As you’ve noticed over here, I’m all about golf technology. I think if we’re going to get a younger generation playing more often, the more we can leverage technology to help them grow their game – the better.
Game Golf has been around for about a year now, and they’ve continued to evolve their product into one of the most popular golf devices on the market today. Arccos is the newcomer to the space, who have just finished their round of pre-sales and have just recently launched in Dicks Sporting Goods and the Apple Store – among other places.
My goal with this article is to give you an extremely, in-depth and honest look at the pros and cons of both Game Golf and Arccos. I’ve probably played more rounds with both systems than anyone else, so I feel I have a unique perspective and ability to write about the pros and cons of each.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT A STAT TRACKER?
Before we go too far into the differences in the devices, it’s important to look at what they both are, and why you’d want them.
Essentially both devices track every aspect of every round you play.
They can give you shot distances, and post round statistics that are much more in depth and valuable than anything we’ve currently seen. They both have slightly different ways of getting there, but both do a good job of getting the final result – it’s more a matter of personal preference and what your goals are.
So let’s jump right in and start taking a look at each of the devices and the differences between each.
Both Game Golf and Arccos were designed to be bold. With Arccos opting for a Black/Neon Green color scheme and Game Golf going for bright red. The box and presentation of both products all look great.
It’s clear that both brands have put a lot of time and effort into their branding and image, and it comes across really well in both instances. Personally, I prefer the sleekness and more modern look that Arccos has going for it, but this one in the end is really all about personal preference.
Presentation/Looks: Arccos Golf
This is where things really start to get important. Because with a device that’s supposed to track every single shot of your round, and give you accurate distances down to a yard – the technology behind these devices is absolutely crucial.
Game Golf as a product was first to market, and is generally a more simple product. There’s no phone interface for while you’re on the course, it’s simply a matter of tap –> buzz–> hit –>repeat –>download.
Each club has a red sensor that screws into the club, and you wear another larger sensor on your belt. Before each shot you tap your club to the sensor, and it registers your position on the course.
Then after the round you can collect your data, and start your analysis.
Arccos, and their proprietary technology that was originally licensed from Callaway is a bit more advanced.
Rather than using a separate GPS, it’s using the GPS that’s built into your iPhone to track your distances.
This system also doesn’t require you to tap before shots. You can play your round, get real time information, and generally not have it interfere with your golfing experience.
In practice, I found the GPS to be much more accurate on the Arccos System than I did on the Game Golf system. In fact, the GPS accuracy was one of my biggest complaints about GG in my original review. There were times I’d be in the center of the green, and it would have me 25 yards off in a bunker.
Now Arccos isn’t perfect in this regard, but generally speaking it’s always been pretty close when it isn’t dead on. You usually notice this the most when you’re on the edge of the green or on the edge of a fairway – and it doesn’t recognize it as such.
On top of the GPS being higher quality, the sensors are much more advanced as well. – as they have to be, since there is no tapping involved.
Before I played my first round with Arccos, I was extremely skeptical as to how thus would work. “There’s no way this will work as advertised,” is what I thought to myself.
Couldn’t have been more wrong. 95% of the time, Arccos gets everything exactly right. You play a hole, check your phone after, and it will tell you what club you hit, where you were, how far the shot was, and how many putts you took.
And that’s just the surface level stuff.
Occasionally it will miss a putt, if you don’t setup for it and just tap one in – but that’s easy to fix with the “gimme putt” button.
This is where Arccos sets itself apart. If all you want is stats and a scorekeeper, then great – check the app every few holes to ensure accuracy and forget about it other than that.
If you want an on course caddie, it can do that too. It will give you GPS yardages, you can see if on any given day your hitting you’re clubs longer or shorter than your averages (great if you’re playing some place like Pronghorn, where you’re at elevation and the ball travels farther), and you can get aerial views of all the holes.
No tapping involved.
That being said, this is also why Arccos costs twice as much as Game Golf. So you have to decide if price is a determining factor for you.
Technology: Arccos Golf
Speaking of price, let’s talk about it.
When Arrccos was first released, it was opened up to people in the pre-sale at $299. Game Golf was $199 on their Indiegogo campaign, and then was mass released at $249. Just in the last few weeks I’ve seen that they lowered the price back to $199.
Arccos just launched at $399.
That’s a huge difference in the world of golf gadgets, as $399 will buy you a brand new high end driver!
When comparing prices, it’s also important to take a look at why Arccos is more expensive. Game Golf’s tags are very basic. They can talk with the GPS sensor, but that’s about it – and that’s all they need to do.
Arccos doesn’t have a sensor on your belt, so the sensors on the club themselves have to do a lot. They’re essentially like mini-computers in each of your club, with bluetooth, an accelerometer, a battery, and impact detection features – in every club!
The good news for this, is the lack of tapping that we mentioned earlier. The bad news is more technology comes at a steeper price, and batteries mean that eventually they’ll need to be changed.
So while it very much will depend on what you’re looking for, it’s pretty clear who wins the price category.
