Golf Digest is partnering with Power Balance wristbands for a new charitable endeavor. With every purchase of a special Golf Digest "Golfers Who Give Back" band, $15 will be donated to The First Tee.
Click here to order your band.
In the video below LPGA Player of the Year Stacy Lewis discusses the Golf Digest offer, and her success using Power Balance.
By John Strege
ORLANDO -- Slow play, as has been noted in the past, is like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.
Well, there is one man, at least, attempting to do something about it. Entrepreneur Steve Aronson (4HeadWear, hats designed for bald men) has introduced at the PGA Merchandise Show a pace-of-play education program called Play 240 Golf. The 240 represents 240 minutes, or four hours, the target time for a round of golf.
"What 240 Golf is is an education program that courses can use to initiate conversation about the issue of slow play," said Aronson's partner, Scott Owens. "Unless you address the problem, nothing is going to happen. What we use are some very basic etiquette rules that remind folks of what they need to do that's going to improve their pace of play. The premise of 240 is to be ready when it's their turn."
Aronson said his research showed that 73 percent of players say they play with or know someone they consider a slow player.
"The golf course gets a kit of merchandising materials -- placemats, posters, cart stickers," Aronson said. "The fundamental idea of being ready when it's your turn is good golf etiquette. Everything's positioned around golf etiquette. The first rule is to be ready to play when it's your turn.
"We're also creating a series of 10 one-minute videos that we will provide to the golf course that they can post to their website or email to their customer list and it's all about good pace of play etiquette. Over time they get it."
Golfers tend to be reluctant to confront slow-playing friends or golf partners, Aronson said. His product is a way around that. "We're telling golfers to ask their golf pro or golf course to bring this program up and talk about it," he said.
The cost of the kits range from $69 to $240, "whatever makes sense for their golf course," Aronson said.
By Peter Finch
Orlando -- How'd you like to play golf for 10-15 percent of the usual green fee? That's the pitch from Bid4Golf.com, a new website founded by David Robinson, a former club manager from Canada.
The catch -- or maybe a big part of the appeal, depending on your personality -- is that you'll have to participate in a "penny auction" to buy it. Penny auctions were popularized by the website quibids.com, where people purchase electronics and other items in lively, rapid-fire auctions. Each bid increases by a penny. Unlike eBay, where bidding costs you nothing unless you win the item, in a penny auction you pay anywhere from 50 to 75 cents per bid.
The launch date for Bid4Golf.com is March 1. Robinson aims to start with daily fee courses in Phoenix, Southern California's Inland Empire, Dallas/Fort Worth and possibly Calgary and Edmonton.
The appeal to courses, as Robinson tells it, is that they get help filling their tee sheets at their full green-fee rate. Here's how it works:
1. Bid4Golf approaches a course and buys tee-time vouchers at full price. 2. The site auctions the vouchers online. 3. Bidding starts at a penny and quickly escalates, rising by a penny each time. 4. Bidding ends, culminating with a countdown clock that adds to the excitement. 5. Though the green fee may sell for a fraction of its market value (typically quibids.com items sell for 80-95 percent off), Bid4Golf has made money on each bid -- so it ought to come out ahead. 6. Even if bidding is light and Bid4Golf doesn't make a profit, the golf course does OK because it gets the full green fee from Robinson.
The key thing, from Robinson's perspective, is to get a lot of bidding -- since each increase costs the bidder 50 to 75 cents, depending on how many bids they have pre-purchased. Robinson estimates he'll lose money on about half the auctions, break even on 10 percent, and come out ahead on the remaining 40 percent. And that, he says, ought to be good enough to make it a going concern.
What about people who make a bunch of bids and don't win the auction? Aren't they out the 50 to 75 cents they spent on each bid? Bid4Golf will let them apply that money as a credit toward purchasing a full-price green fee.
By John Strege
ORLANDO -- When the principals in JustOne Golf were doing their research, they learned that 75 percent of golfers confessed to gambling in some form on every round. That in combination with the popularity of hole-in-one prizes typically offered at charity golf tournaments convinced them they had an idea worth pursuing.
