Leave the techie stuff in the locker room

Live scoring apps can be a boon for club pros and society organisers but Glyn Pritchard argues they are an intrusive reminder of work. And does Danny Willett’s win at the Masters herald a new generation of European champs at Augusta?

I have a pet hate for mobile phones being used on the golf course. It’s not just that it slows up play when people are talking, texting or checking emails. It’s also that phones are a reminder of the world of work, which is something I play golf to get away from. I know that people need to stay in touch in this 24/7 business world we live in, but if you can’t spare four hours for a round of golf, why bother?

Glyn_Pritchard Newsletter photoSo I had misgivings when registering for a recent industry golf society event, when players were asked to download an app for a live scoring service and enter scores as we completed each hole. Fortunately only one player in each four-ball needed to register the scores online which left me to use the traditional pencil and scorecard.

This was an enormous relief because I need to change glasses from long distance to reading (varifocals make my head spin) to text on my phone. I’m also not the most dextrous person at mobile texting and just as likely to key a five as a four. But apart from my own shortcomings, I found the use of this technology on the golf course jarring and intrusive, as it seemed fundamentally at odds with the tranquillity and natural backdrop I seek when playing golf.

One of the arguments for using the app was that it allowed players to see a live leaderboard, so they could know how far off the lead they were and up their game, making the event more exciting. Personally I’m happy playing against the course and try to hit the best shots I can on every hole. Knowing someone is running away with the event isn’t going to change my game, but I guess those in the top five may decide to push harder.

Another benefit is that it relieves the society secretary or the club pro from the burden of collating the cards and working out the handicap scores for the overall results. In theory, with the app the result should be immediately obvious the moment the final group leave the eighteenth green. However, on this occasion, the scoring system scrambled up the handicaps and the society organiser had to call the software company to get the handicaps corrected. This took time and induced some stress for the organiser.

I know this all makes me sound like a technophobe, which I’m most certainly not. I started my working life with IBM and I’ve had a career in IT journalism and marketing. New technology is great and has improved our lives in innumerable ways, but for me the golf course is not the right place for apps and gizmos.

Willett win heralds new European era at Augusta

It was really great to see Danny Willett put on the famous green jacket last month after winning the US Masters. Anybody who went to bed after Jordan Spieth completed his front nine with a five-shot lead, thinking the Masters was wrapped up, missed one of the most sensational endings to a golf major since Jean van de Velde rolled up his trousers and stepped into the Barry Burn at Carnoustie in 1999.

At GOLF RETAILING we were first alerted to Danny’s talent and growing reputation by our friends at Callaway Apparel and Perry Ellis last year. Although preparing for 2015 Open, where he finished tied sixth, Danny gave us an exclusive interview in which he talked about his career to date and his plans for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. It’s fair to say that winning a major wasn’t even on his own radar as he stated, “I just want to stay in a position where I’m feeling I’m competing on a regular basis and everything else will look after itself from that point.”

With the end of Tiger Woods’ dominance of the professional game, many pundits predicted the emergence of Day, McIlroy and Spieth as the new ‘big three’ of golf. Danny’s win makes the scene appear a lot more wide open than that. It was also encouraging to see so many Europeans and Englishmen doing well. As established players Westwood and Casey finished in the top five, with another young rising star, Matthew Fitzpatrick finishing seventh.

Bernard Langer finished the weekend in the top 25 as the last representative of the Europeans who originally triumphed at the Masters, starting with Seve Ballesteros in 1980. With Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam failing to make the cut and Woosie then stating it was his last Masters, it’s great to know that a new generation of European golfers is taking up the Masters challenge.