DMDs could help your sales stay on course

Distance Measuring Devices (DMDs) are one of the biggest changes to the amateur game of golf – they take guessing out of the equation. We look at some of the latest models on the market and talk to those in the industry about what the future for the devices could hold.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.27.22With the average spend on DMDs being upwards of £230 and most products offering a decent margin for the golf pro, DMDs are clearly a product for which it is important to have up to date information on. This becomes even clearer when you consider that research from Sports Marketing Services Inc. revealed that almost 30 per cent of all golfers still don’t own a DMD and so, with Christmas approaching and people looking for present ideas for others or even themselves, this is a real sales opportunity.

It is perhaps to be expected that men, who are typically more into gadgets, are more likely to purchase DMDs then women and also that the age demographic that would be most fruitful to target is the under 35s, who are generally more savvy regarding technology. With the latest data also showing that only approximately 20 per cent of customers buy their DMDs from a Pro shop this is a real area where extra revenue can be gained.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.27.47The major split in DMDs is still between laser and GPS and this may continue for the foreseeable future as, generally speaking, the golfers that choose between these products want different things. The technology in this market is advancing at a rapid place and wearable DMD technology is advancing quickly, with the amount of information they can display seemingly increasing with each new product cycle. With so many different manufacturers now in the market it is simply a case of golf pros picking a range of products which they feel will best serve their customers. Below we have profiled some of the latest DMD releases and spoken to those in the industry to get their views on their latest products and what they think the future will hold for this exciting market.

 

Callaway 

Tony Fletcher, UK Sales Manager of Brand Fusion Ltd.

What advice would you give to retailers to help sell your product? 

Callaway is a household name in the golf industry albeit not in the DMD market at the moment, but that can all change. The new products have been developed and are manufactured in factories that have vast experience in producing these devices to the highest quality. Going forward we have now introduced the Power Pack which will be the way all Lasers will be sold in the future, giving added value of £25 to the consumer, without costing the professional any more money.

Will there continue to be a split between GPS and laser devices? 

Yes, there will continue to be a split between the devices, although next year Callaway will launch their new Hybrid devices which will bring the best of both of their technologies together. Each part of the device, the Laser and the GPS, have their own power source and can be operated independently. The GPS will feature the same hazard features of the GPS watches and distances to the front, middle and back of the green.

What new advances can we expect for DMDs? 

Next year Callaway will launch two new devices, The Hybrid and the Prism Laser which will launch early next year. The Prism Laser is able to be used as a traditional laser, or on courses that have Prism Flags (not many at the moment). It gives a 100 per cent accurate distance to the flag without having to hold it to your eye, and just point in the general direction of the flag.

Callaway 300 Laser Power Pack 300boxfamily

This DMD features P.A.T (Pin Acquisition Technology) and locks onto the flag from up to 300 yards away. It is extremely accurate and comes equipped with 6x magnification and through its scan landscape capabilities, it is easy to acquire multiple targets and then read the information on the LCD display.

The Callaway 300 Laser Power Pack is water and fog proof and includes a CR2 3V Lithium battery and storage case. The device, which weighs 7.5 oz, measures in both yards and metres.

RRP £239.

 

Bushnell Golf 

Andrew Grose – Managing Director, Bushnell UK.

What sets the brand apart from other competitors?

Our extensive expertise in the field of performance optics and distance measuring devices in general is one of the reasons that we are ahead of the rest in the market. Because we have been producing performance optics since 1948, we know how to develop technology that makes a meaningful difference, and our commitment to golf specifically in more recent times assures golfers that we can offer real benefits for their game. This has been underlined by our dominance of equipment usage counts on major tours worldwide with 97 per cent of caddies and players on the PGA Tour and 90 per cent on the European Tour trusting in the performance excellence of our devices. Our strong heritage in sports optics gives us the perfect foundation to build and develop our market leading products.

Is there an opportunity to educate those golfers that don’t use the devices as to the benefits?

