The summer is coming to an end, but for avid golfers, the season is far from over. With that in mind, here are reviews of three gadgets that can help improve your game.
Swingbyte — I wrote in late December that one of the top technology developments to watch for this year would be “appcessories,” which are gadgets that pair with smartphone apps to provide entertainment or practical value. The Swingbyte is a prime example. Used in conjunction with the company’s smartphone app, the combo provides instant data about your golf swing, such as tempo and club-face angle.
The Swingbyte attaches to the shaft of a golf club and syncs via Bluetooth to an Android smartphone or iPhone. Once you hit a ball, the Swingbyte app captures your swing path and related data. For me, the most valuable information was the club-head speed, which helps determine the proper flex for club shafts. I struggled initially with setting up the Swingbyte based on the included instructions. One tip: When the device is attached to the shaft, make sure the side with the Swingbyte logo is facing in the opposite direction of the golf ball. The Swingbyte costs $150, which is a little steep. But the company promises to continue developing free features to help with swing analysis. It is available at ATT stores and online. Although Swingbyte has a partnership with ATT, you don’t need ATT service to use it.
Garmin Approach S1 — This is a bare-bones GPS golf watch that provides yardage distance to the front, center and back of greens. It is preloaded with thousands of golf courses. I used the watch
at four Denver-area courses, and all were included in the database. Courses load automatically based on your location. Yardages are accurate, give or take a few, and the holes automatically advance when you leave a green. While there are free smartphone apps that do the same thing, it is very convenient to simply flip the wrist to access the information rather than fumbling with a phone and an app at each hole. The watch is comfortable to wear on the course and stylish enough to wear off it. The watch’s rechargeable battery is the weakest feature. A 4½-hour round will almost drain it. You can probably squeeze 27 holes on one charge. The watch also includes an odometer and the ability to measure the distance of a shot. The S1 retails for $250 on the Garmin site but is available for $200 at retailers such as Golfsmith. A newer version, the Approach S3, provides more information, such as distances to hazards, but costs $350.
Motoactv Golf Edition — If the S1 is the Honda of golf watches, the Motoactv is the Bentley. The watch features a 1.6-inch touchscreen and provides distances to the green as well as hazards. It also includes an MP3 player and other fitness features.
The square-touchscreen device, essentially a wearable computer, can be removed from the wrist strap and placed into an included belt clip.
It comes preloaded with 20,000 courses and, like the S1, automatically loads up courses based on your location and displays accurate yardages.
Unlike the S1, you can record your score, number of putts and other data. After the round, you can easily transfer the information to your Motoactv account via a WiFi connection, allowing you to view the statistics online. The Motoactv is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can use it with wireless headphones. Again, battery life isn’t great, dropping to 40 percent after a 4½-hour round. The recent price cut from $300 to $200 and the bonus features make this my recommended GPS golf watch.
Andy Vuong : 303-954-1209 or fb.com/byandyvuong