By John Strege
Efforts to inject more fun into a difficult game and, by extension, to grow the game have focused largely on the golf course. But what about the driving range?
The Sweden-based company that created the Protracer technology used on U.S. golf telecasts, tracing the flight of the ball, is attempting to address that by bringing its technology to driving ranges.
Protracer Range has installed its product in five European locations, including the popular World of Golf in the London suburb of New Malden, and has set its sights on U.S. ranges.
"Our founder [Daniel Forsgren], when he started playing golf, watched golf on television and was annoyed that he couldn't see the ball in the coverage," Jonas Runnquist, sales and marketing manager for the company, said. "He decided to give it a shot, to try to visualize the shot of the golf ball. So we've been doing that for seven years. The networks have been using us in America, and we also do tournaments on the European Tour and the Japanese Tour.
"As every company does, you try to find ways to use technology and bring it to a bigger crowd,. That's when we started to think about driving ranges. If that can help driving ranges be a more attractive place, they might be willing to invest in the technology. Our focus is trying to make a product that will make it fun for most golfers."
One system can handle 20 hitting bays, and the golfer can track his shots via a smartphone or tablet (see video above). Besides tracing the flight of the ball, it provides exact yardage distances, while estimating the roll-out yardage. It also includes ball speed and distance from the target.
Runnquist said the Protracer Range is using Range Servant as its reseller in the U.S.
Protracer TV, meanwhile, has an agreement with the PGA Tour to use its Protracer technology on telecasts of 15 events, while it has an agreement with NBC to use its technology on four tournaments, including the U.S. Open.