Golf Tech: PGA Tour Tests Out New ‘Shotlink Bugs’ In Bahamas

Just how far was Tiger Woods hitting his driver in the Bahamas? How many putts was Scottie Scheffler holing from outside 12 feet? Those details from the Hero World Challenge might not have been available until this year.

Those tiny clips all but a few players wore on the back of their belts at Albany is what the PGA Tour refers to as “ShotLink bugs,” enabling the tour to gather most data it typically gets at domestic PGA Tour events.

It’s part of a massive upgrade in the tour’s scoring and data collection which has reshaped the game from a statistical standpoint, providing more data for the media, invaluable statistical analysis for players and more information for fans.

The tour has been testing them on the Korn Ferry Tour for the last 18 months.

Ken Lovell, the tour’s senior vice president of golf technologies, said the devices players wore were accompanied by employees carrying a carbon fiber pole with GPS that can localize data within seconds.

ShotLink is now handled remotely out of PGA Tour headquarters.

“We built them for events like this,” Lovell said.

It’s a big step toward making sure the ShotLink data — distances, tendencies in shot dispersion, ball speed, shape, everything imaginable — is available at all PGA Tour events, even those outside the U.S. And eventually, it will be available at tournaments that have multiple courses, such as Torrey Pines or Pebble Beach.

Another code name for the ShotLink bugs is “ShotLink in a suitcase.”

“We cannot ship that much equipment into the Bahamas,” Lovell said, citing costs and other logistics.

It’s a work in progress to make sure the data is accurate to an inch, not a foot. But it’s part of a larger upgrade for the PGA Tour in which the number of 4K cameras used to track shots will increase at tour events.

“A total rebuild,” Lovell said.

The full ShotLink system will be in Hawaii next month for the first time. Lovell also said ShotLink would be provided at the U.S. Women’s Open for the second straight year.