When you think of high tech golf gear to track your game your thoughts usually go to stuff created by some digital start up in California.
However it was pleasing to discover that the creators of Shot Scope are based just a few miles from our HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland from where they offer a GPS score tracking device to golfers around the world.
Scotland is rightly renowned for its IT and gaming industries so this is not a surprise to those of us who live in the Home of Golf.
Shot Scope's take on this sector is based on creating a device that requires as little input during the round as possible, so that you can get on with your game rather than tapping, tagging or clicking every time you hit the ball in order to record shot data as you play.
The Shot Scope wristband comes with 20 tags that are numbered according to all the usual clubs in your bag plus a few spare and you screw then into the end of the grips of your clubs.
These communicate with the rather chunky and sinister looking wristband that is worn on your leading hand so it will suit left and right handed players. It might look big, but it is quite light and after a few swings you forget that it is there.
The wide strap is made of rubber and has lots of adjustment options to achieve a snug and secure fit.
It is recharged using the supplied micro USB cable which I would recommend that you use as it has a longer connector than a normal one and will therefore fully charge the device properly so you can use it over a couple of rounds without it dying on you.
When you arrive at the course all you do is push the top left button to turn the device on and the blue lights on the right will dance around until it locates the GPS satellites after which the top right blue light will stay on permanently. Then you are ready to go and the whole process takes a few minutes so do it before you get to the tee.
Thereafter all you do is swing your club and the Shot Scope recognises when you make an actual attempt at the ball instead of a practice swing and records the club you used and where on the course you did it. A bit like knowing all the answers in golf Cluedo.
The only interaction you need with the device is when you have fininshed the hole, you stand next to the flag and click the 0, 1, 2 or, heaven forbid, 3 or 4 putt button on the side of the wristband.
This marks the GPS position of the hole and the number of putts taken, even though the sensor in the putter is very good at picking up your strokes right down to the shortest one handed tap in.
This is the best putt counting system I have come across to date with these types of devices and it is the first I have seen that can record the flag position too, which it does pretty well. You can do it at anytime so it doesn't have to get in the way of your playing partners' game as you can click the button as you put the flag back in.
At the end of the round you then connect the wristband to a computer using the USB cable or to a iOS or Android smart phone using Bluetooth and your score data is uploaded to the account you created on the Shot Scope website before you went out.
Shot Scope has mapped most courses in the UK using a combination of maps from several sources to get the most accurate one. When I played one they did not have, they were notified by the system and within a few hours I was emailed that it was mapped and my data was ready to view, which was impressive.
You can view the maps and scoring data on your smart phone, but it is better done on a larger screen like a computer or it is passable on a tablet. This is because you need to go through the overhead map views of each hole you have played and tidy up the data in case it missed a shot or had you playing from the wrong place.
To be fair the Shot Scope data on the maps was pretty accurate from the tee and fairways and the greens were better than most, even if I had to move a few flags and putts around to reflect what had happened.
Ideally it would be better if you did not have to tidy up the data at all, but I don't think any of the technologies around are at that level yet, given the fact the the GPS receiver has to be worn as you play and the cost of a military grade GPS would be much higher.
So the data collection aspect of Shot Scope is very easy to use and the accuracy was above average. Now the other half of these services comes in, which is what they do with the data thereafter.
Here the input from elite players into the design process shows on Shot Scope as the breakdown and display of stats is very good and over time you build up a clear picture of how often you use clubs, how accurate you are with them and how far they go.
You can view the stats over the last 5 rounds or all time, but it would be nice if you could filter it by specific dates, courses or by competitive rounds only, but I am sure that will come.
You can either see all shots, or clicking on Performance Analysis ignores any unusual shots that could distort the average such as a drive into a hurricane on cold day that goes 200 yards or a downhill, downwind shot onto a hard fairway that then hits the cart path and goes 450 yards.
Overall whilst the Shot Scope wristband is not much of a looker, it is easy to use and the whole process is simple and doesn't interfere with your game much at all.
Having the option to upload the data via your phone means you can check the numbers right after your round in the clubhouse if you wish.
The statistical analysis is excellent and there were several screens such as which side of the fairway I missed and how many times I use different clubs in my set that provided an insight into my game based on fact rather than hunches.
This is what the tour players do and Shot Scope goes a long way to giving the same level of detail to amateur golfers.