Hoping to tee off like Tiger or putt like Poulter? There's a new wearable device in the clubhouse that'll give you all the feedback you need to make it round the course like a pro.
There's a wearable device for just about everything these days, so why not something to help you improve your golf game? Enter the Zepp Golf – a small, unobtrusive sensor that'll measure your swing and give you a healthy dose of virtual coaching. T3.com was invited to the UK launch of the £129.99 product to try it out, and I wasn't disappointed.
This isn't the first golf-based wearable we've seen. Back in 2013 we reported on GAME GOLF that offered a similar idea and had backing from the likes of Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. But a lot can change in a year and Zepp is quietly confident that it's cracked the best way to lower your handicap.
Along with the physical sensor, there's a free app that spills out all the metrics regarding your positioning and swing. There's a bank of video clips featuring pros that you can use to pick up tips or compare to your own swing. So you can still get a real benefit from using the app without the sensor.
It's not just golf either – Zepp has separate apps for tennis, softball and baseball
Even if you're not a golfer – I'm not and swiftly proved so at the launch event – the Zepp Golf app has a colour-coded approach that makes it easy to understand. At £129.99 it's not cheap, but then again neither is a few hours of golf tuition.
Zepp Golf: Size and build
The actual tracker is a small, bright yellow square about the size of a Quality Street chocolate (28 x 28 x 10mm) that works with a clip that attaches to your golf glove. The Zepp itself only weighs 6g and the clip adds an extra 4g which, in real terms, means you'll barely notice it after the first couple of holes.
Running across the front of the tracker is a bank of tiny LEDs that show up when you squeeze one side and indicate battery life. Like other wearable devices (notably the Fitbit Flex) it means you can look down and, with a simple tap, get a quick idea of how much you've got left.
It's a much more sensible approach to measuring your swing than attaching a sensor to the club itself as it means you can freely swap between clubs while out on the course and not have to reattach at any point.
There are not visible buttons or ports that can catch or pull on your glove and charging is handled by a proprietary connection on the back of the device. Tucked inside is the accelerometer, gyroscope and Bluetooth receiver that the Zepp Golf uses to analyse your swing and report back to your smartphone or tablet.
Zepp Golf: Features
Once you're attached and connected to you smartphone or tablet, you can start measuring information on how you're swinging the club. The Zepp will produce a 3D model of your swing that can be rewound, played forward and spun around so you can see it from all angles.
It takes in the speed of your swing, hip rotation, the angle of the club as you drive through and your swing tempo. Each metric is displayed on the app and colour-coded for simplification. Green means you're doing it right, yellow means you're near the mark but need improvement and red is a warning sign that something is off.
Additionally, you can use slider controls to set exactly how you want to measure each part of your swing and what goals you want to set for yourself. So, for example, to work on keeping your club straight along the club plane, you can turn the target up on just that particular area and keep swinging until the metric goes green.
Zepp also has a stack of training videos available. And, because the app allows you to shoot video of your swing (with a handy cutout on the screen to help with positioning) you can match your own video against the pros.
So, line up a video of you driving from the tee with one of Keegan Bradley doing the same, and you'll be able to play them both back in slow motion to pinpoint the differences. Which, in my case, were plentiful.
As I mentioned before, this part is free, so you can take advantage of it even without buying the device. What's more, Zepp keeps the app constantly updated with new clubs – so you can log in exactly which clubs you're using and change when a new set become available.
Zepp Golf: Battery and connectivity
The Zepp Golf uses a non-removable rechargeable lithium battery that will last you roughly eight hours on a full charge. It's more than enough to get round the course because, honestly, if you're taking eight hours to complete 18 holes then this really isn't your sport.
The device uses Bluetooth 2.1 to connect to your smartphone or tablet and the required app is available on both iOS and Android platforms.
Zepp Golf: Verdict
Golf is a game that'll mess with your head. You might hit a perfect shot first time only to hook the second way out into the rough. If you want a (relatively) inexpensive means of getting a handle on your swing, then this is a great way to do it.
Zepp is quick to tell you me that the tracker should be used in addition to rather than instead of professional tuition if you're serious about getting into the game. That much is true – this isn't going to furnish you with Tiger Woods-style skills in a week or two. But what it will do is give you some useful feedback on how your game is progressing and, crucially, won't get in the way while it does it. If you're after an unobtrusive, techy way to improve your golf game, the Zepp Golf is certainly the way to do it.
Zepp Golf release date: Out now
Zepp Golf price: £129.99