SkyCaddie takes to the ground

By David AllenJanuary 30, 2009, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' By day, Mark Long is a caddie for Fred Funk, his former golf coach at the University of Maryland. He also authors many of the yardage books that players and caddies use on the PGA Tour, including the U.S. Open yardage book. Oh, and he just happens to be a consultant for SkyGolf, walking many of the courses that the rangefinder company ground maps yearly ' more than 22,000 courses worldwide. Long developed the curriculum used to train all SkyCaddie mappers.
As a professional Tour caddie, Longs job is to walk every yard of the course prior to each tournament, getting accurate yardages and targets for Funk and helping formulate a plan for how Funk will attack the course come Thursday. He maps the course for Funk, which is exactly what SkyGolf does to provide the images and yardages youll find on its four GPS handheld rangefinders ' the SkyCaddie SG5, SG3.5, SG2.5 and SG2.5 Lite.
A team of individuals walks each course, just as the caddies do on Mondays and Tuesdays of a tournament week, mapping each course from the ground and providing the critical information that you see on each SkyCaddie, including all of those bunkers and hazards you are trying to avoid. Its essentially putting a caddie in your hand.

What differentiates SkyCaddie from other GPS systems is that we have a lot better chance of getting you to the right place, because were looking at what is in front of you, said Long. A lot of the aerial maps are 2 or 3 years old, and the targets have either changed or gone away. Plus, you cant see terrain from a satellite photo.

The advantages to ground-mapping a course versus satellite-mapping it, or using a laser-finder, are several. As Long pointed out, its much easier to see terrain and slopes from the ground than from 20,000 miles up in space. Also, you dont need a clear line of sight to get an accurate distance reading, whereas with a laser-finder, if youre obstructed by some trees or you have a blind approach, you cant get an accurate yardage.

Whatever you cant hit with the laser, you cant get, said Long.
Explaining the technology behind ground-mapping is difficult. Essentially, one of SkyGolfs people walks the golf course with this astronaut-like backpack device which sends his or her exact position of latitude and longitude up to a satellite, which returns a signal to SkyCaddie which is fed into a very large database. A team of 60 individuals mapped 7,000 courses across the U.S. in 2008. Each course takes approximately five hours to ground map, whereas satellite mapping takes approximately one hour.

Ground maps are a tremendous asset to have, said Richard Stamper, president and COO of SkyGolf. It enables us to do things in the future that other companies cant do.

By far the coolest feature with the SkyCaddie is its Intelligreen technology which automatically rotates the shape of the green to match your angle of approach. The SkyCaddie calculates your distance to the front, center and back of the green as well as any point in between, using the dimpled toggle device on the bottom of the handheld receiver. You can toggle to the exact pin location on the green and it will give you the yardage.

A new feature, Intelligreen Pro, shows contours and tiers on the green and will provide the exact distance to each, as well as the depth of each tier, by moving the cursor to the contours line of the screen.

Some other highlights to the SkyCaddie include a ball mark feature which allows you to see how far you hit every shot; automatically displayed hazards, such as bunkers, and the distance to clear them; and a birds eye view of each hole to help you with strategy. Each SkyCaddie displays up to 40 targets per hole. If, for example, you happen to be playing the eighth hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the SkyCaddie will tell you to aim at the gold house in the distance from off the tee. This is extremely helpful because from the tee on No. 8, you cant see much of the fairway or the large seaside cliff which looms about 220 yards away.

The intoduction of this technology gives the golfer what it needs most, and thats accurate readings on the course, said Stamper.

The SG5 is the highest-priced model, at $399. Its the only one of the four with a color display. The SG3.5 ($299), SG2.5 ($259) and SG2.5 Lite ($199) all employ a high-resolution gray-scale screen.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.