The FlyCaddie golf GPS application tries to keep it simple for iPhone owners, though in doing so, it deprives players of the features that can make golf GPS applications so valuable. Unlike competing applications, there is no ability to drop a cursor to determine the distance from your location to any point on the hole and while strokes and putts can be tracked (albeit in an odd manner described below), no detailed statistic tracking is offered. FlyCaddie also took a beating in our course coverage analysis of iPhone golf GPS applications, finishing last by a long margin. And last but not least, the FlyCaddie charges a yearly subscription fee, as opposed to other applications that only require a one-time fee. With no improvements to its features or functionality and little to course coverage since its initial release, this application seems to be someone’s hobby rather than a serious effort. If you are looking to purchase a golf GPS application for your iPhone, we recommend that you look elsewhere – you can find much more for far less.
- Easy to use
- Lacks ability to determine distances to user selected points
- No full hole view nor ability to zoom
- A YEARLY subscription fee (oh – and the yearly fee is already higher than the one-time charges of the competition)
- Worst course coverage of any of the iPhone applications tested
Availability: FlyCaddie is no longer available on the iTunes Store
Critical Golf Test: FlyCaddie sits dead last relative to other iPhone applications in our test of the availability of golf courses with 37% coverage – ouch! With such poor coverage, it isn’t worth going into detail on specific coverage gaps by type of course or geographic region.
Manufacturer’s Claims: FlyCaddie claims to have 4,000 courses in its database, which puts it last among its iPhone application competitors.
Starting a Round
The Good: FlyCaddie loads the desired course faster than some of its competitors (although the reason is likely because it offers more limited satellite images).
The Bad: Poor search functionality for selecting courses, which is compounded by misspellings of course names in the course database. There were no satellite images for a number of courses tested, though the simple green graphic and text listing of hazard distances were still available.
Details: After selecting “Play” from the main menu, the user has the option of selecting from either a list of nearby courses, a list of recently played courses that the user has saved, or simply searching for a course by name. After selecting a course, the user can choose to see additional information on the course, view a Google map of the course, or begin play. As with other applications, we found it easiest to wait until we arrived at the course and then simply select the course from the list of nearby courses, although another reason is because we found the course search functionality to be suspect at best (if Main Street Municipal Golf Course is already mapped, you will not find it by just entering “Main Street” and choosing the state and/or city). Additionally, we ran into a number of misspellings of course names in the FlyCaddie database, and were just lucky in stumbling upon some of the courses we were looking for.
Ease of Use
The Good: While not as polished as other applications, the FlyCaddie has an easy to use interface. Users need only swipe their finger across the screen to select from the multiple pages with hole information, and use the touchscreen buttons to navigate elsewhere (consistent across screens).
The Bad: We would certainly prefer additional satellite images and a “you are here” indicator to show where the user is on the image relative to the flagstick. And if the user either navigates away from the course being played (such as to go to the main menu to change preferences) or exits the application during the round, all information entered to that point will be erased – argh!
- Buttons. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons – those buttons that appear on screen to navigate the application. Upon launching the application, there are buttons to begin play, view your history (if you have saved scorecards), and access settings. After you have started a round, there are always buttons to take you to the previous or next hole (there is no auto-advance feature), the scorecard, the main menu, or to hop to a hole of choice.If you are on the “green view” page, there will be the option to track your shot distances (why this isn’t on other screens we aren’t sure), and if you are on the scorecard page, there is a button to enter the score (which you can only do for the hole that you are currently playing – if you want to enter the score for another hole then you will need to navigate to that hole first, then enter the scorecard). Entering the score and number of putts for up to 4 players is done through “+” and “-“ buttons.
- Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested (including the FlyCaddie) was a battery hog. With each application tested, we were able to complete a single round, but wound up with a dead phone shortly thereafter. Check out our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for ways to conserve battery life during play.
Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: FlyCaddie provides a satellite image of the green and approach area, so the user can get some context on the terrain surrounding the hole.
The Bad: There is only one satellite image provided per hole, so there is no zooming or panning available. On top of that, there is no ability to obtain the distance to a selected point on the satellite image. We found that the FlyCaddie trails its competitors in the number of marked hazards on each hole.
- Views. FlyCaddie offers three different hole views. You move between the three by simply swiping your finger left or right across the page.
- Green view – The screen that first appears when you begin a hole is a graphic of a green (not a satellite image or picture, just a generic green drawing that doesn’t reflect the actual shape of the green) with distances provided to the front, center and back. There is no ability to place a flagstick icon to receive a more accurate estimated distance. Strike one.
- Green and approach view – The next option is a satellite image of only the green and approach area. Users can’t interact with the image – there is no ability to place a cursor to obtain distances, or to pan across or zoom on the image. And oddly enough, no yardages are displayed in the Green/Approach view. Really, now why would you do that? Not even the distance remaining to the center of the green? Strike two.
