Ball Bearings

PopSci's GM hunts for lost golf balls with a new radar gadget

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We gadget editors were intrigued by the idea of RadarGolf, a new device that allows players to home in on special balls equipped with radar chips, but none of us actually knows how to play golf. Luckily, our esteemed general manager, Rob Novick (handicap 17), was willing to take a swing at reviewing it for us. Here's what he had to say:

I was very excited to try out a product that would put an end to futile searches for golf balls, so I demoed RadarGolf last weekend during an 18-hole round. Unfortunately, the technology it delivered wasn't quite a hole-in-one. I shot better that day than I ever had, so I can't say I had any problem with the golf balls themselves, it was the scanner that caused trouble. When I wasn't sure where my ball had landed, I pulled out my trusty gadget and started searching.

First I had to deal with the ridicule of the other golfers in my foursome. Walking around a golf course with a radar detector isn't exactly a common sight, and when I thought I'd finally found my ball, the machine turned out to be beeping at the spare one I keep in my front pocket. Yeah, har de har har. But the real issue lies with the information the detector provides. You get a â€you're getting hotter/colder†sort of feedback, so you need to know generally where your ball has landed and then walk around until the beeps get stronger. Not much different, in other words, from what you usually do when searching for golf balls. On two occasions my golf partner found the ball quicker than the machine did, and it wasn't even beeping.

For RadarGolf to really have game, it would need a GPS map layout of the course and directional arrows pointing to your ball. My take on this device? Until the UI gets a few important tweaks, it's a bogey.