Is There A GPS Golf Ball? – Yes!
Worldwide approximately 600 million golf balls are lost every year with around half of those lost just by golfers in the USA.
It’s not surprising then that some people might wonder “is there a GPS golf ball?”
Well luckily for you there is. In fact, there are several (or there should be soon). Let’s have a look at some of these high-tech golf balls.
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GPS Golf Ball Models
Let’s start with what would be the most impressive ball, assuming it actually ever makes it to market.
OnCore Genius Golf Ball
Originally discussed as far back as 2017 as you can see in the video below, this ball promised to be so much more than just a GPS-enabled golf ball.
In addition to GPS capabilities to tell you where your ball finished, this product is also meant to offer you stacks of other information like velocity, spin rate, launch angle and carry distance.
The plan was also to let you review your shot on your smart device. The company even launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the project. Unfortunately as of the time of writing (June 2022) OnCore has still not managed to release a working version. The company says they are still working on it, however.
Chiping Smart Balls
The website trumpets them as the world’s first GPS-tracked golf ball. It is described as a high-end 3-piece performance ball. Interestingly it is designed with a urethane core whereas most premium balls have a urethane cover. The Chiping Smart ball has a surlyn cover which is usually found on cheaper golf balls.
Another problem is that while the balls have been constructed according to the rules of golf they haven’t yet been approved by the USGA/R&A. This means you’re not going to be able to use them in a competition.
A big stumbling block is that this ball suffers from the same problem as the bball below. Your phone can only pick up the presence of the ball from around 30 yards or so. So if you have a good idea where the ball went then this might help but if you lost the ball in the sun or something like that then a GPS ball might not be of much use.
Don’t forget that water is also going to be a problem even if it’s not deep enough to stop you from retrieving the ball. This is because water will degrade the signal and this will get worse the deeper the water is.
This appears to be the only ball currently on the market. However, there are a couple of other balls that are in the crowdfunding stage.
Only at the prototype stage at the moment the bball is just looking to make finding your ball easier and isn’t designed to offer any performance data. This appears to use Bluetooth to connect to your phone and as Rick Shiels points out this brings with it a fundamental flaw since Bluetooth only works over very short distances you would need to have a fair idea of where the ball is in order to track it on your phone. If you don’t have a reasonable idea where the ball is then you would have little or no chance of finding your ball.
Graff Golf Smart Golf Ball
Seems a little more like the OnCore Genius ball as it is looking to offer nine different pieces of data about the shot including carry distance, velocity, spin rate, launch angle and apex height.
Graff Golf appears to be aiming at the game improvement market since this ball would effectively replace tracking technology such as Flightscope or Trackman.
Another company that has sought funding via Indiegogo and managed to raise $120,000.
GrowGolf Smart Ball
Another Indiegogo startup, although has only raised $2000 so don’t think that one is going to fly!
Gen i1 Smart Ball
Managed to raise around $70,000 and even got a finished product to be reviewed by pluggedingolf who unfortunately weren’t impressed. The product is currently sold out on the coachlabs website.
Is There Such A Thing As A Golf Ball Finder?
There used to be. Indeed one was even used as part of a scam to sell fake bomb detectors that netted the scammers a lot of money. The Gopher could reputedly detect the “materials” used in golf balls.
These days you can still find people selling special torches or glasses to help you find your ball.
In reality, they are of little value. You certainly shouldn’t waste money on them.
How Much Are Smart Golf Balls?
According to this article in Forbes, the OnCore genius ball was going to retail at $50 for a sleeve of two! No doubt given the recent price hikes across almost every product if the ball ever makes it to market it will be even more expensive than that!
The Chiping ball is currently sold out but reportedly cost more than $140 For six balls!
Shot Genius offers three different packages priced at $40, $60 and $80 respectively. However, this is just a design concept at the moment so whether It comes to market is open to question.
Problems with GPS Golf balls
There are a number of problems with GPS balls as far as I can see:
$25-$30 is almost enough to buy a dozen good balls anyway so unless you are losing stacks of balls every round then you might not see much financial benefit if this is what a GPS ball will cost.
The most obvious problem is water. If you put your ball in a water hazard a GPS signal isn’t going to help unless you have a boat and diving gear handy!
How long will the power last? Once the power goes out you’re not going to have a signal and then your expensive GPS ball is just the same as all the rest and as easily lost.
I have already experienced this with a twilight tracer ball which probably only lasted for 20 or 30 shots.
With current technology, it is difficult to see how you can get a GPS-enabled golf ball that performs as well as a top-quality urethane model.
While higher handicappers are more worried about losing golf balls, low handicappers are almost as likely to take a ball out of play because it is damaged as they are to lose one. Your $25 GPS-enabled ball is not going to perform as well if you’ve hit a few bunker shots or bounced it off a car path or tree. At $25+ per ball, you probably wouldn’t want to take it out of play but it will eventually affect the performance of the ball.
Can You Track A Ball With Your Phone?
The best available tracking at the moment is the Chiping smart ball which can be detected by an app on your phone when it’s within about 30 yards.
How To Avoid Losing Golf Balls
Rather than spending a fortune on a GPS ball why not follow these tips to avoid losing your normal golf balls:
Try to watch your ball all the way to the finish.
Make sure that everyone in your group watches everybody else’s ball.
Try to pick out landmarks near the ball such as bushes, trees, stakes et cetera.
If it’s sunny, wear sunglasses to help with your vision.
If your eyes aren’t what they were then get some prescription glasses or think about having laser surgery.
Try using high-visibility golf balls.
How To Find A Lost Golf Ball
Rather than wandering around aimlessly try to apply a bit of common sense. Walk in straight lines back and forth in the area where you think your ball finished. This will cover the ground as quickly as possible. By changing your direction you may make a ball visible that couldn’t be seen from the other direction.
If you have a good line on the ball then try to walk along that line toward any landmark in the direction the ball was flying/running. This will give you the best chance of finding it even if you get the distance wrong.
Is There A GPS Golf Ball: Conclusion
Yes, there is a GPS golf ball and a couple more in development. Whether you want to spend $25 or more on one ball is however questionable.