January 21, 2017
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- By combining Arccos' performance tracking and data set of 50 million golf shots with Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and Azure Machine Learning, the two companies were able to develop a new technology that uses advanced analytics to help golfers shoot lower scores. (Arccos)
The majority of golfers get around the course without the assistance of a caddie offering sage advice on club selection, wind direction and shot placement. But thanks to the creation of a partnership between Arccos and Microsoft, the days of walking the course without a blueprint for how to attack a particular course or tucked pin position could be coming to an end.
Call it a virtual caddie, if you will. By combining Arccos' performance tracking and data set of 50 million golf shots with Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and Azure Machine Learning, which is part of Microsoft Cortana Intelligence, the two companies were able to develop a new technology that uses advanced analytics to help golfers shoot lower scores.
“Despite being at a very early stage, our insights have directly contributed to the average Arccos user improving their handicap by a remarkable 3.52 strokes,” said Sal Syed, Arccos' CEO and co-founder. “This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the advanced analytics that will be delivered to the Arccos community through our work with Microsoft.”
So how exactly does it work? According to Arccos, the new Course Analyzer platform layers a user's data on top of millions of data points from more than 40,000 courses mapped in the company's system. Arccos is able to compile the data via a club-based sensor — the current version is Arccos 360 — that attaches to the butt end of the grip and pairs with your smartphone to track every shot and its position on the course.
Arccos then utilizes Microsoft's Azure cloud-computing services and machine learning capabilities to "provide personalized recommendations for optimal strategies on nearly every golf hole in the world."
“Our goal is to create the most advanced Artificial Intelligence platform for golf,” Syed said. “It will leverage a user’s personal performance history, all the shots ever taken by the Arccos community, weather, elevation, course features, equipment selections and much more. The resulting strategic advice will be smarter than anything that’s humanly possible. With its broad suite of capabilities, Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is the ideal solution to unlock this vision.”
For the moment, the analytics tool will be available in the spring as part of Arccos' current web-based dashboard feature that's currently used to log club distances and statistics. It will eventually be accessible through the Arccos app as well.
With a virtual caddie in your hands, a golfer would have the ability to receive club recommendations for each shot based on wind direction and how players have fared from a particular yardage. If you were playing a new course you've never seen before, the system would also be able to devise an optimal strategy based on tendencies and what others have done previously.
Even more intriguing is that as the system continues to receive new data points from users, the analysis and recommendations will change from round to round.
Arccos' Course Analyzer will be officially unveiled at the PGA Merchandise Show and available to users in the spring.
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