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.38.36Golfers at every level of the game can play better golf through using a DMD. When you know you have the correct distance, it gives you confidence on every shot and you can hit it closer to the pin more often. There are still a lot of people who don’t use a rangefinder, especially high handicappers, but we know that they can also see benefits for their games, so we are always looking to educate golfers with our trade partners, and grow in this area.

Tour X Laser rangefinder 

Featuring revolutionary Exchange Technology which uses two interchangeable faceplates, the TOUR X gives golfer’s one device that is legal for use in all formats of the game. The TOUR X conforms to USGA rule 14-3/.05 when the black faceplate is engaged and when users switch to the red faceplate, the TOUR X deploys Slope Technology, providing players with adjusted distance readings based on elevation changes.

In an endless pursuit of absolute precision through industry-leading technologies, The TOUR X features: Dual Display Technology (DDT), which allows users to easily toggle between the bright red display featuring Vivid Display Technology or the crisp black display; incredible ranging capability of up to 1,300 yards/1,100 metres (450+ yards/ 410 metre to a flag); 2nd Generation E.S.P. and PinSeeker with JOLT Technology.

Bushnell Tour X complete imageBushnell Golf also included JOLT Technology amongst the host of features offered in the new TOUR X. When the golfer aims the TOUR X at the flag, JOLT Technology will provide short, vibrating bursts to reinforce Bushnell’s advanced PinSeeker Technology has isolated the target and locked onto the flag. The vibrating bursts provided by JOLT Technology will assure golfers they have the exact distance to the flag.

The TOUR X is also equipped with 2nd generation E.S.P. technology. E.S.P. provides yardage five times faster and more accurately than ever before. Not only has the acquisition speed been increased to a lightning fast level, E.S.P. provides ½ yard/meter accuracy from five to 125 yards/115 meters, and the distance is displayed to 1/10th of a yard/meter. Having more accurate distances enables the golfer to strategize and hit every approach shot with confidence.RRP: £419.

Neo Ghost GPS Rangefinder 

The NEO Ghost comes preloaded with more than 33,000 courses and provides simple measurements to the front, centre and back distances of the green – along with up to four hazards per hole. Additional features include auto course and auto hole recognition, shot distance calculator and long battery life (play three rounds before charging).  Using a multifunctional clip that allows for increased accessibility and convenience during play, the NEO Ghost can be worn on the golfer’s belt or easily attached to a bag.

Bushnell’s latest Golf GPS innovation joins the NEO XS, which is the lightest, thinnest GPS watch rangefinder in golf. The NEO Ghost is offered in four colours – black, charcoal, neon green and white. RRP: £99.

 

Garmin Golf 

Greg Vulinovic, Garmin Golf Product Manager for UK.

What advice would you give to retailers to help sell your product? 

approachS5_HR_5000As the Pro/Retailer it is important to wear, use and understand the watch and how it can improve the consumer’s game. Make the most of in-store POS solutions and the opportunity to give consumers the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’.  Have confidence in the knowledge that Garmin are the global leader in GPS technology and that we were the number one chosen and most trusted DMD Brand in 2014, according to a Sports Marketing Survey report from January 2015. We have a DMD device for every type of golfer and this makes it easier to invest in one brand whilst still giving the consumer a choice. It is really important customers know that there is no ongoing membership or subscription fees with Garmin products.

Will wearable GPS devices replace hand held? 

I believe there will continue to be a place for a handheld device for those players who play different courses throughout the year and want to be able to plan and consider how they can play their best round on a course before they arrive, and particularly with the Garmin handhelds, want large visuals and a simple UI. Garmin changed the face of the DMD market with the first to market Golf GPS watch in the Approach S1 back in 2010. Whilst there will always be a market demand for handhelds, watches certainly are the more popular solution for golfers on the whole.

