Digital Caddies

Will the latest golf GPS devices change your game? Here's what you need to know

January 2009
Digital Caddies

You want to know why hand-held GPS devices are golf's next revolution? Imagine having a yardage marker at your feet everywhere you (and your ball) go. No guessing, no pacing, no calculating. And because the USGA now allows distance-measuring devices to be used (and shared) under a local rule, it's no less a game-improvement purchase than a new high-MOI driver is.

Hand-held golf GPS technology makes the navigation screen in your car look like an Etch A Sketch. GPS devices for cars are designed to pinpoint locations within hundreds of yards. However, golf GPS models use at least four satellites 11,000 miles above the earth to calculate distances within a yard or two.

Still not impressed? Well, consider pace of play. When the 2007 LPGA Teaching and Club Professional National Championship provided each competitor with a SkyCaddie GPS unit from industry leader SkyGolf, all three rounds were completed in less than five hours for the first time in the 20-year history of the event. Oh, and scores were down, too.

Purchase Green Finder for $35 from your iPhone and other GPS-enabled mobile phones. And what about laser range finders? Read more >

SkyCaddie SG5

[$430] $30-$60 annual fee, unlimited downloads
WEIGHT AND SIZE: 5.5 ounces; 5.4 x 2.2 x 1.0 inches
FEATURES: The large, full-color display screen measures each green and up to 40 reference points per hole. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 14 hours.
MAPPING: SkyGolf is unmatched in its mapping process because each of the 21,000 courses in the company's database has been hand-mapped. PGA Tour caddie Mark Long developed a curriculum to help the SkyGolf staff map a course the way a caddie would.
BONUS: The SG 2.5 version lacks a color screen but is $150 less.

Golf Buddy Tour

[$430] No annual membership fee
WEIGHT AND SIZE: 4.23 ounces; 4.25 x 2.25 x 1.0 inches
FEATURES: Distances on the color screen include measurements to the front, center and back of the green. The device also keeps track of a player's score, and the rechargeable battery lasts up to 16 hours and has a AAA backup.
MAPPING: A team of mappers walks 30 percent of the courses in the company's database and uses software to interpret satellite images for the remaining 70 percent.
BONUS: The device is preloaded with more than 20,000 courses worldwide (11,000 in the United States).


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