The brainchild of Steven Rattner, a co-founder of the leveraged finance company Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, the JustOne Golf is at the PGA Merchandise Show marketing a means by which golfers will have the opportunity to place a wager on a par 3, with an opportunity to win anything from $20 to $1 million.
"We install a Teeosk on a par 3 on the golf course, along with high definition cameras," principal Tom Lynch said. "It enables the golfer on that par 3 to play a variety of golf games. It could be a pure impulse play. They walk up to the tee and touch the screen, enter their registration and put their credit card in. They can play for as little as $5 or play for amounts above $5.
"Let's say you want to play for $10. You Immediately get a free drink in the clubhouse. it also enables you play our flagstick game. If you hit it within the [length of the] flagstick, you lay the flagstick down and the cameras record that you've done it, and you get a coupon in the pro shop for a $20 credit."
If you play the hole-in-one-game for $10, the payout for an ace is $40,000. "This enables the course to have this every day," Lynch said.
It does not violate any state's gambling laws, Lynch said. "We've done a lot of legal research. This is a game of skill. It's not a game of chance."
The high-definition cameras are similar to those used by Homeland Security and crime protection, Lynch said. Each time, a golfer makes a play, the hole is monitored at a OneGolf facility and the action is taped.
JustOne Golf does not offer the $1 million hole-in-one prize yet, but it is in the plans. The cost to play for $1 million will be $250.
By John Strege
ORLANDO -- The PGA Merchandise Show features a section called Inventors' Spotlight, where new ideas, good or bad, bizarre and interesting, are introduced. A product that seemed to be garnering more attention than others was the Golf Bike, a bicycle designed to carry clubs and be used as an alternative to walking the course or using a cart.
"We're a bike company, but we also do golf swing aids and we're also golfers," Roger Hawkes of Higher Ground Bicycle Company, said. " We combined what we do for a living in the cycling world along with our passion for golf.
"It's low impact to the course. Obviously, it's going to add fitness and speed of play. When we use it it's about an hour for nine holes."
The Golf Bike has been used on a testing basis at Killearn Country Club in Tallahassee, Fla. The Higher Ground Bicycle Company manufactures the bikes.
"To ride a bike it has to be functional, it has to be balanced," Hawkes said. "It's based on a format that we've used as an offroad bike. The wheels are designed to be low impact on the course. The gearing has been designed to be functional on varied terrain. The balalnce of how the bike rides, how the rack is set up, all that works together.
"It would be ideal for somebody who lives on the course and ideal for the courses themselves to have a fleet for people to use. We've gotten a lot of good response from courses here today looking at the product. Our goal maybe is to be at the show next year with a model that will retail between $700 and $800, very similar to where an off road bike should be."
By John Strege
ORLANDO -- Fred Daly won the British Open in 1947, won the British Matchplay Championship three times, played on four Ryder Cup teams and designed and developed his own equipment under the name Fred Daly Golf.
Today, his son Robin Daly operates Fred Daly Golf and he is at the PGA Merchandise Show here, introducing his putter line to a U.S. audience for the first time. It's called the Peanut Putter.
Robin has removed weight from the top and bottom of the putter in the hitting area, hence the resultant shape of a peanut. But there is a utility in having done so, even beyond allowing the weight to be distributed to the perimters. It gives the putter a platform on which to set on the ground, what is called the Repeatable Anchor System.
"The club sets down right every time," Daly said. "It's a very simple idea. A lot of amateurs, a lot of pros, too, whenever their game goes off a little bit -- hands too high, too low -- this just keeps you in the same position."
Steve Webster, a winner of two European Tour events, has been using the Peanut Putter in Europe. It has been available there for five years, but is new to the U.S.
By John Strege
Rangefinders continue to evolve, even in packages already small and functional, like those worn on the wrist in the manner of a wristwatch. Garmin Golf joined that fray with its Approach S1 and now has improved upon it with the Approach S2.
