The purpose of this review is to test Hole 19’s free and paid versions to see if, and how they might be able to support and improve my golf as a Rookie Golfer! The review is aimed at new golfers, those coming back to the sport, high handicappers and those who want technology to help but haven’t got the budget to afford some of the high end technology, such as watches and tracking devices that attach to golf clubs.
The main areas I’ll be focusing on are:
- Ease of use
- On Course info given – Does it help?
- Off Course/Post Round info given – Does it help?
- Paid version – what extras do you get? Cost, Value for money?
Preconceptions and key points before the review started
I must point out that when I started playing golf I came across a variety of apps, and my thoughts were that I want to enjoy my time on the course without the distraction of my phone. I did attempt to use apps before I had a membership when I played on a small 9 hole course and could not get on with the apps, so i gave up.
What I am trying to say is that for any review, you need to remain unbiased as the reviewer right? In reality I went into this with a basis; that the apps are more than likely going to be pointless or painful to use.
Final point before I get underway with the review. I am in no way associated with Hole 19. I did reach out to a handful of companies explaining what I wanted to do. Hole 19 responded and offered me a full trial of their paid version as they are keen for golfers to improve.
I won’t name the other companies I tried to get in touch with on multiple occasions, but I do want to point out that I did not get any response which is disappointing. Especially if that is their approach to customers who pay for monthly or annual subscription or those that face issues using free versions.
Now that all that is out of the way let’s get this review off the tee!
What is it? I’ve briefly hinted that it is a mobile app that is available on both IOS and Android. It works as a GPS and a score tracker. You can access saved information via the mobile app or visiting the website. This information contains stats from previous rounds as a collective or you can dive into the data on individual rounds! You have to sign up and create an account so your information can stay with you whether you swap phones or computers at home.
Without wanting to bore you or make this sound like an info-commercial, all the information on the app can be found on their website = https://www.hole19golf.com/
Hole 19 offers a free to use version and a paid version, for the purpose of staying unbiased I reviewed both versions separately.
Outside of the stats and GPS, it also allows you to search golf courses in a particular area that you ask for, or using your location. It gives you course ratings based on Hole 19 users. It also boasts a feed/community tab where you can add friends or your society where your scores can be seen by the group. Pretty cool options as these are part of the free to use package, especially if you have friends/society that are scattered around the UK.
On Course Review
In a nutshell, the on course review is aimed at the GPS functionality and the 3 modes which can be used during a round.
Accuracy of the GPS
I was surprised how well this performed in all honesty. From the tee box the yardages differed to the score card by up to ten yards, however tee positions at my club do move around almost on a daily basis. Sometimes the yellow tees are fairly close to the white competition tees
So I decided to try out a different approach to check how accurate the GPS was. I stood on every 150 yard marker on the course! Assuming these are accurate by the club, Hole 19 was extremely accurate. In some cases it was up to 4 yards out on some holes.. Generally they were longer than shorter but only on a few holes.
For me as a high handicapper (I play off of 23) the 4 yards difference does not make any difference. So I was extremely pleased to see how well Hole 19 performed here!
From here it gave me the confidence to trust the distance which is shown as Front, Middle and Back of the Green (PIC HERE!!!!!!!!). So I was hitting shots with clubs I’m confident with my yardages on and the results were great!
In fact I achieved my golf goal after using this app, I wanted to break 100 by the end of the year. My 1st ever round with the app was a 92, followed by a string of 97’s. This was majorly in part to do with GPS on Hole19.
Another way I tested the app was by introducing it to my father during a round. At 63 and fairly ‘modern and hip’ his words not mine! He has no issues with technology and apps! However he was a massive sceptic of having this on the golf course!
Did it help him? What did he think? Well he, like me was pleasantly surprised. My father is a culprit of thinking he hits a club up to 25 yards longer than he does and always thinks the green is closer than it is. So when I was calling out his distances to the hole he was always shocked at how far out he was, but this gave him the opportunity to pick a different club out the bag and play a better shot.
