Applying applications

Cell phone apps: friend or foe?

by Trevor Moore
Even Tiger Woods occasionally pulls out his phone on the golf course

The world of cellular phones has changed all facets of our lives, and golf was not immune to those changes.

Sadly, there was once a time when people played the sport to escape from the rigors of life’s daily grind; however now life’s stress appears to have joined our foursomes via the dreaded cell phone. Phones in general have often been perceived as a nuisance around golf clubs. They can slow play down, and a poorly timed ringer is an unwanted distraction in a players swing.

The world of the smartphone – think Blackberry, iPhone, etcetera - has made us all more connected to the world while playing golf, but has this evolution been all bad?

In recent months, the highly competitive world of cell phone applications – commonly known as apps – has tapped the elusive golf market. These new offerings have the potential to change the way cell phones are perceived on the golf course. They have taken your phone from being a useless distraction, and turned it into a very useful game improvement tool.

There are countless companies offering downloadable apps for your phone which are often very affordable. Most companies are offering basic versions for next to no cost at all, and at times free; however you can upgrade to receive additional options at a rather nominal cost.

These apps can do anything from calculate your handicap, keep your score, offer swing tips and advice, provide you with statistical summaries of your game and even give you accurate yardages.

Most of the options are useless in my opinion, but the one that jumps out at me as a potential game changer for players is the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) yardage option. Being able to use your cell phone as a yardage device which provides laser like accuracy is an important and highly useful feature for players.

When you hit the ball straight down the middle of the fairway all day, the need for such devices becomes somewhat limited as most courses are very accurately marked for distances from the fairway. The reality however, is many don’t play from their fairway as often as they would like and this is where the apps can really shine.

The further you are from the middle of the fairway, the less accurate the courses marked yardages become. Knowing an exact yardage when playing from the rough – or in some cases another fairway – is a huge asset to scoring. You can then swing with comfort and ease knowing you have the right club in your hand for the shot.

They are also very useful when trying to pick a target line for shots in which you intend to try and fly over a bunker, cut a dog leg corner or attempt a long carry over water. In situations like these, having an accurate carry distance will allow you to pick an appropriate target line and commit to it with a relaxed swing.

Bottom line, I do think these apps will be useful and feedback from many of my contacts suggests it has helped their game. Search for suitable apps for your phone and install one now have a perfectly legitimate reason to have your cell phone out on the golf course.

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