Satellite gizmo on a fairway to heaven

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Ding Dang Doo
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IT WILL make you either the most popular or loathed player on the golf course.

The royal and ancient game is about to be rocked by a new row over "cheating" following the launch of a new hand-held satellite guidance system that gives exact measurements to the hole.

The new 'Caddy' system, which costs £249, can be clipped to a belt or golf bag and will provide exact read-outs of distances to bunkers, ponds and greens. Available to amateur golfers for the first time from next month, its manufacturers claim it will be one of the greatest shot-saving devices ever marketed.

But the game's traditionalists claim the devices, which are banned under the present rules, could give some players an unfair advantage. The governing body, the St Andrews-based Royal and Ancient Golf Club, is currently deciding whether to ban them or give them the official seal of approval for tournament use by both amateurs and professionals.

Traditional caddies who make a living from the game through their knowledge of local courses fear the new devices could put many of them out of business.

They are currently available for 500 of the UK's 2,400 courses, including top-ranked venues such as the Old Course at St Andrews, Gleneagles in Perthshire and Turnberry in Ayrshire, where human caddies regularly ply their trade.

New technologies - particularly in the manufacture of clubs and balls - have made the sport easier, forcing governing bodies to outlaw some of the most advanced innovations. The hand-held satellite device is bound to rekindle such controversies.

Every time a golfer moves along a hole, the device will receive instant information on course lay-out and exact yardages to hazards such as bunkers and the greens beyond from a satellite thousands of miles above in space.

Jeremy Cooke, the managing director of manufacturers' Golf-Plus.UK Ltd, said: "Using global positioning satellite technology provides a constant stream of accurate information that helps you to play the correct club every time you hit a shot."

Cooke insists the device will speed up the pace of play, one of the biggest bugbears in the increasingly popular sport. "You don't have to spend time consulting a yardage book each time you hit a shot. You don't have to find a sprinkler head and then pace off the yardage from there. The information means you can hit the shot almost as soon as you reach your ball."

The R&A is powerless to prevent amateur golfers from using the devices in friendly games, but their overall popularity will depend on their acceptance for tournament play.

Its powerful rules committee is expected to announce a decision on allowing satellite positioning devices and other electronic yardage measurement systems in amateur and professional competitions within the next six weeks.

According to David Rickman, the R&A's director of rules and equipment standards, the current rules of golf do not allow mobile distance measuring devices.

"At the moment the penalty for using them would be disqualification," he said. "There are static distance markers on many courses.

You can also go out and pace the course if you want to - that's what caddies do - and many clubs provide the same information in printed guides. That is also accepted."

But getting information from a moveable device was entirely different, he said.

"My personal view is that however good the distance measurement, you still have to execute the shot."

Paul Burley, the director of golf at the world-famous Turnberry resort in Ayrshire described using the device as "borderline cheating. I am very much a traditionalist and I do not think these things are in the spirit of the game. I do not think they will take off in this country."

At Gleneagles, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2014, head professional Russell Smith said the venue could not stop golfers using them, but it would not introduce them itself.

"They are useful for measuring distances," Smith said, "but I find that you spend your time looking at the screens rather than your surroundings. Most people come to Gleneagles because they want to enjoy the magnificent scenery as well as play golf. Our view is that they would detract from that.

"Also, I can't imagine that professional caddies will like them as they could do them out of employment."

But John Kerr, the head professional at the St Andrews Bay golf resort in Fife, which has just introduced golf-buggy-mounted versions, believes the hand-held devices will prove popular and have great advantages in speeding up play. "It will definitely speed up round times because they provide proper information and take the guesswork out of it," Kerr said.

"You will know for certain how far that bunker or pond is so there will be no need for a hopeful lunge. Really, it is just an electronic extension of the static aids that we already have."

The St Andrews Links Trust, which runs the world- renowned Old Course, the venue for this year's Open Championship, said it was waiting for the R&A decision before it would sanction their use on the historic links.

"Using artificial aids like this at the moment is against the rules of golf," said a spokesman. "We cannot condone the use of this device until the governing body has made a decision."

The devices are also unlikely to make an appearance any time soon at Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland's most exclusive golf club. Gordon Moir, the assistant secretary, said: "I don't think the average member will take to it.

"Golf is a social game and there should be a feeling of you are all in this together. In any case, if you are a scratch golfer or a very low handicapper it might make a difference to know very precise yardages but most medium and high handicappers don't know how far they hit their individual clubs. You will also have to hit your ball straight for it to be of use."


THE game of golf is becoming progressively easier due largely to advances in the technology used to manufacture golf clubs and balls. The first golfers used feathers stuffed into a piece of leather, but the era of the 400-yard drive is now upon us, mainly because of the astonishing leaps in constructing the modern white-dimpled, aerodynamic, three-piece ball.

There are balls built to leap down fairways like bouncing bombs and others that grip a green like a drowning man.

But prodigious distance may also be the long ball's downfall. The governing bodies - the R&A in the UK, the USGA in America and the professional tours - are talking about imposing a new ball on the professional game that does not fly as far as those currently in use.

Similar arguments have been raging about club design and the ball-propelling properties of the latest giant- headed titanium drivers. The authorities have become so concerned that certain of the biggest models will be barred from tournament play in 2008.

Irons, too, have benefited from technological advances. They have been enhanced to promote crisper, straighter ball-striking. Often though, and particularly in the amateur game, it is the psychological effect of big-headed clubs that is more important.

Source: The Scotsman


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Sounds fun...

Just as long as the system doesn't give the height of the next hole, GPS isn't so good at heights. A GPS system a just few miles away from the Old Course in St Andrews said the second floor of a building was 8m below sea level, a quick look out the window proved the system was inaccurate. This was nothing to do with golf, the device was borrowed from the university's Geo Physics department, but it could be quite confusing if the golf one said hole 18 was below sea level...

Channel Hopper

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I cant see how it would help if the player is utter shite at swinging the racket


Amo Amas Amant Admin
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Channel Hopper said:
I cant see how it would help if the player is utter shite at swinging the racket
Well I thought this thread was about golf or is that just another racket :rolleyes:
I agree if you are shite it will not help unless this gizmo pointed the clubhead directly at the hole for you mmmm could this be converted into a s_x aid as well??? I'll get my coat then.... it must be the heat.
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