How easy it was to access the app and how quick the yardages updated took just seconds so it wasn’t waiting any time. Again this impressed me and my old man!
Score and Stat tracking in round
You have 3 options when starting a round; Simple, Advanced and no scoring.
A little tip, you need to download the map for the course you are playing so it’s worth doing this from home or where you are staying and use WIFI for this. Not that it’s a data hog but every little helps! Once you have downloaded it you will not have to re download it unless you switch devices.
With all modes you need to input what tee’s you are playing off and your handicap and away you go.
Battery usage – 15% to 25%
Once the round is underway, the GPS updates as you walk around the course, giving you your distances to the green, you toggle though to the scorecard section at the end of each hole.
As you can see from the screen shot, you’ll be asked for information similar to what you would put on your score card, and a little more. It asks for info on your tee shot, as in direction, how may strokes, putts, penalties and sand shots. From here the data is automatically captured and that goes into the stats section that I’ll mention later on. If you are playing a stapleford match you can hit the pick-up button for that hole, if all doesn’t go to plan.
The app works out your stalpeford points throughout the round so you can check how you are doing, If you dare!
However if you are like me and notice things are going well it may go downhill pretty quick.
Some of you may be asking or thinking at this point, how much longer is this going to add to my round? Is it going to distract me from playing my best golf?
In all honesty it hardly adds any time onto the round. It’s a handful of clicks while you are walking to the next tee or before you step up onto the next tee box. Does it distract you? Perhaps the 1st few rounds as you get use to using the app, after that it felt fairly natural and part of the routine I had during my round. Having it on a cradle of my trolley helped me massively.
It also depends on how ‘fat fingered’ you are! We all know someone who can’t type a text due to fat thumbs!
Last point here, is at the end of the round you get your score instantly, so no need to endure the painstaking wait of counting up, or waiting to get into the club house, then count up your score.
Don’t forget to save your round as well. The more rounds you save the better reliability of the stats, as with anything the more data you input the more accurate the stats are going to be on your actual golf game.
All the features of simple mode are present here, but the stats you generate by using this mode you have to pay to view as part of the premium subscription:
Battery usage – 30% to 40%
Club yardage information
Here you put some basic information in, such as what clubs you carry in your bag. They come with pre-loaded yardages which can be changed if you know or have an idea. If not don’t worry as they will soon change once you get a round in.
When you start a new round in advanced mode, you get club recommendations based on these yardages until you build up your own data.
It is a great tool, as I’ve previously mentioned in other blogs, that knowing your distances is critical. However I found that it was a little fiddly. You have to tell the app when you are on the tee, and what club you are using. Once you’ve hit your shot and walked up to it, you then again have to tell the app you are there. Hit your next shot, tell the app what club you have used. So on and so forth until you hit the green.
It also takes from GPS where you are on the course, such as fairway, bunker or rough. If it’s wrong you have a 10 second window to tell the app you are on the fairway and not a bunker, rough etc. Beyond this you can change the information by clicking on the shot . As you know I’ve been testing the app with it on a cradle on my trolley. So I obviously don’t take my trolley onto the green.
So every approach shot that made the green the app thought I missed the green. Prompting me to override the app. Here is the down side of being a rookie golfer, I occasionally will under hit a chip from 10 yards out and it flops about 8 yards away. So again I have to override the app as its still attached to my trolley. Yes I or you could carry the phone in a pocket that may make this easier. I however don’t like to play golf with my phone In my pocket.
However I did try this, it’s a little annoying having to take my phone out all the time and in reality the app still thought I was off the green when i was actually in the middle of it. Again, I had to override the app, so I found it easier and no disadvantage to just leaving my phone on the trolley.
