According to Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo! and internet entrepreneur, the future looks bright for the world of golf. With all of these technological advances, golf is about to enter a whole new realm of possibility.
Yang was a keynote speaker at the North American Golf Innovation Symposium, a two-day event run by the USGA, along with Golf Canada and the Mexican Golf Federation. The event brings together technology speakers from the USGA and R&A, as well as golf industry experts and academic researchers.
With all of the new advancements like A.I. and 3-D printing, Yang believes these tools will be presenting themselves to the golf world in the near future.
“If you look at the categories of things that are coming across our investment activities and how people are understanding their bodies, every element of that is applicable to golf. Measuring brain waves, measuring all the body metrics and understanding those things, I think is all very interesting.”
He imagines a world with a laser-finder within your sunglasses and a golf simulator for your garage that really makes it feel like you’re at St. Andrews. Yang also said that he thinks “smart golf balls” will be created to track every shot and its launch conditions, direction and distance. They have a similar product like this already out for your golf club, so that really doesn’t seem too far off.
He also suggested that the kind of “haptic suits” designed to help the disabled walk could “be the same suit that can make you become a super person where you can literally swing like Dustin Johnson if you wanted to.”
With every type of technological advancement, there are questions about whether or not it’s ethical or good for the game in this instance. Yang had a response for that as well.
“Every question we ask about artificial intelligence and automation in our lives and whether it’s right for society, that will happen in golf.
That will be a core question, whether this is good for golf or bad for golf. I think the governing bodies, the people who are upholding the essence of the game will have to decide whether this helps the game. In some ways, this is easier than the job of society at large, whether an autonomous car is better or worse, whether A.I. is going to be better or worse.
“These technologies enable, and the question ‘What end does it enable?’ is a good question.”
It’s hard to say at this moment in time, whether or not these advancements will be good for golf, and honestly it’s not up to us to decide that. You always hope that the integrity of the game will withstand change, but when people can put on a suit and bomb a drive like Dustin Johnson, it gets a bit tricky.
Yang also said that there are “plenty of golf gadget investments, some of them haven’t done very well, but there’s a new one every day” and mentioned a company that is researching tremors – “I’m convinced that they’re going to fix the yips, so we’ll have to see.” I’m sure Ernie Els will be happy to hear about that one.