Golf is probably the most innovative sport out there. No other sport involves so much gear and perfect practice. Every year, billions are poured into the research and development of balls that can fly farther, clubs that can hit harder, and tools that will make golfers’ swings perfect. As a result, golf is constantly on the cutting edge of technology, fueled by new advances and crazy ideas. Here are some predictions of what you might see on the course in the future. Some of these innovations already exist, but aren’t commonplace yet, while others probably won’t pan out for quite a while. Let us know your golf predictions in the comments!
1. Worldwide Virtual Golf
Play in global tournaments from your local course
You couldn’t expect us to not brag about ourselves, could you? After all, Worldwide Virtual Golf is all about giving golf tournaments a high-tech upgrade. Basically, it allows golfers from around the world to compete in tournaments from different courses and even on different days. So now, every time you head out to the course, you could be competing against friends in different states, or golfers in other countries. The WVG Handicap Algorithm will factor out course difficulty so that everyone is competing on a level playing field, no matter where they play. The site has three different types of tournaments to play in, as well as the ability to organize friends into golf groups that make it super easy to create tournaments and invite everyone you’d like. You can turn you typical golf game into something exciting and challenging by signing up at WorldwideVirtualGolf.com (sign up is Free right now!).
2. Smart Balls
Improve your skills without Ever losing a ball Again
This awesome tech is already employed at TopGolf facilities across the world. The balls encase a small sensor chip that can determine the speed, spin, and distance of a ball, which is valuable information for golfers looking to improve their skills. They’ll also track your score (so no more cheating!), and could direct you straight to a lost ball with the help of an app! The balls aren’t very economical for course play yet; it’s too easy to loose the expensive new toy. But like everything, the cost of the technology will decrease over time, and eventually it may be hard to find a golf ball that doesn’t have a sensor inside of it. It’s hard to see a future where smart balls aren’t a standard, and when paired with the next innovation on the list, these smart balls may help improve your game like never before.
3. ‘Scary Good’ Coaching Apps
The best coach you’ll ever have
There are 1.5 million apps in the iOS App Store, with 1,000 more being added each day. It really is safe to say that there is an app for everything, even for improving your golf game. You may be skeptical of the quality of the “coaching app” tech right now, and you’d be justified in that belief. But in the future, the apps will be much smarter. In fact, they may become “smarter” than real coaches. Someday they’ll be better at tracking swings than a real person, they’ll be better at offering advice specifically tailored for you, and they’ll probably be able to rework a golfer’s entire swing. As the speaking technology behind Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana gets better, the app will actually work with you to improve you game, maybe even better than a real human coach can. I think we can all agree that Siri is often more annoying than helpful, but the technology is in it’s infancy, and we can look forward to digital assistants that are closer to TARS from Interstellar than the deaf and dumb AI on our phones today. It’s helpful voice will never become frustrated, never get tired, and won’t charge you by the hour. Someday, everyone will have access to the best coach in the world for a standard price of an app.
4. The GolfBoard
Surf the earth
We have a new member on the “Golf-Vehicle” lineup: The Golf Board. It’s basically a over-sized motorized skateboard with a pole to control speed and direction. The board promises to “dramatically improve pace of play” and offer additional revenue streams for courses. Renting two boards instead of one golf cart for two golfers may dissuade players from trying the new tech, so it remains to be seen if the Golf Board will continue to show up on courses across the world. But the idea is awesome and it will be interesting to see if the GolfBoard takes off.
5. The Customization Explosion
Golf Gear Exactly How You Want It
Increased customization of everything is the future, and golf definitely won’t be left out. There’s already a custom golf gear industry, but I’m talking about an even greater level of customization becoming the industry standard. As club makers compete for your dollars, and as 3D printing and other manufacturing techniques lower the cost of production, they’ll all start offering customization to capture your interest. Eventually, golfers will be able to choose the club that’s just right for them, even if they’re buying their first set ever. All for no extra cost, and it’ll be as easy as customizing a computer these days. The color scheme, materials, driver size, groove design, shaft length, and putter style will probably be some of the options you’ll get to decide when choosing your clubs. “Premium” features always trickle down to standard features given enough time, and golf gear customization is not different. You can definitely look forward to arguing with your golf buddies about which one of you designed the slickest looking iron set.
transportation has never been more fun
Bubba Watson is one of the top golfers in the world, but he’s also a pioneer when it comes to hovercraft technology. He teamed up his sponsor Oakley and the Neoteric Hovercraft company to design the world’s first golf hovercart. It does have some impressive advantages over regular golf carts, like being able to take a shortcut over a water hazard, and it leaves no tire marks on the course. Unfortunately, they’re priced at $58,000, but the technology is there. Hopefully in the future, there will be hovercarts on every course. I don’t know about you, but I think the fun of golfing would double if I got to drive a hovercraft over hills and lakes in-between shots.
7. The HoloLens
experiencing what it’s like to play on the Pro Tour
Worldwide Virtual Golf already lets you compete against the Pros for fun from your local course, but there’s a good chance that idea will be taken even further someday. Microsoft recently showed off their incredible HoloLens concept device, their crack at the new wearable tech industry. These things aren’t just a computer screen in front of your eyes, they can actually add visuals that interact with the environment you are looking at. Check out the video below (It’s not just a concept video, most of the example demos actually work already):
When the HoloLens takes off (although hopefully it will be smaller and more stylish…), you can expect apps for it that will change and enhance any environment you want. One day, you’ll even be able to simulate what it’s like to be a Pro golfer. Imagine putting on your HoloLens, teeing up at the first hole completely surrounded by your “fans,” and hearing their cheers as you crush the drive down the fairway. The crowds will be virtual, but they’ll look and sound real. You’ll be able to listen to the customized computer-generated (but absolutely realistic) commentary for your foursome, and see personal stats and a leaderboard in your peripheral vision. Your ball will be tracked and traced in real time, and the pin could be highlighted with it’s exact distance floating next to it. A stadium of spectators will greet you on the green with welcoming applause, and will hold their breath as you line up, finally erupting into applause as you sink your winning putt. Winning wont feel as sweet as actually winning a Pro Tour tournament, but when this experience becomes a reality, even if it takes a over a decade or two, it will fulfill every golfer’s ultimate dream: knowing what it’s like the be a Pro golfer, even if you kinda suck… ∎