Monday, September 28, 2015

Poll Results: We All Measure Distance in Our Own Way

Archimedes once said, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Wise and simple at the same time.

But what’s the best way to measure that distance? Sounds like a Google+ question for the Golf Community.

I asked, “How do you measure distance to the pin?” The leader in the clubhouse ... GPS with 30 percent of the respondents. Relying on Course Markings came in a close second at 27 percent.

In just about every poll I’ve posted, there seems to be a surprise. Nos. 1 and 2 were fairly predictable. What wasn’t? Twenty-four percent of the people who answered use their eyes to judge. I understand that within a certain distance, but 180 yards can look like 160 yards in certain instances. That’s a two-club difference!

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting old, but I need more than my eyes to tell me how far I am from the pin.

Rounding out the field were Laser Rangefinder (17 percent) and Yardage Book (2 percent).

I love the thought of laser rangefinders because of their extreme accuracy. Unfortunately, my hands aren’t steady enough to know I’m hitting the pin from any significant distance. Is that the back pin measuring 187 or the trees just behind the green?

I’ve since switched to the Garmin S5 watch. There are cool features like layup distances on par 5s, but I really just need the distance to the front, middle and back of the green. My game isn’t precise enough to worry whether the pin is 150 or 153 yards away.

If you want data on the debate, perhaps you should reach out to +Steven Phillips. “GPS outside 150Yds. LASER inside 150 for the ‘Short Precise Shot.” WHY??  -  - ‘GPS signal in space will provide a "worst case" pseudorange accuracy of 7.8 meters at a 95% confidence level.’

“8 Yards  X2 = 16 Yds off. Real-world data from the FAA show that their high-quality GPS SPS receivers provide better than 3.5 meter horizontal accuracy. 4 Yards  X2 8 Yds off. Laser under 1 meter!”

I was a little lost with all of that, but assume it equates to GPS not being very accurate.

Phillips isn’t the only one who double-dips on technology.

For instance, +Rick Palmer likes the best of both worlds. “I use both depending on whether it's a new course to me or not. New course: laser. Known course: Golfshot pro. Then once in awhile jump between them.”

For +Mark Johnson, it depends on the situation at hand. “To the center of the green I use the GPS, to the pin the laser range finder.”

Want people who fall on one side or the other?

Take +Vipul Gidda. Gidda uses a Bushnell laser range finder, which he calls “Fast and effective.”

But +Ricky Potts uses SkyDroid - Golf GPS.

It’s a smart phone app, which would drain my battery. Not Potts’.

“I have an iPhone 6 Plus,” Potts said. “Doesn't drain it at all.”

Not everyone who doesn’t use a laser rangefinder is automatically happy with GPS. +Jason Thompson said he’s gone through yardage books and moved to GPS, but didn’t fall in love right away. “It’s taken me 3 or 4 efforts to find one that is reliable, but I now have one I trust and it’s helping me greatly.”

Obvious follow-up question ... Which GPS does he trust?

“I’m currently using an app called Swing By Swing. It’s to within a 2-foot accuracy,” Thompson said. “Tried some others, but they were up to 5 to 10 meters off. So until someone comes up with a better one I will be sticking with this one.”

Beyond 90 yards, +Gabriel Aluisy uses GPS, but trusts the eye test within 90 yards.

+Craig Brush used to use GPS, but said it wasn't much better than the course’s markers. I assume he’s now using ... We shouldn’t assume (ASS-U-ME).

Last, but certainly not least, we heard from +Victor Calderon, who uses neither GPS nor a laser rangefinder. He uses, “Yardage book/Card then eyeball from within 150 yards. One of three wedges will decide my approach shot, depending on how close I am to the green. Or an 8i or 9i depending on how close I am to the 150-yard marker.”

I started with a quote, so I’ll end with one from Alan Turing.

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”

Avoid the bunkers on both sides and crossing river in front, zero in on the flag, but stay below the hole. Ready? Head down, eye on the ball, easy backswing, crisp contact ...

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