The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

Never lose your keys on the golf course again

Having worked seven summers at a golf club, I've spent plenty of time searching for lost keys and wallets on the course or in the clubhouse. If only the folks at Tile had been around earlier.

loop-tile-518.jpgThe company has developed its small square device, which can be hung on a key ring or taped to a wallet, to track down misplaced items. Download the Tile app, which uses the Bluetooth on your iPhone/iPad. If the Tile is within range (about 150 feet), an indicator will tell you when you're getting close. You can also hit the "find" button, and the Tile will play a song to help you hear where it is. For Tiles out of range, the app shows the last place it was able to detect the Tile (and when).

The first wave of Tiles sold out, but you can pre-order them for $20 this fall on

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Gear & Equipment

An app that can track your stats like you're on the PGA Tour

By Stephen Hennessey

The interest in stats and their application in golf is bigger than ever. Arccos -- a game-improvement app with technology developed by Callaway -- offers real-time, automatic stat-tracking on your smartphone.

loop-arccos-accessories518.jpgHere’s how it works: Tiny plugs with sensors are inserted into the butt end of each of your grips to track every stroke. That information is then sent to the app, which shows relevant stats on every club.

The app comes with 16,000 courses and uses Google Maps software. Industry veteran Tim Reed, Callaway’s senior VP of product strategy and management, has worked closely with Arccos the past two years to develop the app. It’s available for pre-order at a reduced price ($299), and at retail in August for $399.

For more:

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Gear & Equipment

Gamers unite: Nintendo launches latest edition of Mario Golf video game

By Stephen Hennessey

Admit it: the old geeky teenager inside you always enjoys hearing about the release of a new video game, particularly a golf one. You'll be pleased, then with the news that Nintendo is releasing the latest edition of its popular Mario Golf video game.

loop-mario-video-game-cover-518.jpgMario Golf World Tour, available for the Nintendo 3DS, 3DS XL and 2 DS, hit stores May 2. The company unveiled the latest edition of the game (retail price: $30) at a private showing last Saturday in its Rockefeller Center store. About 50 attendees, half of whom were kids, got a first look at the game and met Mario, Luigi and other characters.

Mario Golf World Tour combines real aspects of golf—reading greens, picking targets off the tee—and presents them with fun, fantasy elements. Features like the undulations of greens and being precise on short-game shots, make this feel like a true golf video game, while also holding true to its fun Mario roots at the same time. (After a bogey, Bowser repeatedly hits himself in the head for messing up.)

Courses go through the desert or a castle and you can earn items (reminiscent of other famous Mario games) that give you boosts on your drives or hitting out of the rough. There are also long-drive contests and Speed Golf competitions you can play against a computer or with friends in online or local play.

Noah Munck, the 17-year-old actor famous for his role in the Nickelodeon series iCarly, spent the morning playing the game with kids and thinks the Mario game could help golf grow.

"With this game, you can get a lot of younger kids interested in golf who wouldn't be interested in golf," said Munck, who is promoting the game for Nintendo. "A lot of kids will say, 'Woah, this is a fun sport!' I've never played it before. So I think it's a great platform to advocate golf to a younger demographic."

This is the latest installment of the Mario Golf series, which included the 1991 NES Open Tournament on Nintendo, followed by editions for Game Boy, Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube (which was remade for Nintendo Wii).

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News & Tours

It turns out, Siri is a golfer

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

If you have an iPhone, you probably know Siri.

If you're a golfer with an iPhone, you'll be interested to know that Siri plays golf. I found this out when I was looking for a nearby golf store, and she took it upon herself to describe her latest round. Henny is presumably for the late Borscht Belt great Henny Youngman, but I like to think she's referring to Mr. Stenson.

She doesn't seem to play anymore, though. Must have something to do with that last round of hers.

I even asked about her favorite golfer, but then she got all non-committal and changed the subject.

But at least golf captured her interest at one point. That's more than can be said about some of the other major sports.

Well, Siri, when you do make it back onto the course, maybe we'll get a round in.

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News & Tours

Why distance-measuring devices aren't needed at the professional level

By Geoff Shackelford

With the USGA joining the R&A in allowing distance-measuring devices to be used for the purpose of gathering yardages during amateur competitions, only major professional tours and the majors are free of the information gathering tools. And this almost assuredly will remain the state of affairs going forward.

Related: Golf's most notable rules changes

Setting aside the assertion that the use of these devices will speed up play -- both organizations sounded lukewarm to the suggestion because they know better -- distance-measuring devices remain virtually useless for a professional golfer on a course with even a semblance of thought required to navigate its hazards.

Yes, caddies will use them to double check yardages during practice rounds and if a player blows a drive into an adjoining fairway, the devices certainly would come in handy to zap a yardage from a spot not covered by a yardage book. That's assuming there's a clear view of the flagstick or a hazard that could be picked up by the device.

However, left unsaid in the mysterious urgency to introduce the devices to big time golf is just how meaningless yardages are to the flagstick compared to more nuanced information such as the distance to carry key features, or to certain slopes in greens or to the fronts of greens -- especially, if there is any firmness to the ground at all.

Related: Golf Digest's list of the best GPS devices on the market

Sure, there are mechanical golfers who don't take much into consideration when assessing the shot before them, but unless they are facing a featureless, flat design, the direct yardage to the hole falls short of telling the full story before them. The next time a television sound technician picks up an intense player-caddie conversation in the fairway, note how little attention is paid to the yardage to the hole. Their discussion invariably centers on the type of shot to play over, around or near a place other than the hole. And that is why distance-measuring devices will never be needed at the professional level.

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News & Tours

Could 2014 be the year of driverless golf carts?

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

People might one day look back at 2013 as a seminal year in the golf-automotive world. Bubba's hovercraft burst onto the scenes in April, as did that Batmobile golf cart-thing, which in December sold on eBay for more than $17,000. One criminal even tried to use a golf cart as a getaway vehicle -- although that one didn't turn out so well.

But it's the brilliant minds over at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), in collaboration with the Future Urban Mobility Interdisciplinary Research Group (FM IRG), who could have closed the year with an invention worthy of starting a new one. It's a driverless golf cart, fit with laser sensors, computers and GPS satellites that together allow the cart to drive itself.

The idea stems from the car manufacturing industry, where engineers are testing cars that could one day do all the driving for you. Why? Because it helps cut down on commuting time and may, in some cases, actually be safer because computers can't experience emotions like fatigue or anger.

Could self-driving golf carts be a natural successor to driverless cars? They might. They might even precede them, according to one of the carts builders James Fu, because right now one of these carts requires a tolerance between 10 to 50 meters. That's space more suited to a rural environment -- a golf course, for example -- rather than a city.

We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, here's what could prove to be a glimpse into the future:

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