PRICE: Game Golf
REAL WORLD USABILITY
You can have all the theory in the world, but if the product sucks to use, guess what? You’ll never use it!
And if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a device like this and make it an integral part of your game – it better work well.
Let’s take a look at each of these products separately from a real life stand point.
Game Golf Usability
This is where far and away, my biggest problem with Game Golf comes into play.
Before every shot you hit, you have to tap the club to the sensor that’s on your belt. You’ll feel a vibration and you’re good to go!
Simple, right? In theory yes. In real life? The answer isn’t quite so easy.
Even after many rounds with Game Golf, I had issues with the tagging. Not from the technology standpoint, but from the mental stand point.
I’d be walking off the tee, and I’d forget whether or not I’d tagged a shot.
Same goes for tap in putts.
I also never figured out a good solution for what to do with penalty shots.
Now, I know the company has recommended practices for this, and I’ve gotten many comments and emails from readers who say they love the tapping and now it’s just part of their pre-round routine.
To them I say, that’s fantastic. If you can get that down, then the system is pretty good.
I never could.
At the end of the round, it then takes a couple minutes to upload to your computer, and despite improvements, the editing process is a bit clunky and not exact. Usually my rounds would be off by 5-7 strokes. So instead of just being able to play golf and forget about it, I was keeping separate score, and afterwards trying to remember exactly what happened and where I was – so that I could properly edit the shot.
It simply ended up being too much work for me, and was detracting from my ability to play the game – and to do so in a quick manner.
When I switched from Game Golf to using Arccos, this was a pretty big night/day difference to me.
Everything about Arccos is easy to use. Whether you’re on the course and trying to review holes, or trying to analyze data after the round – just about everything works well, and it truly allows you to just play the game.
For years I used Golf Shot GPS for distances and score. After every round I’d have to put in my score info. It took maybe 10 seconds. Arccos is no more invasive than that, and it gives you toooooons more data.
The only caveat to that is the shot editor, which has been greatly improved since I started using it, but can still be a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Arccos rarely misses shots, but here’s a great example of where this might come into play.
Arccos will automulligan if it senses you hit a shot from the same place. So, let’s say I’m in the sand and I fail to get it out of the trap and it rolls back down to the same spot. I hit again, and get out.
There’s a good chance that since I didn’t move, and I used the same club, that it will only recognize that in the system as one shot. At which point, after the round, I may need to go into the hole editor, and add the new shot.
This doesn’t happen all that often, and once you know how to do it, it’s pretty easy to fix. But it’s the one instance I can think of, where it could get in the way of the flow of your round.
Putting can also occasionally be an issue. I’d say 15 out of 18 holes I have absolutely no issues. Where it will fail to register a putt is if you have a one footer that you just walk up to and hit without taking the time to pause, setup, and roll it in.
Luckily, this is an easy fix, either by just taking your time, or hitting “add gimme putt” after the hole. Either way is easy and doesn’t in the way anymore than using a score keeping app like Golfshot would.
Bottom line, in my mind, this is why there is a $200 price difference between the two products. Real world usability is far and away better with Arccos, both from the perspective of during the round and after.
Real World Usability: Arccos Golf
One of the most promising factors in these new devices is the ability to truly gamify what’s already a great game. With all of the different aspects of golf, it’s a sport that’s just begging to have a product that gamifies the system. Think badges, best stats, worst stats, challenges with friends – that’s the kind of thing that will keep me and my friends going out on a regular basis – and competing even when we can’t play together.
Recently Game Golf released their “challenges” feature, which truly steps this up in almost every level.
When I first started using Game Golf at the end of 2013, I was pretty disappointed by the lack of “game”. At the very least I wanted to see a page where I could look at fun stats like: longest drive, most birdies in a round, most bogey’s in a round, longest holed out shot etc.
While they don’t do much for my game improvement, they’re fun milestones to shoot for, and can be great bragging rights with friends.
Game Golf has this information, and even recgonizes it, telling me when I hit one of those milestones. But what I can’t believe they still don’t have is a “records” page or something like that where I can see it all. I have to scroll down through my round news feeds to find them, which is frustrating.
That said, the challenges are awesome, and ripe for potential partnerships and creative games. For instance, right now there’s a “Bridgestone Long Drive” challenge which is pretty cool.
Arccos on the other hand, is at a disadvantage being the newer company. They’re focusing first on the device and personal statistics before getting too far down the social path. My bet is that in time we’ll see a lot of aspects of Arccos rival GG in the social space, but as of right now, there’s not a whole lot there.
Social: Game Golf
If you’re playing a lot of golf, this can be an important component. And because of the different ways each system works, there are a few things to take into account.
First, let’s look at Game Golf – as it’s the more simple answer.
The tags on the clubs, don’t have batteries, only the sensor that you wear on your belt. You charge this via usb, and it’s generally good for about 2 rounds.
This can be good or bad. If you’re playing a ton of golf, and you don’t have time to download your round or charge it, you could find yourself out on the course with a dead sensor – in which case you’re out of luck. Good news here is that, it’s easy to charge, just plug it into a wall or computer.
Arccos on the other hand has a few different batteries to think about.