Finally you tell the app how many putts and then it takes the score and on to the next hole. Apologies for the little bit of waffle, but as good as the tool is I found it a lot more hands on than I was expecting. For example to get the most out of the app i need to track every shot. On a par 5, I might double bogey (remember I am a 23 hanidcapper). So that means 6 or 7 inputs on that single hole. So by using the advanced mode it does add a few minutes onto each hole. It’s a trade-off, great data for a few minutes extra! For me it felt a little too much, as I would forget to track the odd shot. In return, this meant to keep score of my round I had to fudge the data as I would of walked 100 yards after hitting my previous shot.
Finally i must highlight here though, that advanced mode cannot be used in competition as it aids with club selection. Using simple mode is fine or even the no scoring option.
This mode allows you to only use the GPS function of the app. Great for those who are not interested in stats (not sure why though as it’s a massive benefit from this app) or have your own way of tracking stats. If you want a no fuss and free GPS this is perfect and it can be used in competition as it does not give slope reading, wind speeds/directions or club selection advice and is part of the free to use mode.
From using the simple and advanced mode, Hole19 generates stats for you, i’m going to talk about these as the free and paid version.
Free Version stats
As soon as you play your 1st round, Hole 19 starts to offer you some great tools for judging your game.
- Driving Accuracy off the tee
- Greens in Regulation
- Scores by Par
- Scoring %
After a few rounds are logged, you get the collective data which is a great way of judging your game. You can look back over the last 5 or 20 rounds as well as all of your rounds combined.
It also keeps your scorecard and round stats that you can go back to anytime. This is great as you don’t have to hang on to old scorecards cluttering up draws!
Does the free edition help?
Yes 100%, in my Rookie Mindset series I touched on stats as a way to improve. Knowing your game is critical to golf, however it is a forever changing battle. One day it’s putting, next day it’s the driver.
Stats help narrow down the areas that need the most work. When I started playing I suffered badly off the tee, still do from time to time. So I’ve used the data from HOLE19 to work on my driving accuracy off the tee. Over the last 5 rounds i have managed to improve this.
It also shows where you are improving, so when you have a tough day and think you are going backwards you can take a little solace in the stats to see if you are improving.
Does the free edition help? Yes it definitely does. I had some of my best scoring rounds using this app, the GPS is accurate which allowed me to play the shots I knew I could make. The basic stats it produces from the rounds are great. Yes there are other apps that produce a lot more data, but from a practical point of view for us Rookie’s Hole 19 produces great data. I used it to work on my driving accuracy that I noted whilst using the app was a growing area of concern.
I like to review my previous rounds. The free edition lets you to store your previous rounds allowing you to go back whenever you like to re-live a great round, or if you want to punish yourself, those bad rounds!
The stats it produces are highly individual to you as the user and golfer, and starts to give you stats that can guide you on the path to better golf.
Paid edition tools
With premium you get higher quality maps. The app does not automatically tell you yardages from hazards. You can tap the map on a water hazard and it will give you how far out you are, but it is all done manually.
The premium maps do make it easier to see hazards if it is a new course you are playing on. However for my course the map is very much out of date as it does not show any of the water hazards on my course.
Whilst in simple mode, you can manually track the distance of each shot by using the tracker. The data is not stored though. In all honesty its great to know your distances but without this data being stored, I’m not sure the benefit this brings, as apart from the Steller drive you hit are you going to remember anything else? Or are you going to write it all down? If you answer yes to writing it all down, why not just use advanced mode?
Once you’ve gone premium you get the chance to add notes for each hole. This is great if you play different courses, and it can be a few months or a year before you come back, as these are great reminders.
If it’s your home course you play week in and week out, again I’m not sure the benefit this has. Perhaps a few notes to prevent complacency?
You get a handful of stats that are not for free. These are based on expected results from the pattern of the rounds you have been submitting. Such as expected score, accuracy, expected putts, up and downs etc.
For me after breaking 100 I got a massive bump back to reality, as it said I’m expected to go around my home course in 106! This is a joke, in case any of you think I’m slating the app for this. It’s based off of my data so it’s a fair representation as the bulk of my rounds are over 100, it was interesting to see the difference between true data vs expectation.
For me though, these stats were not giving me anything that could help me improve, even though I’ve paid to access them.
