The GolfSense sensor clips to a golf glove and connects to an Apple or Android tablet. You’ll see a precise rendering of your swing that shows finer details such as the twist of your wrist and your club posture. Over an entire round, I connected up the app a few times and noticed my penchant for underswinging (I seriously lacked follow-through and tended to punch the ball). The app maintained a connection over Bluetooth and shows a clear 3D rendering. The rendering is based on the sensor movement; unlike SwingTIP, there’s no video capture.
Pros will tell you the shoes you wear are the foundation of your game. Without sure footing and a firm stance, you’ll slice like a pizza cutter. The most important feature on the new Tiger Woods 14 shoe is the outsole (the underside for traction), which is designed to conform to your foot as you take a shot and stay on the ground longer. The golf shoe has an upper design that breathes easier on hot days thanks to a new ventilation system. Slits cut in strategic places let air pass through, yet the shoe remains water-resistant. I’ve worn many gold shoes, but Nike nailed the outsole, which planted into the grass like metal spikes yet still felt springy enough to give me flex during several practice shots.
Leupold RX-600i Laser Rangefinder
This Cadillac of rangefinders, the Leupold RX-600i, is a rugged, waterproof gadget you can carry in your bag at all times. It gives accurate measurements up to about 500 yards and uses infrared technology to let you point a laser directly at the hole, or any spot on the course, and see how far away it is.
During a round in Minnesota at the Pebble Lake Golf Club, I used the rangefinder on the tee box to determine which club to use, scanned the fairway, and looked for the best place to drop my shot. I used it again for each chip. The accuracy helped me judge shot distance and to not overshoot. To prove it worked, I tested the rangefinder on the driving range. The pro shop told me the 100-, 150-, and 200-yard markers were perfectly accurate from the center of the turf pad. Sure enough, the Leupold proved they were right.
Garmin Approach S2
What I liked most about this GPS golf watch: It doesn’t make you look like a total nerd, and you can wear it even when you are not golfing.
The Approach S2 is designed primarily to help you find your place on each hole and estimate your shot distance. There’s also a pedometer, a digital scorecard, and maps for 30,000 courses. I used the S2 to help me choose clubs based on the distance to the green. In one case, I eyeballed a distance of about 200 yards to the hole, but when I checked the watch, noticed it was more like 250. That’s the difference between an iron shot and a driver.
TaylorMade R1 Driver
Before you dismiss this club as being too expensive, consider that the R1 driver is fully adjustable in three ways (face, loft, and shape), so it’s like purchasing several different clubs for different conditions. During my tests, I adjusted the angle of the face using a small tuning tool. You can add some loft, for example, when faced with a hole blocked by trees. For me, the main benefit was in adjusting the draw. My shot tends to go left no matter what, so I used the tool to create a different balance. I could also tweak the setting to straighten my drives out on the fairway. Essentially, the club fixed my shot.
The sensor, about the size of an index finger, clips to any club, about halfway down the shaft. You can set your phone in front of you or have a friend film your swing. The app, available for iPhone and Android, records your swing automatically when you start, sensing the movement, and stops after you follow through.
This swing analysis tool helped me see a persistent problem on the course: I was hitting too close to the ball, and the app kept flagging this problem. When I tried moving farther away, my shots improved
EA Sports Tiger Woods 14
Does a video game belong on a list of gadgets to improve your golf game? For those with swing problems like mine, it definitely does. The Xbox 360 version uses the Kinect motion-tracking system to let you play an entire round without a controller. The game uses your actual golf swing in front of the television and tracks about 1000 data points, including head movement, posture, and swing plane.
The Kinect sensor helped me see the whole package: my shots tended to be too fast, too labored, and too uneven. Plus, the new night golf mode in Tiger Woods 14 is amazing.
SKLZ Gold Flex
The proof of any new golf gadget is not how it looks, but whether it improves your game. While the SKLZ Gold Flex training club is not high-tech (and, thankfully, doesn’t need to be charged), it uses a high-tech principle. As you swing, the 48-inch club, which has a 2.5-pound yellow head on the end, reveals deficiencies such as an underswing, a poor vertical or horizontal stance, and a poor arc.
For me, the club showed how I was not following through properly. The rubber head kept jolting back after my shot, showing that I was stopping too early. The Gold Flex is also a workout device and improves muscle tone. It’s almost like warming up before you bat.