Golf's Pioneer of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence Delivers Major Impact at Golf Industry's 'Super Bowl'
Arccos Unveils First Ever Artificial Intelligence Powered Rangefinder, Expands Partnerships with Cobra and PING at 2020 PGA Merchandise Show
Numbers are real. Actionable. Absolute.
However, they seldom tell the whole story.
That’s the message Sal Syed, CEO and co-founder of Arccos Golf, drove home during a standing-room only press conference at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show held Jan. 21-24 in Orlando, Florida.
Flanked by Dan Ladd, Executive Vice President of Cobra Golf, John K. Solheim, President of PING Golf, and a number of Arccos ambassadors; Andrew Rice, Bryan LaRoche, and Ryan Crysler, Syed unveiled the Arccos Caddie Rangefinder, the first GPS rangefinder powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Syed also teased two ground-breaking 2020 product launches: Arccos Caddie Strokes Gained Analysis, an amateur friendly version of the PGA Tour stat system that helps golfers discover where and how they’re losing strokes; and Arccos Caddie LINK, a lightweight, stylish wearable that fits on a belt and transmits data to golfers’ smartphones.
Based on the buzz around the show floor and maze of hallways at the Orange County Convention Center, the golf industry has taken notice.
“Early on, we believed this was game-changing innovation,” said Ladd. “When you look at golfers and data they need to improve, this was the only way you could do it on the golf course.”
Cobra was the first equipment manufacturer to partner with Arccos in 2016, offering a free Arccos sensor and app subscription along with its KING Cobra drivers.
More recently, Arccos and Cobra launched golf’s first smart set, Cobra Connect, featuring an Arccos sensor embedded in the grip of every club in the King Cobra line.
The partnership is expanding with a new single club upgrade program. Any smart club purchaser is now eligible to connect their entire set with Arccos Caddie.
For PING and John K. Solheim, the Arccos connection is both business and personal.
A self-proclaimed “poster boy for Arccos,” he whittled his handicap from the mid-single digits to scratch within months after analyzing his performance data and determining he needed to focus on improving his short game.
“I was kind of stuck for the past 15 years, at a six to eight handicap and just was content with that,” Solheim said. “[Using Arccos] my handicap got below two and actually, at one point was at zero, which I thought I’d never see. I quickly became a believer in the value of data.”
His personal experience led to a partnership with Arccos in 2019, as PING offered Arccos Smart Grip and Smart Sensor technology on clubs through its custom order process. And the new G710 irons, introduced at the PGA Show, come standard with Arccos Smart Grips and a free trial of Arccos Caddie.
Disrupting the Rangefinder Market
Any GPS- or laser-based rangefinder can provide point A to B distance with relative accuracy; some even include slope. However, they don’t account for other elemental factors impacting “true” yardages such as wind, temperature, humidity and altitude.
Leveraging data from 300,000 golfers logging more than 200 million on-course shots during 3.8 million rounds played with Smart Sensors or Grips, the Arccos Caddie app uses algorithms to provide the “Arccos Caddie Number” based on real-time calculations of slope, weather and altitude.
Altitude is personalized to each user based on the elevation differential between their home course and the one they’re playing. The Artificial Intelligence driven technology also makes club recommendations based on historical performance data and the real-time conditions.
“A.I. will help you make the decisions you’re already making, but you’ll be able to do it in a much smarter and more efficient way,” said Syed.
Better still, the technology is helping players with the numbers they care about the most: their scores. Arccos golfers shaved an average of 4.2 strokes from their handicaps in the first year, some in as few as 5 rounds.
Syed, and accomplished player with multiple holes-in-one, delighted in relaying that Arccos users are also 5.5 times more likely to record a hole-in-one than non-users.
Partnerships on Display on the PGA Show Floor
These new offerings, promotions and demonstrations of the Arccos Caddie app were featured prominently by both Cobra and PING during Demo Day and on the PGA Show floor.
“Arccos has plenty of stats about improvement, which is great, but in our DNA at Cobra Golf, it’s about people enjoying the game more,” Ladd added. “When we see people playing better, being able to share that, enjoying the game and playing more, it’s a win for the industry and for our brands.”
PING showcased Arccos in its booth with the new G710 irons. There was also a fun, PING Skills Challenge event, where PGA Show attendees could test themselves in three categories: driving, approach shots and putting. Handicap analysis for the scoring was powered by Arccos.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for the golf industry, and a major leap forward in the Arccos era.