- Hazard view – The third option is a listing of certain hazards/targets, along with the distance to reach each hazard/target, a generic photo indicating what kind of hazard/target it is, and the additional yardage required to carry each hazard/target. Mind you, this is not the TOTAL yardage to carry the hazard/target, so you need to do a little math. Generally we found two to four hazards included per hole, which is less than what we saw in other applications. Unfortunately, the location of the hazards shown are not indicated on satellite image, nor is there any text to provide details on the hazard – users can only guess if the information refers to a hazard on the left or right side of the hole, or which bunker in a cluster. And as target points are not marked anywhere, it is unclear as to which point on the hazard the distance refers – so for a bunker with fingers or a body of water with an undulating edge, it’s anyone’s guess what a safe lay-up distance would be. An additional note is that dogleg points are not indicated, and given that doglegs can’t be seen in the limited satellite image (which focuses on just the green area), you are left blind. Steeeeeeeerikkkkke THREE! (picture, if you will, Enrico Palazzo from “The Naked Gun”).
- Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all screens views for the course. Hole handicap is not available.
Suggestion Box: More satellite images, especially a hole overview, please! It would also be much more user-friendly to be able to see all distance information (i.e. hazard distances and green front/center/back) within the same view. And to keep up with the competition, FlyCaddie absolutely must add the ability to determine distances to any point selected on the hole via the touchscreen.
The Good: Ability to save your scores to FlyCaddie’s server and share them with family and friends (we presume that like everyone else, you will only share the good ones – the bad ones never happened, right?).
The Bad: Oy vey, where to start? If you want to track statistics, best to look elsewhere. Curious glitch where it will erase your score if you exit the application during play. No ability to auto-advance to the next hole.
- Shot Tracking. FlyCaddie provides a simple button to track the distance of shots, though for some reason it is available only within the green view screen.
- Score and Statistics.
- Users have the ability to enter only their strokes (NOT score, but rather ONLY strokes with any club other than a putter) and putts. This places the FlyCaddie behind all other iPhone golf GPS applications in statistics tracking.
- After strokes and putts are entered for a given hole, FlyCaddie will show the total score and the score relative to par for that hole. The full scorecard shows the par, yardages from the different tees, score, and total score. Although you enter the number of putts each hole, we couldn’t find where this information is stored or can be reviewed after the round. If you choose to save your data to the server, you will be able to access your historical scorecards from your iPhone as well as mail them to your family and friends to boast about your latest round. The scorecards are not, however, available online when you sign in to your FlyCaddie account.
- From the scorecard screen you cannot select the hole for which to enter information, so if you neglect to enter a score for several holes, or wish to modify a previous entry on number of strokes or putts, you need to navigate back to that hole first, enter the score, then return to the current hole.
- We can’t say this enough: if you exit the course you are playing during the round, all scores and statistics will be erased – there is no option to save a round during play and then return. The only time round information will be saved is after entering a score for the 18th hole. A dialog box will appear to “Save data on server” – you should definitely choose “yes” if you ever want to see your scores again, either online or on the iPhone itself. Once the data has been saved, you can then navigate to the “History” section from the application main menu to review old scorecards, as well as email old scorecards. Unfortunately you need to swipe your finger across the screen or use a “next” button to get to the scorecard you would like to review, so if there are dozens of scorecards saved, it’s a pain to get to the one you are trying to find. Would it really have been that hard to make a list of historical rounds with date, and allow the player to just press to select which one they would like to access?
- Auto-Advance. The FlyCaddie does not offer functionality to automatically advance the user to the next hole – the user always needs to manually advance.
- Preferences. FlyCaddie has limited preference settings – the ability to enter names for three other players, a setting to help find nearby courses, the ability to turn the scorecard on and off, and an option to adjust the font size for the courses listed when initially searching prior to play.
Mapping Accuracy: Though information was sparse in comparison to other devices to targets like hazards, overall we found no problems with mapping accuracy during our rounds with FlyCaddie, generally within the standard 3-4 yard difference from marked tee boxes and sprinkler heads.
Retail Price: At $34.99, the FlyCaddie Golf application for the iPhone was the second highest priced application in our comparison test. But note that the price is actually $34.99 PER YEAR, not just for the one-time purchase.
Fees for Access to Course Database: As mentioned, there is a recurring $34.99 annual subscription fee – all courses are included with the annual fee.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With a three year total cost of $104.97, FlyCaddie was the second most expensive application in our cost comparison.
Value: At $104.97 over three years, the FlyCaddie joins GolfLogix as the stratospherically priced applications in our test. We’re not sure that ANY feature set could justify such a price differential – the fact that we found the FlyCaddie to be behind its competitors in feature set and usability just makes things worse.