Summer of swing: 9 of the best golf gadgets for a smarter stroke
Always over par on the eighth? The trick is to chip it past the windmill, dodge the tunnel and land it in the stream that’ll ferry your ball right to the putting green. Tap it through the dinosaur’s legs and – fore! – you’ve got yourself an eagle.
Alas, while refining your crazy golf game might be the work of an afternoon, slicing strokes off your proper handicap can take years of practice, not to mention a whole lot of green fees.
Want hotter shots in half the time? Bringing this kit to the course won’t make you an instant pro, but it might just nudge you towards improvement – or at least keep you out of the bunkers.
So, from clever clubs to caddies you can carry, here are nine of the best golf gadgets you can buy right now, sure to keep you occupied until the Open tees off next week.
Want course tips before you tread the green? Download Hole19 for GPS maps and distance info for more than 42,000 course worldwide. Once you’re out there, it can score your game and track your stats.
Download Hole19 for iOS here | Download Hole19 for Android here
Zepp Golf (£free/IAP)
Already packing an Apple Watch? Zepp Golf will transform it into a swing sensor, measuring tempo, hand path and speed with every swing. The app can record video and make highlights fit for TV, too.
Download Zepp Golf for iOS here | Download Zepp Golf for Android here
Hudl Technique Golf (£free/IAP)
Suspect your swing could be sweeter? Pop your smartphone on a tripod, record your action in slow-motion with Hudl and its frame-by-frame analysis will soon flag up any flaws in your follow through.
Download Hudl Technique Golf for iOS here
Subscribe to SwingU’s premium tier and you’ll get enough location data to disqualify you from most competitions. Think live wind speed, course elevation and ‘plays like’ distances, as well as club suggestions and shot tracking.
Download SwingU for iOS here | Download SwingU for Android here
GARMIN APPROACH S40 (£239)
Teed off that you missed your tee time? If only you’d strapped Garmin’s latest GPS ticker on your wrist before sitting down for the clubhouse café’s Sunday breakfast special.
Besides hole and hazard distances, automatic shot tracking, score logging and map data for more courses than you’ll ever be able to play, the ticker can also do the smart stuff, from text alerts to calendar reminders – so you’ll get a nudge to trudge to the teeing ground when it’s time to bring the swing.
Good for 15 hours in golf mode, the S40 should easily see you through 36 holes, while its 1.2in display is readable even if you’re lucky enough to be playing under the sun.
Buy the Garmin Approach S40 here from American Golf
BUSHNELL PRO XE (£449)
Squinting at markers before swinging your driver is the purest way to divine distances on the course. Read the green right and you’ll be reaching for your putter. Read it wrong and you’ll be hunting in the undergrowth.
Prefer firmer figures? Pack Bushnell’s new laser rangefinder in your bag for ultra-accurate numbers. Use its 7x magnification to find the flag, wait for the vibration that signals you’ve locked on and the Pro XE will offer a yardage count that compensates not just for slope, but also for air temperature and barometric pressure. Which probably beats your tree-counting technique.
Buy the Bushnell Pro XE here form Clubhouse Golf
ARCCOS CADDIE SMART SENSORS (£250)
Caddies might have the inside track on how to tackle tricky greens, but the luxury of hiring one is usually a stretch for those without a sponsor. Want top tips without having to tip? Try this sensor system from Arccos.
Shipped with 14 compact tracking pucks, pop one atop each of your grips for real-time guidance from the partner app. Powered by AI, the system learns how you play and highlights what you should work on, as well as offering distance info, club suggestions and bespoke playing advice specific to your spot on the course. The only thing it can’t do is carry your bag.
Buy the Caddie Smart Sensors here from Arccos
GARMIN APPROACH G80 (£449)
Don’t know Gleneagles from Glen Day? Stash Garmin’s handheld GPS in your bag for detailed maps of more than 41,000 courses the world over, so you can play blind shots like an old hand even if it’s your first time on the fairway.
Fronted by a 3.5in display, the swing assistant also packs a raft of modes to aid your training – from target practice to virtual tournaments – while an in-built launch monitor can measure the length of your on-green shots with radar accuracy.
Buy the Garmin Approach G80 here from American Golf
ZEPP GOLF 2.0 (£129)
Worried an add-on will affect the delicate balance of your beloved woods? For total tracking without the encumbrance on your clubs, try Zepp’s second-gen sensor.
Hooked on the back of your glove, the clever puck pairs with a smartphone or tablet to offer all the swinging info you could need – from club speed to backswing to tempo to hand plane – before channelling that data into drills and tracking your improvement as you follow its training plans.
Familiar with other sorts of sport? The same sensor can be used with different mounts to assess your baseball swing and tennis game, so you can go from hole in one to home run in a flick of the wrist.
Buy Zepp Golf 2.0 here from Amazon
STEWART GOLF X9 FOLLOW (£1499)
Convincing a young relative to lug your clubs around the course like a cut-price caddie might seem a bright idea, but all it takes is a tantrum at the twelfth and you’ll soon be digging your bag out of a bunker.
Save their pocket money and shell out on Stewart’s intelligent trolley instead. Like your little one, the X9 will automatically follow you around the course with your gear. Unlike your little one, it can be operated by remote control, features downhill braking, packs a battery that can usually go for two rounds and it folds down for easy transportation.
Buy the X9 Follow here from Stewart Golf
TAYLORMADE SPIDER INTERACTIVE ($400)
Handicap hampered by persistently poor putting? Go from three-foot miss to 60-foot winner with this connected club.
Already a popular putter, TaylorMade’s Spider now has a BLAST Motion Sensor built into the grip – and it’s more than just a gimmick: the system automatically logs and shares info across several metrics, firing live data to your mobile for in-depth analysis of your strokes on the green.
Besides feedback on your tempo, stroke times and the like, the app also features training drills and tutorials that allow you to harness the numbers while honing your approach to the hole.
Buy the Spider Interactive here from TaylorMade
SWISS ARMY GOLF TOOL (£49)
As any seasoned golfer knows, clubs aren’t the only tools you need to make it to the 18th. Between repair probes for keeping the green pristine and tee punches for, well, punching tees, it takes an array of accessories to prepare for all conditions on the course.
Thankfully, this multi-tool from Victorinox packs all the utensils you could possibly need to survive a tough round on hard ground.
There’s even a set of scissors, presumably to help you trim a path out of the rough – though they’re painstakingly small, as if a poor score wasn’t penance enough for your shoddy aim.
Buy the Swiss Army Golf Tool here from Victorinox
You won’t see any pros whipping one out at Royal Portrush, but for beginners looking to keep their stance square this four-way laser is a winner.
Projecting bright beams out at right angles, the crowdfunded SQRDUP makes body and ball alignment a cinch: simply stick your feet either side and the tee in front to find the ideal putting position. Need assistance with your aim? Prop the pod behind your ball for a straight line of light to practise swinging along.