50 Words or Less
The Gen i1 smart golf ball sets up quickly but is not great to use. Limited actionable data.
The idea of a golf ball with a microchip in it seems like the set up for a joke. “The only way you’re finding that shot is with GPS on the ball, Steve, yuk yuk yuk.” However, the 2018 PGA Show brought us at least two “intelligent” golf balls.
The Gen i1 is the first to hit retail. It pairs a smart golf ball with an on-club sensor to measure and train your putting stroke.
Set-Up & Ease of Use
Despite having two separate pieces that need to pair with your device, the Gen i1 is very easy to set up. After I charged the on-club sensor, I connected and updated both the sensor and the ball in seconds. The app is also easy to use. It gives you only the options you need: connect device and practice putting.
Unfortunately, my experience using the Gen i1 was not good. First, the ball needs to be oriented in a particular way to register your putt. This is a hassle. Second, even with the proper orientation, I found that many of my strokes did not register.
The Gen i1 provides six data points – three for the club, three for the ball. The club gives you club face angle, stroke tempo, and stroke length. From the ball, you get speed, skid/skip distance, and total distance.
To get an accurate club face number, you need to have the sensor mounted perfectly. I thought mine was set up well, but I kept getting readings of 3 or 4 degrees shut on putts that went into the center of the cup.
I found the other two club numbers to be useful. Tempo is an important aspect of good putting, and controlling stroke length can have value as well.
With regard to the ball data, I think it is only useful in certain situations. Ball speed and distance seem redundant to me, though having one of those could be useful in an indoor setting. The value of skid/skip distance is questionable to me. It might be interesting to look at the difference between putters, but I don’t know what the practice application is.
Overall, I’m unimpressed with the effectiveness of the Gen i1. It’s not easy or fun to use, and much of the data it provides has marginal utility.
The combination of having to align the ball for every stroke, putts that don’t register, and the ball feeling like a rock led me to think that the Gen i1 would have poor longevity. The fact that the data is of minimal value confirmed it. This was a product that I was happy to be finished testing.
When I watched the promotional video on the Gen i1 website, I was really intrigued. The reality is much less exciting. The app currently available has none of the games or fun features that the website shows. Even if it did, I doubt those factors would overcome the awful feel of this golf ball and the need to bend over and aim it before every putt. I’m sure that golf balls with sensors will become useful one day, but today isn’t it.