Vetting for Accuracy
Now, here’s a subject that creates division among opinions…as well it should. We’re not far from a time when most of the long drive events in the world will involve scoring using some sort of technology. Growth in the sport demands it. We, here at ULD, have been using range finders for scoring for the past seven years. We’ve tested some really accurate devices, and some that were not. But, the good ones were proven to be as accurate as physical measuring methods….actually more accurate in most cases. Along the way, we learned a lot and incorporated newly gained knowledge in our procedures. We’re using that same approach for vetting launch monitors. This isn’t going to be an article about this one versus that one, although we have enough data from testing to probably do that. That may be a subject for a later article. This article is about embracing the future and learning the best way to proceed. Technology is improving at a rapid pace.
Why Technology Is Important For the Growth of the Sport
I doubt there’s anyone on the planet who has spent more time on Google Earth looking at potential venues than us….me in particular. The fact is, real estate is just too valuable in most areas for golf facility developers to create 450 yard ranges. A 250 yard range (even with a net) is a problem unless we’re using technology. If you’re paying attention, you’re seeing Top Tracer ranges, Trackman Ranges, and others becoming a rapidly growing trend. They are popular for several reasons: 1. They give great feedback to the hitter; 2. They allow less real estate to be utilized for the range; They engage spectators; and they are becoming extremely accurate.
Over half our northern-most events are done in simulators. They allow us to hold events year round in those areas, keeping hitters engaged in our sport and getting better with the extra grid time. We’re using technology at ranges that would not otherwise allow us to hold events there for grid-worker safety concerns. As of this writing, we’re doing over 300 events per year and running out of places to grow. The list of benefits that come with the use of technology make this challenge vitally important.
There are obvious concerns that come with embracing technology. The biggest concern is ensuring that we are using equipment that is capable of accurately reading higher swing and ball speeds. I can tell you, there are plenty out there on the market that do not. We require our tournament directors to only use equipment that we have tested, vetted, and cleared for use in our tournaments. We continually check digital carry and roll out results against actuals. There are still improvements to be made on most devices, but the progress made in just the past two years is amazing. I’m sure will make some mistakes along the way. It is inevitable.
I don’t personally see replacing green grass operations for technology at our World Championship anytime soon….possibly never. But, you’ll see the technology in use this year at many of our league and qualifier events. You will also see the technology in use at our World Championship as an adjunct feature. It’s coming, we need to embrace and learn.
The new XLD Team Series is completely based on technology. The goal to bring online betting to the sport certainly has some challenges, but comes with some amazing exposure and growth potential. We think there are fewer hurdles to cross with the use of technology compared to green grass grid operations. The XLD brand will focus on satisfying the gaming world’s requirements to make this a reality.
I personally think technology can, and will, explode our sport to new levels. I can see thousands playing in leagues and pick up games for fun…and earning their way into larger events. Networking with players in other states and countries is now a possibility with some technologies and is just around the corner with others. Opportunities for engaging thousands of new players in our sport is here. Embrace the technology. It isn’t going away.