Nike Unveils New Golfer Performance App, NG 360

The ever-elusive golfing social media market has a new entrant, from one of sport’s biggest names: Nike today unveiled its NG 360 app, which is designed to be a one-stop shop for golfers who want to improve their game, their golf fitness, and to connect with like-minded friends.

Available only for the iPhone (Nike golf’s Twitter stream said an Android version is due soon) the NG 360 app (for Nike Golf 360) is, according to Nike, a place to “Track your rounds, dig deep on stats, get feedback on your swing from pros and your friends, and access golf-specific workouts. NG360° is a clubhouse, practice tee, gym and pro shop — all in one, and always with you.” The app is free for download from the iTunes app store.

Though many have tried to tap the millions-strong market of golfers who clearly love to track, talk about and most importantly, buy things to improve their games, nobody yet has come up with a Facebook-type winner where everyone wants to be. Some of that, no doubt, is due to the fact that for many people, golf is an escape from work, which now means their phone. Sure it sounds great to have a cool golfing app right there in your pocket but it’s so close to email that it may get ignored by golfers who are instead enjoying the sunshine and a cold beverage.

Nike also seems to have a kind of badge/reward system in place to honor golfers who are getting better, but not having played with the app, I wonder if there is too much going on here. I for one would kill to have just a simple place to record scores, and perhaps to access them via the phone from the cloud whenever I am out on a course. It’s unclear how the NG 360 performs at simple things. Time and some user feedback will likely tell, quickly.

Where Nike may have an edge over past and current efforts to tap the golfer-social-media-stats market (like Callaway’s new gizmo) is in its innovative twists, one to let you record your swing in video and another to allow professional instructors to help you improve your game. Like many things, NG 360 sounds great as an idea. Now let’s see if Nike’s marketing can find success in a field where many have failed.

Callaway Readies Re-Launch of GPS Golf Course Device, and Golf Social Media Site

After an initial launch that was scrubbed due to technical glitches, golf manufacturer Callaway is readying a May 30 debut of its Upro MX+ GPS course-guide device, as well as a revamped social media site where golfers can trade reviews, scores and conversation about golf courses the world over.

We haven’t had a chance to play with the Upro MX+ yet, but the $249 device looks like it could be an instant contender in the course-info-device marketplace. Here’s the promo blurb from the Callaway website, which also has some other details about the device’s ability to basically tell you where you’re at and how far it is to the green, no matter where you are playing since it comes pre-loaded with info on some 25,000 courses. Ah, the wonders of memory!

ProMode provides a realistic view of the course using actual aerial photography (not renderings) with precise yardage to hazards and key points selected using AnyPoint Technology. In this mode you can pan the entire hole with the swipe of a finger and zoom in and out to see more or less detail, allowing you to make better decisions and play with confidence.

What’s even more potentially interesting than the device itself is Callaway’s Uexplore site, which has been on-again off-again with the hiccup in the Upro launch. What Uexplore is designed to do is allow golfers to record scores and reviews of courses, with the idea that such user-generated content could mushroom into a big conversation about golf with Callaway at the middle. Of course, this idea has been somewhat of the Holy Grail for the golf business roughly since about the invention of the browser. The innerwebs, unfortunately, are filled with ghost towns of “user course reviews” that never got off the ground for probably the simple reason being that most people don’t really want to sit down and write about their rounds after they’re done.

But if the Upro offers golfers an easy way to track scores while they play and then lets them upload the info directly to the site, it could be the potential solution to tapping into the great wealth of knowledge currently locked into golfers’ minds. More as we hear more from Callaway, which we are betting we will with the U.S. Open coming up soon.