The origin - being analytical
Today most golfers own a GPS device or a laser rangefinder. So do I. To be very precise I have both tools in use. I startet with a GPS watch (Garmin S2) three years ago because I have been never good in assessing distances on the course. This was a real improvement for my game - accelerating distance evaluation and choice of club. After a while GPS info was not enough for me, I wanted to be more precise to attack the flag. The need of having a rangefinder was born. Now I was able to precisely determine the distance to the flag or to other points on the course (my GPS watch only delivers the distance to the front, back and mid green - not more).
As soon you have those nice helpers on course you are also keen to know 'precisely' the yardage of all your club in the bag. And yes, knowing this is essential to make best use of the little helpers. Now there are different ways to get to this relevant information. I list the most common ones. Assessing them will be a topic for a future post.
- Hitting balls on the range to targets and determine the yardage
- Using a launch monitor
- Measuring the distance of balls on the course or somewhere else
The Pain or creating my first golf distance table
I decided to play balls do the green on the course. Fortunately my golf club offers an appropriate long plain Par 3 training hole for such a purpose which I was using for this exercise. Playing for each club (4 wedges, 6 irons, 1 hybrid and one 3 Wood) 5 balls to the green and then measuring each ball from the starting point. This sounds like some effort and it is certainly true. Therefore I was doing this in the very late afternoon close to sunset to avoid disturbing others. It took me a few days to go through all of the clubs and it has not been very comfortable: measuring with the GPS watch and putting some notes on a piece of paper, then entering it into Excel to derive the mean values and finally formatting it to print it.
Seeking for more comfort
After the first day I thought there should be an app for this for my iPhone, like for nearly any problem you can imagine. Searching iTunes for half an hour I realized that there would be no help from a tailored software to assist my plan to generate my distance table and I continued following the mentioned approach. Finally I've got my golf distance (or yardage) table which I was using for the last 3 seasons of golf. And I can tell you it has been worth doing it. I became more consistent in attacking the greens using my GPS and laser devices and then applying my distance table (considering also delta high, wind, rain effects).
Decision taken - Let's develop!
Last year I decided to review my distances after realizing that my swing has developed and my table was not up to date. I expected some progress on the app marked. However after again searching the app-store I realized again. There is nothing available that matches to my needs:
- doing GPS measurement of the distance
- having the option to feed it manually with data
- measuring a series of balls hit from the same starting point
- documenting this
- analyzing the data
- generating the distance table
As I have some programming skills gained at university and during my PhD studies I thought it would be easy for me to develop such a tool. Consequently I postponed updating my yardage table and started programming the app I have been looking for.
In winter 2017/18 (at this time the season in Bavaria is over) I was programming my app. During development I added some additional features which I found useful:
- documentation if ball has hit from ground or tee, which could make a difference for more inconsistent players
- documentation if green is hit, which could also make a difference especially if playing wedges or irons with high club head speed in combination with excellent balls
- measuring the deviation from the target line in addition to the distance in order to analyze the scatter and if there is a special tendency
Now I have the tool I was looking for. Hoping it is helpful for others as well. I am using it since then when playing on the course when playing representative shots (e.g. attacking greens on the same altitude). So, no extra sessions anymore! Besides generating and maintaining my distance table I also use it to keep track on my driving performance - especially to document the impressive ones...