As the captain of a prestigious golf club in Singapore, my dad is always asking for my help in writing speeches and letters to the members of his organization. So, naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to turn the tables and ask for his advice instead.
After he played in the MercedesTrophy World Final in 2013 as one of the regional champions for the Asia group, my dad got even more serious about stepping up his game. In the past, that meant I had to hold up his iPad for what felt like hours and record his swings, after which he would sit around playing back and analyzing the videos.
These days, a variety of tech can make it easier to improve your golf game. I consulted my father, now an 11-handicap golfer looking to improve his technique, on which devices he'd use. From sensors for your clubs to wearables and apps that teach you the rules, here's the best tech to improve and enhance your golf game.
ON YOUR CLUBS
In general, bulkier sensors that attach to your golf club, below the grip, add weight and therefore affect your swing. Since you're not likely to keep the attachments on while you play a real game, your practice and game swings may then differ. Although the data received from these devices can be very accurate compared to what you get from sensors placed on your glove or at the top of your club, the hassle may not be worth it.
These add-ons need to be removed and re-attached to each club you use, which can be very troublesome. For those reasons, I've left larger on-club attachments, such as the Epson M-Tracer ($250) and the Garmin TruSwing ($150) off this list.
Comprehensive Tracking, Analysis, and Bragging
What better tech to invest in than one used by both outgoing president Barack Obama and incoming president Donald Trump? Game Golf Live's tags screw onto the butt end of your club and capture data such as fairway accuracy, shot dispersion and scrambling percentages. With the companion apps for iOS, Android and Apple Watch, you can get real-time coaching, challenge your friends, brag about holes in one and benchmark your performance against pros.
To track your shots, you can tap your club against either an included, small, belt-worn device or an NFC-enabled phone. Approved for in-tournament use by the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews), the Game Golf system can keep tracking your performance even in a competition.
Measure Driving Distance and Accuracy
If you're looking to improve your drive, screw the Arccos Driver onto the butt end of your club, and you'll be good to go. The Driver measures your driving distance and accuracy, sharing it to your iPhone for analysis and social media bragging. At $80, the Arccos Driver is also one of the most affordable items on this list, making it a budget-friendly foray into shot tracking for someone testing the waters.
WATCHES AND WEARABLES
Get Hazard Distance and Analyze Your Swing
This GPS watch might not be a perfect replacement for a caddy, but it's a good stand-in. Not only will the thin-and-light Garmin Approach S6 show you surrounding hazards and your approximate distance from these landmarks, but it will also track your swing tempo and strength. That data is shared to the Garmin Connect app over Bluetooth, where you can analyze, share and compare your results with those of your friends.
On top of that, the Approach S6 delivers smartphone notifications to your wrist, so you can stay connected without digging for your phone. The full-color touch screen makes for easy navigation, even with gloves on, and you'll get 40,000 golf-course maps included for free. The watch is rated 5 ATM for water resistance up to 50 meters (164 feet), so you can go diving for lost balls in water hazards. It also packs a long-lasting battery, which means the Approach S6 can accompany you through your weekend games, rain or shine.
Track Shots and Hazards on the Cheap
Those looking for a more basic golf watch at a lower price should consider Golf Buddy's WT5. The water-resistant WT5 can track your shots, measure your distance from targets and hazards, and keep a digital scorecard. It's not as sleek as the Garmin and doesn't deliver smartphone notifications, but the WT5 is a solid golf watch for the price.
Zepp's Golf 2 sensor clips onto a glove or the top of your club and tracks your swing in 3D, so you can view it from all dimensions later. With the glove mount, you don't have to keep switching out the sensor whenever you change clubs, as long as you don't remove your glove.
The Zepp app offers real-time coaching and videos from pros such as Michelle Wie and Keegan Bradley. The app's video analysis tech lets you record your swing and compare it to the pros' to see how far off or close you are. You don't have to buy a Zepp sensor to use its video-analysis tool or view its multimedia content.
A GPS watch is good for approximately pointing out and measuring your distance from targets and obstacles, but you'll get much more accurate results from a range finder. Think of it as a measuring tape, except with lasers. The Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder will tell you exactly how far away you are from what you point the instrument at, so you can figure out exactly which club to use.
The Bushnell Tour X is approved for tournament use, as long as the black faceplate is mounted. But when you're not competing, you can use a red faceplate to engage Bushnell's slope-analyzing technology.
Golf GPS Caddie (Free; iOS)
The Golf GPS Caddie app for iOS turns your iPhone into a range finder and digital caddy, offering a detailed score-entry system and golf-course information. The device even offers club distance tracking and recommendations. You won't get the nuanced knowledge a local caddy could offer, but the Golf GPS Caddie app comes close.
The Rules of Golf by the USGA (Free; iOS, Android)
What would happen if your ball landed next to a rattlesnake or a beehive, or if you can't find your ball? Having the Rules of Golf app handy can save you from having to go back to the clubhouse to figure out what the regulations are in any situation. Those who want to play internationally should download the rules app by the R&A.
Rotary Swing Golf Instruction Videos (Free; iOS)
One of the best ways to learn how to do something well is to learn from and mimic the pros. Rotary Swing's library of free instructional videos is a great reference for the budding golfer, but those who are a bit more serious can sign up for the $20-per-month premium membership. That subscription grants you more content, as well as two swing-reviews a month. That means the company looks at videos you send of your swing and gives you personalized tips on how to improve or fix problems.
GolfWeather (Free; iOS, Android)
Know exactly what the weather will be like over your desired golf course up to seven days in advance. GolfWeather crunches data for each golf course to obtain more accurate information, and offers a GPS-based "Near Me" feature to forecast the weather around you. In addition to temperature and weather conditions (cloudy, rainy, etc.), GolfWeather breaks down the wind speed, direction, chance of rain and amount of rainfall for each day.