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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 17, 2017

By R.J. Smiley

The Psychic came home from the golf course in a grumpy mood. His weekly Saturday morning game, that normally takes four hours or just a little over, had turned into a 5-hour marathon. The more he waited, the more his game deteriorated. He played golf for fun, not to listen to his golf buddies bitch. Especially while he was making more double bogies than pars!

The Psychic knew that his adoring wife of 40+ years would be "JUST A LITTLE EDGIE" for the balance of the day because his being late had thrown her, always to the minute, schedule off by 45 minutes.

As the Psychic placed the faded turban on his head, he chuckled at the USGA's latest attempt to speed up the game. "Cut the time to hunt for a lost ball from 5 min to 3 min." Really!

As he searched the magic marble for solutions to speed up play, the Psychic was puzzled to see a driverless Uber taxi pull up to a nondescript home. Next the Psychic witnessed a small drone with a baited fishhook held firmly in a robotic clip as it flew, out of casting range, past a sandbar to the drop off where the game fish feed. At a flick of the operator's finger the drone released the baited hook into the perfect spot.

Next the Psychic sees a warehouse full of golf cars, every type of distance measuring device and smart phones loaded with maps of golf holes displaying every tree, bunker and water hazard. All these items were waiting to be recycled.

From the murky depths the Psychic witnesses a hovercraft, carrying two golfers and their clubs, settle onto the tee box. "Call me Alvin," says the hovercraft in a Siri type voice. The first tee shot is badly sliced over a water hazard, which separates parallel fairways, into the long rough along the water. The companion's shot is down the middle. They take a step or two and seat themselves comfortably into Alvin. No steering wheel, no accelerator or brake and no tires. Alvin raises a few inches above the manicured turf, leaving no trace of the softly inflated belly bladder, and gently accelerates in a direct line toward the GPS coordinates where the hidden ball lay. Alvin glides smoothly over the water and stops a few feet from the golf ball.

Immediately a holographic map appears outlining every minute detail of the shot including the flagstick and direction that the putting surface flows. Then Alvin says, "The distance to the hole is 153 yards with a 12 foot elevation raise. The wind is slightly against you. The shot will play 165 yards. With a perfect 5-iron you could clear the front bunker that is a 142-yard carry, playing 155 yards. The 26° rescue club might be a better play because there is plenty of green behind the hole."

The shot is struck - immediately an arm extends from Alvin holding a bottle of sand/seed mix, "Please fill your divot."

The shot was miss hit and rolled into the front bunker. With both on board, Alvin proceeds directly, over the water to the companion player's ball. A similar visual and verbal exchange from the robotic Alvin.

Alvin proceeds to the bunker and hovers as his player steps directly into the sand. Alvin says, "Use your 60° wedge... and remember to follow through." Alvin carries the companion to his ball resting about 25 feet from the cup. The bunker shot ends up about 15 feet from the cup. Alvin says to the player who is away, "My sensors tell me that this putt will break about 15 inches to the right. It is slight against the grain and will require a solid stroke. Would you like the pin in or out?" As the player is lining up his putt, Alvin gives the second player a read on his putt. Then in Siri's voice Alvin says while you are putting out I will rake the bunker. As he proceeds to the sand an arm with a foldout rake extends from Alvin. The robot smooths his player's footprints and a few left by other golfers.

Fast forward. The two golfers are sitting in the grill sipping an adult beverage when one says, "Alvin really speeds up the game. No lost balls and he read the putts like a real caddie. We played our round in 2 hours and 45 minutes, without hurrying."

As the Psychic lovingly covers his see-all globe he nods his head in approval."Technology will become a huge part of golf."

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