50 Words or Less
Hello Birdie is a GPS and smart caddie app. Very strong (and free) GPS features. Smart caddie features are interesting but require manual shot tracking.
One of the most underrated skills in golf is good decision making. Would you score better if you turned that aspect of the game over to a machine? That’s part of the idea behind Hello Birdie, a GPS app that’s also a smart caddie. I took it out for several rounds to see how it performed.
Set Up & Ease of Use
After downloading the Hello Birdie app and creating a profile, you’ll arrive at the home screen. From there, you can tap the big orange “+” to start a round or you can dive into setting up your bag and profile. Setting up your bag only takes a minute, and it’s needed if you’re going to shot track.
When you start a round, you choose “Training” or “Competition” in addition to the course you’re playing. This will determine whether the Smart Caddie features like club recommendations and wind/slope adjustments are turned on or off.
The basic GPS function of Hello Birdie is incredibly easy to use. Every screen functions intuitively. You can tap anywhere on the hole to get distances to that position.
As you play each hole, the app asks if you want to track your shots. This is done in a bar at the bottom of the screen. You can add each shot as you play, or you can enter all the shots when the hole is over. Hello Birdie uses your GPS trace along with the information you input about your clubs to determine where each shot was taken.
Manually entering your shots is the biggest negative about Hello Birdie. If you’re the type of golfer who doesn’t like having their phone out, it’s going to be a deal breaker. Similarly, if you tend to get lost in thought or conversation, this probably isn’t for you. Entering the shots from each hole isn’t arduous and it takes well under a minute if do it at the end of the hole, but it’s something you need to remember to do every time.
Hello Birdie also works with an Apple Watch, but I did not test this functionality.
For basic GPS functions, Hello Birdie is impressive. Yardages don’t update as fast as a dedicated GPS device, but the difference is only a second. There are over 40,000 courses in the app, so it’s unlikely yours isn’t covered. The app provides a satellite image of the hole, and you can tap to find the distance to specific targets.
One of the more impressive aspects of Hello Birdie is the “Plays Like” distance. This feature factors in temperature, wind, and slope to give you a more accurate yardage. “Plays Like” and club recommendations are only available in Training mode and only with a paid subscription. I found the “Plays Like” distance to be very accurate, particularly on cold or windy days when I was underestimating the impact of the weather.
If you track shots with Hello Birdie, it keeps your stats and empowers the smart caddie features. Most of the stats are fairly basic – FWs hit, GIR, Putts – but paid membership unlocks advanced stats with trends and Strokes Gained.
The smart caddie features have a good deal of depth. Before your round, you can view a personalized game plan. This is also printable if you want to spend less time on your phone. Plans can be customized for “Best Reward,” “Normal,” and “Lowest Risk.” The Live Caddie feature makes suggestions as you’re standing on the tee. This will take into account the current conditions of the course.
Like any smart caddie, the Hello Birdie recommendations will get better the more data you put into the system. It’s also important that you accurately input your club distances when you set up your bag in the app.
Again, I’m not someone who likes having his phone out on the course, so the idea of checking a game plan before each tee shot leaves me a little cold. If you don’t mind the interaction, this could be awesome for you. I do, however, like the idea of checking out a plan before I play. This could be a great way to scout a course before you take your game on the road.
There are three tiers of Hello Birdie. For this review, I had access to the “Unlimited” plan which costs $99/year. There is also a “Flex” plan which costs $49/year. Additionally, there is a free option.
As you move up the tiers, the primary things you’re adding relate to the smart caddie features. The majority of the GPS functionality is free. On the free plan, the primary GPS feature that you don’t get is “Plays Like” distances.
If you want a free GPS on your phone, I give Hello Birdie high marks. It’s quick, it’s accurate, and you can’t expect much more for zero dollars. If you want to shot track, however, there are better options. For $149 (one and half years of Hello Birdie), you can get the Shot Scope H4 [review HERE] which has no annual fee and tracks your shots automatically. Hello Birdie’s smart caddie features are interesting, but not worth the cost and hassle of manual tracking, in my opinion.
As with any phone-based golf product, the divide on Hello Birdie will likely come down to how you feel about using your phone on the course. Those that want to leave the phone behind will always want a dedicated GPS. However, players who don’t mind having their phone out will find a great free GPS in Hello Birdie with the possibility of using it for much more.