Arccos 360 review: Can an AI caddie improve your golf game?

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Thanks to the Arccos 360 system I no longer have to constantly bother my friend and I am learning what I can do with my clubs. It will take some time, but I should see definite improvement with these sensors in my clubs.

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A few months ago, I decided to get back on the links and develop my golf game. I am a senior manager at my engineering firm and there are many opportunities each year to participate in charity tournaments with vendors and clients so I want to develop these relationships on the course. I also am an athlete and love walking around the courses while competing and trying to improve my skills.

I bought a decent set of Callaway clubs on Amazon Prime day and hit a couple of rounds with my friend. Since it has been a while since I golfed, I kept asking my buddy what club he would choose for each hole and then adding a club level or two to my club of choice. I did have my Garmin Fenix 3 HR giving me some basic distance info so that helped.

After two rounds with my buddy, the Arccos PR folks reached out to me (did they see my search history or photos on the course on social media?) and asked if I wanted to test the new Arccos 360 system. Looking for any help I could get to improve my game, I accepted their offer to give it a try.

Hardware and setup

The Arccos 360 system comes with 14 sensors, 13 the same and one designed for your putter. The first step in the process is to insert a sensor into each of your clubs with the largest sensor attaching to your putter.

Golf clubs have holes in the handles at the ends, I understand these air holes are present for the club construction process. The Arccos 360 sensors simply screw into these openings and extend your club approximately half of an inch. They are very light weight and I never bumped them or noticed any affect at all of their presence.

After inserting each sensor, leave the black cover on the ends, place your clubs back into your golf bag. Install the iOS or Android app on your smartphone and sign up for an Arccos account. You are then prompted to select up to 14 clubs. My current collection consists of 11 clubs so I selected those from within the app.

You then select to start pairing and the app prompts you to remove the club and the black tape over the sensor to pair it properly with its designation. You want to get this step right as it will dictate all of the data collected. Most clubs didn’t even need for the camera to “see” the sensor top as the pairing occurred quickly. After you pair a club, put it back in your bag and grab another to pair. When all of your clubs are paired, you are ready to golf.

While my friend was impressed by what he saw in the technology, he didn’t like that you had to carry your smartphone in your front pocket during each shot to accurately capture the data. Since I golf with comfortable shorts or pants and prefer to carry my phone in my front pocket it wasn’t an issue for me, but be aware of this requirement as you consider the system.

Smartphone app

I paired my clubs with an iPhone 7 Plus and used that phone for my first round of golf. Before heading out for the course, I downloaded the specific course from the database. Given that your phone must be on and the app running, you could turn your phone to airplane mode with Bluetooth on to golf if you are concerned about your battery life. My iPhone 7 Plus was in normal mode, yes the ringer was on silent, and lasted the four plus hours of our 18 hole day without a problem. Arccos states that an 18-hole round could consume up to 40 percent of your battery.

The smartphone app launches with a course nearest you appearing with an option to download it. You can tap Start a new round and get golfing or you can tap the left menu (Android) or bottom tabs (iPhone) to access more options. Options include player information, rounds, clubs, start round, and settings.

Player information provides your handicap breakdown for driving, approach, chipping, sand, and putting. You can also see detailed stats for these categories and personal best stats. My data is pathetic at this point and I’m embarrassed that the Arccos folks can see it. I guess we all have to start somewhere and there is no where for me to go but up, right?

Choosing the rounds option shows the courses and rounds you have golfed. Tap on one to access all of the data and plots of each experience. You can choose to share or edit this data as well.

The club option shows you each club you have a sensor setup with and various information. This data includes smart distance, smart range, longest, greens in regulation, usage (in shots). Tap on each club to then see even more specific stats on that club, as well as every shot taken and recorded with that club. As a geek, I find all of this data and detail fascinating. I am sure it will help me make better golf decisions and also gives me some incentive to improve.

The settings are is fairly basic with some info on you, your account login and password info, and other helpful information.

