The USGA announced the launch of GS3, a state-of-the-art golf technology tool that calculates putting green speed, firmness, smoothness and trueness – all with one device.
A rechargeable smart ball that is the same size and weight as a standard golf ball, GS3 creates accurate, measurable, first-of-their-kind agronomic benchmarks that superintendents can use to facilitate change more effectively on their course. The tool has sensors that collect over 15,000 data points, empowering analytics-driven decisions.
“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.”
Fully integrated with, and operating on, the USGA’s DEACON™ course management platform via a Bluetooth connection, GS3 employs data to help superintendents manage their facility, including weather, mowing practices, resource applications and course setup, all in one place. The mapping technology in DEACON displays the facility, and GPS stores exactly where a greenkeeper last took measurements. All data is also calculated locally in case of internet issues and synchronized to the cloud at a later time.
For golf course administrators to use GS3, a USGA Stimpmeter is required. From there, the user activates the GS3 ball, selects their position via GPS on the DEACON app, and performs six roll tests – three each in opposite directions.
The initial rollout of GS3 included an advance look at the tool for select courses, with the intent of gathering feedback and refining areas of opportunity.
“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 Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. “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.”
Launched in 2021, the DEACON app is an online data tool designed to help operators improve the golfer experience while conserving resources and optimizing labor hours. DEACON creates pace-of-play reports, tracks surface management, integrates with soil-moisture sensors, offers hole location options for championship-quality hole location sheets, and provides weather insights.
Having assessed the technology through pilot testing during the 2022 USGA championship season, the organization’s goal is to use GS3 at every championship in 2023 and beyond.