Golf—Putting a caddie in your pocket

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by Doug Childers

Many drivers use GPS technology for navigation tips.  But what about using it for golf tips?

Sure, an experienced caddie can offer valuable advice about a course’s unusual features and estimate distances with fairly good accuracy.  But the GPS-based SkyCaddie SG5 rangefinder, which hit stores last October, is accurate within a yard, according to its manufacturer.  “In golf, accurate distance information is critical.  Just ask any tour professional,” says Julie Davis, vice president of marketing for Ridgeland, Miss.-based SkyGolf, the makers of the SkyCaddie.

U-blox, a Switzerland-based company, developed the core GPS technology for the SkyCaddie. The company tested and refined the technology at its Reston office.?

The Skycaddie (list price: $459.95) weighs five ounces and is the size of a wireless phone. In addition to calculating distances, the device offers detailed information on more than 17,000 golf courses around the world, including 90 percent of the 18-hole facilities in North America.  (Davis says the number of courses will climb to 24,000 by year’s end.)  SkyGolf gathers that information the hard way, by having golfers and caddies map the courses on foot with survey-grade equipment. 

With that information, the SkyCaddie SG5 offers up to 40 targets per hole, thereby helping golfers calculate distances to avoid hazards, for example.  “The SkyCaddie is a course management tool helping golfers approach the game strategically so they can play their best,” Davis says.

The SkyCaddie won’t commiserate with you after a bad shot, though.  For that, you’ll need an old-fashioned caddie.  You know, the human kind. 


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