Under the advance stats, you do however get the opportunity to see your club data based on the advanced round inputs. You can use these in the free edition, but you cannot see the data after the round.
This is the only advance stat that is of actual benefit.
Due to work and family commitments, it took me longer than I hoped to test the advanced mode and see the stats. When I did play, I played in 20mph winds so my yardages were a little out, as I either had a helping tail wind or a defeating head wind. Again over time this will average out. It also shows you your accuracy with these clubs as well. Take this with a little pinch of salt, as you may be marked down as missing the fairway by a yard and the stat will show you that you have a 0% accuracy with that club. It doesn’t show the full picture, but it all depends how hard you will be on yourself here.
So the picture shows the yardage and accuracy stats from a windy round:
Again another reason to take these stats with a little pinch of salt, but I’m assuming all apps, watches or golf technology have an issue with is… When you go for a 20 yard bump and run with a 9 iron…. Your average yards for that club is brought right down… The app does not allow you to skip shots otherwise you can’t score the hole… So a few of my club averages have been brought down in lue of this, so remember this when reviewing your club stats.
I feel there is a need for some improvement here, I have reached out to Hole19 on these. I think it would be beneficial to be able to see how many times you’ve hit particular clubs as the percentage of accuracy can be deceiving. As the old saying goes, 10% of nothing is nothing! So when I have stats of 60% accuracy, how many times have I hit that club and how much of a true reflection is that stat?
The same goes for yardages, I would like to be able to remove the poor shots. Such as a topped tee shot or bump and runs. This brings my average right down, and in return does not give me a true representation of yardages. This could lead to poor club selection by the app as it assumes you are not going to hit the ball further than your average. Yes you can override the club selection but it goes against the benefit of the premium subscription.
Does the premium subscription help?
Yes it does, you benefit from the free from stats, but the added detail of club yardages i a good tool. I can see this being a massive help in reducing handicaps, increasing the enjoyment level of your rounds. A big benefit I believe will be when playing at unknown courses. The GPS combined with a good amount of data behind your yardages will allow you to play with confidence especially if you use a common sense approach due to the issues i’ve mentioned above on accuracy and yardages.
Free vs Paid
This is a tougher question than I thought it would be. I have to admit I got on a lot better with the free edition using simple mode than I did using premium with advanced mode.
My best rounds came from using the free edition and using the GPS mode. I feel as if the stats that are generated here are more than helpful and helped me identify where I need to improve.
However with premium you get the flexibility of using that same mode, but have the option to play a round in advance and track your yardage info. There is nothing preventing you or me from playing those serious games in simple mode and good practice rounds in advanced.
For £39.99 for an annual subscription it does give value for money, especially if you are new to golf and just invested in equipment. Paying out for a £200+ golf watch may not be a financial option. Or those who love to play golf socially, who want to improve but don’t have a membership or can’t play every week. It’s a great alternative to GPS Units, Golf Watches or Range Finders as the price point is so much lower than these.
My final verdict of this Rookie Review, is that HOLE 19; DOES help with your golf game. There is a trade off with the level of interaction with your phone during a round using advanced mode once you’ve gone premium.
But undeniably gives you good stats.
I would recommend Hole 19 to anyone, I would suggest going for the free option 1st if you like it take the free trial offer for premium for a week or month and see what it does for your game. Or take part in my giveaway where I will be giving away a free annual subscription to premium for one lucky golfer!
I hope this has opened your eyes to what Hole 19 can offer you. It helped my game and the purpose of this review (like all of my reviews) was to see if Hole 19 can help a newcomer to golf? As well as getting across that technology and stats are our friends as golfers. Even if the stats are painful to look at from time to time.
Golf can be hard, so trying to find tools that help us is key to improving and enjoying the game that little bit more! Yes I think it is possible to love golf more than you already do!
Please get in touch and let me know what you thought of the review, I want to improve as a writer so any comments will be warmly welcomed.
Until next time Happy Golfing.