Golf, Technology, and Your Next Job
Ever since the 15th Century when the first Scottish guy hit the first ball with the first club, the game of golf has benefited from technological innovation.
Early golf balls were rudimentary at best, either carved from wood or made by stuffing a leather pouch with feathers and cow hair. By the 1800s, if you wanted to play on the cutting edge of the sport, you’d use a Gutty -- a ball made of dried sap that could be easily formed into a perfect sphere and never warp from exposure to the elements.
The golf balls of today, with their polybutadiene cores, make the older ones look like medicine balls in miniature.
Needless to say, any sport that embraces technology is a sport ripe with job opportunities. Embracing new tech signals that the key players are not afraid of change. And that is the first step to growth.
The improvements in golfing equipment over the years have proven not only worthwhile to job-seekers, but worthwhile to the sport too. In 1990, the average PGA tour drive was less than 265 yards. By 2015, drives averaged 290 yards. And by 2016, the one and only Dustin Johnson led the PGA with a whopping 314-yard average.
Yardage like that would’ve been simply out of the question with a hickory club and sap ball.
Golf innovations of this millennium reach far beyond simply improving the equipment. The market is rich with technologies for scoring and enhancing the social aspects of the game as well as gadgets that help golfers improve their performance and tools to better prepare for them for the courses.
In short, from apps to wearables, tech is enriching the game in ways we never imagined.
The most popular variety of technological golfing innovation is the sort that improves the quality of your practice. If you’re willing to drop a few hundred dollars here and there, you can refine the accuracy of your swing, release, and stance all on your own.
Golf Digest’s picks for best training aids of 2016 outlines their favorite training toys and explores exactly what makes one training aid better than the next. For all three categories -- full-swing, putting, and visual aid -- the highest ranking aids all had one thing in common: an intuitive application of technology.
The best kinds of new tech are the ones that, rather than re-inventing the wheel, build upon it. The simplest putting aid, for example, is a track equipped with a laser guide to help you see where your stroke is going wrong. One of the biggest failures is when training tools inadvertently make practice a passive experience.
We all know that modern technology has the capacity to automate the world, but come on, no one plays golf to be a robot.
Know Your Distances
The next brand of golfing technologies are the sort that gadget people nerd-out about. They’re the GPS watches, range finders, and bluetooth devices of the golf course.
Kyle at Two Golf Guys equates GPS watches to “a caddie that is strapped to your wrist who has walked the course a thousand times.” Most golf watches come pre-loaded with hundreds or even thousands of golf courses around the world. They measure dogleg distances, allow you to dial down your next shot to the yard, and let you see all the hazards before you directly encounter them.
The other tool, of course, is the laser rangefinder. Golfers are generally loyal to either GPS or rangefinders, for various factors related to each gadget’s distance capability, accuracy, and coolness factor.
But all in all, they do the same job, and they’re both a far cry from the days of scoping out the nearest sprinkler to estimate just how far you should hit the ball.
Have More Fun (and Track it)
Tech has opened up the world of golf to all sorts of people.
On the one hand, it has made the sport more specialized by ramping up the level of competition and accuracy, and on the other hand it’s made it more accessible.
The most serious golfers use wearables like FitBits and smartwatches to hone their skill; the most casual golfers use them to track their steps between holes.
If tech has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to be Jack Nicklaus to enjoy the links. And what’s a friendly game of golf without a side bet here and there? If you’re not sinking a hole-in-one with every swing (or even if you are, really), betting on the inbetweens makes the game that much more rewarding.
Even, dare I say, exhilarating. Especially when you win the pot.
Here’s where the tech comes in. Whether your game is Nassau, Skins, or Vegas, there are a number of smartphone apps that can help players track their standing in multiple side games at one time. Who’d have thought in the early days of golf that one day we’d have a piece of technology to shoulder the burden of keeping score?
Thanks to tech, players can have more side games going than the human brain could ever track on its own. They can also estimate distances more accurately, and navigate courses with more detail than ever before.
Just as the best technologies are the ones that improve upon what we already do, the best jobs are the ones that are always changing and evolving. So as you’re dreaming about your ideal job in sports, consider adding a golf job to your list!
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