-yard shot, you drag the yardage mark over to 160 yards, and the app tells you which club to hit.

Stratz and Regimbal said they've worked with college teams to help them prepare for tournaments at courses they'd never played.


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Gear & Equipment

Digital Signals: Online putting advice

By Keely Levins

From the Nov. 20 edition of Golf Digest Stix:

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Watch this: SeeMore putting instructor Pat O'Brien and a (non-virtual) student.

The seemore putting institute, which counts Zach Johnson among its students, has created a virtual teaching experience to make its instructors more accessible to the masses. It's called the SeeMore Elite SPi Cyber Coach system. Take a video of your putting stroke with a smartphone and upload it with questions, and your coach will send a video response. Among others, the system will be useful for players going through college recruiting, says Ted Gallina, director of instruction. They can show prospective coaches their profiles, starting with a history of what they've been working on with their putting stroke. The first month costs $200. At the end of the month, you can choose to re-up at a discounted rate. More info.

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Gear & Equipment

USB hubs on golf carts: Why? Or why not?

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By John Strege

The use of cell phones on golf courses, though often criticized, is here to stay, excepting private facilities that ban them. So why not embrace them?

Greenhorn Creek Resort in Angels Camp in California gold country (shown above) is doing so in creative ways, equipping its golf carts with small solar panels and USB hubs for the purpose of charging cell phones.

Moreover, it has its own mobile app that, among other things, has GPS rangefinder capabilities -- yardages to the front, center and back of greens, as well as to hazards, and carry distances.

"So far it's proven to be extremely popular," Greenhorn Creek head professional Allan Ramorini said. "As busy as everybody is and not having a lot of time to play golf, this allows them to stay connected to work, with their phones right there, and it has the GPS on it. It's a value-added bonus. It's been neat. Before, they might not have wanted to use their phones [with GPS apps] because their batteries were going to die."

The solar panels and USB hubs are provided by Cart Golf GPS, an Ogden, Utah, company whose primary business has been GPS systems for golf carts, as its name suggests. Greenhorn Creek is first client for the solar panels and USB hubs.

"We actually just recently started it and haven't put it out to the market yet," Chad Brown, president of Cart Golf GPS said. "We just have the one course. But everything seems to be working really well with it."

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Gear & Equipment

TourCaddie: A virtual caddie in an app

By John Strege

TourCaddie obviously is not a caddie per se. But what it is is an iPhone app that has the ability to perform some of the same functions as a caddie does, and it fits in your pocket.

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"It's very similar to what the professional golfer experiences," Craig Prichard, president of Shotzoom, a licensee of PGA Tour, Inc., and the company that produced the app. "The inspiration behind it is that it's an advanced yardage book, customizable the way pros customize their yardages books and collect information."

The basic app, which is free, includes a GPS rangefinder, providing yardages to the front, middle and back of greens on more than 40,000 courses. It also provides aerial images of the holes and can help the golfer collect statistical data -- fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts -- and take photos and notes for future reference on how to play the holes.

But it's the paid upgrade ($29.99 for an annual subscription to the TourCaddie Pro) that allows the user to garner the full potential of the app and its caddie functions.

In addition to providing the basic yardages, it also offers yardages to hazards and other targets on each hole, club recommendations based on the user's tracking his shots over time, and the ability to zoom in on targets to gather more pre-shot information.

A second paid upgrade ($9.99 for an annual subscription to TourAcademy) provides access to a library of videos with tips and drills to help the golfer with various aspects of their game.

Shotzoom is the company that also produced the Golfplan with Paul Azinger and Tiger Woods: My Swing apps.

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Gear & Equipment

iPad app: 'Golf History with Peter Alliss'

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By John Strege

More history no doubt will have been written by the time one consumes all the information in a new iPad app, "Golf History with Peter Alliss."

This app spans the game from Mary Queen of Scots and her passion for golf in the 1500s to Bobby Jones' grand slam in 1930. The basic app is free, though to realize its full potential, in-app purchases are available, including those detailing the U.S. Open. the Open Championship and the Roots of American Golf. A value pack unlocking all content is available for $9.99, a modest price to pay, it seems, for so much history..

The app, narrated by the English broadcaster, former professional golfer and World Golf Hall of Fame member Peter Alliss, features more than 500 historical photographs, more than 400 stories about the game and many of its personalities, and more than 100 videos.

It features a keyword search and the ability to share images on social networks and via email. Museum-quality archival prints of the photographs can be ordered, too.


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Gear & Equipment

Flex Appeal: There's a shaft for that

By Brendan Mohler

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Getting shafted: Answer eight questions about your game, and this app will make suggestions.

A Pro version ($6) is designed for use with a clubfitter and processes data from a launch monitor (in addition to your answers) to make more personalized recommendations. Both apps suggest local and 100 Best Clubfitters and are now available for both Apple and Android devices. A Tour version of the app will be available later this summer for tablets and is designed for clubfitters and true equipment fanatics, providing users with shaft comparisons, more data about the recommendations and access to the full database of shafts.


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Gear & Equipment

A golf motion sensor to analyze putting strokes

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By John Strege

The growing motion sensor segment in golf heretofore has focused virtually entirely on the full swing, but 3Bays, which itself began with a full-swing motion sensor, has now applied its technology to analysis of the putting stroke.

The 3BaysGSA Putt device weighs a third of an ounce and plugs into the grip end of your putter. Via a Bluetooth connection to an app on a smartphone or iPad, it relays information about your putting stroke. It tracks face angle, consistency, attack angle, tempo, backswing time, downswing time, impact speed and swingpath distance.

It will instantly show an animation playback of your path in both side view and top view, to see how the putter is moving throughout your stroke.

The 3BayGSA Putt sells for $200 and can be purchased through the company website.

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Gear & Equipment

SkyGolf introduces SkyPro golf swing analyzer

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By John Strege

The quest for better golf through technology has been undertaken by SkyGolf, maker of the SkyCaddie rangefinder, with the introduction of SkyPro.

A swing analyzer and training tool, SkyPro features a small, lightweight device (under an ounce) that attaches to a golf club just below the grip and provides a variety of swing feedback, via bluetooth, to a smartphone app.

The SkyPro captures as many as 100,000 data points from address to impact, the company said, including clubhead speed, swing path, club rotation, face angle, swing plane, impact position and tempo. It does this automatically, too, without the golfer having even to push a button. You can see your swing in 3D, from virtually any angle, at any speed.

It also features groove and practice sessions that identify faults in less than perfect swings and provides alerts for common swing miscues for club rotation, shaft angle and swing plane. Practice tips are provided by renowned instructors Hank Haney and Michael Breed.

It has a sleep mode to save power, but can accommodate eight hours of swinging on a single charge. Morever, in the event you can't use a cell phone on the course or range, the swing information is stored in the device and transfered to your smartphone afterward.

The SkyPro retails for $200

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