Accel Golf Review
Accel Golf (accelgolf.com) is a new startup company aimed to help golfers improve their golf game. AccelGolf is both a website and set of smart phone applications for golfers. They just recently raised $600K in angel funding and the company was apart of TechStars class of 2009.
The main idea behind Accel Golf is to track every shot of your golf game, and then provide data in the form of statistics and charts to help all golfers understand their game better. By providing accurate data, a golfer can learn about their strengths and weaknesses in order to practice the weaknesses to improve. Most amatuer golfers do not fully understand their weaknesses to get better. For instance, if a golfer 3 putts more than the average golfer, that is an area that needs to be improved upon to lower their golf score.
Accel Golf has mobile applications for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry smart phones. The interface to track shots is made as simple as possible, instead of jotting down a score for each hole, a user pushes a button that expresses the lie the last shot was taken on. The current options are Tee (first shot off of tee), Rough, Sand, Fairway, Green, and Penalty. It is a very simple interface, which is nice when using the application out on the course. Just from this simple interface, the application can calculate a tremendous amount of data for a golfer to get a picture of the state of his/her game.
I would like to mention, that Accel Golf is in beta currently, so any issues that I ran into can be fixed before the released version
Using Accel Golf on the course
I recently downloaded the iPhone version of the application to try out this new golf application. I created my account right from the iPhone, and I was ready to start using the application. It was a very easy process to sign up and create an account to begin. I was playing a round at a fairly unknown golf course, and I was suprised that Accel Golf had the course listed. It is important to have the course in the Accel Golf Database of courses, because all of the hole information along with scorecard information is already set up for you. Unlike most of the iPhone golf scorecard applications, which must be setup first by having the user manually enter all of the scorecard information into the application, Accel Golf eliminates this annoying and time consuming step. The application allows more than one person to track with the application in case their are multiple users interested in using the application. The mobile application will download the latest course information from the Internet, so that you know the latest scorecard is correct. When playing another round, the list of recently used courses is presented for easy access to begin a new round. I found selecting a course and setting up the golfers to be quite easy and intuitive
Like most men, I don’t read the instructions before using anything new, and I was a little confused on how to progress through each shot. When you click to begin a round, it brings you to a screen that allows you to select the course and golfers like I mentioned previously. This is easy to do. However, it took me a minute to figure out how to begin tracking my shots. There are 5 buttons at the bottom of the iPhone screen which are Settings, Front 9, Back 9, Rangefinder and Finish. I didn’t know you had to hit the Front 9 button to begin the round and track shots. Once I figured that out, it brought me to the scorecard screen with a big Tee button. I teed off, and then pressed the only button that was available, called Tee, and it then added 1 to my score for the hole and presented me with the 5 types of lies (Rough, Green, Fairway, Sand, Penalty). Clicking on any of these buttons will increment your score, and present all strokes for that hole in the middle of the screen. After finishing the hole, I ran into another UI problem (at least for me), I didn’t know how to end the hole or move on to the next hole. I first click on ‘finish’, but quickly found out that meant finish the whole round of golf. I didn’t want to do that, so I canceled it. It took me a minute to figure out that I had to click on the next hole on the scorecard to move to the next hole. When I click on the next hole, it progressed the application, and again I was presented with the big Tee button. Once I was able to understand the user interface, it became much easier for me to keep track of my shots and progress from hole to hole.
The Accenture Match Play Championship was going on as I was golfing the day I was using the Accel Golf application. This meant that I left the Accel Golf App several times to bring up the PGATour App to see who was winning the match. When I then went back to the Accel Golf application, I ran into some issues once in awhile. The application seemed to have a few issues with displaying current information when I re-entered the application. I was able to correct the problem by existing, and restarting the application when I ran into this problem.
I found tracking each shot quite simple because all I had to do was click one button on each shot. I didn’t have to keep track of number of putts, Fairway In Regulation, Green In Regulation, Up and Down, Sand Saves etc…
Once the round was finished, I clicked on Finish, and all of my data was uploaded to my account on the Accel Golf website. Currently, your round data is not stored locally on the phone, so viewing past data is available. You must log onto the website in order to view all of your stats and previous rounds. The iPhone application seems to have the interface to view your statistics, however none of my data is available to me, so I’m not sure if this functionality is just not working yet, or if there is some kind of bug.
Improvements I’d like to see
- I think having a button to progress to the next hole would make the UI more intuitive. Clicking on the hole on the scorecard is a little difficult to figure out at first, and is a small area to push with your finger. I think having an obvoius button to progress to the next whole would help.
- Since most of the smart phones have built in GPS, it would be nice to track the distance of each shot played. The application should be able to use the GPS to calculate each shot distance as you press each shot. This would require the golfer to understand that the distance was going to be calculated, so that you would only click the shot button(s) standing right next to your shot to provide accurate distance data
Accel Golf is a new application that looks to be useful. I think over time as Accel Golf progresses through the beta, the application will be a very nice application to use to track your golf game. The simplicity of recording each shot is excellent and alleviates the cumbersome input that other application require. The amount of statistics and charts that are provided is wonderful. I’m looking forward to using Accel Golf this year!