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How AI-Powered Instruction Will (Finally) Grow the Game of Golf

18 Birdies News

Accelerating player improvement will lead to more adoption.

Want to know why golf has struggled to grow? The answer is simple: It's a difficult sport to play – and even harder to learn.

Golf instruction is often difficult to come by, whether it's finding the time for in-person training or having the money to afford multiple lessons. Over the years, we've seen YouTube become the go-to source for learning how to play better golf. A Google search for "How to play golf" returns over 1.4 billion results! Even with this amount of access to instructional videos nowadays, it's hard to know what you're doing right and wrong – which is key to improving. This is the struggle for most golfers we know. And it's also why casual and beginner golfers often quit before they even get started.

3 reasons why golfers struggle to improve their game.

We built AI Coach to address what we believe are the main obstacles that make it difficult for average and beginner golfers to improve their game:

  • Lack of Feedback. Every day, we see the members of our app community soliciting feedback from each other – eager to understand what's going on with their swing. As we observed this, it became clear to us that golfers seeking to improve just had no idea where to start.
  • Lack of Practice. The biggest obstacle is that most of us just don’t practice. We generally associate practice with taking a trip to the driving range, and that takes time and effort.
  • Lack of Structure. For those golfers who go to the driving range, most of these sessions are mildly effective at best – and an excuse to get out of the house at worst. Most of us just go there and pound balls for an hour, going through driver, fairway wood, 7 iron, wedge... Rarely do we show up at the range with a clear plan for what to work on.

18Birdies AI Coach will help golfers improve faster.

18Birdies is tackling these obstacles head on with AI Coach. When a golfer uses AI Coach to analyze their swing, they get a full AI swing analysis within minutes. All you need to do is record a video of your swing using your mobile phone to get started. No extra gadgets needed, not even a club.

The AI Coach automatically detects the key, fundamental flaws in your swing, and prioritizes what you need to work on to improve. Now that you know what to work on – the AI Coach then recommends a full lesson plan that consists of easy-to-digest drills that target exactly what you need to improve.

We've developed these drills with the goal of making them so simple that you can do them any time and any where – with or without a club. Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself feeling out your swing while waiting in line to board a plane or checking in to your hotel (or during these times of shelter in place, waiting in line to get into Home Depot).

AI Coach provides golfers with immediate access to golf instruction whenever they want it or need it. The structured feedback and practice loop helps golfers build an effective and sustainable improvement routine that's easy to incorporate into their daily lives. All of this makes practicing with AI Coach more straightforward, which makes it easier to improve faster.

How does the technology work?

When you get your swing analyzed by the AI Coach, the system evaluates each swing from either the face-on and down-the-line position. And it focuses on how the body transitions between three key positions:

  1. Your set up
  2. The top of your backswing
  3. Your impact position

The AI Coach detects the most fundamental swing flaws that are commonly found amongst average and beginner golfers. These swing flaws typically show up as issues in your spine angle movement, head position and lateral movement in your hips.

How can golf instructors use AI Coach?

We consulted with some of the industry's top golf instructors while working on AI Coach. As we begin to get feedback from our golfers about what else they need to improve their game, we also want to learn more how our technology can help instructors elevate their programs. Here are a few ways that we think AI Coach can be beneficial for golf instructors now and in the future:

  • Serve as a tool for managing communication and interaction with students – this is especially useful right now while we're practicing social distancing
  • Allow instructors to provide feedback in between lessons by using AI Coach swing analysis videos to evaluate their students' improvement
  • Instructors can monitor their students' practice regimen using AI Coach – reminding them to get back on track if they're slacking off and encouraging those who are practicing with consistency
  • Provide a platform that allows golf instructors to embrace today's need for remote instruction

Ultimately, we believe that AI Coach will generate more interest in learning how to play golf or improve one's game, which will encourage more golfers to seek in-person instruction longterm.

What's next for AI technology and golf instruction?

Five years ago, I started 18Birdies with the desire to use technology to make golf more enjoyable for myself and others – AI Coach is just the beginning.

Do you think AI Coach will make quality instruction more accessible to golfers and/or encourage more people to give golf a try? How else do you think AI technology can be used to better serve golfers learning how to play golf or seeking to improve?

Leave your thoughts on this post or reach out to me directly. I look forward to hearing from you.

Eddy Lui

Founder & CEO

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