For me, summer always brings back memories of youth and rebellion. It’s in that spirit that I’m going to break my model of IEAR app reviews from applications that clearly have a classroom focus.  Instead, I’m going to go rogue and take a look at a little app that I have been enjoying in a less formal learning space, the golf course.

My golf career began early in my teen years when my grandfather passed down an old set of Sam Snead clubs. The grips were worn smooth and some of the clubs were slightly shafted, but they got me started with the game. I played on the high school team for 3 years with mediocre results. I wasn’t terrible, but I far from great. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every minute of my time on the course, and those formative years have led to a life-long love of a sport that helped me learn about concentration, discipline and dedication.

Recently, I decided to make the jump from the traditional paper-based scorecard to a digital version for my iPod Touch. I downloaded a number of apps, but the one that I have taken the most to has been Golfshot by Shotzoom Software. While it is not a traditional educational app, I feel that it could be beneficial to junior golfers and high school golf coaches. I can only imagine how much I might have been able to improve my game and sharpen my mathematical thinking skills if I would have had access to a mobile data collection and analysis tool like Golfshot when I really had time to work on improving my game. Let’s take a closer look at the app and imagine how it might be used for educational purposes.

App Title: Golfshot: Golf GPS for iPhone

Grade Level: Grades 4 and up

Golfshot: Golf GPS allows users to score rounds, view statistics and share scorecards with friends on via the iPhone or iPod Touch. While the iPod Touch addition does not provide access to the GPS features, it still can be a valuable tool for helping analyzing your golf game and diagnose strengths and areas for improvement. The iPhone version of the app allows you to view aerial images of your course and get yardage distances to any point. There are over 33,000 local golf courses available on this app and in my use, I have had no difficulty pulling up every course that I’ve wanted to play. For those courses that are missing, Golfshot allows users to add custom courses to the app.

Purpose: C
This app is somewhat limited in the purpose category. It is ideal for individual scorekeeping and statistics. While the app was not designed with education in mind, many higher-order thinking skills can be reinforced through the use of this app. Here’s a partial rundown of some of the Common Core Mathematics Standards for Statistics and Probability that could be applied to Golfshot.

Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data
Summarize, represent, and interpret data on a single count or measurement variable
Summarize, represent, and interpret data on two categorical and quantitative variables
Interpret linear models

Making Inferences and Justifying Conclusions
Make inferences and justify conclusions from sample surveys, experiments and observational studies

Using Probability to Make Decisions
Calculate expected values and use them to solve problems
Use probability to evaluate outcomes of decisions

Mathematical Practices
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Attend to precision.
Look for and make use of structure.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Program Functionality: A
This is really where Golfshot excels. The ease of use with this app is very nice, with a fairly intuitive user interface. I like it because you can manage everything from the device and you don’t have to log into a web portal to view your statistics or previous scorecards.

When you begin to use Golfshot, selecting PLAY GOLF uses the device GPS to locate and browse a list of nearby courses. Once you choose your course, you have the option to select your teebox and also name additional golfers, up to three (not including yourself), in your group for scorekeeping purposes. When you use the app for scorekeeping, Golfshot allows you to note fairways hit, club selection and number of putts. It should be noted that these detailed statistical categories are only available for the primary player. Entering players scores is done via a spin wheel interface that is easy to use.

Golfshot’s stats and graphics features are top notch. The app will automatically calculate greens in regulation, scrambling percentages and sand saves and then present them in colorful pie charts. The app also has an auto-handicapping feature which can be toggled on or off. Golfshot also provides users with a very nice scorecard graphic, which you can save at the completion of each round. This card can be emailed to the main user or shared with friends via Twitter at the completion of the round.

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The primary downfall of this app is the inability to track the full range of stats for multiple players. It would be great to see this app expand and add a “Coaching” component, a module that would allow golf coaches to leverage the 3G capabilities of the iPhone to  monitor and track multiple foursomes while they move about the golf course during a match.

Overall Educational Value: C
I see real possibilities here. While the game of golf may not appeal to all students in general, there is a niche of students who could latch on to this and run because of their interest in golf. The right students with th right teachers would ultimately determine the actually learning opportunities Golfshot can provide. This app would work well as an ongoing  progress monitoring tool for coaches. Dedicated student athletes, most likely in grades 7-12, could also use this as a self monitoring tool.  For an individual, Golfshot provides terrific insights into your golf game and aspects you need to work on.

I recommend this app for personal use at this time. This app is great for keeping track of important pieces of information about your individual golf game. This would be a great app for High School golf coaches if they could extend the scoring capacity to a team format and add a more robust way to store statistics. Currently the app only allows 4 person per round scoring and statistics are only recorded for the primary player/scorer. I can see High School golf coaches widely adopting this app if it could be used to electronically monitor scores on the course in real-time during golf matches.

Classroom Use Examples / Ideas:
During practice rounds, have players use Golfshot to practice estimating yardages. Working with partners, provide one device with Golfshot installed per two-some. Golfers take alternating turns playing the role of “Estimator” and “Official” either on the front and back nine or from round to round. After hitting their tee shots, partners travel to the estimators ball. Before selecting a club and hitting their second shot, the estimator must try to accurately predict the yardage they have remaining to the center of the green. This estimate is written on a recording sheet. The official then uses the Golfshot app to provide the actual GPS verified yardage. This item is recorded in the corresponding recording sheet column. For additional skills practice, the difference between the estimate and actual yardage could be computed and then an average range for yardage accuracy determined for each player.

View an example of a Golfshot learning activity

Cost: $29.99

Developer Website:

iTunes Link: Click Here

Be sure to check out our Ning (Online Community) devoted to helping teachers utilize iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad to the their fullest.  Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have other creative uses for this app in the classroom or at home.

Cross-posted at