Approach S5  

Preloaded with more than 39,000 international courses and free lifetime updates, the Approach S5 is full of features to assist golfers of all skill levels. With full CourseView mapping, golfers can preview hole details like doglegs, bunkers, water hazards, and green shapes. In addition to CourseView, the Approach S5 has GreenView, which shows golfers the layout of the green, as well as nearby bunkers and water hazards. Golfers can even use the touchscreen to drag and drop the pin to the day’s location, giving them the most accurate yardages.

The Approach S5 doubles as an electronic scorecard to save, review, and share scorecards and stats. Sync the S5 to Garmin Connect at connect.garmin.com or the Garmin Connect Mobile app, and golfers will be able to upload, analyse and share their scorecards, as well as other data. The Approach S5 also has a Handicap Scoring feature, which provides handicap scoring options for individual holes, the golfer’s local handicap, or index/slope methods.

The Approach S5 packs additional wireless connectivity into a small, light and comfortable wearable. The Smart Notification feature allows golfers to stay connected while on the course. When paired with a compatible smartphone, golfers can receive text, email and missed call alerts discreetly right on the watch, so they’re able to leave their phone packed away in their bag. It boasts up to ten hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 20 weeks in watch mode. It is water resistant to 50 meters2, so it’s durable enough to withstand a rainstorm. Its easy-to-use interface  comes equipped with an odometer and round timer so golfers can track the distance walked and time spent playing.

RRP: £279.99.

 

GolfBuddy 

John Ennis, GolfBuddy, head of global sales and marketing.

What advice would you give to retailers to help sell your product?

LR5_BackQWhen it comes to our GPS products, we are one of only two brands in golf that actually walk courses on foot, collecting ground-verified data. This means our accuracy is more reliable and up-to-date than brands which only use satellite imagery to create their maps. The retailer needs to understand this and communicate to golfers why this is important. Secondly, GolfBuddy is the only brand that combines the accuracy of on-foot mapping with a completely fee-free model. We do not charge the golfer any extra fees to access all our maps, data and features.

Will there continue to be a split between GPS and laser devices?

Yes, because different golfers want their distance information displayed in different ways. For a retailer, offering customers a full range of DMDs is paramount these days given the pace of technology development in the category in recent years.

Since GolfBuddy first came to market with a small range of high-tech, 100 per cent fee-free handheld GPS products, the DMD market has grown every year with audio devices, lasers, watches and smartwatches now co-existing and giving the golfer massive choice from an ever-increasing number of suppliers. According to our market research, golfers aged 51-65 are the biggest users of watch GPS devices and these are much more popular with the higher-handicap category 3 and 4 players, than lasers. So unless there’s a dramatic reversal in this statistics, there will continue to be a need for both types of product.

What new advances can we expect in the in the world of Distance Measuring Devices?

In the mainstream markets, flexible display screens that are stitched into clothing and glasses that can display information are at the forefront, so no doubt these will find their way into golf. But we are limited by what the R&A and USGA will allow the devices and technologies to display within the Rules of Golf themselves, so I don’t think advances will be dramatic…yet!

How important do you think it is for accuracy to actually have someone mapping the course?

Obviously, as we map courses on foot on a global basis, we think it’s very important. Owning the data you collect and building your own database means you are in total control of the accuracy. And you are also in control of updating if a course makes design changes – rather than potentially waiting years for a new satellite image of that course to become available. In research undertaken by Sports Marketing Surveys, the accuracy of their chosen device is rated as the most important feature of a DMD by golfers, with 84 per cent saying this is ‘very important’. There are times when only a satellite image is available and we do work on that basis too, but the overwhelming majority of our 38,000+ course library has been mapped on foot.

Will wearable GPS devices replace handheld?

Not totally, no. At this moment in time in Europe, it is more important than ever for a golf retailer to stock ‘watch’ products. But in other parts of the world, handhelds continue to be a major seller. If a golfer doesn’t like wearing an ordinary wrist watch when they play golf, then quite often they won’t buy a GPS watch.

