Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Connected on the Course

I’m writing this blog from 35,000 feet somewhere in between LA and Atlanta thanks to Wifi on my plane.  I chose this flight in large part because I knew it was connected.  Five hours on a Monday is a long time to be dark.

Musing over this reminded me of golf, and a main reason why more people don’t play (or play more) – it takes too long.  18 holes plus warm-up/travel/etc. takes roughly the same amount of time as my trip from Redondo Beach, CA to Sandy Springs, GA - six hours.  That is an eternity to be dark in today’s age.  It is the main reason why I don’t play more than about once a month.

This made me wonder - are there reasonable ways to digitally connect people while on the course?  Here are a few ideas:

1. Wifi on Carts
The iPad’s success demonstrates that the tablet is here to stay.  Since it is compact and doesn’t have a noisy keyboard, it’s a sensible thing to bring onto a golf course.  Golf facilities could install Wifi on each cart and have a no-keyboard policy so people could stay connected while on the course without disrupting other golfers.

2. Internet-Connected GPS Units
Another option is to turn the fancy GPS monitors into Internet-connected devices so people could connect to the cloud while in the cart.

3. Smartphone Advancements
Perhaps the solution will come naturally as smartphones increasingly have faster web browsing experiences and better business applications.  Of course, many courses currently ban the use of phones so they’d need to change this policy.  The issue with smartphones is that they’ll never be great for viewing, creating or editing MS Office applications like Excel, Powerpoint and Word.  The screen is simply too small.   For many of us, we need to work extensively within these applications to be productive.

Is this concept a good idea?
Golf traditionalists will argue that accommodating my idea would ruin golf.  They believe that the game is meant to be played in a quiet, serene and isolated environment.  On many levels I agree with them.  If the industry fundamentally changed this, playing golf would be like everything else nowadays – done with distractions.

Nevertheless, the reality remains that the time it takes to play golf prevents me and many others from enjoying the game nearly as much as we would like.  Whether it’s connecting golfers while on the course or figuring out a way to make golf a quicker experience (ideas for which will be discussed in a later blog), I hope the industry figures it out.  I know it would make golf more feasible for my schedule, and I sure would like to play more.

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