By Matt Cohen | Social Media & Site Editor
This isn’t your grandfather’s golf. The gentleman’s game is finally entering the 21st century, thanks to a tech savvy generation of millennials hellbent on bridging the gap between past, present and future.
According to the National Golf Foundation, the average golfer is closer to 50 than 30. Yikes. Only time will tell if that changes.
Here’s 10 ways golf millennials are working to change the sport forever:
1. Social Media Apps (Golf GameBook/GolfMatch)
Golf GameBook is an innovative mobile and social solution for golfers to connect with each other, and share their scores and golf experiences on and off the golf course. Golf GameBook was founded by PGA professionals with the goal of making golf more relevant, fun and welcoming to the whole golf community using modern technology, while at the same time respecting the traditions of the game.
GolfMatch is another super innovative golf mobile app designed to connect players with like-minded golfers at the courses they wish to play. It’s free to download and helps players discover golfers their age, with similar skill levels, looking for the same style of play.
2. Live Streaming Apps (Periscope)
Periscope is a new mobile live-streaming app that allows you to record video on your phone and share it with your network. The app saves your videos to the app by default and they’re available for viewing by your followers for 24 hours. Earlier this month, golf reporter Stephanie Wei lost her PGA Tour credentials after she used Periscope to show golfers teeing off in practice at TPC Harding Park. Expect the Tour at some point to encourage the media to use their access for live-streaming purposes.
Related: PGA Tour Is Wei Off The Mark
3. College Golf Programs
Considering that golf is a $76 billion industry, it’s a smart idea that more and more universities are embracing golf business education. One of the best programs is at Keiser University in Florida. Their College of Golf & Sport Management offers students the chance to earn an Associate’s of Science Degree in Golf Management in just 16 months.
4. Zepp Golf
One of the coolest and most innovative pieces of wearable technology in the golf space is Zepp Golf. Zepp Golf is an actual sensor that you mount to your glove. The sensor connects wirelessly via bluetooth to the Zepp Golf mobile app. In real time, you can analyze your swing pattern (in 3D) and get tons of super in-depth analytical data on your game. The app itself is free, but the sensor will run you $149.99.
5. Swing Sensor Technology
Swing sensor Golf SwingTIP uses a wireless 3D motion sensor that attaches to the golf shaft and provides swing data instantly via the free app to an iPhone or Android device. Selling for $129.99, SwingTIP has been on the market for a couple years now and gives players a ton of great data on how to improve their game.
A second swing sensor is Arccos Golf, which launched just last year. Arccos Golf’s technology uses 14 disc-shaped sensors that screw on to the grip of every club. Each club is paired with the iPhone app, using a low-power Bluetooth connection, to allow the software to automatically track the distances hit with the driver, various irons, pitching wedge or putter.
6. Wearable Technology
Zepp Golf (mentioned earlier) is just one of many examples of wearable technology in the golf space. Here’s a few others worth highlighting (via PGATour.com):
Game Golf: A lightweight GPS tracking device that captures accurate shot locations and calculates club performance during a given round.
“The Game Golf platform is right at the cutting edge of data capture,” says pro Graeme McDowell. “It amazes me just how great the feedback is from it. I can share my rounds of golf all over the world via Twitter and Facebook and there’s nothing quite like that in golf today.”
Google Glass: Glass, a lightweight wearable technology, has been worn by a number of players in the last year, including PGA TOUR winners Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth. With the help of two different apps, Swingbyte and GolfSight, players can put the glasses on and receive swing analysis on their round without having to look down at their smartphone or tablet.
iFocus Band: A wearable brain training device with three sensors that determine brain activity, aimed to self-regulate emotional stress levels during a critical moment in the round.
Fitbit: Fitbit is one of the wearable devices on the market that allows golfers to track their steps, distance and calories on and off the course.
7. GoPro Golf
GoPro is a billion dollar company that’s turning golf into an extreme sport. Golfers are capturing the game like we’ve never seen it before in high-definition. Trick shot stars, like the Bryan Bros regularly use GoPro in their video shoots.
8. Golf Simulators
Golf simulators have been around a lot longer than wearable technology, but they’ve become incredibly sophisticated in recent years thanks to more and more innovation and better technology. One of the best golf simulators on the market is OptiShot, which actually offers a 30 day free trial.
Let’s all give a round of applause to golf millennials who are finally making golf fashion cool. Companies like Bonobos, Travis Matthew and Under Armour are bringing golf attire into the 21st century and reaching younger fans. Pro’s like Rickie Fowler have also had a big hand in making golf fashion more trendy. We’ve come along way since starched shirts, wool caps and knickers.
10. Top Golf
Started in 2000 by the Jolliffe brothers, Topgolf is a new kind of golf experience built for the 21st century. According to Topgolf, “it’s like drinks with your best buddies, the weekly poker night, a Sunday tee-time, playing Wii with the kids, and the best date you’ve ever had – all rolled into one.”
Sounds good to me.
Anyone who’s ever seen one of these bad boys instantly wants one. The winner of the 2014 Best New Product at the PGA Merchandise Show, GolfBoards are undeniably the most exciting and enjoyable way to experience any course. It’s like snowboarding meets surfing (surf legend Laird Hamilton is one of the original founders), but for golf. These things aren’t cheap though – they will run you $6,500 new. The good news is that over 100 courses have them available for lease, so hopefully they’ll be rolling into your local club soon.
There’s some awesome stuff on this list. As a millennial myself, the wearable technology and the ‘cooler’ fashion options are very attractive to me. I also can’t wait to get to my first Topgolf location. As great as everything on this list is, I believe Topgolf could actually be the best way to really bring people to the game that have never experienced golf before. It’s social, fun and just a really good time.
So what do you think of all this new technology? Do you agree it’s about time the sport entered the 21st century? Let me know by leaving a comment below or on social media. The next time you go to Topgolf, be sure to film some videos (with your GoPro, of course) of you and your buddies and upload to your CLICKON Golf channel.