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December 2014

Benefits of Distance Measuring Devices/Apps Go Beyond Accurate Yardage
by: NGF Dashboard November 2014

According to a recent NGF survey of Core Golfers, the use of distance measuring devices (including GPS-enabled smartphone apps) remains prevalent as players continue to benefit from the obvious advantages of accurate yardage and proper club selection. Yet it’s the potentially unanticipated upside these devices deliver that golfers say are making them more confident in their abilities and increasing their enjoyment of the sport.

According to the research, more than two-thirds of Core Golfers use distance measuring devices or apps during the majority of their rounds. While usage might be lower for the overall golfer population (NGF’s panel skews more avid and affluent), the research indicates that committed golfers continue to recognize real benefits from the technology.

Nearly half of those users said they own a dedicated device such as a laser range finder, a handheld GPS device or a GPS-enabled watch. Thirteen percent said they use a GPS-enabled app on their smartphone or tablet, and roughly the same number indicated they own both a dedicated device and a mobile app. Additionally, 91% of those golfers report utilizing their devices during most of their rounds.

But regardless of the device or app in play, many of these golfers reported increased shot confidence and enjoyment on the course—two key factors that affect commitment to the game.

Nearly 80% of those surveyed said distance measuring devices increased their shot confidence on the course. That’s important considering the natural conclusion that shot commitment and trust in yardage have a positive effect on execution. In fact, 39% of golfers (including those that shoot 90 and above) said they’ve carded better scores by using the technology. It’s not surprising then, that a third of distance measuring device users report increased enjoyment of the game.

Slightly more than half of golfers surveyed cited speedier rounds as a benefit to using a distance measuring device.  This byproduct of DMD usage is significant to the game. With golfers no longer required to hunt for yardage markers or march-off distances the “old fashioned way,” preparation for full shots can be reduced.

Tech Laggards Among Us
What about Core Golfers that haven’t adopted the use of technology to help measure yardage? A significant number of these golfers cite cost/budget as the primary reason they do not currently own a distance measuring device. This is especially true among golfers between the ages of 18 to 49, who tend to have different priorities for their discretionary income.  It stands to reason, however, that these golfers are more likely to purchase a device when additional discretionary income becomes available.

Fifty-four percent of golfers who do not currently own a device say they are not in the market to buy one.  However, there remains a large pool of committed golfers who will likely join the revolution and purchase one in the future.  This potential, coupled with current users looking to upgrade their devices as technology improves, represents a sizeable opportunity for dedicated device manufacturers and app providers to grow their customer bases.

But the upside goes well beyond that. An increase in usage can only benefit the game as golfers become more proficient and begin to derive more enjoyment out of their rounds. It might fall short of having Fluff Cowan on your bag, but the use of these technologies is removing some uncertainty in a challenging game and increasing the enjoyment factor.

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