I often wonder when was the last time some of the courses I play actually checked their yardage stakes, cart path markers, or sprinkler head yardages for accuracy to the center of the green.
Though, honestly, the 100 & 150 yard markers are really the only ones I really concern myself with, as those are the only yardages from which I can expect to execute a shot with any real precision and predictability.
Yardage books, which I generally found very accurate, are my favorite golf course souvenirs, but they have largely disappeared from pro shops. Sure, yardage books can still usually be found at resorts and popular destination courses, but they’ve largely given way to modern technologies that a golfer brings to the course himself or herself.
Also almost gone are the days of the cart-based GPS systems. Once all the rage and a highly marketed amenity at many mid-tier and higher-end golf courses, these shiny, expensive, and sometimes tough to maintain marvels of early 2000’s technology lost favor during the great recession and probably aren’t coming back to many courses.
While I could leave or take the gimmicky luxury of most on-cart GPS systems, I did find valuable those systems that would show the location of other carts on the hole I was playing, as to prevent me from (mostly) inadvertently hitting into the group in front of me.
Yes, these course-specific yardage devices have largely been replaced in the amateur golfer’s world by one of two devices: a handheld laser range finder or personal GPS device, be it a golf specific item like a Garmin device or an app on a GPS enabled smartphone.
Each has their advantages and drawbacks, I’m sure. Modern laser finders are calibrated to provide super accurate distances, so long as they have a reliable target at which to shoot, though their overuse or use in the wrong hands can prove clumsy and affect pace a play.
GPS devices and yardage calculating smartphone apps, in contrast, are usually, at best, accurate to a given range of anywhere from three to five yards of the actual measuring tape distance. However, with relatively high processor speeds that constantly update throughout a round, reliance on these handheld devices usually won’t slow down a golf round.
Which brings me to this month’s Blog Poll Question: How do you obtain your yardages on the golf course?
Personally, I’m a fan of the SkyDroid app on my smartphone. I find the yardages it gives me to be pretty accurate, or at least as accurate as I need, and I think I’ve only played one or two courses in the last year that weren’t in its database.
What say you, Dear Readers? Take a second and vote in the poll below.