Golf & IT: improving your game on the green & in khakis

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From Monday to Friday, I see how technology helps associations meet their goals and serve their members. And, on the weekends, I see the benefits of technology on the golf course.

Although the modern game of golf originated in 15th century Scotland, technology has played a huge role in its development as a sport. I’ve been playing golf for over 3 decades now and have witnessed major technological advances in almost every aspect of the game. 

I started playing golf when I was a kid. I was given a golf bag, golf shoes with metal spikes, a baseball hat, and my dad’s hand-me-down clubs, which were cut down to fit me. He then sent me on my way to the course to learn how to play the game. I liked it immediately and have been playing ever since. 

Get more than directions with golf GPS

In those days, GPS was unheard of. Today, a golf GPS unit displays a precise graphical representation of the hole and course you’re playing. You can see the precise layout of the course and hole, your distance from the hole, the location of the green, flag, bunkers, and water hazards. Some sophisticated GPS units even show a flyover view of the hole while a recorded voice provides tips on the best strategy to play the hole. Very cool and very helpful! 

Fine-tune your swing with a launch monitor

Another technological advancement in golf is the computerized launch monitor that tracks the distance and trajectory of soaring golf balls when you’re testing out new clubs, getting your swing analyzed, or practicing.

The beauty of this device is that it can be used indoors or outdoors. If you’re indoors hitting balls into a net, you can set the computerized launch monitor to track your ball flight. Measurements on swing speed, spin rates, trajectory, and launch angle are calculated by the computer and converted into a graphical representation that tells you how far you hit the ball, what trajectory it took, and whether it went straight or curved to the right or left. 

Based on this information, a trained PGA teaching professional can determine what adjustments are necessary to fix your swing. Or, you can use the device just to practice. Club Golf, an indoor golf facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has several of these launch monitors for golfers to use. They’re great for muscle memory and keeping your swing fine-tuned during the cold months when you can’t go out on the course.

Playing well and looking good

Golf apparel is another technological advancement that has changed a lot since I started playing. I used to throw on a polo style shirt, Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts, white tube socks, and golf shoes with metal spikes – don’t laugh, this was the style back then. 

Today the fabric is as high tech as the golf clubs. Shirts are dipped in a treatment providing UV protection up to 30 SPF. Shirts, jackets, pants, and shorts stretch to mirror muscle movement and wick away moisture. We wear spikeless golf shoes that don’t tear up the greens like the old metal spikes did. Plus, the spike placement and composition of the shoe is designed to increase performance and stability, so you can pound away at ball after ball.

Grading the new technology

Some golfers were less than pleased by changes introduced to the game by technology, just like there were association professionals long ago who resisted email, and who might now resist social and mobile technology. However, because of technology, golf is now a more enjoyable sport and my game has improved. I see the same thing in associations – productivity and collaboration increase, relationships and knowledge deepen, and goals are reached more effectively through the use of technology.

No matter the technology used, the golfer’s goal is still as simple today as it was back in the 15th century: hit the little white ball into the hole. And the goal of associations is the same as it was when Ben Franklin founded The American Philosophical Society back in 1743: work together to improve knowledge, business, and society. Ben Franklin would be pleased to know that technology continues to improve not only our golf games, but the power of associations to make life better for everyone.