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Tee off to technological perfection

Tee off to technological perfection
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First Published: Tue, Jun 22 2010. 10 36 PM IST

Green room: Rehearse in a golf lab, like this one at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, to correct your technique under expert supervision. Hemant Mishra/Mint
Green room: Rehearse in a golf lab, like this one at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, to correct your technique under expert supervision. Hemant Mishra/Mint
Updated: Tue, Jun 22 2010. 10 36 PM IST
Every game has its language, rules, rituals, etiquette and, increasingly, its gizmos. It’s the gizmos that do half the work and almost completely steal the limelight when it comes to having fun. In golf, says Tarun Hukku, the founder of ChotaGolf.com, if the ball goes to the left, it’s called a draw; if it goes right, it’s a fade; and if it goes straight, it’ a miracle. Luckily, there are all kinds of tools available to help you hit straight, look real cool while you are at it and have some extra fun. We present the golfer’s must-have list for shameless gadget madness.
Also cuts like a knife
This may not cut mustard, but think about it: Every golf-playing CEO knows the truth about life—to succeed you have to be the Swiss army knife of business and multitasking. The Victorinox Swiss Army Golf Tool Pocket Knife is a reflection of this philosophy. And a fine knife it is, fully equipped with a ball marker, tee punch, groove cleaner, divot repair tool, bottle opener (you never know when you may want to crack a cold one), tweezer, nail file, scissors —and a toothpick. We reckon that if you used the bottle opener for what we think it should be used, you also had some handy tikkas or tangdi kebabs. That toothpick should come handy, says golf expert Hukku, because mid-course snacking is not against golf etiquette.
But, c’mon, at 3.5 inches, 65g, with an acid-resistant handle (it has its origins in a cutlery factory, so that explains it) and cast in 100% stainless steel, if this is not cutting edge, what is? Makes a great birthday gift for golfing friends, at Rs1,970.
Swing it right
Green room: Rehearse in a golf lab, like this one at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, to correct your technique under expert supervision. Hemant Mishra/Mint
Golfers are perpetually swinging their arms, trying to look like Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer in their minds, keeping their elbows straight, avoiding chicken wings, and cutting their handicap. Your grip, stance, alignment and club release may be perfect, but it’s the swing that is key. And there’s so much to choose from—the stack and tilt, the slot swing and the Sadlowski swing.
For those in a hurry, technology can come to the rescue. Download the iPhone Golf Swing Analyser called iSwing. It records your golf swings. The software then draws lines over your recording, making sure the swings are on-plane—which is among the most coveted goals of golf. iSwing users have been known to get addicted to watching their swings, frame-by-frame, in slow motion. The iSwing costs around Rs133 and can be downloaded from www.iswingapp.com. That’s feeble chicken poop when compared with the fact that just one game of golf can cost you Rs2,000. To order online, log on to www.apple.co.in
Reduce risk of injury
Okay, let’s admit it, mature golfers quickly outgrow the iSwing. They know that they can’t have a swing like that of Tiger Woods or Palmer. Reason? Every person has a different body type. So what’s the best swing for your body type?
Walk into a complete golf lab like the one at the department of sports and exercise medicine at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore. Here, your swing is recorded by two video cameras and then analysed by a specialized software. Says Chandra Siddaiah, who heads the department: “There is no such thing as the perfect swing. Instead, we look for how your back, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles behave. And we pick up abnormal movement caused by typical weaknesses. This helps us predict the kind of injury a golfer is headed for in the future and offer preventive action.” In reality, the experience of a qualified golf coach and a doctor of sports medicine augments the computer analysis of your swing. Takes about 60 minutes to complete and could cost up to approximately Rs5,000 (call 080-25024467 for an appointment). There are other facilities across the country that do even more sophisticated computer analysis of your swing, but the key is to have an experienced doctor to help prevent injury in the future.
Course data on your phone
Own an HTC, a BlackBerry, a Motorola Droid, an iPhone or a Garmin GPS device? The GolfLogix database may be just the thing for you. Download it at www.golflogix.com for Rs1,775 (approximately) and turn your phone into a GPS device for golf. The GolfLogix GPS provides aerial fly-bys of each hole, gives accurate data on distance to the centre of the green, distances to hazards and features a scorecard that tracks your stats. Satellite views are available for over 25,000 courses across the world, including the KGA and Eagleton in Bangalore, Goa Golf Greens in Canacona, Chandigarh Golf Course, the Bombay Presidency, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, golf clubs in Delhi, Ernakulam, Kochi, Pune and Panchkula. No Naldehra, unfortunately.
For those who can’t bear to own anything other than a Callaway product, the uPro GPS at approximately Rs17,754 may be just fine. But it has only the DLF Golf Course and the Delhi GC Course A and B on it.
Be on the ball
Anyone who has played golf knows the balls simply vanish from view in the scrub or in tall grass and behind trees. That’s a good Rs75-250 gone each time you can’t find a ball. The answer? Ball finders. You get two kinds: glasses that do the job and video technology that does the same.
You can pick up the Visiball Golf Ball Finding Glasses that have been developed by two nuclear scientists— they make white objects glow through special optical filters. The effect even has a suitably impressive name: the Purkinje effect. The glasses cost $50-70 (Rs2,300-3,220), depending on the model. It’s difficult to say what this may cost with the shipment cost added. You have to pick this one up on your trips abroad. It’s not available in India. Places where it’s available can be checked on www.visiball.com/order.htm; it can also be ordered on Amazon.com.
The other way to find lost balls is to use sexy augmented reality on your iPhone. The Golf Ball Finder AG can be downloaded using iTunes and costs as little as approximately Rs44 ($0.99—miracles never cease). Just aim the phone’s camera in the direction where you think the truant ball is, and even if as few as three white dimples on the ball are visible, the iPhone vibrates and the image on your phone’s screen acquires a red box marker (like we said, miracles never cease). Doesn’t work beyond a distance of 50ft.
Arun Katiyar is a content and communication consultant with a focus on technology companies. He is a published author with HarperCollins International and has extensive media experience spanning print, radio, Internet and mobiles.
Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jun 22 2010. 10 36 PM IST