The Golfshot Golf GPS app is really no different from pretty much any other golf GPS app you can download for free.
Except when it isn’t.
Like every other golf GPS app, Golfshot gives you a map of each hole. It also gives you targets, distances, manual shot tracking and a scorecard. So, yeah, it’s like every other golf GPS app out there.
Except when it isn’t.
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, when it comes to the basics, nearly all of the jillion free golf GPS apps on the Apple or Android app stores do the same job and do it very well. Individual apps will include unique features in their free versions, which is nice. But it’s the paid-for upgrade packages where apps differentiate themselves. And while some of the upgrades are hokey, some are incredibly helpful. Others are simply wicked cool.
Wicked cool and incredibly helpful, however, is a neat trick. And it’s one the Golfshot golf GPS app pulls off.
Golfshot Golf GPS App
“There are a lot of gimmicky things out there, like a quick fix for a slice and things like that,” says Golfshot GM and Executive Vice President Alex Flores. “But our perspective is it takes some practice to get better at golf.”
To get better you need info and you need to know what to do with that info. Golfshot offers you a treasure trove of info and has more in development.
“We want to provide the on-course tool through a lot of data visualization on the course,” says Flores. “Here’s how you’re currently doing, here’s all your historical data and here are some insights to help you get better.”
Golfshot may very well lap the GPS golf app field when it comes to getting the most out of your Apple or Android watch. And the Pro upgrade has a handful of features that might make your jaw drop.
You want automatic shot tracking without sensors or buying anything else from anyone else? Golfshot can do that. You want a live, ground-view of your shot with distances to the green, bunkers, doglegs and other hazards? Golfshot can do that, too.
And if you want a post-round breakdown of your swing DNA? Yup, it can do that, too. If you want actual data on tempo, rhythm, speed, backswing angles and swing path for the day, week, month or season, you can get that granular.
Automatic shot tracking has largely been the domain of ARCCOS and Shot Scope, and both products give you an impressive package of stats and analytics. Golfshot, with its Pro upgrade, also tracks your shots automatically. The difference is you probably already have all the hardware you need.
“There’s a lot of technology built into the Apple Watch and Android wearable devices,” explains Flores. “With accelerometers and all the things built into these watches, plus our own machine learning and algorithms we’ve built, the watch can automatically detect your motion and contact when you hit a shot.”
Without club sensors, Golfshot can’t know what club you’re hitting. It’ll assume driver on par-4 and par-5 holes but you can make changes on your phone in real time or make the edit post-round. Flores does say the machine learning built into the app will ultimately learn what you like to do on certain holes that you play all the time.
“Our goal is to provide the latest technology and innovation but we also don’t want to be intrusive on the golf course,” says Flores. “You don’t want to be paddling around with things while you’re trying to hit your approach shot. We don’t want to slow down the pace of play.”
Depending on what you want from Golfshot, you can have full GPS, club recommendations and scorekeeping using only your watch. The phone can stay in the cart or in the bag.
“It’s a seamless experience,” says Flores. “For us, it was a big strategic decision to focus on the wearable tech that’s available already, especially with the Apple watch.”
One missing piece is putting. Your wearable can’t detect a putting stroke yet but Golfshot is working on that.
As mentioned, the free versions of golf GPS apps have basic functionality. If all you want is a number and a view, they all do a perfectly acceptable job. The paid-for upgrades have all the cool stuff.
And I don’t care who you are, Golfshot’s GolfScape augmented reality (AR) is pretty frickin’ cool.
“We won a design award from Apple for it,” says Flores. “It’s an augmented-reality view of your distances to hazards, the green, everything.”
GolfScape AR uses your phone’s camera and, with the image from where you’re standing, gives you real-time distances to the green, hazards, bunkers and doglegs. It sees the course from your vantage point, just like a rangefinder, but all that info is on one screen. And the distances change as you move the camera.
“If there’s a hill in the way or trees in the way, you can still view it through augmented reality using the camera in both iPhone and Android devices,” says Flores. “It’s definitely one of our differentiators. I don’t know if anyone’s been able to crack the code on it but it’s something we’ve continued to update based on new phone technology.”
Golfshot and Swing ID
For better or worse, golf GPS apps have been playing catch-up with Arccos and Shot Scope when it comes to data and analytics. While Golfshot does not offer a Strokes Gained metric at this time (it is coming this year), it does offer something just as valuable: Swing ID.
“We are literally collecting your swing data for every swing you take on the course,” says Flores. “Swing ID gives you KPIs (key performance indicators) for each shot.”
