After showing you how technology and new products are revolutionizing how recreational golfers can practice, the third installment of the Connected Golfer dives into ways to learn more about your game on the course, play smarter and more.

Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, is home to a century-old golf course shaped by both Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast. It’s fantastic, a classic layout from golf’s Golden Age and a former LPGA tour venue.    

“Thirteen yards,” I said to Chris McGinley, who at the time was the vice president of marketing for Titleist after we played Wykagyl in August 2014. “I hit that 3-wood you wanted me to try four times today, and it went 13 yards farther than the 3-wood that’s in my bag.”   

Sitting in the grillroom, it was music to his ears.     

“That’s awesome,” he said, putting down his beer. “But how do you know?”   

I looked around because, even as a guest, I knew Wykagyl frowns on using a cell phone inside the clubhouse. Discreetly, I slid my iPhone across the table and showed him the stats my Arccos system collected as we played. Before the round, my average 3-wood distance was 226 yards. That day, after being fit for one of his company’s new fairway woods, the on-course average of my four shots was 239.   

“That is so cool,” he said with wheels turning in his mind. Sure, he was happy that the data showed his company’s new club delivered more distance, but he also saw a bigger picture. The potential use for on-course analytics collected by recreational golfers was filling his head.   

Arccos technology

Arccos technology

How does your data stack up?

During PGA Tour events, a sophisticated system of lasers and measuring devices tracks every shot hit by every player in the field. Called ShotLink, it has collected data at nearly all PGA Tour events since 2003 and created a robust database that helps broadcast partners like CBS, NBC and Golf Channel provide viewers with exciting stats during tournaments.    

ShotLink also allows the Tour to provide a weekly stats package to every player. It reveals where he stands in every statistical category imaginable, going well beyond basic stats like fairways hit and greens in regulation. ShotLink gets so granular that it shows things like proximity-to-the-hole average from specific distance ranges, greens in regulation from the rough, as well as the frequency of missed fairways to the left and the right. Players see their average score when going for the green in two on a par 5 and even things like average second-putt distance. Using ShotLink, players can compare themselves to other golfers. Coaches can discover what their students need to improve and how they are progressing, and equipment makers can fine-tune gear if a golfer needs adjustments.   

Pros don’t like to talk about specifics of ShotLink very often because utilizing its data wisely can be a competitive advantage. These days, many players hire statistical experts to examine reports and translate things into easy-to-understand chunks to avoid getting lost in the numbers.  

Arccos data

Data provided by Arccos


While your local club does not have ShotLink, a host of new products and technologies now let recreational golfers gather on-course data that can transform how they approach the game.  

Systems developed by companies like Arccos, Shot Scope, SkGolf, Garmin, Game Golf and even Tag Hauer have their differences, but they work using the same basic principles. 

  1. Using the GPS in your smartphone, or a GPS-enabled wearable device like a watch, shot-tracking systems can determine which course you are playing and your exact location during your round.    
  2. Using Bluetooth, they link to small tags that easily screw into each of your clubs’ grips. The tags weigh only a few grams, so they do not affect how your clubs perform.   
  3. Every time you pull out a club and hit a shot, the system uses GPS to determine your location and detects which club was used. With some systems that do not use tags, you manually enter the club into the system. 
  4. After you hit another shot, the GPS and club-detection process repeats. The system can then determine the distance between the two shots, whether the first one landed in the fairway, rough or sand, and how far the first shot traveled.   

Most systems allow you to make edits to include things like penalty strokes and add the precise location of the holes, but the real magic starts after you have used shot-tracking systems for about five to 10 rounds. At that point, it will probably know more about your game than you do.  

Arccos data

Arccos data on a device.

A virtual caddie?

Shot-tracking systems reveal things like the average distance you hit each club in your bag, where you tend to miss with each club, how often you hit greens in regulation, where you tend to mis-hit on approach shots and how often you get up and down from greenside bunkers. In some cases, they can even break down your game into strokesgained categories like the pros on the PGA Tour.  

With databases that include millions of recorded shots, some companies are now using shot-tracking systems and artificial intelligence to create virtual caddies. They can make club recommendations for you based not only on your skills but also on the performance of players like you on holes like the one you are about to play. They can even consider weather conditions.  

For example, if you are a 12-handicap golfer playing a 430-yard dogleg right par 4, before you tee off, Arccos Caddie Advice considers how far you hit each club, where you typically miss, the wind direction and other factors. It then recommends a strategy and a combination of shots that, statistically, will most likely produce the lowest score on that hole. For players who instinctively reach for a driver on every hole that isn’t a par 3, the advice can seem odd, but Arccos Caddie works to keep fairway bunkers and trouble areas out of play while setting you up to hit your best shots more often. (See, it is smarter than you!)  

Steve Bosdosh is the founder of the Steve Bosdosh Golf Academy at PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville, Maryland, 45 miles west of Baltimore, and a two-time winner of the PGA of America’s Mid-Atlantic Section Teacher of the Year award.   

“The trick with everybody is getting accurate feedback,” Bosdosh said. “I’ll ask someone how far he hits his 7-iron, and the guy will say 180, but then when I put him on a FlightScope the balls goes 152 yards. Right there, that’s a synopsis for the problem with why people don’t improve.”  

Bosdosh adds that programs that reveal stats and trends, using a player’s real, on-course shots, cut through perceptions and guesswork and allow players and their coaches to make honest, unbiased assessments.  

The information on-course shot-tracking systems collect is so valuable that many college teams are now outfitting their players with them. Companies like Arccos and Shot Scope have developed dashboards that allow coaches to see their players’ rounds and stats. Using the on-course data, coaches can develop better practice plans for individual players, emphasizing specific areas for each golfer based on his or her stats.   

In addition to helping you make better decisions on the course and allowing your coach to tailor your lessons and practice sessions more effectively, shot-tracking systems can help fitters get you into better gear.   

“Having access to our clients’ Arccos on-course shot data allows us to fully understand each player’s unique golf DNA,” said Nick Sherburne, the founder of Club Champion and one of the company’s master fitters. All of Club Champion’s fitters get training in Arccos‘ platform and dashboard. “The data is golden. It helps golfers and our fitters better track performance while gaining an unbiased understanding of where they excel and what they need to improve.”   

Equipment makers also value the data that shot-tracking systems provide. The Arccos-powered Cobra Connect system is now standard on all Cobra clubs, and Ping clubs come standard with Arccos-embedded grips. Last October, TaylorMade announced it had partnered with Arccos as well. By studying the data collected in shot-tracking systems, manufacturers can hone future offerings to match the needs of specific players. 

So no, you don’t have ShotLink at your local course. But today’s shot-tracking systems make evaluating your game, understanding your strengths and weaknesses and creating a logical roadmap for improving easier than ever. Their software is continuously refining, they are legal for use during tournament play (with some features disabled), and they have become so minimally invasive that you will probably forget you are using one as you play.

Until you look at your scorecard.    



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