There's good news coming to a golf course near you. Artificial intelligence and the internet of things are changing the way we watch and play golf. While you might not recognise the changes the next time you watch a PGA Tour tournament, you will likely appreciate the improved entertainment value. For those weekend duffers among us, hopefully, the tech will help us finally perfect our golf games.
PGA Tour Embraces Technology to Increase Entertainment
Televising golf tournaments has always presented a challenge since there is action happening concurrently at 18 holes. Broadcasters need data at their fingertips and an easier way to connect the dots and to see the patterns the data is revealing. It’s these connexions that help broadcasters craft compelling storeys for their audiences. The PGA Tour believes artificial intelligence is the solution to quickly analyse the incredible volume of data that they already collect.
The PGA Tour collects approximately 32,000 data points at every event, and they have about 174 million shot attributes in its database. While they have created images through their ShotLink System for each shot since 2001, they recently launched an updated ShotLink+ system that doesn't rely on human interaction for everything that happens. With this update, they went from a single point of data to thousands of points literally overnight.
To help process all the data it collects and make it as useful and entertaining as possible, the PGA Tour partnered with Microsoft in 2016. They launched the PGA Tour Content Relevancy Engine (CRE) that uses Microsoft’s analytics tools and machine learning to review all the data to give broadcasters the compelling ideas and concepts that they can then use to craft personalised storeys.
Internet of Things Take Aim at your Golf Swing
Data and technology just might be the silver bullet to high performance your golf game needs. High-performance golf facilities use sensors beneath the driving ranges to measure pressure and your stance, Dopplar radar tracks the club and golfer's movement, while the shot distance, power, and trajectory of your golf ball is also measured. Even professional golf pros with years of experience teaching the fundamentals of golf use data provided by Internet of Things technology such as this to help improve golfers' swings.
Other companies such as Arccos Golf use sensors embedded in connected clubs provided by Cobra Connect to create data. Prior to this innovation of embedding sensors in drivers, shot trackers and swing analyzers required that you add something to your arm or club. In Arccos case, the sensor turns a player’s smartphone into a GPS rangefinder that can currently measure shot distances on more than 40,000 courses. The data collected gets transmitted to the cloud where the company plans to use machine learning to create “The World’s Smartest Caddie.” Just like a human caddie, over time as its fed data, the AI caddie will get to know the individual’s golf game and help players react and refine their game objectively.
Sensoria already provides connected sportswear and training gear for other sports, but now they are looking at golf. As any pro will tell you, the grip you have on the club is very important. At the moment, there isn’t a feasible way to understand how successful golfers grip their club and the nuances involved. With a sensor in the grip of the club, this critical data can be collected and analysed with the help of machine-learning tools to determine if there is a pattern to understand what makes a good grip.
There are so many variables that can impact your putting game and Coach Labs is hoping its Gen i1 intelligent golf ball will help you understand how to improve it. With an embedded sensor on the ball and the putter, Bluetooth radio and onboard MCU, the Gen i1 can measure ball speed, initial direction, impact force and more while the sensor in the putter tracks tempo, backstroke, club face angle and more. Along with a smartphone app that offers training tools, this intelligent golf ball might soon be improving the putting games of golfers everywhere.
Thanks to the trifecta of cheap, low-energy sensors; cloud storage capacity and machine learning capabilities; and powerful mobile devices, sport-science tools such as these continue to be created to provide performance data for our sporting activities.
Now that we have technology giving us the data to tell us what is wrong with our golf game, we just need to figure out how to break bad habits and learn new ways of swinging and gripping to actually improve it.
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Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.