It wasn't all that long ago that booking a tee time online was a pretty big deal.
Now, some courses will rent you a hovercraft (yes, just like the one in that viral Bubba Watson video).
Whether it's practical or promotional, I'm seeing a growing number of golf courses incorporating more tech into their experiences.
Here are some of the more interesting things I've seen, and definitely tell me what you've come across, too:
Greenhorn Creek Resort and its Solar Golf Cart Phone Charger
This one may be my favorite. In Angels Camp, Calif., the Greenhorn Creek Resort has installed solar panels on the roofs of its golf carts so you can keep your smartphone or tablet charged no matter how many apps you're running.
Multiple Courses and their Visage Cart-Mounted Screens
SilverRock Resort in La Quinta, California and the Old Edwards Club in Highlands, North Carolina are just two courses where you'll find Visage mounted on the carts. Similar in theory to the older, cart-mounted GPS systems, this one is sleeker and slicker. You get a touch-screen display (that actually works) to navigate each hole, order food, and track your score (which is emailed to you after the round). Courses can better monitor your pace of play and, of course, push marketing messages to you.
Windy Knoll Golf Club and its Rentable Hovercrafts
I'm sure you've seen the viral video of Bubba Watson driving his Oakley-sponsored hovercraft across a golf course, but now you can drive one, too, if you play at Windy Knoll Golf Club in Springfield, Ohio. This summer, the daily-fee course purchased two of them and became the first course in the world to add hovercrafts to its golf cart fleet.
Multiple Courses and their Custom Smartphone Apps
No longer content to be a mere map or mention in another company's app, many golf courses have begun launching their own, proprietary apps. One example is the University of Michigan Golf Course, whose software provides GPS and hole descriptions, the ability to book tee times and order food, and the ability to share your round on your preferred social networks.
Rivermont Golf & Country Club and its Hole-in-One Kiosk/Camera
Along with fellow Georgia course Kingwood Country Club & Resort, Rivermont installed something called Just One, an automated kiosk/camera system that allows you to record your hole-in-one and closest-to-the-pin attempts on par threes.
Multiple Courses and their Digital Caddies Cart-Mounted Tablets
Like Visage, Digital Caddies hopes to succeed where previous, cart-mounted GPS systems failed. It's Android tablet-based system, called The Players Network, can already be found at several OB Sports-managed courses in Arizona (The Raven, Longbow, and Lone Tree) and OB has plans to add it to its full, 50-course portfolio. Likewise, National Golf Management reportedly agreed to install The Players Network at its 20-plus courses in and around Myrtle Beach.
Multiple Courses and their G1 Player Management System
Currently in beta tests at courses in Arizona and Florida, Golf Channel's G1 system promises you'll never again need to wait in line to check in at the pro shop, then try not to lose your receipt so you can give it to the starter. Instead, you'll be met and checked in right in the parking lot by a tablet-toting attendant, then catered to all day based on your stored profile and purchase history.
Future Golf Courses and their Mercedes Vision Golf Carts
OK, this one will probably never see the light of day, but it was too cool to leave out. During this year's Open Championship, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its concept for a "smart" golf cart: a solar-powered, joystick-operated vehicle with heated seats, touch-screen sound/communication system, iPad/iPhone docking stations, and my favorite, a horn that yells "fore."
Have you come across any golf courses using consumer-facing technology that improves (or detracts from) the experience?
Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.