As you golf during a round, the app tracks your clubs used and shots. You can manually edit and add shots if the system is not picking things up automatically. Occasionally, I had to add putts due to short given tap ins. You can view stats during the round and then choose to end the round when you are done to archive all of the data.

Your phone will give you the distance to the back, center, and front of the green along with other course information as you golf.

Apple Watch app

There is a useful Apple Watch app for the Arccos 360 that give you glanceable distances to the back, center, and front of the green. The watch can also be used for score tracking, club recommendations, and shot editing.

The Apple Watch app cannot be used independently with the Arccos 360 sensors so your iPhone will still need to be in your front pocket while golfing.

Website

In order to access and analyze all of your data, there is an Arccos dashboard available in your web browser. If you don’t yet have the Arccos 360, you can launch the demo online to see what a typical dashboard looks like.

Since I have now golfed at least a round, my data is accessible from my computer. The data is organized the same as the phone software, but scorecards are more visible and it is easier to check out your rounds on a large display.

According to Arccos:

The system uses the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to give insights that are on par with what PGA tour pros get from their caddies. Arccos Caddie analyzes over 75 million shots of users on 368 million geotagged data points from more than 40,000 courses. It then gives caddie-like feedback customized to each player, which takes into account wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, temperature, elevation and more with its new update. Arccos is issuing significant updates featuring real-time “plays like” distance calculations and making the platform accessible as a premium purchase within the Arccos 360 app, after a trial period of up to six rounds.

Experiences on the course

As a novice golfer and someone who doesn’t pull down executive level income, I currently golf where I find Groupon deals and was able to get a deal on a course near where I grew up in Enumclaw, Washington. It’s usually a pretty wet course, but with our hot summer it was dry and scenic so my friend and I headed over to play 18 holes.

I launched the app on my iPhone 7 Plus while also wearing my Apple Watch Series 2. The Arccos system detects when you rotate a club with a sensor from an upside down position to a swinging position so that clubs are automatically registered on the app and recorded. I finished golfing the first hole, but saw data being recorded for hole 10. Since these holes are fairly close to each other on this course, I figured it was just a calibration problem or something and that things would clear up on the next hole. I was also feeling a bit of pressure since it was a gorgeous day out and we had to keep moving so those behind us could play.

I golfed the second hole and it looked like the system wasn’t working so I entered my shots manually as this is an option in the app. After this hole, I realized something was messed up so sat down for a few to figure things out. It turns out my friend heard someone in the clubhouse mention that they flipped the back nine to the front nine, this is done to keep play on the course more even as people often golf just nine holes due to limited time available.

After I realized this, it all made sense and I was able to accept that I was playing the back nine first in the app, to be followed by the front nine. I contacted Arccos later and they were able to update the golf course so it will now give you the ability to select which holes are aligned when you get to the course.

The system then worked perfectly for me, which was a big help because too often I would forget how many shots it took for me to get to the green. As I said, I’m not very good yet so it takes me a few shots to get into putting position. The Arccos system always had it right and I only had to manually enter a few putts when I was close enough to tap in and didn’t swing the club to close out the hole.

The distance reading on my Apple Watch and on the phone to the green was very helpful. Readings to the back, center, and front of the green matched the distance markers and my friend’s estimates were within 10 yards most of the time. It was great to confirm his estimate since I can now golf without bothering him all the time.

While professional golfers have caddies to assist them, I haven’t seen any on the courses I have golfed at. After completing five rounds with the Arccos 360, Arccos Caddie will be available as a subscriber purchase in the system for $7.99/month, $39.99/six months, or $49.99/year. I haven’t yet finished five rounds with the Arccos 360, but look forward to having the artificial intelligence of the system help me improve my game.

Judging the distance you shoot each club is something I have yet to pick up. Like fishing, it seems people tend to overestimate their shot distance, but the Arccos 360 figures out exactly how far you hit the ball as you switch to another club or take another stroke from the position where the ball landed. It is very interesting to view all of the data after a round and I am learning what I can expect from each club.

The Arccos 360 system has been accurate and in a game full of data and decisions, $250 for a personal data collector and assistant seems like a reasonable cost.

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