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John Reitman

By John Reitman

USGA smart ball measures putting surface metrics

When the idea of a smart ball bounced around the golf world, one that could transmit data that would make life simpler for its user, it is doubtful that many thought one would be available to superintendents for monitoring turf and soil conditions long before golfers would have one to put on a tee.

The USGA officially launched the GS3 smart golf ball that measures metrics like green speed as well as surface firmness, trueness and smoothness.

020723gs3 small.jpgSeven years in development, the rechargeable GS3 is outfitted with sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes that collect more than 15,000 data points to provide agronomic benchmarks that superintendents and researchers can use to make agronomic decisions and predict putting surface performance.

"We are excited to provide a tool that enables the industry to objectively quantify putting green metrics, besides just green speed," said Matt Pringle, Ph.D., managing director of the USGA Green Section. "GS3 can clarify the impact of different maintenance practices, provide benchmarks and communicate to stakeholders how the course is performing." 

The USGA had a soft launch last fall at the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show in Myrtle Beach and officially launched the ball Feb. 7 at the GCSAA Conference and Show in Orlando.

The GS3 operates in conjunction with the USGA's DEACON course management software to help superintendents determine agronomic practices designed to maximize putting green performance. All data is also calculated locally and can be synched to the cloud at a later time.

The ball has been in use in real world conditions by some university researchers and at select golf courses, including Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.

"We have been utilizing GS3 for over two months, and I love being able to compile all of the information it provides in one spot," said Justin DePippo, director of golf course and grounds at Bel-Air "We are using the numbers to chart our green conditions and create benchmarks, which allows me to make course care decisions based on the data. GS3 and DEACON will improve the way we maintain our greens and we are looking forward to seeing positive results because of it."

The GS3 also was used at USGA tournaments throughout 2022 and will continue to be part of the arsenal used for set up and daily decision making at future USGA championships.

"This is an ingenious way for collecting tons of data," Cornell University professor Frank Rossi, Ph.D., said in a recent TurfNet webinar. "And that data is powerful in helping us predict what you could expect to happen under certain weather conditions, under certain maintenance conditions and how you could expect your   surfaces to perform."

The GS3 is available from the USGA for $2,750 and includes one year's free subscription to the Deacon platform. Customers who renew the Deacon subscription will receive a new GS3 every three years.

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