Hitting a hole-in-one in golf is a feat that doesn’t happen every day. According to Golf Digest an amateur’s odds of hitting that shot are about 12,500 to 1.
But yesterday at the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona had an even more unique hole-in-one: it was hit by a robot. The robot named LDRIC (Launch Directional Robot Intelligent Circuitry) after Tiger Woods’s birth name, Eldrick is about the size of a golf cart, has a friendly-yet-jaunty facial expression, and a metal arm that wields a club.
The machine was developed by Gene Parente, who runs a company called Golf Laboratories, and it isn’t just for fun.
Golfing robots are used to test balls and clubs, thanks to its ability to mimic the successes and flaws of an average golfer–all without getting tired. And Parente says he’s built 40 golfing robots for major companies to test their products.
When asked why he wanted to build LDRIC by golfer and commentator Gary McCord in a video, Parenti replied: “One, people are interested in robots, we’re in the age of robots. Two, golf is an incredibly difficult game and to see it done well and consistently is something that’s alluring to the average player, and the better player, and the beginning player. Three, it’s just cool! Look at this thing!”
It will likely be a while before a robot like LDRIC joins your weekend tee time, but it might not be so bad to have a robot golfing companion–as long as you can dial them down so they don’t hit hole-in-ones at every hole. LDRIC definitely looks like the kind of robot that would gloat about his putting average.