Fading are the days of simply walking a course with your bag slung off your shoulder writing your score down with a pencil and marking circles, double circles and triangles (I always mark triangles). Not only do you no longer need to fill out a score card by hand, but without lifting a finger you can have your entire round plotted, tracked and analyzed. It’s a bit like the Protracer on steroids, and it’s designed for average golfers just like you.
These 3 companies have taken personal golf stats beyond fairways hit and best drive to put an almost unimaginable amount of data at your fingertips.
But which of these devices is best for you? Read on to figure out which option best fits your individual needs.
What is a Shot Tracker
Shot Trackers (or round trackers, or performance trackers) represent a relatively new category of devices to track every detail of every round of golf you play. Shot tracking devices use GPS to plot your shots throughout a round of golf. Each of the three products we tested provides a tag that screws into the butt end of your club’s grip that either communicates with your phone, a watch, or an independent GPS device. Their purpose is to track every shot you take throughout a round in relation to the club used. Data is then delivered either in an app or online (or both) for your review of previous rounds providing insight for actual distances you hit each club, how often you use each club, misses and more.
The sum total of all the data these devices collect is then pulled together to provide you nearly everything you could ever want to know about your game.
As we did in our Swing Analyzers Buyer’s Guide, we’re looking for actionable data, but this type of technology is still very much in its infancy, and so easy of use and presentation of data are both critically important.
Shot Tracker Features
How We Tested
To evaluate the Shot Trackers under consideration, MyGolfSpy staff put each tracker through normal usage scenarios on course.
Each device was then graded based on 7 distinct criteria.
Scores were tallied to determine our Most Wanted Shot Tracker.
Results: Most Wanted Shot Tracker
From the box to the first tee, how easy is it to install stall tags and start tracking shots and rounds.
Is tracking fully automated, or does tagging shots require you to tap the club to your wrist or your waist. How easy is the tagging process?
Does the app offer an intuitive interface for making corrections to tags,? Is GPS Maps/Yardage available and functional? Is data delivery clear and concise.
Is the website layout intuitive? Is data presented clearly and understandably. Is the data we want readily accessible or does is digging required to find what you’re looking for?
Can shot corrections be made in-round, or does the user need to remember a missed shot and update later. Do available in-round corrections distract from the round, or is the process simple and non-disruptive. Is the device intelligent-enough to realize when a shot may have been missed?
The amount and usefulness of provided data.
Depending on your personal wishlist, there’s an argument to be made for each of the products tested. There is a lot of overlap, but as the product category evolves we expect to see greater differentiation along with more unique features. Our Most Wanted shot Tracker stood out because of its abundance of data and its best in class ease of use.
Winner: Most Wanted Shot Tracker
Arccos stands out for its ease of use and the richest data set among the shot trackers tested.
Once you’ve designated which tag belongs to which club all that’s left to do is play golf. Arccos doesn’t require tagging to register a club before each shot, and your need to edit will likely be limited to removing the occasional tag associated with shots that never actually happened, which is much easier than trying to add missed shots after the round.
Strokes gained is the best way we’ve seen to deliver actionable data with shot tracking and we think it’s the easiest to understand by those who are hardcore enough to use shot tracking to improve their game. This is delivered in 5 different “handicap” categories with Arccos and is the most Actionable Data we have seen delivered by a shot tracker to date.
The Features You Want:
- Automatic tagging
- Tags can be assigned to any club
- In-App data is thorough and can be reviewed in real-time
- Collects and delivers an abundance of data
- Strokes gained handicap system creates actionable data
To be improved:
- Replacement tags are excessively expensive ($39 each)
- Website still needs improvement to simplify and clarify data being delivered (it’s there, but without a bit of reading, you may not fully grasp what’s being presented)
Runners-Up: Most Wanted Shot Trackers
A solid runner-up that, through its release of a new Android-only app that uses NFC to eliminate tagging, has started to address the products primary irritation, Game Golf offers the best user experience for reviewing and analyzing your data.
The Features You Want:
- Website offers clean and intuitive presentation of your data
- Includes extra club tags, and replacements are priced fairly
To Be Improved:
- Tagging at your waist/pocket is easily forgotten, as such Game Golf requires more dedication than its competitors
- Lacks an in-round app with ability to edit shots on the fly. The consequence is more missed shots and less reliable data. (this applies to the iOS version)
- Sign your round requirement before posting online is an extra step that shouldn’t be necessary (and won’t be when above issues are resolved)
CaddieON leads the field in robust in-app editing capabilities. The app is simple to use in real-time, and its intuitive interface makes editing quick and easy. It’s inarguably best in class in this area, and we expect the others will eventually follow CaddieOn’s lead.
Tagging to your wrist is much easier to remember than tagging to your waist as with Game Golf.
The Features You Want:
- In-round editing is easy and intuitive
- While not needing to tag is better, we found it easy to remember to tag to your wrist rather than to your waist.
To Be Improved:
- Data delivery is lacking. CaddieOn doesn’t give you nearly as much insight as its competitors
- Tags cannot be replaced individually but must be purchased as a complete set
Like digital swing analyzers, the Shot/Round Tracker category is only its infancy. In the coming months we expect to see expansion, differentiation, as well as entries from golf equipment manufacturers. We believe the category will grow to include better support for putting (meaningful putting stats are limited across the board) and better tools to help the golfer take all of his data and actually use it to build a better golf game.