The Arccos Caddie 2.0 is the data service that is associated with the Arccos 360 system that I have already reviewed here.
That review focusses on the data collection element of the product, but as always with these types of statistical services, the most important part is what you then do with the data and the Arccos Caddie 2.0 is the first to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) as I found out when I interviewed renowned coach Claude Harmon recently.
The premise of the system is that in the old days before golf bags and buggies, your regular caddy would carry your clubs, know the course and your game inside out and be able to offer advice on club selection and strategy to give you the chance of shooting the lowest score possible.
Now the Arccos Caddie won't carry your clubs, in fact you have to carry it via an app on your Smart Phone, but it uses modern technology to provide all the advice that caddies in the past would have given and do give to professionals on the world's tours.
First you have to collect the data by either buying the Arccos 360 sensors, in which case the Caddie service is free.
Of if you buy the latest Cobra clubs or the Arccos Smart Grips with the sensors built in, the first 30 days are free and then you pay an annual subscription.
You play with them as per the aforementioned Arccos 360 review and once you have collected 90 holes worth or data, so 5 rounds, then the Caddie can start to offer you advice as you play the course.
It bases the advice on your performance, the performance of others on the platform of your ability and the performance of others at the course you are playing so there is a lot of algorithm crunching in the background and in version 2.0 that is powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud as Andrew Turner of Arccos goes into more detail about here
The Arccos Caddie 2.0 also takes into account the temperature, wind speed and direction and elevation of the hole when selecting clubs, which is pretty impressive. This part is not legal for competitive play so you can turn it off in the settings if required.
When you turn up at the course, just open the app and search for the course you are playing in order to download the course information and maps. If you are going somewhere remote or abroad I would strongly recommend doing this before you leave so you have the signal to get the information you need.
As you head to the first tee, you will see the usual full screen map layout of the hole with distances shown to hazards and lay up points when you tap on the screen. If you have enough data then the Arccos Caddie will show the club for that distance if you are hitting an approach.
Clicking the Caddie button at the bottom of the screen will get the Caddie to interrogate the AI in the Cloud and bring up several optimal strategies for playing the hole. This takes about 5 to 10 seconds and the message shown whilst this is happening changes each time; here the Caddie was back on the bottle...
Some of these will give a very similar optimal score so it may depend on how confident you are feeling, but they are usually all pretty accurate.
On one par-5 at Las Colinas in Spain, I had driven down the fairway and had too far to reach the green in two shots. The Caddie suggested laying up 190 yards with a 6-iron, which I felt flattered by as I normally carry it 167 yards. Even taking into account the downhill lie and slightly downwind conditions, I ignored the Caddy and hit 5-iron and ended up with an awkward stance on the edge of the bunker I would have been short of if I had taken the 6.
The Arccos Caddie 2.0 had not over-estimated my abilities because of a lack of data, but had factored in the wind and slope to give me the correct club and I felt suitably admonished, even if the Caddie didn't say anything or give me the 'I told you so' look.
This was the first time I had played this course and the Caddie really came into its own in these circumstances because it saved a lot of time and if you just trusted it then it was usually right.
After the round it still requires a little bit of tidying up of the data that has been collected, especially the putting, but it is quite impressive how the system automatically locates where the flag is, because it knows from the millions of shots it records every year how people move when they hole out and leave a green.
That said, the stats on putting by distance maybe need to be taken with a pinch of salt as you will never quite get the position of the flag and 2nd or 3rd putts exact. Unless it was miles out, I would usually leave the first putt position wherever it was marked and just move the flag so that it doesn't affect the distance measurement of the approach.
Click on the Player icon and you can also review you stats for every aspect of your game and I can't think anything is missing apart from a total putts per round rather than putts per hole, which you have to multiply by 18 to get this number.
The data on which clubs you use most will help you tailor your practise, as will which side of the fairway or green you tend to miss on.
The app shows data for all rounds on the system so you can't filter by date which is a little bit frustrating if you want to see changes from one year to the next. You can do this if you log into the Dashboard on the Arccos website and if you really want to dive deep into your stats then logging in on a computer is the better way to do it.
At this point in time I have 8 rounds worth of data recorded and for some lesser used clubs I think it needs more information to give better distance decisions, so I am going to stick with it and see how accurate it gets over time as Arccos says that the more information you put in, the better advice it will give from the AI learning your game.
It was a little bit more relaxing playing the game when someone is suggesting clubs to you, particularly round a course you don't know very well. The annoyance of having the phone in your pocket to record data is offset by the convenience of whipping it out to see what the Caddie has to say.
I can see this being the future of the game as the data collection is non-intrusive and the app gives you real time information to help improve your scores so this is a worthwhile return on the reasonably significant investment into the Arccos system.