The Techiest Courses in Golf

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.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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I love technology, and from the comments above, embracing or discarding it is an individual choice, which is nice to have options. My family and I were golfing in Kaanapali Kai when a golf property home for sale popped up on the GPS. I am curious what people think of advertising on the GPS?

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I don't much care for technology in golf, but it makes sense to market to those who like it. I am curious about how noisy the hovercraft is. I live in a coastal community and can hear the search & rescue hovercraft from about five miles away. I know the golf course ones are newer and smaller, but it's difficult to imagine they can totally mask the noise from all that air being pumped.

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To the companies still trying to make a business of cart-mounted GPS: guys, save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money. Nobody's going to look at or fiddle with your system when they can use their FREE and very good if not great GPS apps on their smartphones.

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I remember when courses that rented laser rangefinders were considered 'ahead of their time." Man, we've come a long way.

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I agree with most of the comments above. While I am a tech type guy who loves his gadgets I am increasingly making sure they have no part of my golf round. BUT since you didn't mention this product I thought it was appropriate to share.

While it doesn't look practical it does look fun.

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Who needs it, what ever happened to walking the course? Just more stuff to increase the already painful pace of play I would say.....

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I agree with Doug Roberts; I've seen too many people get lost in the world of range finders and other gizmos. It is pretty funny when you are 50 yards out and someoone lets you know that it is 51 or does that help one create a shot that is feel-based? Or the other side; "hey I'm 267 out - what should I hit?" And they can't hit their driver, off a tee, more than 215. They should invest in their swing but that entails work and effort - a toy is so much easier.

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I know there's all sorts of advancements going on underground -- turf moisture sensors and such -- but nice to know courses aren't shying away from technology above ground, too. I'm all for anything that makes it easier and faster to get onto the golf course and to play briskly. Nice article. Thanks.

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How da heck do you get out of that hovercraft thing? Hard to see any doors.
I agree with Doug, keep it simple. My bro in law wanted to buy me a GPS, I said every sprinkler head is marked, why would I need that??

I guess, for the first time you play a new course, the GPS in cart is good, but other than that I like old school golf

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My favorites are the Hole-in-One Kiosk/Camera (for obvious reasons), the Visage Cart-Mounted Screens (don't have to worry about having your phone die because you're running GPS on it. Also love the scoring and emailing capabilities), and Solar Golf Cart Phone Charger (for courses that don't have Visage installed.) All for anything that helps make the in round experience better.

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