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5 ways Artificial Intelligence is improving golf

Editor's Note: This article is written in partnership with Salesforce.

November 28, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that is already impacting most aspects of everyday life. From learning to reasoning to self-correction and creativity, AI is influencing how we all live, work, and play.

Any golfer who has booked an online tee time at a favorite course and then received an email offering a free round on his or her birthday has experienced AI. These tools help businesses, employees, and customers solve complex issues faster and work smarter.

Out of the office and on the course, golfers who want to play better are using AI technology and tools to help improve their swings and choose the best-performing clubs. Unlike typical golf technology enhancements, such as rangefinders or launch monitors, AI creates intelligent systems that operate autonomously and make real-time decisions.

Golf fans watching the sport on TV also benefit from AI tools like the PGA Tour’s ShotLink system, which tracks about 32,000 data points per tournament and instantly translates that information to broadcasters who use it to provide real-time player performance insight for viewers.

Here are a few other ways AI technology is creating positive change on the game of golf.

1. Improved Club Fitting – All serious golfers know the importance of having the right clubs to fit their particular swing. Artificial intelligence has already been incorporated into the technology used by most club fitters, enabling amateur golfers to improve quickly. With the help of AI, clubfitters can identify which clubs are best for you with just a few swings with a 7-iron, based on such things as ball flight, spin rate, launch angle, and clubhead speed.

2. Club Technology – In addition to helping golfers find the right clubs for their swing, AI is also helping to design those actual clubs. Callaway’s Epic Flash drivers and fairway woods are the byproduct of a $5-million supercomputer that ran 24-7 for four weeks, cycling through 15,000 variations to come up with the most optimal clubface technology.

3. Enhanced Coaching – With AI-powered sensors and cameras used to track a golfer’s specific swing, coaches — whether in-person or virtually — will be able to better design training programs. Want to try to coach yourself? Using AI-powered chatbot tools, such as ChatGPT, for tips to improve your swing is a simple, low-budget way to seek game-improvement advice. Similar to how Einstein AI is helping Salesforce customers automate and improve their day-to-day performance in the office, these new AI-powered coaching tactics are enabling amateurs to become more efficient in their training and knowledgeable in all aspects of their game.

4. Fan Experience – For those who watch golf on TV, attend events in person, or both, AI is significantly improving the fan experience. From detailed shot-tracking technologies, such as ShotLink, to real-time data gathering and predictive scoring analysis, fans are already enjoying a more in-depth golf-viewing experience thanks to AI that will only continue to improve over time.

5. Improved Course Management/Maintenance – The use of advanced AI technology to monitor factors such as weather patterns, optimal tee-time intervals, course-layout options, and agronomy is helping to reduce the amount of time needed to play 18 holes. Additionally, tools such as Salesforce’s Einstein AI technology can help small-market courses better predict seasonal sales trends to maximize revenue. Those same courses, which may struggle with hiring enough staff, are using AI chat bots to help their staff respond to questions and scheduling issues faster with generated responses, all based on trusted customer data.

While you may not entirely understand how AI works or why it is so revolutionary, most golfers can all agree on one thing – if it can help lower your score or increase your enjoyment of the sport, the technology is a welcome addition to the game.