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November 2019

GPS Guides Golf Gift Giving

By Scott Kauffman

When it comes to great technological advances for the game of golf, arguably one of the most popular innovations of the 21st century was the introduction of GPS-powered technology.

Indeed, when the satellite-based Global Positioning System was pioneered by ProLink Inc. founder and CEO Douglas Lecker 25 years ago and subsequently adopted by golf-car manufacturer E-Z-Go, the everyday golf course experience changed forever.

At least for those owners and players who saw value in these cutting-edge cars. Today, of course, many of the industry’s golf-car fleets feature some type of GPS-powered technology. And modern-day golfers can’t seem to live without their GPS yardage-marker guidance.

When Lecker was featured 17 years ago in a New York Times article, the former Boeing engineer/Arizona entrepreneur said once GPS technology became less expensive and more widely available in the mid-1990s, he realized its pinpoint accuracy was a natural fit for a guessing game like golf. At the time, Lecker envisioned golf cars one day delivering stock quotes, business news and having other business and consumer-oriented benefits.

To be sure, that day has arrived with golfers getting a lot more out of those ubiquitous roof-mounted screens than just distances for their next shot.

In fact, GPS has become so popular that the number of gadgets offering this type of precision technology is seemingly endless thanks to the advances that now allow GPS to be integrated in things that can fit on the wrist or in palm of one’s hand.

In honor of the holiday gift-giving season, here are a couple of GPS-powered devices helping golfers at all levels drill down the ultimate in distance measurement and swing data statistics.

SkyCaddie SX500 - This new GPS handheld, made by Ridgeland, Mississippi-based SkyGolf, is becoming one of the most trusted rangefinders in the game after Englishman David Shacklady touted the hand-held, 5-inch, full HD touch-screen device after his victory last September at the Staysture Tour Sinclair Invitational. It was actually the third win on the U.K. pro tour this year by golfers using the device pre-loaded with more than 35,000 of SkyGolf’s “ground-verified, error-corrected maps for unmatched accuracy.”

One of the newer innovative features of the SX500’s powerful processor is “Dynamic HoleVue,” which automatically re-orients the entire golf hole from your position to the green as you progress from the tee. So, by leveraging SkyCaddie’s patented IntelliGreen technology, golfers can now see the entire hole from their point-of-view to quickly acquire distances to avoid intervening hazards to plot the best strategy for every shot.

Garmin Approach S40 - This stylish stainless-steel GPS golf smart watch preloaded with 41,000-plus international courses not only looks the part on and off the course, but also delivers some compelling features. Not the least of which is a color display built with a higher resolution so the device is sunlight-readable in high-glare situations and streamlined to present all relevant information right when you need it.

For instance, the Approach S40 automatically records each shot along the fairway and records distances for post-game analysis on Garmin Connect. Other newer features: The watch will automatically update courses you frequently play when synced with Garmin Connect; monitor steps and sleeping, with dedicated modes for running and cycling; and synch with smartphones to allow notifications for incoming calls or texts.

To give the brand more cachet, Garmin International Inc., a unit of publicly traded Garmin Ltd., announced last August a new partnership with Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman to be a global brand ambassador.

“Having used many different products over the years, I can say with conviction that Garmin offers the most precise and advanced GPS technology for the course and has truly helped me improve my game,” Norman said. “I wear my Garmin fēnix watch almost every day. It’s sleek, lightweight and water resistant, so it can go everywhere I go – from the golf course to the boat and beyond.”

Scott Kauffman is a golf business writer and the managing director of Aloha Media Group, and is regular technology columnist for Golf Business. You can contact him with tech news at



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