The golfing industry, a $US13.4 billion market according to the 2019 World Golf Report, has undergone significant shifts in design thinking and player engagement. Golfing estates and institutions have been looking for intelligent technology platforms that enhance the golfing experience as these have become the definitive marker by which leading clubs are measured. In South Africa, the engineers that developed the most sensitive radio astronomy receiver in the world for the MeerKAT and the Square Kilometre Array, have turned their expertise towards this popular sport, creating a distributed radar system designed to accurately track balls across the range and the field. The solution, Inrange, has already been successfully installed at Greenwich Peninsula Driving Range in London, the busiest range in the country, at the Flying Tee and at the Leadbetter Academy World Headquarters in Orlando, Florida.
The core members of the team from EMSS Antennas, of the Alphawave group, applied their skills to the development of Inrange, an intelligent technology platform designed to enhance the golf experience through gamification and smart tracking. Inrange is an advanced system designed to pull together the threads of innovation, technology and sporting expertise into an immersive experience that appeals to all levels of golfing player, from newbie to professional.
“Technology, designed specifically to enhance the golfing experience and improver player capabilities, is now providing players across all ages and abilities with rich insights into their performance,” says Nick Longley, Co-Founder, Inrange. “Players can use the data provided by this technology to track how they are playing, identify what they are doing right, and optimise their skills for on-course performance. They have access to information that allows them to refine their skills whether or not they are professional players or people looking to improve their game. Smart technology allows for players to enjoy purpose-driven practice that challenges their skills and their experience.”
For the golfing courses and estates, it’s a constant challenge to meet the entertainment needs of a sophisticated and dynamic audience that wants golfing experiences that go beyond just the average. This is being driven not only by tech innovators but by a growing demand from players to have access to intelligent technologies that add an edge to, or increase their enjoyment of, the game.
“The leading golf courses and driving ranges want to create purpose-built facilities that cater for the needs of their diverse client base to ensure they stay relevant and that they provide quantified experiences to their members and players,” says Longley. “They want the best possible technology that delivers market-leading tracking capabilities but that also allows for them to gamify the experience.”
Gamification has long been a trending term in the sporting industry. It’s the ability to blend technology and physical sport into a uniquely challenging experience that can enhance the potential of players across all levels. On one hand, gamification is designed to bring in a new market of players, the younger and less entrenched players who want something fun and less serious than how golf has been traditionally presented. Solutions such as Inrange offer a new user experience that courses and driving ranges can use to attract the millennial, experience driven market, allowing them to compete against one another in hitting targets, completing tasks or achieving specific goals. It shifts the dynamic of golf to one that can be enjoyed as a night or day out with friends and that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skills.
“On the other hand, an enhanced, tracked experience allows the keen and professional player to refine their performance within tightly managed metrics,” adds Longley. “They can use the technology to customised the range experience bringing purpose to their practice and allow them to easily answer the question – how did I play today? This is available to runners and cyclists and with Inrange, it is now available to golfers at an Inrange enabled range.”
Inrange uses ultra-sensitive radar sensors alongside in-app data and insights powered by the technology’s unique algorithm. The Inrange handicap dynamically calculates player performance, and it gives them the information they need to practice with purpose. The app, designed specifically for the golf driving ranges, includes numerous challenges to gamify practice sessions and the ability for each and every player to be scored with the Inrange Range Handicap. With the addictive gamification and progress tracking, the platform is designed to create immersive golfing experiences that bring players back, time and again. Already, market leading clubs such as Greenwich Peninsula Driving Range and Flying Tee in the United States, have implemented the solution with noticeable consumer uptake, and currently Inrange is being installed at the David Leadbetter Academy world headquarters in Orlando, Florida.
“Inrange caters to the keen golfer, the social player and the expert,” says Longley. “It instantly adds an edge to the golfing experience. It provides a blend of technology and play that not only enhances performance, but gives ranges the ability to offer the best of both worlds to all golfers of every calibre.”
Alphawave, the South African company behind the highly successful EMSS Antennas, has been involved in high-tech products in the specialised antenna and radar applications market for more than 20 years. Already the company has developed solutions for organisations such as Boeing, DaimlerChrysler and NASA, and continues to develop solutions that lead the way on the global stage.
Inrange is a globally successful brand that has already achieved recognition in leading golfing establishments in Europe, the United Kingdom and the USA.
“Alphawave has been involved with high-tech products in the specialised antenna and radar applications market for more than 20 years,” concludes Frans Meyer, CEO of the Alphawave Group. “Our engineers developed the Inrange distributed radar system for accurately tracking the balls at golf driving ranges and has showcased how our local expertise can drive fundamental innovation and change on the global stage. It also demonstrates how South African skills and capabilities have the potential to revolutionise markets and redefine sporting parameters.”