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Pace of Play: RFID and Golf

by Peck Sidara

The number one rule of golf is to be considerate to other players and play the course and ball as you find them. So, some congratulations are in order to J. B.  Holmes, won the PGA Genesis Open this past weekend at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Myself and others were impressed with the way Holmes demonstrated "intestinal fortitude" by enduring the elements and holding off some of the top names in the sport to finish off a 34-hole marathon. This win was Holmes' first since the 2015 Shell Houston Open — and he did it with class and style.

It's amazing what PGA tour pros can do with the power of a drive or the finesse of a putt. What is also amazing to me is how easily professional golfers forget about the number one rule of golf once they reach lofty PGA status. Of course, we're talking about pace of play. Some golfers don't remember — or simply fail to care — that other players are waiting to take their swing. In the case of J.B. Holmes, don’t take one-and-a-half minutes to read the green and notes after your playing partners have already hit. People are waiting behind you and people watching on the tube are pulling their hair out! Jim Nantz, Peter Kostis, and the Twittersphere are making comments and poking fun of your slow play.

Pace of play is the first rule of golf I learned when I started over twenty years ago. The lesson goes like this — no matter how bad you are or how many times you swing and completely miss the ball-keep up with the group in front of you. Pace of play goes hand in hand with "ready golf." Ready golf means as soon as you hit your ball, start moving towards and thinking about your next shot.

How RFID Technology Can Improve Pace of Play

Word of advice to the PGA, adopt new technology to resolve this long-standing issue. TopGolf implemented RFID chips into their golf balls to track player performance. PGA tournament guests have been issued RFID wristbands to track movement and authorization into special hospitality tents at PGA tour events. Why not track time or pace of play of PGA players using passive or active RFID tags?

An active RFID tag is battery-powered and weighs just a few ounces. The active tags are attached to the player’s bag and movement, specifically time could be tracked in real time throughout the round and tournament.

A passive RFID tag would weigh nothing and discrete portals can track movement as a player / caddy and their bag moves from hole to hole.  An RFID portal @Impinj can be placed at the tee box of each hole. You could enhance the customer experience as each player passes a portal by way of displaying the player’s bio and stats on a LED monitor at each hole.

Fall behind by more than 4 minutes and you’re issued a warning. Do it again and you’re penalized ½ a stroke. A third time and you’re penalized a full stroke.

As an avid golfer, I love this game but it’s time consuming. More of the general public would play if it didn’t take 5 hours of your weekend to finish 18 holes. More would watch on TV if it moved along a little faster. If the PGA wants to grow the game and audience, pace of play must be improved.

I’m not a statistician, nor am I part of the PGA think tank. I am, however, an RFID expert, a 16 handicap, can walk 18 holes in under 2.5 hours, and have organized many small fundraiser tournaments. (Ready when you are @pgatour.)

Hit me up next time you’re in Denver, J. B. Holmes. I know a great public course we can get on for less than 50 bucks, walking. Happy to present you with a lesson on pace of play in exchange for a lesson on how to strike the ball more consistently.

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