Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Cobra Golf recently launched new clubs that contain an Arccos tracking devise that links to an iPhone. Presumably it can help in practice but also increases the likelihood that players will be monitoring all sorts of data during a round resulting in a slow down in play. Is this a positive technological advance or something we can do without?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): As I suggest in my blog this week, with a dose of humour, I really don’t think golf needs this technology. But if anyone wants to use it, please make sure I’m not playing behind you.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I love gadgetry and devices that provide stats, because I’m a stats guys and love going over numbers to see how far I fly a 6 iron or how bad my angle of impact is on my driver, but I will do that on the range, not on the golf course. First and foremost, I like playing golf in less than 4 hours. I’m lucky that at Scarboro, the time par is 4:02, and we rarely get that high. If the industry wants to bring in younger players, it’s not going to be technology on the course, it’s the amount of time they have to spend out there, so keep the technology to the ranges, and when you’re on the course, see ball, hit ball, walk quickly!
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think Jim hit it on the head in his column. Cobra has good intentions with this new technology, but it will definitely slow down the average round. I was in the second group of the day at Station Creek last weekend, playing behind a group of four able-bodied long-hitting guys in their 20s that took an excruciatingly long time to play 18 holes. I understand that they were probably playing in some sort of match. However, they were taking way too long on every single shot — even lay-ups. It was intolerable! If they had this technology built in to their clubs and iPhones, that round would have taken even longer to compete. This game is already being ruined by slow play. Devices like these are not doing anything to help solve the problem.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I hear ya, Jim. The new Cobra KING F7 and F7+ drivers look like another advance by a company dedicated to making golf easier and more fun for everyone. Then there’s the smart part of the drivers. If the ARCCOS app is used as an educational tool, then it has potential in eventually speeding play. But used on course, I agree it’s another high tech tool beyond the skill set of the vast majority of golfers and could slow play even more. I like the GameGolf system that tells you post-round how you hit every shot. As its inventor John McQuire explains, there are no end of devices to tell you how far it is to the pin, but GameGolf tells you how far you hit that dang club in your hands. We are so far down this road — fairway too precise a target — that we’re getting close to the golf “app of the month” territory. To paraphrase Iverson: “Practice? Why aren’t we talkin’ practice?”
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): This type of technology has no place on the golf course and should be confined to the practice range for those who want it. But in a larger sense it further perpetuates the idea that golf is all about developing a perfect swing, when in fact it’s about getting the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than your opponent.
Rory McIlroy got trashed by the media and some fellow players for opting out of the Turkish Airlines Open due to security concerns. What’s your take on Rory’s move?
Deeks: Agoraphobia. I just pray it isn’t catching.
Rule: I don’t blame him to be honest, I wouldn’t want to go to Turkey right now with the security issues they have had in the last few months. He’s the one deciding to give up his $1 million appearance fee, so clearly it’s a concern for him, and that’s a decision he’s allowed to make in my opinion.
Kaplan: It’s not exactly like the guy needs the cash. He made just under 12 million in one weekend less than six weeks ago and the Race to Dubai doesn’t pay out nearly as much as the FedEx Cup does. It would have been a good opportunity to make up some ground on Stenson, but McIlroy said that he didn’t feel safe there (regardless of the venues proximity to actual danger, it was still in an area in the world that has been recently subjected to ISIS attacks and a failed coup) and I don’t fault him for that. Plus, Rory has won the Race to Dubai twice in the last four years and came from way behind to steal the FedEx Cup from DJ in Atlanta. So let’s cut the guy some slack.
Quinn: It would have been much better if Rory said he wasn’t going into that heart of darkness because since the attempted coup this summer President (dictator more accurately) Erdogan has jailed 37,000; shut down 170 newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations essentially ending press freedom; and dismantled the judiciary among other atrocities. Security concerns about covers it, without the moral outrage. The other players should be capable of seeing beyond the course and their bank accounts as well.
Mumford: Obviously these guys can do as they please but this is in character for Rory, who has shown himself to be a prima donna at times. Witness the mysterious withdrawal for a sudden wisdom tooth problem; the multiple managerial changes; the about face on the Olympics; and now a last minute pull out on a major sponsor and one of the key tournaments on the European Tour. I think Rory needs to man up and quit running when things aren’t perfect.
Just a week after the Acushnet IPO, MyGolfSpy has published results of a test between the Titleist Pro V1 and a Costco Kirkland Signature ball that shows the Kirkland ball outperforming the Pro V1. (You can view the test HERE.) More importantly the cost of the Kirkland ball is roughly 35% of the Pro V1. Would you switch to the Kirkland ball and do you think a large percentage of golfers will?
Deeks: I’m the cheapest guy I know, so yes, I may switch… but only if I can figure out a way to avoid the Costco membership charge. I don’t think a large percentage of other golfers will, though. There’s huge snob appeal to be seen playing with a Pro V1, even if you can’t hit it more than 200 yards off the tee or stop it in a bowl of porridge.
Rule: Well, maybe I will have to renew my Costco membership now! I can’t imagine picking up my golf balls alongside my 48 pack of toilet paper, but I guess stats don’t lie, the ball performs. I may give it a shot but can’t see myself making the change to be honest, and not because I like spending money, but I need a certain feel to my golf balls, and based on comments on this ball, it does have a harder feel. But then again, I’ll never know until I try it myself! Excuse me while I head out shopping.
Kaplan: Of course I would switch to the Kirkland brand. I was playing Vice Pro Plus balls all season last year. They are fantastic and reliable balls for a significantly cheaper price than the ProV1s. I don’t care about brand names and labels. I only care about performance. If these Kirkland balls outperform and cost less than the ProV1s, then sign me up. Maybe some competition will force Titleist to reconsider its egregious price tags.
Quinn: Say wot? Costco has a line of golf balls? Guess I’ve never made it past the mobs jostling for free food samples to get to that aisle. The MyGolfSpy test was very interesting, and detailed, as usual. One comment was telling. It suggested that a more accurate test would be against the ProV1X as the Kirkland ball is harder than the V1 and more like the V1X. I don’t like the X, so you can have your Kirklands and the 8-litre cans of tomato sauce, I’ll stick with the Callaway Chrome Soft.
Mumford: A ball is a ball. They’re not controllable drones and none of them float. I’ve tried the Snell Golf ball and the Kirkland ball and I can’t tell the difference between those and any of the higher priced premium balls on the market. As soon as the Kirkland balls hit the Canadian market, I’ll be adding them to my cart on my regular monthly Costco visit for ribs and giant jars of mayonnaise. I believe that over time a majority of golfers will also switch. Why pay for a brand name that doesn’t deliver an advantage?