The Local Knowlege

Golf & Business

An app that lets you say so long to the single (golf) life

By Stephen Hennessey

You're looking to play a round but don't like getting paired with strangers at the course. Why not pick your partners beforehand? That's the concept behind GolfMatch, an app that allows users to find like-minded golfers in their area.

After you create a profile indicating your handicap, preferred tees and other golf vitals, the app's algorithm suggests golfers and courses to play. You can create a match or join one that has already been created.

loop-golfmatch-app-432.jpgTwo 25-year-old co-founders, Peter Kratsios, a collegiate golfer, and Julio Rivera, who had been working on a similar concept, created the app this year. "It's like standing on the first tee, and picking which guys look the most fun to play with," Kratsios said. "At the end of the day, we want to create a better golfing experience."

And who knows? Maybe you'll find someone to hang out with off the course.

The app is free for download. For more info: golfmatchapp.com.

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News & Tours

Don't worry, it's not going to rain (too much) during the U.S. Open

By Keely Levins

Back in February we talked to Gary Lezak, chief meteorologist for NBC's Kansas City TV affiliate and creator of Weather2020, a forecasting app that boasts the ability to predict the weather upwards of three months in advance.

Lezak was promoting his product touting what his models told him would be the weather conditions in Augusta, Ga., 12 weeks ahead of the Masters. His prediction: Rain during the practice rounds, with the weather clearing as the tournament rounds began.

And, well … he was right. After torrential rain washed out Monday's practice round at Augusta, the tournament proper was played under sunny skies.

Naturally, then, we wanted to reach out to Lezak again to get an early read on what's in store for mid-June in North Carolina, when Pinehurst No. 2 hosts the men's and women's U.S. Opens on consecutive weeks. Here's his scoop:

During the early part of the week at the men's Open, there's going to be some thunderstorms and two to three rounds of rain. A cold front could move in before the tournament starts, but once the weekend rolls around, the temperature will be higher than usual, and it will be quite humid. In total, there will be 1-2 inches of rain that week. 

The women's Open isn't looking as wet. There could be one or two smaller periods of rain. Overall, it's going to be warm and humid.

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Of course a bit of rain isn't ideal from the perspective of players or spectators, but this information is likely to be somewhat reassuring for officials with the USGA. Suffice it to say, really bad weather could be really bad news for back-to-back Opens. If there's enough rain delays for the men's tournament, the final round could be pushed to Monday. Even worse, if an 18-hole playoff is needed to decide the men's winner, that could keep the men on the course two days before the women's tournament is slated to begin.

The USGA's luck with wet weather in the recent past hasn't always been great. Remember what Merion looked like after the men played it last summer?

And then there was the U.S. Open in 2009, where rains force a Monday finish at Bethpage Black. The U.S. Women's Open also went long in 2006 when bad weather effected play at Newport C.C.

According to Lezak, who also accurately predicted the New York weather for the Super Bowl XLVIII in February, there won't be that much rain. So, it's going to be fine. 

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Gear & Equipment

Move over Shot Tracker. Here's an app that lets you map out your round like a tour pro

By Brendan Mohler

With numerous apps on the market designed to help you navigate the golf course, discerning one from another can be difficult. The new entry from Hole19 could add to the confusion, or it could make things easier thanks to its cool look and simple operation.

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In addition to giving GPS yardages, the Hole19 app maps each shot you play, creating a graphic record similar to the PGA Tour's Shot Tracker (see larger below). The app uses map services to portray a satellite view of each hole, giving you a vivid picture of the dangers that lurk on the course. It can calculate your stats (GIR, fairways, etc.) to pinpoint areas for improvement.

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Best of all is the price: It's free in the iTunes app store, and each course is free to download.
 
Follow @brendanmohlerGW

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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?

Greenhorn Creek.jpg

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'

Golf History with Peter Alliss.jpg

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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July 28, 2014

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