GolfBuddy LR5 Laser 

The light and compact GolfBuddy LR5 is accurate to within a yard, thanks to its precise laser system. It has three distance measuring options: ‘Normal’ picks up any target, including bunker edges; ‘Flag’ hones in on the pin and factors out backgrounds for supreme accuracy; ‘Scan’ picks up all targets in a 10-second panoramic scan.

This is one of the best performing lasers in golf and an upgrade on the multiple award-winning LR4, which sees the Mode and Power buttons both relocated to the top of the unit for ease of use and the battery compartment repositioned to the rear. It boasts a new ergonomic design with aluminium trim, is IPX3 waterproof, dust resistant, weighs just less than 8oz, and is super accurate to +/- one yard – with a laser range up to 880 yards, and also comes with a free travel case. RRP £219.95

 

SkyCaddie 

Jacqui Surman, Senior Vice President International Sales & Marketing at SkyCaddie.

SkyCaddieTOUCH_InHand_IntelligreenPro_Summer2015_300dpi_SendWhat advice would you give to retailers to help sell your product? 

Take the SkyCaddies onto the golf course! Whatever SkyCaddie you are selling, using it in real-world golfing situations helps you to explain to a golfer what advantages it gives them over other GPS devices. Not only are our product features in a class of their own, but crucially golfers need to be told how we map a golf course – and how frequently we update them. Our highly-trained mappers do everything on foot, using professional-grade surveying equipment. Nobody else maps a golf course like SkyCaddie – get that message across, to sell more SkyCaddies.

What new advances can we expect in the world of Distance Measuring Devices? 

The market should always be in line with the current Rules Of Golf. Several GPS brands are running ahead of the rules, and golfers are in increasing danger of playing with GPS devices which are disallowed by the R&A. A SkyCaddie is guaranteed to be Rules-compatible. As for the future, SkyCaddie is producing ever-deeper green information which is exclusive to us, as only we walk each and every green. As the Rules of the game evolve, our ability to give the golfer that deep green information will improve.

Will wearable GPS devices replace hand held?

The Distance Measuring Device market itself has grown enormously over the last five years, but handheld users tend not to become wearable GPS fans. So no, we don’t believe so. It’s a personal choice: a huge number of golfers prefer not to wear something on their wrist, and even more golfers don’t like the idea of having a talking device clipped onto their hat or belt. It’s more about the desire for a lower price point and greater simplicity.

SkyCaddie Touch

SkyCaddie’s top-of-the-range GPS device, the Touch, has received a range of software updates which make golf’s most advanced rangefinder even more powerful. All owners have to do is synchronise their devices online to receive the latest SkyCaddie Touch updates for free. Several of the updates enhance SkyCaddie’s exclusive golf course maps, which are produced by trained mappers using professional surveying equipment on foot during repeated visits to the club.

The chief headline-grabber is the addition of IntelliGreen Pro, an enhanced version of SkyCaddie’s exclusive IntelliGreen service which displays exact, up-to-date close-up maps of every green on the golf course. IntelliGreen Pro displays distances to key contours on each green, helping golfers to target a specific area even more accurately. If the pin is on an upper shelf at the back of the green, for example, SkyCaddie Touch owners will now know where the slope begins, and can club accordingly.

The IntelliGreen display has also been enlarged by 20 per cent, making it even easier to plan your shot to the pin. The Touch can display its course maps in HD graphics, and its Auto-Zoom feature when in HoleVue mode has been enhanced, now with seven levels of Auto-Zoom.

In response to popular demand from the UK, the updated SkyCaddie Touch has added Stableford scoring to its Scorecard function. The Scorecard itself has been improved, and you are now able to add Putting information. The latest updates to the Touch also help to improve pace-of-play on the golf course. The device itself now starts up three times faster, with many screens loading quicker.

There’s a another update for golfers who simply want everything to start automatically; when you get to the golf course, you can simply now walk to the first tee and switch your Touch on. Its AutoStart feature will automatically find the golf course, and will go straight to a display of the first hole – without any buttons needing to be pressed.

RRP: £299.95.