Anyone who knows me knows I love golf. And I do love technology. However, until a few years ago I had never thought that the two would come together, although looking at the dynamics of the digital era we live in, I should have anticipated that. One of the most traditional sports in the world is influenced and substantially changed by new technologies. Irons, woods and balls get smart, your watch is an AI powered gadget, and even moving around the green has now been embraced by technology. Digital transformation is enhancing golf and – in my mind – making it even more fun.
Golf has been a passion of mine for a long time now, and from the moment I discovered it, I have loved almost everything about it: the amount of concentration it takes, the variety: from powerfully teeing off to finely tuned putting; the competitive element – even competing with yourself, but mostly I enjoy the hours on the course with family, friends and other passionate players.
Many consider the sport too difficult to learn and beginners are often intimidated by the golf etiquette established generations ago. But the sport might have an unlikely saviour: the Internet of Things (IoT).
Technology experts predict that the dramatic growth in IoT devices (an estimated 125 billion in 2030) – from wearables to self-driving cars – will shake up industries from agriculture to healthcare. And golf is no exception. In fact, technology has already left its mark on it. Topgolf, for instance, has teamed up with Dell EMC and created breakthrough technologies to create a fun, data driven customer experience that is truly addictive. With thousands of golf balls embedded with RFID chips and a fairway rigged with sensors, the player gets real-time scores and experiences that bring a new level of entertainment to all levels of golfers. And this is the crux: the modern, real-time twist is likely to appeal to a new generation of golfers. Is it the same as a day on the course? No. But as a training supplement or a fun family activity it truly brings a beautiful game with long traditions into the digital age.
Playing golf starts way before you hit the teeing ground, though. One of the world’s leading producers of golf equipment, Callaway Golf has transformed to the point where they consider themselves a technology company. With the help of Dell EMC solutions all across Callaway, they have changed their IT into an agile engine enabling innovation and sales, marketing and acceleration in operations. Individual swing analysis and advanced club fitting provide Callaway with data that leads to performance breakthroughs for golfers. Custom-designed clubs can be ordered online, built and shipped the day after an order is received.
Callaway even brings golf to war veterans in their “Birdies for the Brave” programme and creates personalized golf clubs for wounded service members. In a stunning cross-over between disciplines, these soldiers learn to move forward in their lives to overcome obstacles and struggles with PTSD. If there was ever a worthy cause, this is one!
Golf has also gone completely digital through Dell’s partnership with Y&R New York, its sister agency VML and digital production studio MediaMonks. In 2016, they created the app Dell Play Through. By turning the city of Austin, Texas, into a real-time, data-driven golf course, the user got an interactive experience where he or she could learn about the city of Austin while playing. Another example of a creative cross-over between sport, entertainment and learning.
I don’t yet utilize the entire range of golf related technology myself, but I find great inspiration in our partners’ innovative approach to both the game and Dell Technologies solutions. Whether you are a techno-buff or a purist, don’t forget to enjoy your time on the golf course and stay open for anything new… such as swapping your classic Golf-cart for a golf board – something I can highly recommend!
Hope to see you out there on the course – either watching Dell Technology Match Play in Austin, Dell Technologies Championship in Boston or just playing yourself.