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Golfthink In The News

It's Golf Jim But Not As We Know It

Poof! No, not the George Michael type - The smoke clears. Youre at Augusta Nationals 12th and have already hit two into Raes Creek. You hand your mobile phone over to your caddie who takes a quick video of your swing, and using high-speed video sharing technologies, he sends it to your golf professional on the other side of the world. He views the video, and sends you an SMS with a link to a WAP page and adds some personal comments. Youve now hit five in the water, but, just like Tin Cup, are determined to hit the shot you know you can, and after receiving advice from the Pro, you hit an absolute peach, holing out for a self-gratifying 13. As you walk over Ben Hogan Bridge you turn back to the tee where Hootie's been waiting and give him the bird. This is the future of golf instruction. Its golf lessons on-demand, when and wherever you are.

Back to reality. Already, a forward-thinking, technology-embracing golf school in Bangkok (lets not mention any names this time) is using mobile phone technologies to accelerate the learning process and help golfers shoot lower scores, faster. Slices have been fixed using SMS, topped shots cured via MMS, and WAPs been used to stop a whiff. Golfers in Bangkok have embraced existing mobile technologies and are sending out SOS SMSs asking for help when they start to hit it sideways on the golf course. The companies Pros respond back with a link to a list of possible causes and on-course drills that players can try immediately. A video and still photos of each players swing is kept in the Pros mobile phone, so he can usually pin point the cause and make the right recommendation within seconds of receiving the message.

Students also receive a personal performance enhancement analysis via a personal WAP page, which is SMSd to the player upon the conclusion of the first lesson. When they head to the range themselves, they simply open up the page on their phone and ensure theyre working on the right things. Golfers love it because theyre improving faster, and from a business point of view, its created a powerful competitive advantage and unique selling point for sales and marketing promotions (so I hear). Perhaps most importantly, when youre sitting at a crowded pub waiting for your mates to arrive, no need to try to prey someone will call so you can pretend youre really popular. Just open up your WAP site, grab a pool cue and practice the anti-slice drill. You might get a few funny looks, but everyone knows golfers are mad anyway so what do you care?

When 3G phones become the standard and high-speed video sharing is as common as SMS, well start to see scenarios in the opening paragraph happen, perhaps without the bird to Hootie. How many years will it take before we start to see this happen? Maybe not so long, as companies in Thailand are already developing and testing a new technology called IMS (Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem) that will change the way people use mobile phones. Online video shooting will allow golfers to send video in real time to their golf professional - No more waiting until after you shoot 125 to get a golf lesson. Id love to explain the technology in detail because itd make me sound much more intelligent than I really am, but basically phones will talk to each other rather than going through a distant machine. It will require certain advanced phone features and software that may need to be downloaded, although many of the new phones in 2005 will have applications pre-loaded. Of course, this mobile madness doesnt end with golf instruction.

Youll be able to enter real time scoring systems at corporate events and see how your boss is doing 5 holes ahead of you, and at the end of round your score will be automatically submitted to your golf club and your handicap updated in real time. Youll be able to book and pay for a tee time, download course guides and even get automated voice directions to the golf course. Its everything that the Internet can do, but much more convenient because most people carry their phones with them wherever they are. Of course, theres always a downside and if video-telephony becomes mainstream, it means the end of driving range lunches and 18 hole four and a half hour outside sales call where Ill be so busy I cant pick up the phone.

For those of you who already have a GPRS enabled phone, you can check out some free golf tips and get a glimpse of the future of golf by typing wap.golfthink.com into your phone browser. Youll find course management tips, frame by frame swing sequence photos of some of the worlds top players and even a yoga for golfers stretching routine to help you get and stay loose during your round. As usual, you can contact me via email at kiminglis@gmail.com or be cool and send me an SMS to +66 1 485 5189.
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