From rising LPGA stars to recreational players, data is driving measurable improvement
NOVI, Michigan (July 13, 2021) – The V1 Game mobile app from V1 Sports has been gaining significant traction in the golf world on the strength of its newest cutting-edge features – A.I. Shot Tracking, Virtual Caddie and Virtual Coach.
Those features are resonating with golfers of all skill levels, including fifth-year LPGA player Dana Finkelstein, who is having her best season on tour, highlighted by a T-12 finish at the Hugel-Air Premia Los Angeles Open earlier this spring and a T-14 showing at the recent Volunteers of America Classic.
V1 Game, named “Best Apple Watch Golf App for 2021” by GolfPass.com, delivers an innovative combination of on-course GPS data plus deep-dive performance analytics – including numerous Stroke Gained categories – that help golfers understand their on-course tendencies and pinpoint the skills they need to practice most in order to improve.
The app requires no external hardware or second screens to provide its A.I.-powered game improvement platform.
“V1 Game uses no hardware on your golf clubs to track your shots,” says Dallas Webster, co-developer of V1 Game. “And, it’s totally unlocked for your first two rounds while the GPS capabilities stay free forever. Other technology on the market requires a $300 investment in hardware just to dip your toe into the water.
“Our artificial intelligence handles shot tracking and makes it intuitive and seamless, so you can focus on golf and put down your phone. Plus, V1 Game makes the data accessible and actionable, analyzing your data and telling you exactly what to work on to make the next leap in your game. Data fanatics can dive as deep as they want.”
V1 Game’s latest features are revolutionary. A.I. Shot Tracking uses sensors in your smartphone or Apple Watch to detect shots and automatically track your round. An Apple Watch helps V1 Game detect when you swing, marks your location, and emits a soft vibration confirming your swing detection.
“Our integration with Apple Watch obsoletes external sensors,” says Webster. “We detect swings, so you can just play. And when you replace worn-down grips, you don’t have to mess with hardware.” Android watch functionality is also coming soon.
If you don’t have an Apple Watch, simply start a round and keep your phone in a front or back pocket, or in the cart or golf bag. V1 Game uses the phone’s GPS and accelerometer data, to determine where and when you potentially hit a shot. You may need to do some slight post-round editing – as with every shot-tracking software on the market – by simply dragging shot locations with your finger on the hole map, in places the A.I. marked shots. You can also fine-tune the A.I., depending on if you play fast or not, to further increase its accuracy.
Virtual Caddie goes beyond anything else available, using A.I. to provide adjusted ‘Plays Like’ yardages but also building a history of how you perform from various situations based on club use, lie, distance to the hole and weather conditions. It then offers simplified insights during rounds, giving club recommendations and a quick snapshot of the data – just like a Tour caddie would – so that golfers can make the best on-course decisions. It even warns what to watch for on approach shots, based on miss tendencies from similar previous situations.
The feature-loaded Virtual Coach takes the app to yet another level. While many golf stat apps collect data and then dump it on you to figure out how to apply that to your game, Virtual Coach does the insightful heavy lifting. For instance, it plots putting performance, and uses A.I. to analyze the data and advise specifically what to work on. It displays advice, such as “Work on Approach Shots First” and “You are losing the most strokes on putts from 6-10 ft. Practice this range to improve the fastest.”
Golfers know exactly what to focus on in practice. Because the app also tracks their mistakes, Virtual Coach ‘trends’ plots to quickly see what areas of their game are improving with practice or declining from neglect. Pairing this data with a V1 instructor can further accelerate progress, especially if that teacher is armed with the V1 Coach app for instructors. This companion to V1 Game is a dynamic, data-rich system to help golf instructors and coaches manage their students’ performance data to optimize lesson content, practice plans, course management and scoring habits using the data supplied from V1 Game usage.
In the four years since Webster began developing V1 Game with partner Ryan Hebert, he’s personally added 20 yards to his tee shots and cut his handicap by five strokes to below scratch for the first time – all while working two jobs and managing a growing family.
“It provides easy-to-digest data,” says Webster, an engineer by trade who’s now becoming a rising star as a golf tech developer and stats guru. “I didn’t want to spend 45 minutes after a round to get to an understanding, so I selfishly built V1 Game to teach me what I did well and poorly, via quick and intuitive feedback. So, now, when I’m standing over a 175-yard shot, Virtual Caddie tells me I tend to miss short and left so I need to take more club and aim right.
“Easy and actionable. I want golfers to get answers fast and simple. And I’ve learned a ton from our users. I’m constantly in the chat room fielding questions. We take suggestions seriously, and if you have a good idea, we’ll try it. If you have a pain point, we work on it. We’ve made many updates this way. We have passionate customers and I leverage them to improve the app for all. We’re listening.”
V1 Game is not just for amateur golfers. LPGA and Symetra Tour pros, including Finkelstein, Marisa Messana, Janet Mao and Vicky Hurst have also begun relying on it. Those tours don’t currently provide Strokes Gained data, so V1 Game is becoming a valuable tool in the hands of its early adapters.
“I love how simple it is,” says Finkelstein. “And I’ve already made a putter change after the app showed how poor my stats are with speed control and 40-foot-plus putts. It’s also showing a positive trend in how my stat tracking from driving and approach shots have drastically improved. That’s really cool to see. It’s nice to see all of the hard work I put in this offseason starting to pay off.”
Adds Messana: “It’s very helpful for my practice sessions, because I’m all about high performance, knowing myself and my tendencies. V1 Game explicitly says what I need to work on in order to close those performance gaps. People can tell me I’m not making enough birdies, so I therefore need to sink more putts. But really what I learned in V1 Game was that my proximity stats were not where they should be, in order to give myself those birdie opportunities. In other words, it wasn’t really my putting, but rather my proximity to the hole on my approaches that I needed to improve. The Strokes Gained insights in V1 Game have already changed my game.”
Strokes Gained is the coveted stat that essentially lets you know how your game compares to other golfers of any skill level you set as a baseline. It helps any golfer. In fact, golfers shooting 100 will likely benefit the most from it because it makes their weaknesses obvious to inform practice sessions.
Webster is out to make the V1 Game app even more intuitive. One recent update: As soon a score is entered, the shots graphically populate before one’s eyes. Another fresh feature is Friends Mode, in which golfers and their buddies can link their rounds when they start playing. This allows friends to share a live scorecard between each other and see everyone’s shots tracked on one screen.
V1 Game’s success is another testament to the visionary leadership of V1 Sports CEO Bryan Finnerty, an entrepreneur and former goalkeeper for the Detroit Rockers professional indoor soccer team. Finnerty has led the charge to improve V1 Sports’ technology, sales, service, support and product offerings. New offerings under his guidance include V1 Game, expanding into V1 Baseball, adding the V1 Pressure Mat product and education series. All the while, he’s helped make the V1 Golf and V1 Pro platforms the most commonly used video analysis platforms in golf.
“It’s easy for me to get excited about V1 Sports’ vision and the convergence of sports and technology because the root motivation for our work should always be ‘Does it make playing the sport more fun?'” he says. “Breaking the four-minute mile. Dunking from the top of the key. The first guy who bent a soccer ball around a wall into a goal. The Pele bicycle kick. I still get chills thinking of all those things because I remember being introduced to them as a kid.
“Today, with our core products V1 Golf, V1 Golf Plus, V1 Pro and now V1 Game, the market is telling us our vision, to have become more and more consumer-facing over the past five years, truly resonates.”