Conquer the green this weekend with the best golf gadgets

No one gets enough time to play — no matter what the game is. But it’s especially true when your sport requires driving out to a range or a course and spending the entire day at it. Thankfully, now there’s plenty of tech to help you get more out of the hours you do spend on the green, as well as simulators and indoor golf tech for when you can’t get outside.

Golf Pad Golf Tags ($200)

These little nubbins successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign at the end of June, and backers are eagerly awaiting delivery. Golf Tags use near-field communication (NFC) and come in sets of 15; they simply screw into the end of your clubs. Tap the tag to your phone before a swing and the Golf Pad app (for iOS and Android) will record location, club choice, putting, shot dispersion and distance,  and more. Sensors also pick up temperature, humidity, and elevation change.

The app will analyze your stats and offer club suggestions based on your successes and misses in similar environments over time. In that way, Golf Tags work with the app to act like a virtual caddy. The Golf Pad app works on certain smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, Pebble, and Samsung Gear — it works with most Android Wear watches. You need the premium version of the Golf Pad app to take advantage of the features that really make the tags worthwhile, and it costs $10 a year. At least the set comes with a year of premium included in the price. Read more here.

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PIQ with Mobitee Golf Accessory ($265)

Similar in concept to Golf Tags, this bundle instead takes advantage of a separate sensor package worn on the back of your golf glove. PIQ’s package comes with 18 NFC tags for the end of your clubs (instead of 15 like the Golf Tags) and the PIQ sensor. Touch the tag to the sensor before your swing, and it handles all the recording. On the upside, PIQ’s glove sensor does work with other NFC golf screws, in case you already have them.

PIQ’s sensor is one of the most advanced on the market, and therefore you get slightly better metrics than you do with the Golf Tags, including 3D imaging of your swing. That’s delivered via PIQ’s partnership with Mobitee, one of the best golf apps available. Its virtual coach recommends clubs and the force you need to put behind them. The premium version includes 35,000 courses, and promises to add requested courses within three days. It gives you aerial views using Google Maps and your phone’s GPS. In case you’re sans-connection, you can download courses for safe-keeping. Did we mention that Mobitee turns the camera into a rangefinder? Very cool. Read more here.

PIQ

TomTom Golfer ($247)

This smartwatch uses global positioning to figure out which course you’re on. After that’s set, the TomTom can give you distances to the green portions, hazards, doglegs, and layups, along with a digital scorecard (you have to manually input the strokes, but it’s better than nothing). Ideally, the watch discerns your hole too, though our reviewer Christopher Smith found it could get a little confused sometimes, in which case it takes only a tap to straighten it out. Like a standard fitness tracker, it can tell you how long your round lasted, how far you traveled, and how many calories you burned. The battery is good for 10 hours, and it charges via a desk stand. Turn off GPS-enabled golf mode to save the battery. Read our full review here.

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Smart Golf Club ($200)

A Wi-Fi enabled micro USB-charging golf club is a logical addition to the Internet of things, though with its associated game-like software and shorter length, it’s designed for inside use. Another recent Kickstarter-backed project, the Smart Golf team expects to deliver to supporters in October. The head of the club has a three-axis gyroscope, an accelerometer, compass sensors, and LEDs. It knows what you should be doing, and by analyzing your caulking, backswing, downswing, impact, follow-through, and finish — in conjunction with the club’s path, head pace, and impact angle — it can show what you’re doing wrong.

Unlike a few of the options here, the Smart Golf Club gives immediate visual feedback by flashing a light in the club head when you’re in an ideal (or not so ideal) stance. Audio feedback lets you know how well you actually did on impact. The Smart Golf app does more than save stats. It lets you take simulated swings without going outside, and acts like a golf game. And when you’re out on the course you can immediately review your swing.

Not currently available for purchase due to the completion of their Kickstarter campaign.

Next page: Home and range accessories

Pro-Fit Smart Link – Golf Cart Monitoring System ($218)

If you’ve ever been stuck on the green when your golf cart died, you’ll have added appreciation for Smart Link. Download the Android or iPhone app to your Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled phone or tablet, pair it with a golf cart that has the Bluetooth module connected to its battery, and you can monitor and record the battery info. The  app can measure amperage, voltage, current, temperature, and time, and it can alert users when it’s time for maintenance or when the battery gets too low.In the cart, you can navigate with GPS. Check out the website to make sure the golf cart in question is compatible with the module.

Pro-Fit Smart Link

Trackman Pro ($15,995)

Trackman offers the crème de la crème of golf sims, and has a price to match. The Pro can come with the Ultimate Indoor HD setup, or in a specialized setup for rental at ranges. It uses radar to track the key data parameters: swing speed, angle, club, and club path. Use it outside, or inside if the rain isn’t letting up. The software iOS APP is perfect for trainers because it allows for separate stats for the primary account holder and students.
The “basic” package ($15,995) for this thing is extensive: the Trackman device and software, a 4,500-lumen HD projector and screen, turf, a monitor, and a quad-core 3GHz PC. It’s the kind of setup that is most likely appealing to people shopping for an office, an organization, or an event, since complete simulators start at $50,000. This includes a custom setup in the environment of your choice, along with other perks and customized service, as well it should. Go on, splurge. You deserve it.

TrackMan Pro

Optishot 2 Golf Sim ($405)

Digital Trends tested the Optishot recently and found it tough as nails, standing up to hits of 90mph with nary a scratch. This indoor smart golf simulator’s main piece of tech is the swing tee pad built on two rows of infrared sensors. That’s where you’ll swing at two foam balls on two plastic tees that come in the kit, along with a 10-foot USB cord and the Optishot software.

You’ll obviously need your own clubs and a monitor or projector. You’ll also need a turf mat if you want to stand on a level with the swing pad. Once you’ve got those key things, a swing over the Optishot 2 reads swing speed and predicts your shot shape based on estimated face contact; it tells you your club path and face angle as well.

You can play through 15 courses copied from real ones without the pesky and expensive licensing, just one reason this system is so much more affordable. Extra courses cost $30 each, and some free offerings may change in honor of real-life golf events. Once you’ve picked one, though, the subtle details do impress. Ambient wildlife sounds change depending on the location of the course. What’s more, you have control over the weather, especially wind direction and speed, which is great preparation for real conditions.

Overall, DT found it a great basic trainer or party game, but not quite precise enough for really advanced shot tracking. Hey, expect some give and take considering the price is significantly lower than some other systems. Read our full review here.

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Editors' Recommendations