The S2 comes preloaded with more than 30,000 courses world wide and can be used right out of the package. It provides distances to the front, middle and back of greens, and features layup and dogleg distances. For those walking the course, it even inlcudes an odometer to chart your mileage.
The S2 comes with a digital scoreard feature that enables golfers to save their scores via a web-based program from Garmin.
Oh, and it really is a wristwatch, too, providing the time and the date.
The Approach S2 will become available in March, with a suggested retail price of $250.
By John Strege
One issue with laser rangefinders has always been the uncertainty that you've zeroed in on the right target and not, say, a tree behind it. Bushnell Golf has taken steps to eliminate any doubt with its new Tour v3 laser rangefinder.
The Tour v3 features a new technology that Bushnell calls JOLT that provides short vibrating bursts to help reinforce in the user's mind that the target has been isolated by the company's existing PinSeeker technology.
The Tour v3 is accurate to within one yard, according to Bushnell, and has a range up to 1,000 yards. It will retail for $299 and will be available in February.
There also is a Tour v3 Slope Edition, which features the additional benefit of Slope Technology -- distances that take into account elevation changes, removing the guesswork. It will retail for $399 and also will be available in February.
By John Strege
Those who manage golf leagues (and suffer the headaches associated with doing so) might want to pay attention to this: A sophisticated, but simple solution called GolfLeagueGenius.com.
It is the latest offering from Golf Genius Software, which previously introduced GolfTripGenius.com, designed to help organize buddies trip.
"We wanted to create a platform for league organizers and golf profedssionals, whoever takes on the role [of managing leagues]," Billy Condon, director of marketing for Golf Genius Software, said. "It's making their job easier. Instead of two or three hours it's reduced to 15 minutes."
GolfLeagueGenius.com is set up to handle tournaments played in any format or even multiple formats (say, a Stableford scoring event that includes a skins game), pairings, standings, scoring (with handicap indexes) and payouts.
"With a couple of clicks, you have a season-long schedule optimizied to your preferences," Condon said. "Our mission is to make sure everyone plays with everyone else before there's a repeat. We have a league in Florida that wants every foursome with handicaps as close as possible to all other groups. Say a foursome's handicap indexes add to 60.2. We might have a range of, say, 59.5 to 61.4."
A free mobile app is available, too, allowing each group to input its scores (provided cell phones are allowed on the course), producing a live leaderboard. A custom member website also is included.
The cost is $12 a golfer for the season, an introductory offer. On April 1, the cost will go to $15 a golfer for the season.
By John Strege
The level of expertise often found in technology designed to improve your golf game can be impressive.
Krishna Ramchandran, for instance, was a senior research scientist for Citrix Online, working on such products as GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC. His latest venture is a Boston-based company he co-founded with Amit Jardosh called Ubersense, "a personal coach in the palm of your hand," the company says.
It has developed a series of sports apps for iPhone and iPad devices that allow video analysis of various athletic motions. "The U.S. gymnastics and volleyball teams used Ubersense in preparing for the London Olympics," Jake Schuster, a spokesman for the company, said.
The latest addition to its lineup is Ubersense Golf, a free app available from the iTunes store. Ubersense Golf allows the recording and analyzing of a golf swing, with a frame-by-frame slow motion playback, including the ability to telestrate, a la John Madden.
'Tap a little pencil icon and everything you touch becomes a line or circle of whatever you want to use," Schuster said. The circle tool might be used to see whether the head is moving around too much during a swing, he said.
The Ubersense Golf allows for side-by-side comparisons of your swing over a period of time, or a side-by-side comparison of your swing and a PGA Tour or LPGA player's swing from a library of them provided by the app or from downloading one you've found on the internet. You can even overlay two swings (shown in the screenshot here).
The swing videos can be forwarded to an instructor via email or saved to a Dropbox account provided with the app. "The primary use is to get in-depth swing analysis from your coach without being with your coach," Schuster said.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect a recent change in the name of the product from SwingReader Golf to Ubersense Golf