The first is the fact there is a round watch style battery in each sensor. So 14 of them. Supposedly they’re good for about 50 rounds.
So for the average golfer, you’ll get at least a year or two of battery life before this becomes an issue. When you do eventually need to change them, it will be a minor expense, and probably take a good 45 minutes to change them all out – but then you’re good for another year.
The other concern is your iPhone’s battery life.
If you have an older phone with a battery that’s starting to wear out, you could run into some issues. For most people with a newer phone, you’ll have no problems.
Arccos says it should take about 50% of your battery life to play a round of 18. I was out with someone who had an iPhone 6 last week, and they were still at 67% after a full 18 with heavy email and social usage.
So battery life is really a matter of personal preference. Do you like a rechargeable battery that you might occasionally forget to charge? Or the once a year switch, that you don’t have to worry about on a day to day basis? I personally like the latter, but could go either way.
Battery Life: Tie
To be honest, I don’t fully understand why Game Golf has a mobile app. I can’t use it on the course, I can’t download my data directly to it, it really is only useful for getting notifications of rounds from my “friends” in the system.
One person told me it was all about being able to keep golf “top of mind” for you.
I have other things that can do that.
Arccos on the other hand is built around the mobile app, and that’s how they track everything.
So while it may be a little unfair to compare the two since one is built around mobile, and one is an unnecessary add on – it’s clear Arccos gets the nod here.
Mobile: Arccos Golf
This is one of the most important aspects of either device. How easy is it to get useful information that will allow me to improve my game, and how in depth can I go with that information?
Once again, the best way to do this is to look at them each separately.
After you download your round on Game Golf you can go to your dashboard and review your round, and see an overview of what you’ve done.
The statistics you get are all the traditional ones that you’d usually expect to see from a golf app. Examples being:
- Average Score
- Fairways Hit
- Greens in Regulation
- Approach info
It’s not the most intuitive system for getting information, but there are some pretty good surface level bits of data.
They do a good job allowing you to visualize shots in their online dashboard, but the data stays relatively basic.
I think the Activity stream is well intentioned, but just not that useful to me. My friends that have the system no longer use it, so most of the data I see is from people I don’t know. Also, I don’t need to see things like X person, is now following Y person – which is what much of my stream looks like.
The Arccos online dashboard is still in beta mode, so it’s got a ways to go as far as polish goes – that being said, I love what I’ve seen so far.
In particular one of the things that sets it’s system apart is their handicap system for measuring aspects of your game.
Arccos will give you a handicap score for 5 categories: driving, chipping, putting, sand, and approach.
So for any round or combination of rounds you can see that you were, for instance, playing like a 19 handicap with your drives, but a 6 handicap with your putting.
This is all based on the Strokes Gained methodology that you can read about in Every Shot Counts – but this is simply their way of making it more relatable and accessible to the average golfer.
The graphs and data are also far more in depth in Arccos, and while there are a few quirks with the system – for instance, I can’t figure out how to remove a couple rounds where pre-release versions of my sensors weren’t working properly, and gave me an inaccurate score – overall the information is easier to access, analyze, and review than it is with Game Golf.
Dashboard/Statistics: Arccos Golf
A COUPLE MORE NOTES
There are two other factors that you need to consider before deciding which one of these products is right for you.
The first is, quite simply, do you have an iPhone? Because as of now there is no Android version of Arccos. I’ve been told that Bluetooth is less stable on Android due the wide variety of different phone options, which can make it hard to develop for.
So for the moment, if you have an Android, Game Golf is really your only option. For me personally, I play enough golf, and Arccos is good enough that it’d make me strongly consider switching over – but luckily, I don’t have that issue.
The other thing to consider is tournament play. Right now Game Golf conforms to USGA regulations and is available for use in tournaments, whereas Arccos isn’t. I believe they’re working on a version of the app that does conform, but it’s not out as of the time of this writing.
Once again, I’ve never played any competitive golf (except this debacle), so it’s not a huge deal. I know however in places like Australia, most rounds do end up being competitive – so this is a big deciding factor.
- Presentation/Looks: Arccos Golf
- Technology: Arccos Golf
- Price: Game Golf
- Real World Usability: Arccos Golf
- Social: Game Golf
- Battery Life: Tie
- Mobile: Arccos Golf
- Dashboard/Statistics: Arccos Golf
- Competition: Game Golf
If you’ve read all 3,000 words plus of this article, you’ve probably got a pretty good sense of which system I like better.
I think Arccos is a superior product to Game Golf in just about every way. From real world usability, quality of information you get, and technology – it’s ahead of Game.
The caveat is price.
You can accomplish many of the same things with Game Golf as you can with Arccos, for about half the price (or less if you buy off Amazon). If you’re not looking for on course information, super advanced statistics, and don’t mind the tapping – then by all means, you can grab Game Golf for half the price and be really happy with it.
However if you want something that won’t get in the way of your round, and will really give you tour level analytics that have never been available to amateurs before, Arccos Golf is hands down the best piece of golf technology I’ve ever used.
Original article published here.