Scotland-based Shotscope may be the worst secret-keepers in golf. Today is officially embargo day for the company’s new V3 GPS and data collection watch. The Shotscope V3 GPS watch is a mega-leap forward in terms of technology and especially appearance, but with thousands of units already in the field (thanks to an existing customer pre-sale), today’s launch may be a bit anti-climactic.
If you haven’t seen it, or if you’ve been turned off by previous Shotscope models, V3 is most worth a look. It just might change the way you think about shot tracking, data collecting, and what you should expect from a GPS watch.
Shotscope V3: Significant Shrinkage
From day one, Shotscope changed on-course data collection. The company developed technology that lets RFID club tags communicate automatically with a wrist band to capture shots. However, the wrist band itself was a problem. Shotscope’s original V1 band featured no GPS functionality, just data collection. It was also roughly the size of one of Her Majesty’s aircraft carriers.
Shotscope V2 was a considerable improvement, incorporating a fully functional GPS watch with shot tracking. Unfortunately, while considerably smaller, V2 was still the size of a Royal Destroyer.
The Shotscope V3 GPS, however, is about the size of an Apple watch. That’s roughly 60 percent smaller than V2.
Making the watch smaller isn’t simply a matter of, uhh, making the watch smaller. There are a lot of internal parts to a shot-tracking GPS watch, and each one needed to be improved to reduce the form factor.
“The real difference is the efficiency of the components we use,” says Shotscope’s Gavin Dear. “That allows us to use a smaller battery. The V3 battery is about one-third the size of the V2 battery, and it has a better life.”
Another key element to V3’s slimdown is an updated custom charger. It’s a clip-on style connection and is much simpler to use than V2’s clumsy mini-USB charging port.
“(The clip) removes the need to have a USB port in the watch,” Dear says. “That improves the size because a USB is quite a large tool to get into a watch.”
Another factor in shrinking the Shotscope V3 GPS is an upgraded strap technology. With Shotscope, the straps do more than just hold the watch on your wrist.
“It’s a flexible PCB, and is an antenna that emits a field that talks to the tags,” says Dear. “It’s kind of like tapping your credit card to pay for something. We use pretty much the same technology, but because we have this antenna, we can create a larger field, so you don’t have to tap the tag to the watch.”
The new straps are also interchangeable. Shotscope V3 comes in five different colors (Black, Gray, Red, Teal, and Purple), and you can buy different color straps to match whatever you’re wearing.
If you’re into that sort of thing.
“You have guys that turn up in yellow pants. You have guys that turn up in orange pants. There are so many variations out there,” says Dear. “But if you look at the watch market, you have black. You have white. And you have gray. We thought colors would be interesting.”
And if you’re so inclined, you can use V3 as a wristwatch when you’re off the course. It’s a no-frills 12- or 24-hour digital readout, but it’s something you couldn’t do with V2 (and probably wouldn’t, given its size). A pro tip learned the hard way: after you end your round, just let the watch sit for about 30 seconds. It’ll revert to watch mode on its own.
The Shotscope V3 GPS still has the basic GPS features you need. There’s front and carry distance for all hazards, as well as front-middle-back distances to the green. As with V2, V3 gives you dynamic F-M-B yardage, which adjusts based on your approach angle.
Shotscope has made several other enhancements to the watch itself. First is a color screen, with green, blue, and yellow for distances, hazards, and battery level. And V3 also features over 35,000 courses preloaded on the watch. With V2, you would have to sync to the app to add courses to the watch.
“Courses are all on the watch already,” says Dear. “The new app will automatically update the courses it knows you play. Say you play Bethpage Black. We know you play Bethpage Black, so we automatically subscribe you for any updates. Every time you sync to upload your data, the app will automatically check for updates to any of the courses you play and get them on your band.”
We already mentioned the new and improved charger. V3 also now includes two GPS antennas, compared to just one with V2. That should improve accuracy. Also, V3 should have a much better battery life compared to V2. A common complaint with V2 was the battery simply couldn’t make it through 36 holes. Even though V3’s battery is physically smaller, Shotscope says it’s good for more than 10 hours in full GPS plus Shot Tracking mode, compared to just six for V2.
As with V2, you can turn off GPS and just use the watch for shot tracking, or you can turn off shot tracking and only use the watch for GPS.
Shotscope continually upgrades how it presents your data, making it more interactive and useful. Dear says within the next year, Shotscope hopes to introduce a shots-gained metric to its analytics, as well as a coaching function.
Veteran Shotscope users will notice several on-course upgrades with V3.
“We thought V2 was very good,” says Dear. “But you listen to your users, and our team is half golfers as well.”
Some of the enhancements include one-touch pin-collect, which marks via GPS the pin location, and the number of putts taken on a hole. There’s also a new penalty stroke and provisional ball function, so you have no excuse for missing that tee shot into the woods.
“It simplifies the editing at the backend,” says Dear. “You just tell the watch you’re hitting a provisional, and it will ask if you found the ball or lost it.
“The key is making it easy to use on the course. You don’t want someone standing in the fairway hitting buttons all round long.”
There’s also a new button lock feature. Dear says they’ve seen users who may accidentally hit a button while swinging, which causes the watch to skip ahead a hole or two. The new feature locks the system so you can’t inadvertently jump holes.
And not to be lost in the shuffle is an entirely new Shotscope product: the G3, a GPS-only watch.
“If you had V3 and G3 side by side, you couldn’t tell the difference,” says Dear. “It’s the same hardware, the same screen, the same preloaded courses, and it works with the app the say. There’s just no performance tracking.”
Price, Availability and Final Thoughts
As mentioned above, the Shotscope V3 GPS is available in five colors and comes with a full set of 16 screw-in grip tags and the new clip-on charger. V3 will regularly retail for $220, but from now through the end of July, its yours for an introductory price of $179. Interchangeable straps are available in Black, Gray, Red, Teal, and Purple for $40 apiece.
Shotscope’s new G3 GPS-only watch is also available starting today. It will ordinarily retail at $179 but kickoff pricing is $159 through the end of July.
You can find the new Shotscope watches starting today at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, PGA Tour Superstore, and Morton Golf, as well as online at Shotscope.com.
Shotscope and Arccos are the Gold Dust Twins when it comes to shot tracking and data collection. Each brings with it a collection of strengths and weaknesses. Shotscope laps the field in ease of data collection, but its bulk was a problem. V2 was highly functional, but no one would ever confuse it for svelte. The size was a hard stop for many.
V3 removes that roadblock.
“It used to be you’d hand someone a V2 watch and wonder if they can get past how it looks to see what the technology can actually do,” admits Dear. “Now, it’s just flipped around.”
For more info, visit www.Shotscope.com.
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