The PGA Tour Has A New App For Playing Golf, And It's Great Except For One Thing


If you like golf even a little bit, and you have a smartphone, you definitely should be using an app for keeping track of your scores and measuring distances on the course.  

Compared to dedicated range finders, smartphone apps are easy to use. Plus, they keep track of all your stats like putts, fairways hit, greens in regulation, scrambling, and much more. After the round you can nerd out, breaking down what you did right and did wrong, so you know where your game needs work. 

Until now, my favourite app for tracking on-course information has been Golfshot, a $30 app that gives yardages on almost every course I’ve ever played. (The lone exception was Streamsong in Florida, which was only a few months old when I played.)

The PGA Tour acquired the company that built Golfshot, Shotzoom, and developed a new app called TOURCaddie. It might be the best golf app on the market.

There’s only one small problem — price. The app is $30 a year for the full suite of services. Golfshot, which still exists in the app store is a one-time fee of $30. You get a few more bells and whistles in TOURCaddie, but not that much more. I would still recommend Golfshot over TOURCaddie, as long as it’s in the App Store, if price is your top concern.

Through a spokesperson, Ben Addoms at the PGA defended the new pricing, saying, “Having a subscription price ensures that the app is continuing to improve.” 

Craig Prichard, President of Shotzoom added, “The primary differentiator is the PGA TOUR-level instruction. All of the instruction is of the highest quality and is proven effective in both amateur and pro instruction. Additionally, the tips and drills are tied to individual performance, allowing for customised instruction that fits a golfer’s personal game.”

These are nice add-ons, but personally, I tend to ignore instructional videos. I find they mess me up more than help. The only thing that really helps is personalised instruction from a pro. But, that’s just me. If you like to read all the tips in golf magazines, and watch Golf Fix on Golf Channel, then you would love the videos built into the app.

The PGA flew me down to Florida to test the TOURCaddie app on TPC Sawgrass. You can read a recap of the excellent course, and my attempt to par the famous island green here

I played with Travis Velichko, who leads business development for PGA Tour Experiences, a division of the tour that works on golf vacations, academies, and digital stuff like the TOURCaddie app. 

He said the app, which has been out for just over a month, already has 400,000 downloads. Golfshot, which was out for years, was at 1.2 million downloads. So, TOURCaddie is off to a strong start.

Rather than describe all the features in the app, we have a slideshow that shows what it looks like and how it works.

Here's the home screen. You can play golf, or go to the academy for some lessons.

I tested the app on my own in Brooklyn at Dyker Beach. The app finds local courses.

Choose your tee box, and then start the round.

The app starts downloading visuals for every hole.

Each hole gives you a variety of stock yardages, as well as a club recommendation based on your yardage.

And if you want more detail, tap on the map and you can zoom in on the hole. You can drag the circle around to get an exact yardage to any point on the course, or the green. As you change yardage, you get new club recommendations.

After you're done, you get to type in your score, number of putts, etc. Not a good start to this round for me!

One of my favourite features of this app is that you can measure your drives. Most people don't hit it as far as they think. This app will tell you the truth. (Full disclosure, I hit it 271 down wind.)

Another interesting feature that I'm not sure I'd actually use: a preview of the hole so you know what you're in store for. You could also just zoom in on the map and get a looksie. These things are helpful if you're at a course for the first time.

There's a bunch of options which are easily accessible just by swiping up on the main screen.

If you want to add a note about a hole, you can do that easily.

During the round, if you want to see your card, just tilt the phone to the side.

When you're done with the round, you have a choice to share it on Facebook or Twitter.

You can also rate your round at the end. This should make the app more helpful in the long run for course recommendations.

When you're all done, you get an email of your round, complete with scorecard and basic stats.

You can also check you stats over your most recent rounds.

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