Swing ID leverages Apple watch technology (Android compatibility is coming) to track your tempo, rhythm, hand speed ( which correlates to swing speed), backswing angle, transition and swing path. The app offers that info for each shot as well as an average for a round or a season. It’s the cold, unvarnished truth about your swing that day compared to a target goal.
“It’s bridging the gap between what’s happening on the course and what you need to do to get better,” says Flores. “If golfers want to get better, they have to understand certain things about their game.”
Data doesn’t lie, as this tale of two tee shots illustrates. On the par-5 second hole at Red Tail in Devens, Mass., last week, your faithful 62-year-old scribe push-sliced his drive right. Playable, but bogey loomed. On the par-4 14th, this same golfer crushified a long power fade. Swing ID explained the difference.
The tempo and rhythm on both swings were comparable but hand speed was 1 mph faster on the second drive. The transition was much shallower on the second drive and, most importantly, swing path was only one degree out-to-in as opposed to 15 degrees out-to-in. Drive No. 1: 201 yards in the right rough (bogey). Drive No. 2: 258 yards in the middle (downhill) and a two-putt par.
Analytics, Shmanalytics …
Sure, based on the results you can pretty much guess a steep, over-the-top, spinny swing on the bad drive. So it’s fair to ask: Why would you need this info?
Well, it’s the difference between what you think you know and what you really know.
“Instructors tell us that they’ll tell a golfer to work on certain things on the golf course,” says Flores. “But they have no way of analyzing what their student is actually doing out there. They just have the golfer’s subjective reporting with no actual data.
“Swing ID provides the data.”
There are some obvious limitations, primarily because the information is coming from a watch on your wrist. You won’t get actual swing speed but hand speed does correlate. And if Auto Shot Tracking does miss a shot (it happens), you won’t get Swing ID data for any shot you manually add after the round.
Golfshot introduced Swing ID just a few weeks ago and it has already collected nearly three million shots. As mentioned, Swing ID only works with the Apple watch at this time although Flores says Golfshot expects Android functionality later this year. Additionally, Auto Strokes Gained is coming and he’s hoping to add Swing ID capabilities for the practice range as well.
“Our goal is for people to use it on the range,” says Flores. “We see a lot of opportunity on the practice side of it to help people get better. It can provide structure and guidance instead of just going out there and hitting balls.”
Hard Data Instead of Hardware
Arccos and Shot Scope are outstanding at what they do. But you have to buy their hardware in order to use their software. And with Arccos, you pay an additional monthly fee after the first year. Golf GPS apps have the advantage of using hardware – phone and watch – you already own. The basics are free but the fun stuff costs.
The free Golfshot app includes GPS and manual (not automatic) shot tracking, basic statistics, watch connectivity, a scorecard and 3-D video pre-round course previews. Additionally, it’s Siri-enabled so you can just ask it for a distance.
The Pro upgrade includes Auto Shot Tracking, Swing ID, AI-powered Smart Caddie for club recommendations, GolfScape AR, post-round shot editing with a very cool 3-D flyover round review, scoring for skins, nassau or match play, GHIN posting and more.
Pro pricing is $4.99 for a week, $17.99 for a month or $69.99 for a year if you buy it through the App Store. It’s $59.99 if you buy through the Golfshot website. The free version lets you try Pro for the first week.
Additionally, Golfshot offers what it calls Golfplan: a golf instruction package with more than 400 videos from Revolution Golf and instructors such as Martin Chuck, Sean Foley and Don Saladino. It’s an additional $19.99 per year.
Over a three-year period, you’re looking at just a tick under $240 for the full Golfshot experience. Arccos Caddie, by comparison, will run you more than $650 for three years while the new Shot Scope X5 GPS watch with shot tracking goes for $299.99 outright with no monthly fees. The older V3 watch is $199.99.
Golfshot Golf GPS App: Final Thoughts
We’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Depending on what you want/need on the course, most any free GPS app will get you a number. Some have nicer graphics and a few additional features, so pick your favorite and run with it.
Where apps differentiate is in the paid-for upgrades. It’s up to you to decide if you want/need any or all of those extras but you can’t deny that some of them are pretty cool. And what’s really cool is using technology and the data it provides to actually improve.
“To get better at golf you have to put the work in,” says Flores. “We want to be your guide along that journey. We’ll provide you with real data and real coaching.”
With Swing ID for Android on the way, as well as Swing ID practice range functionality, Auto Strokes Gained stats and putting functionality, Golfshot is well-positioned in the GPS app space. Free golf GPS apps abound but it’s pretty clear that advances in technology, particularly in wearables, are prompting app developers to up their games.
As a result, 2023 is a great year to be a golf technology geek.
For more information on Golfshot, check out their website.