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iPing app tests putting stroke

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Generally speaking, golf equipment makers put their latest and greatest technology inside the clubs they produce. A tungsten insert here, perhaps. A movable soleplate there. But with its new iPing putter app, the Phoenix, Ariz., company is providing technological advances in a much different way – by giving golfers ways to attach their iPhone4 and iPod Touch (fourth generation) to the shaft of their putter and then access and assess the data those devices produce in hopes of improving their prowess on the greens.

It all starts with the Ping cradle, which holds the mobile devices in place and then enables golfers to clip them onto their putter just below the grip. Available in leading green-grass golf shops and off-course retailers, it carries a suggest retail price of $30 in the States (and a comparable cost in other parts of the world).

Next, there is the iPing putting application, which utilizes motion sensing technology from the mobile devices in those cradles to analyze a golfer’s putting performance based on three criteria: putter face angle at impact, putter stroke type (straight back, slight arc or strong arc) and tempo (in essence, a measuring of the backswing relative to the forward swing through impact).

According to Ping engineers, the key is understanding the importance of consistency in putting and giving golfers the tools to make improvements on that aspect of the game. Those tools are also designed to help them find the style and type of putter best suited to their stroke.

In addition, the new iPing app gives players three ways to employ the data it gathers from the iPhone4 and iPod Touch, which are the only mobile devices to support the iPing app because they are the only ones Apple built with accelerometers to record linear acceleration and gyros to detect rotational spin.

Put it in compare mode, and a player can judge his putting prowess against his golfing friends as well as touring professionals. He can also use the measure mode to use all three performance criteria to create a putting handicap (PHcp) against which he evaluates this progress over time. Or the player can isolate one of the three criteria by putting the app into practice mode, so he can work on that one aspect of his putting game at a time.

Players can download the putting application onto their iPhone or iPod from iTunes for free. And given that the app is wireless and quite portable, they can use it anywhere – on the golf course or practice putting green as well as in the home and office.

Says Brad Schweigert, Ping’s director of engineering: “What we want to do is give golfers with the iPing app are their own personal putting coaches and instantly provide them the data to identify the areas of their games that need improvement and to benchmark progress as they make that happen.”

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