‘Every golfer will be us­ing shot track­ing tech­nol­ogy in four years’

The founder of Ar­c­cos, Sal Syed, is on a mis­sion to im­prove your scores via tech

Today's Golfer (UK) - - Best Golf Tech -

There are lots of shot track­ers out there, de­signed to tell you how far you hit the ball, how many fair­ways and greens you hit, putts you take, bunkers you find. The idea is that you can build up an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of your game, so you can iden­tify strengths and weak­nesses. If you dis­cover you’re miss­ing lots of greens from 100 yards, work on your wedge game. If you miss most fair­ways right, it’s time to try a slice-bust­ing driver... Many of th­ese sys­tems are a bit niche (see our favourites, right). But Ar­c­cos has bro­ken into the main­stream this year thanks to a deal with Co­bra, which sees its sen­sors fit­ted in the grips of the new King F7 driv­ers. We spoke to its in­ven­tor, Sal Syed, to find out where shot-track­ing tech is go­ing...

When did you come up with the idea of us­ing shot track­ing for golf clubs? I love golf and I love data, so I could never un­der­stand why no-one had in­tro­duced a prod­uct that brought data an­a­lyt­ics to reg­u­lar golfers. My ini­tial idea was to track per­for­mance data by putting sen­sors in golf balls, but that didn’t go any­where. Why was that? Chang­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a golf ball is very hard, and break­ing Titleist’s stran­gle­hold of the golf ball mar­ket is even harder. Af­ter rul­ing out that idea, I thought ‘How about sen­sors in golf clubs?’ and Ar­c­cos was born.

How long did the de­vel­op­ment process take? It took us a year-and-a-half to get to mar­ket. This is very quick, but we man­aged to li­cence some patents from Call­away and I wanted to get live feed­back from users as quickly as pos­si­ble. Other­wise I felt all we would be do­ing was wast­ing our time and money

de­vel­op­ing in our own lit­tle bub­ble.

What was the hard­est bit of the prod­uct to get right? From be­ing jos­tled in the back of your car to clash­ing with other clubs in your bag, your golf clubs go through thou­sands of dif­fer­ent im­pacts each year. Only about 150 of th­ese im­pacts

are golf shots and each of th­ese takes around a mi­crosec­ond. To build a sen­sor that ig­nores all the other im­pacts and just records th­ese 150 mi­crosec­onds of club on ball im­pact is not easy to solve and al­most un­doubt­edly the rea­son why no other com­pany is do­ing what we’re do­ing.

So how ex­actly does Ar­c­cos help golfers?

Us­ing the sen­sors on your club and the GPS on your phone, our App records your per­for­mance data and then uses it to help you to un­der­stand the strengths and weak­nesses of your game. We were us­ing tra­di­tional golf statis­tics when we started out, but quickly found them to be mis­lead­ing. For ex­am­ple, my putts per round statis­tic was very high. This made me think my putting was the issue. I kept prac­tis­ing my putting, but my scores didn’t im­prove. Then we be­gan us­ing ad­vanced statis­tics based on strokes gained in five cat­e­gories (driv­ing, ap­proach, chip­ping, sand game and putting). It turned out that my putting was ac­tu­ally pretty good and my issue lay in leav­ing my ap­proach shots too far away from the hole. The mo­ment I started work­ing on my ap­proach play my game im­proved.

What other sur­pris­ing statis­tics has Ar­c­cos un­cov­ered?

The one that shocked me the most was the fact that 40% of the time peo­ple who have clear ap­proach shots and hit the ball well come up short of the green due to a poor club choice.

So golfers don’t hit it as far as they think?

Cor­rect. Our data proves golfers have a cog­ni­tive bias that leads them to over­es­ti­mate their abil­ity. Ar­c­cos pierces this cog­ni­tive bias in a good way by say­ing, ‘OK, you hit that one amaz­ing 7-iron 165 yards, but you also hit 10 OK ones that went between 150 and 155 yards, so maybe you should plan for a 154-yard 7-iron.’ This may not sound that im­por­tant, but the data shows that af­ter play­ing more than 10 rounds with our sys­tem our av­er­age user makes bet­ter club se­lec­tions and im­proves their score by 2.77 shots.

What is the fu­ture for this kind of tech?

In terms of part­ner­ships, we have just teamed up with Co­bra to launch the Co­bra Con­nect, golf’s first driver with in­te­grated shot track­ing. And in terms of our own prod­ucts, we re­cently launched Ar­c­cos Cad­die. It cur­rently gives peo­ple ad­vice on their club se­lec­tion from the tee, but I’d like to de­velop this into a re­al­time cad­die for every shot.

Is that le­gal?

At present it is and hope­fully the gov­ern­ing bod­ies keep it that way, as it’s a great ex­am­ple of tech­nol­ogy pro­vid­ing a so­lu­tion that brings back a tra­di­tional el­e­ment of the game that has been lost.

What do you mean?

A cen­tury ago, just about every round was played with a cad­die who of­fered their player men­tor­ship and ad­vice on club se­lec­tion based on their play­ing abil­ity. Nowa­days, the ex­pan­sion of golf and economics in­volved in pay­ing some­one to carry your clubs mean that very few rounds are played with a cad­die. Our tech­nol­ogy could change this by giv­ing golfers a cad­die in the palm of their hand.

‘Our av­er­age user makes bet­ter club se­lec­tions’

In­ter­est­ing. So will ev­ery­one be us­ing track­ing tech­nol­ogy in 20 years?

I be­lieve every golfer will be us­ing it in three or four years.


Yes. Our goal is to have every club em­bed­ded with an Ar­c­cos sen­sor by 2020, and I will be shocked if in four years ev­ery­one who is buy­ing new clubs isn’t track­ing ev­ery­thing.

Phone a friend The Cad­die fea­ture now avail­able from Ar­c­cos rec­om­mends a strat­egy based on your ac­tual game.

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