Ive been getting back into playing golf a bit recently and I thought I might post a few blog posts about golf in addition to IT stuff just to see if it also reignites my interest in blogging too.
One of the things I came across recently was the Arccos golf tracking system and I spotted a video that showed how they use Microsoft Azure and are trying to use AI to analyse your game and being a bit of a data geek it would be interesting to see what it does.
There is a Microsoft video which talks a bit about how Arccos uses Azure below.
How it works
The idea is you buy these little widgets which you can see in the below picture which you screw into the top of each of your golf clubs. You then pair them with your phone and then you use the app to track each of the shots you hit. When on the course you can use GPS and the maps on the Arccos app to see the yardages to the green etc. When you swing and hit the ball the widget on your club emits a high pitched sound which you cant hear but the microphone on your phone should pick up when its in your pocket then this detects which club hit a shot and info about it.
When you hit your next shot it then records the GPS position of where the shot finished so it can workout the distance you hit it and if it hit the green etc.
How I got on for my first try
About a 2 weeks ago I played my first golf on a golf course for nearly 6 years and ive probably only played twice in the last decade. I did used to be a reasonable player as a kid and ive been to the driving range a few times recently so I had been practicing a bit but this was the first time id kept a score and I played 13 holes plus the last hole at my local club. My clubs are all tagged up and I had my phone in my pocket to detect shots.
I managed to play those 14 holes in 7 over par. I thought I played ok actually apart from 1 hole where I had 2 rubbish shots but no lost balls, no penalty shots is a win!
Below shows my best hole where I had a great par on one of the hardest holes.
After you hit each shot, in a minute or so the app will have registered that a shot was detected and when you hit your next shot it will know the result of where you hit it to and it can then workout things like yardages per club and accuracy and things like that.
Below is an example of the 8th hole too
In general the app worked pretty well. I think I had 1 time where it hadnt registered a shot which was pretty good but you can just click the edit button and add a correction.
What did I learn about my game
Once you have finished playing you can get some data about how you played. Below shows a summary rating of my performance compared to an approximate handicap. (Note i dont have a handicap at present) but it rated my approach play and putting as pretty good which I felt I had played pretty well with. My driving and my short game werent so good.
One of the interesting things is it tells you about the weaknesses and strengths of your game. My biggest weakness was distance from the tee. This was interesting as I dont currently have a driver and used my 2 iron from most of the tees anyway.
The app will also record your smart yardages where it is trying to get a view of how far you hit each club see below. The interesting thing with this feature is sometimes you will have a shot which is hard into the wind or down wind or you might miss hit one which can affect your yardages. In this case you can remove a shot from the ones used to estimate this. A good example in the picture below would be my 8 iron. I only used this once on the approach shot on the 6th hole. It was straight downwind and my 7 iron I only used once too which was a punch shot so wouldnt have been a full shot.
You get some stats on your approach play. I had 7 GIR which was pretty good but it was noticable that a lot of my shots were shots. I can probably benefit from knowing more about how far I hit shots and then using the app GPS or maybe a range finder should help me improve a lot here.
My driving accuracy is interesting too. Its interesting to see a trend that I recognise from being a kid where my weak shot is usually a push to the right.
My putting rated pretty well, particularly from longer range. Because I was using a 2 iron from most of the tees I had quite long shots to the green and as result tended to get longer putts but I did those quite well. I definitely recognised my short putting wasnt so good.
Thoughts on Arcoss
From a golfer perspective the couple of things i think:
- You prob have to accept there will be a couple of limitations on the product. Id detected nearly every one my my shots. I think it missed one but I could imagine shot puts might be easily missed.
- For your yardages it is real world where wind and elevation are going to be a factor which is different to standing on a flat range on a sunny day
- I am not sure if you can indicate which type of shot you hit. It would be great to say “this was a 3/4 shot” to help getting smarter shot distances
- Id like to know more about how to maximise the battery life of the widgets.
Im really enjoying playing a bit of golf again recently and looking forward to seeing a bit about my game improving. I definitely needed some work on my short game so a little time on the practice ground this morning was pretty good fun and definitely could feel I was beginning to remember how to do it.
Apparently the more you play with Arccos then there are some AI features which come into play to help you with where to focus practice and an AI caddie for on the course.
Im keen to find out if Arccos have any API’s to see if I can play around with Power BI or some integration with it to see what I can do linking golf and tech.
All in all they are pretty cool and I guess they will do loads more over the coming years in this space.