Golf-related apps for smartphones do all kinds of things to make golf better.
There are GPS apps, social-media apps, swing-training apps, etc., each striving to gain a foothold in their particular niche as golf goes digital in the 21st century. One of the latest entrants into the field is 18Birdies, a multi-role smartphone app for golf, which I think that a lot of golfers will find very useful.
18Birdies combines score-keeping, social connectivity, GPS capability, stat tracking handicap calculation, tournament management, and something I haven’t seen in other golf apps -- the ability to keep track of your on-course wagers –- all in a neat bundle for your iPhone or Android device.
I took the app for a spin with three members of the 18Birdies team as we played nine holes at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland on a sunny Monday afternoon. It never hurts to have a trio of folks around who live and breathe a new application when you are trying it out for the first time, but in truth I didn’t have to rely on them too much for help. Firing up 18Birdies to score a round of golf is intuitive and simple, and even though I was the novice of the group, I was able to record scores for our foursome with no trouble. If you input your handicap, the app will even track gross and net scores. In fact, the biggest problem you are likely to have when keeping score with 18Birdies is getting your buddy to ’fess up to the three-putt double-bogey he just made...
Are you responsible for a larger group on an outing, or even a tournament? The Tournament+ functionality puts the power to manage live leaderboards for outings, leagues and tournaments in the palm of your hand.
On the social side of things, 18Birdies allows users to share their scores with friends and with other users who have the same designated favorite course; you can to see how your scores stack up against others who are playing the same track on course-specific leaderboards. Looking for a place to play? A quick check on your phone or on the website will pull up a list of courses in your area (https://18birdies.com/courses/). Information on course conditions, upcoming events, special rates, etc., are also available on the community feed. You can even allow the app to search your contacts list to find friends to share pictures and stories of your golf games with, or to invite to use the app.
My favorite functionality of the 18Birdies app is the GPS. With this battery-friendly function you can put away your separate GPS device and/or rangefinder—the overhead photo imagery and interactive snap-to-position measuring allow you to plot your way around even an unfamiliar course with ease. With a touch and a swipe of your finger you can plan a target for your tee shot that is just short of a tricky fairway bunker and also see the remaining distance to the center of the green (with numbers for front and back as well.) If you are facing a blind tee shot or approach, the compass arrow function will line you up with an unseen target, giving you confidence in the direction of your next shot.
The team at 18Birdies have every golf course in the United States accurately mapped for use with the app, and they are working on the rest of the world. Courses near your location (wherever you and your computer or phone are) will show up listed in order of increasing distance from your position. Pick another state and you will get a list of cities, with the courses in that area listed in order of distance from your location. The international courses that are mapped, and there are quite a few already, are listed in alphabetical order by name, under the name of the country.
Having gotten familiar with the GPS and Scorecard capabilities, my next endeavor with 18Birdies is to explore the “Side Games” function. I’ve never been a betting man on the golf course, but at least with the help of 18Birdies I will only have to worry about making golf shots, not keeping track of the bets.
This article is brought to you by 18Birdies, a free mobile golf app designed to make the game more social and fun. Features include GPS+ that is powered by Google Maps, digital scoring, side-game bet tracking, social Feed, stat keeping and more! 18Birdies is available via iTunes and Android. See how 18Birdies is reimagining golf by visiting our blog!