Like a lot of software, you know that when the digit changes you are onto something different and hopefully better. So it is with the Arccos Caddie 2.0 software that takes the Artificial Intelligence of the original Caddie service higher into the clouds.
Arccos is a GPS shot tracking system that uses sensors you add into the end of your clubs to measure where you played shots from and the club you used. These are then uploaded via an app on your phone to the internet so you can analyse the data and improve your game.
The Arccos Caddie service takes this a stage further by using the data from your game and then combining it with data from other golfers of your ability and those who have played the same course.
Caddie Version 2.0 now uses the Microsoft Azure platform to make better suggestions back to you about which club to use and even what strategy you should adopt for each hole as you play the course.
PGA Tour players already have access to this information via Shotlink, but that involves 300 volunteers per tournament to gather all the data. The Arccos system brings this to your game without this army of people via the Arcoss 360 Sensors and a smartphone app.
To find out more I caught up with Arccos Global Sales Director Andrew Turner to ask him how he thinks Arcoss Caddie 2.0 could benefit your game.
Hi Andrew. For those who don’t know, can you explain what Arccos does?
Arccos are essentially a golf statistics and data-tracking company. We have sensors that we embed into golf clubs, through either Smart Grips or Smart Sensors screwed into the end of golf clubs. These track your performance on the golf course and at the end of your round you can assess your data and understand how you played.
We can really drill down into your performance to discover why you played as you did, for example by driving it well off the tee or putting really well. What we are trying to give the golfer is the same level of detail and analytics that the PGA Tour players have.
Your service now comes with Arccos Caddie 2.0, so what type of benefit do you think it will have for players to get this data?
We don’t want to just collect data and tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. We want to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to take it to the next level.
We now understand how you play and can use our AI Caddie to tell you how to play any hole on any golf course in the world, on any given day. We overlay thousands of data points to tell you that ‘this is your best strategy’ for any golf hole in the world.
How do golfers get to the point where they will get a strategy presented back to them?
It takes about 90 holes of data before we’re confident that we can give somebody a good strategy. For example, if you’ve only hit your 8 iron once and it went 180 yards, the strategy will suggest an 8 iron for a shot that is 180 yards. However, the more you play the more we can remove these sorts of outliers and collect more reliable data.
The more data you put in, the smarter the system gets and the more information it gathers, the better the strategy it gives. After 5 rounds we will give you a good strategy, but if you play 100 rounds, we will give you an excellent strategy.
Is your data combined with data from other users who played that course?
Yes, the way Arccos Caddie 2.0 works is because we know every course in the world and how other golfers played that course, where the hazards are, the tee boxes are, wind speed and elevation change. We don’t just take your data points but we overlay data points of every course and how everyone else has played those holes and also those holes which have a similar layout and topography.
One of the things I have seen is that you present multiple strategies for each hole?
Exactly, because we don’t want to lose the ‘human element’. Let’s say, for example, on the first hole at the West Course at Wentworth, most people’s strategy would be to hit a driver. We don’t want to just tell you the best strategy would be 3-wood, instead we want to explain why the 3-wood may be optimal and also show why you could lose strokes on the hole if you were to hit your driver. It is more of an information service that gives you alternative strategies along with the best strategy to give you confidence that you have selected the right one.
Do you have any figures on how many strokes amateurs might gain by using the Caddie 2.0?
Arccos users in 2016 improved by 2.77 strokes per round on average, and these users vary from very low to very high handicappers.
By 2017 this had improved to 3.55 strokes, and now 86% of Arccos users improve as a result of using the product. I’m probably a part of the remaining 14% not improving because I’m often stuck in tour trucks and rooms like this with you!
And the other 14% aren’t getting worse because of the information, but because they aren’t playing enough?
What we try and do is give you the information so that you know what to practice and you know the best strategy. What we can’t do is make people go away and practice their weaknesses. We can help them to make smarter decisions, but we always recommend that you give the information to your coach, along with assessing yourself where you need to improve and use our strategies to get better faster.
The thing that’s really different with the Caddie 2.0 service is that it is now free if you buy the stand alone Smart Sensors isn’t it?
Yes. We looked at the offer of Arccos as a whole product, and we decided that we wanted the idea of the Caddie to be central to the round of golf. Only 3% of rounds use a real caddie so we want to give that Caddie experience back to the golfer and from our perspective we feel it helps people to enjoy themselves more by shooting better scores. So now our Caddie 2.0 is included for all Arccos 360 and Cobra Connect users with no surcharge.
As well as the screw-in Smart Sensors, you’re also going to be selling Smart Grips direct that have the sensors built in now?
We’ve partnered with Lamkin to create a set of Smart Grips which are now available for pre-order, for those players who may not want to screw Smart Sensors into clubs as it can affect their appearance and feel. So we are offering sensors which are embedded into your grips, with a pack of 13 grips along with a putter sensor, to create multiple routes to market.
As the sensors come for free the Arccos Caddie is free for 30 days and then if you like it there is a subscription of $99 pa. Through our different products - Smart Sensors, Smart Grips and Smart Set for Cobra Connect - we are trying to appeal to every type of golfer and show them Caddie 2.0 as well.
You say you are trying to get sensors into every golf club. Where can you see Arccos Caddie ending up?
There are about 90 billion golf shots hit every year. Arccos has collected 100 million of those shots over the last few years. We want to try and capture all of those remaining golf shots and our aim is to have embedded sensors in every single golf club out there and there are multiple routes to market.
Obviously Cobra embedding it in their irons sets and our screw in Smart Sensors. When it comes to re-gripping do you want Smart Grips inside of plain grips on your clubs, so we hope everyone will take advantage of the in depth service that the Arccos Caddie 2.0 provides.
Well, I’m looking forward to playing with my virtual caddie and hopefully it might even take a few shots off both of our games! Thanks for joining us.
Pleasure to talk with you Martin.
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