Could the Microsoft Band Golf Tile and TaylorMade's myRoundPro represent the future of golf GPS devices and performance analysis?
The ‘wearables’ market is one the fastest-growing sectors in the world. Many of these devices worn as accessories perform similar tasks to laptops or smartphones but often with the added benefit of sensory features, such as heart-rate monitors and calorie counters. This makes them popular as fitness companions, allowing gym fanatics to track the length, intensity and efficiency of their workouts.
Wearables already exist in golf, too. Golf GPS watches have been around for a number of years and the variety of features on offer has grown since the first was launched. As well as giving basic yardages, some now offer features like a swing-tempo trainer and hazard information to help golfers play and improve in different ways. They are seen as a quick and unobtrusive method of gaining accurate distances at a glance.
Shot-tracking systems like Arccos and Game Golf could also be classed as wearable devices. These let you ‘tag’ each club on a receiver before you hit to mark your position via GPS and then observe your shots and stats on a computer after your round.
The small problem with these is that users have to add in the process of tagging into their pre- or post-shot routine – something that many view as an unwanted distraction. At the other end of the scale, GPS watches give accurate distances but don’t offer any post- round analysis to assess your game and help you improve.
The launch of the Golf Tile on the Microsoft Band looks set to evolve the golf wearable category significantly. The band launched in April this year, offering a host of health- monitoring features as well being able to receive texts, emails, social media, calendar updates and more.
Check out our review of the Microsoft Band Golf Tile
Microsoft worked with TaylorMade in creating the Golf Tile and its ability to act alone, storing your information independent of your phone, as well as the ability to detect shots you hit by distinguishing between practice swings and real shots, makes it a unique and exciting product.
The recently launched myRoundPro shot analysis platform, which works with the device, takes statistics to a whole new level for amateur golfers. Those with the band who sign up to myRoundPro can see how they compare with a scratch golfer in the different areas of the game, like Strokes Gained. Soon, once enough rounds are entered, golfers will be able to see how they compare with others of the same ability, which really makes it an exciting prospect.
What’s great about the band is that it combines all the available technologies into one passive, comfortable and easy-to-use device that doesn’t interfere with your golf game. Fitness, distance and shot information are all presented on screen in a simple, digestible way after the round. With advice coming soon on how to use this information to improve any weaknesses, the Golf Tile, combined with TaylorMade’s myRoundPro, has the potential to enhance the golfer’s experience and enjoyment considerably.
As with any product, there are drawbacks. The Microsoft Band has a heart-rate monitor, which makes it non-conforming to the Rules of Golf and therefore illegal for competition use. However, the parties involved are confident that in January 2016 a tweak to the rule will permit the use of the device with this function disabled.
We were given an exclusive first try of the Microsoft Band and were suitably impressed with every aspect of it. We could well be looking at the future of performance analysis and GPS technology, so watch this space.