With a new year not far around the corner (assuming we all survive the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse on December 21), it’s time to introduce a new feature to the Bogeys Across America blog. I want to occasionally do product reviews. For the most part, it’s stuff I am buying and playing myself (balls, clubs, shoes, accessories), but if you’re a manufacturer and have any products you’d like me to test, contact me at email@example.com
Enough introduction. Now, onto the first product:
Voice Caddie VC200 GPAS Rangefinder
The Voice Caddie is a small device designed to clip onto your hat. It has a few different features, but the main function is to serve as a GPS rangefinder that simply measures to the center of the green. When you turn it on, it recognizes your GPS position and figures out the course you are playing. Then, when you are standing on the fairway, you push the big button and a female voice will tell you how far it is to the center of the green.
I’ve been testing out the Voice Caddie GPS for a couple months now. With all the driving around I do, I wanted to put it to the test and see how it works on a number of different courses. The nice thing is that you don’t have to download courses yourself or pay any ongoing subscription fees. The courses are already in their database.
Ironically, it didn’t seem to find the course on the first place I played (Cottonwood-Ivanhoe in El Cajon), but has worked perfectly on every course since. Now, when courses already have GPS in the carts, I didn’t find much use for the VC other than just to test its accuracy. Most cart GPS systems will provide more detail from tee to green. The Voice Caddie was accurate to GPS measurements, sprinkler heads, etc. everywhere I went. In some cases, it will get confused as to which hole you are on (especially on a tight course layout where holes are closer together), but it’s easy to manually adjust the hole.
This weekend, I played a couple of courses in the desert (Indian Canyons South and Rancho Mirage Country Club) that had flipped the nines in recent years, so the Voice Caddie was off on the hole numbers, but the distances were still accurate from hole-to-hole. The only place I notice any inaccurate measurements was at Bayonet Golf Course up in Seaside. That course had gone through a pretty extensive renovation back in 2008, so a few of the hole measurements on the VC were a bit “off” because it was recognizing older information in its database.
On some courses, it comes in very handy. It definitely beats stomping around in search of a sprinkler head or guessing how far you are in between the 100-150-200 posts on the far edge of a fairway. I don’t really like clipping it to my hat, so I have it clipped to my bag and it works fine for walking or riding. The voice on it is a little silly and I’ve gotten a few funny looks, so I’ve learned to be kind of discreet with it when playing with strangers.
It does what it claims to do, which is measure to the center of the green. Usually, that’s all I’ll really need and I can make my adjustments accordingly based on flag position, wind, etc. I’m not too anal about distances. Some more hardcore golfers who want exact yardage may be left wanting more from the Voice Caddie and will definitely prefer a more detailed rangefinder.
Otherwise, the main disadvantage of the Voice Caddie compared to a visually based GPS system is that it won’t show you how far you have to a bunker or a hazard if you are deciding to lay-up, choosing a place to aim off the tee or needing to know how much you have to clear a trouble area. The VC has its main function and it works well for that, but not much more. Some of the other secondary functions on it include swing trainer tools (a count to help you with your tempo). I haven’t tried any of those, but I don’t think it could keep up with my crazy-quick swing anyway!
The Voice Caddie much better than nothing (especially on poorly marked courses), but does have its limitations compared to more detailed visual GPS devices. I am actually using it much more than I thought I would, so that’s a plus.