This week Golf Datatech announces it’s latest study into the market for Distance Measuring Devices (DMD’s). We’ve been looking into this category since 2011 and working with manufacturers and marketers of products designed to determine the yardage from Point A to Point B.
It’s a category that’s undergone revolutionary change in the past 15-20 years.
Before digital measuring devices became standard equipment for the vast majority of avid golfers, golf courses might have had a “150 yard stake” or a small bush planted on the sides of the fairway to represent a rough approximation of how far the golfer was from the middle of the green.
In those days, it was not uncommon to see golfers triangulating their way around the course, pacing off how their ball was from the imaginary line that went between these markers and their golf ball.
To say that the game was much more about feel and far less about data and precision would be an understatement.
Eventually these crude approximations of distance were replaced by “marked sprinkler heads” which had more precise measurements to the front, middle and back of the green, and in their day were a major breakthrough in distance management, however it still did not provide anywhere near the insights that golfers wanted.
Watching tour players with exact yardage, provided by their highly skilled caddies was what golfers wanted. Never mind that their game was nowhere near as precise as the tour pro, golfers wanted to know exact distances.
“To say that the game was much more about feel and far less about data and precision would be an understatement”
Golfers wanted more accuracy, and they wanted it from wherever they hit the ball, not just from the markers found on the marked sprinkles. Distance Devices started to replace sprinkler heads and GPS based devices dominated the early days of the technology. Originally hand-held devices were most used, then things moved toward wrist watches, and more recently, lasers have become dominant.
Deep Dive into Distance
Golf Datatech is the only resource for estimates of the overall size of the US DMD market by product type. Our most recent study estimates total sales to be larger than the hybrid golf club market but smaller than putters – down slightly from Covid-driven highs enjoyed in 2022 – with many sales moving online and away from some of the traditional outlets.
Beyond quantitative insights into the DMD category, the study also delves into likes, dislikes, attitudes, and preferences across the various products within the category. And, beginning in 2019, we did an initial look into the use of smart watches by golfers, both on the course and off.
DMD’s and App’s
… And then there is the onslaught of potential app’s that have been developed to work via your smart phone or smart watch. While app’s are everywhere, they are very often perceived as being less than ideal, and frequently are a “fall back” option to be used when the golfers’ primary device is not working, the battery has died, or they forgot to bring it along.
Included in the latest DMD study
Over the past 15 or so years this product category has undergone monumental shifts in how it is perceived and how the devices are used. Given further technological changes that are likely to impact the chip sector, it’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that this is a category that will continue to evolve significantly.
But how much has it changed?
Where will it go?
What do golfers like/dislike about their DMD?
What is their preferred DMD?
These are all questions we delve into in the 2023 DMD report. If you are in the business of making, selling, or marketing Distance Devices for golfers, this study contains “must have” insights into the business of selling these products.