Microsoft Band's golf tracking update gets real world testing on the links

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Golfing with the microsoft band

Just this week, the Microsoft Band received a software update that enabled the fitness tracker to be used on golf courses. The Band's new update delivered golf tracking features to the wearable fitness device. Included in these features are the ability to measure yardage, tally shots, record scores and track heart rate, steps and calories burned. The functionality was announced last month along with a Microsoft TaylorMade partnership. Taylor Soper over at GeekWire recently wore the Microsoft Band while playing some golf. He offers some tips about how to use the band out onto the course.

​Despite reading the FAQ page, he had some issues adjusting to the band features initially. When playing the first round, he wasn't sure how to find several vital functions as outlined below:

  • How to see what yardage was left to the hole.
  • Where to find the scores.
  • How to fix swing count errors made by the Band.

Later he discovered that pressing the "action" button to the lower right of the Band's display, he was able to bring up yardage. However, the other issues along with a triple-bogey on the first hole were enough to tempt him to abandon the experiment. Conveniently, he wanted to blame the Microsoft Band for his poor play.

Band golfing

One could reasonably chalk these early frustrations up to unfamiliarity. However, his second round  was a much more pleasant experience. He lets us in on some initial thoughts:

Shot tracking - The band uses motion sensors and a timer to group swings. By using this feature, users can take practice shots before the real thing without adding to you stroke count. He discovered the Band recorded a 0 on one hole and a 6 when he made a 4. Recording of putts was problematic. However, he found it easy to add or subtract shots manually by swiping left or right.

Yardage measurement - With TaylorMade course data, the band uses GPS to detect how far you are from the front, middle or back of the hole. He found the data to be accurate when checking it against the physical yardage markers on the course.

The Band doesn't get in the way - He had to readjust the Band a few times, for the most part, the device doesn't interfere with your game.

Turn off the phone, text and email notifications - You don't want to be distracted while making that winning putt.

It takes time to learn the Band features - If you've never used a golf tracking app or wearable before, then a bit of a learning curve is to be expected.

Golf data

The most impressive part of this technology is the data analysis that the app presents you with after each round. It shows items such as hole by hole data, stats from the entire round, how many steps you took and your longest drive. Soon, TaylorMade will provide more detailed analysis of your round. The new features will include stats such as fairways hit, club suggestions, strokes gained, as well as scatter charts and heat maps of your shots. These are features that could improve your game.

The Band is certainly off to a great start. Along with its fitness features, golf metrics, are added value.  However, it remains to be seen how many of the 80 million golfers in the world will consider the Microsoft Band an essential part of their game.

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