What could be better for your golf game than new clubs?

Just how far is it to the water?  How far is it to carry the water?  How deep is the green?  How far did you hit your last drive?  Answers to these questions can take some guessing out of playing golf.  I grew impatient with guessing and got a SkyCaddie, the SG5.

And I’m pretty enthusiastic about this new device.  The best tricks it does are:

  • Measuring your drive or any other shot you hit
  • Telling you the depth of the green so you can have a more accurate yardage into the green, where the distance could be 50 yards or 75 yards to the pin, a relatively important number, even for a duffer like me
  • Showing you the yardage where the fairway ends, on a dogleg, for example, or before the water

Getting Started

The box suggested that you needed a Windows-based machine to set up the SkyCaddie, which is ok, although my old Windows machine hates me (that’s another story for another day).  However, when I visited www.skygolf.com to begin the software download, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked with Mac as well and hopped over into Apple-land.

In fact, the box and the inserts could puzzle one as there were several sets of start-up instructions which could leave a person perplexed, but I decided that the set on the top of the box had to be the one to follow.  Is it most cost-effective to keep putting new inserts in the box vs. repacking/reprinting?  They do contradict the multi-page user guide and the outside of the box only talks Windows, for example.  Did they print way too many of these items?  How long has my SG5 been sitting around somewhere that its information is somewhat dated?

I do compliment the marketer who put several VERY BIG STICKIES on the product that reminded you DON’T CONNECT THIS DEVICE until you have downloaded the software.  That point was exceedingly clear.

What was less than clear was whether I should charge the battery first or not.  Various sets of guidance left me unsure on this point.  But, since I knew that the USB cord would give the SkyCaddie power, I pressed on.  (The times I have started the SkyCaddie, the battery has been at about 80%, so I hope I didn’t mess up. So far, it has lasted 3+ hours.)

Pretty straightforward download and registration, followed by me selecting the 10 courses that I wanted to have on the SkyCaddie at any one time.  You can change that playlist but 10 is the maximum.  And some of the courses choose to have a listing for each of the nine holes, hogging the space.  Not SkyCaddie’s fault.  When you need other courses, you change your playlist online and then download to the SkyCaddie.  Very familiar idea to us iPod people.

I had understood that there was an annual fee but so far, my ten courses seem to have come with the purchase of the device.  This point is not terribly clear to me.

Out on the Course

There’s a 30 day guarantee that you will score lower and play faster.  I think somewhere in the box there is the mention of 5 strokes.  It doesn’t matter, the first time I used it, I made a par, having seen via SkyCaddie that the shot was 75 yards to back pin position and not the 55 I might have guessed.

I was somewhat surprised when I used my SkyCaddie the first time at my ladies’ league that no one in my foursome had heard on this device.  SkyCaddie is an LPGA sponsor and on the TV coverage, every other word from the commentators is “SkyCaddie says….”  Possibly,  I am more obsessed with golf watching than others.

It did lead me to wonder whether this product was positioned more for women as a key benefit stressed is “play faster”, something more women are concerned about than men.  I won’t go off topic to talk about the three young guys I played with recently who dawdled terribly from hole to hole.

But the top benefit is “score lower”, which has no gender bias.

There is no problem with readability of the device in bright sunshine, a concern I had given that with my color screen cell phone, I practically have to get into a prairie dog hole to see the screen on a sunny day.

Features for the Future

My playing partners immediately grasped that the SkyCaddie measures distances.  Their creative, new product minds went immediately to enhancements:

  • Does the SkyCaddie keep my score?  No
  • Does the SkyCaddie keep a log of how far I hit clubs?  No
  • Does the SkyCaddie make recommendations on clubs?  No, see above

I thought the most telling observation was the member of my foursome who asked why this functionality wasn’t in her cell phone.  Cell phones are getting GPS and I take her point that I am now running around with two gadgets in my handbag.

If it were me, I’d also like my SkyCaddie to have some feature for finding it if it goes astray as it feels a bit like head covers that you could put down somewhere in an absent-minded moment and then head off.  I can’t let this happen.

As to phone features, I’d love my SkyCaddie to be able to call the beverage cart as needed!

The top benefit of the SkyCaddie is “have more fun” and I think this device delivers on that.  It was not a hassle to get set up, there were many courses I play available, I got results the first time I used it, and I think it can help more in the future as I become more accustomed to its features.

Congrats to SkyGolf team!

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