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It was only a matter of time before golf equipment makers used the power of wearable technology and cloud computing to bring the game to the next level. On Thursday, TaylorMade Golf announced a partnership with Microsoft in order to bring smart technologies to enhance the golfing experience.
The deal will pair Microsoft's existing wearable "Band" device alongside a new analytics platform being developed by TaylorMade called "myRoundPro." Users of the Microsoft Band will have a new application that can be installed on their device called the Microsoft Golf Tile. In addition to tracking the data it already does, like steps,calories burned, and heart rate, the new tile will also have the ability to track yardages to the front, center and back of greens. It will also feature a digital scorecard to track your golf round as well.
TaylorMade's myRoundPro analytics platform will be rolled out in the coming weeks, and will seek to use data from the Microsoft Band and related Microsoft Health smartphone app. The platform will use all the data from the band and health apps to provide golfers with a suite of statistics to help them manage their game and performance by the numbers.
"Digital technology is playing a bigger part in peoples' lives today," said TaylorMade Golf CEO David Abeles in a statement announcing the partnership. "This is no different in the golf space, so it was a natural fit to partner with Microsoft in developing this innovative platform, aimed at enhancing the golfers experience through a series of unprecedented smart technologies."
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A number of different companies have already made in roads into golf analytics technology, including ArccosGolf, which makes a product that attaches to each golf club and provides GPS and shot tracking capability that links to your smartphone. Arccos Golf counts golf equipment maker Callaway Golf as a partner. A competing product called Game Golf also attaches to individual golf clubs and tracks data from a golfer's round. There are also a variety of wearable golf products on the market that are predominately used as GPS and yardage devices, like those made by Garmin, Motorola and Bushnell.
The TaylorMade Golf and Microsoft announcement represents one of the first forays into putting comprehensive golf analytics technology into a more mainstream wearable technology device. The move could help drive more engagement in the sport and perhaps even bring more of the population into the game. Competition among wearable devices is fierce, and the announcement comes on the same day that fitness wearable company Fitbit makes its debut as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange. Of course, the popularity of the Apple Watch could also lead to apps being created that are more golf focused, and made specifically for the device.
One of the major criticisms of wearable devices in general is that many users express a lot of enthusiasm about them in the early stages, but then gradually cease to utilize them as time goes by. By integrating the analytics and lifestyle of golf into wearables, companies who make the devices could see renewed optimism about their use…at least among the golfing portion of the population.
—By CNBC's Dominic Chu. Follow him on Twitter @thedomino.