Have You Seen My Ball?
(Written By: GolfSpy_Dave) We all know that even the best of golfers (yes you) have lost a ball on the course at some time or another. The lost ball is so common in golf that there is literally a rule stating how long you are allowed to search for one (5 Minutes). Golf is a bit of a vicious mistress in this way. You already lost the ball that you paid for in the pro shop…do they really need to add a stroke to your round too? Well those are the rules.
How Does Never Losing Another Golf Ball Sound?
So what would you say if I told you that you could never lose a ball again? Even on a bad shot, you would find the ball. For pros, the gallery does a great job pointing out errant shots to the players. Why some of them are even nice enough to take a hit in the body to keep the ball closer to the fairway. I don’t know about you, but the gallery is very small when I play. The only people looking after my ball are the guys I am playing with, who seem to frequently reply “I lost it”.
So…what if you could track the ball electronically? No longer relying on your buddies and luck to find errant shots. Sounds good huh. Enter the Prazza Golf Ball Finder.
OK, so the simple version of how the system works is that the Prazza ball has a RFID chip inside of it that transmits a radio signal to the tracking receiver to a distance of 100 meters. As a lover of technology, I think this is fantastic. It’s crazy to me to think that this technology is so common that it can be used to track a golf ball. It seems like technology that should be found in military applications. I think that it’s impressive too that they were able to construct a golf ball where the RFID chip can survive the impact of a golf club.
Well done Prazza. The electronic ball finder is a great idea! When it comes to innovation you score an A+
Innovation Score: 20/20
OK, so the first thing to address is does this great idea hold up on the course. As you can see in the video below, I got turned around a little bit, but once I got a bit better acquainted in the reading of the unit, I starting tracking straight to my ball. So the answer to the first question is “yes it works”.
Getting the unit going was fairly simple as well. But I did find that the unit was not quite as responsive as I hoped. I wasn’t always totally sure that I was using it correctly as it didn’t seem to respond quickly when I turned it on initially to match the ball to the unit and later when I was trying to track balls on the course. I figured it out eventually though.
As you can see in the video, the tracking system is pretty simple. The arrow points toward the ball. The image of the ball gets bigger as you get closer. The unit emits a tone as you track that gets more frequent as you get closer. Worked well, but I seemed to find myself paying the most attention to the arrow.
The unit charges via a USB adapter. Prazza recommends charging it for 24 hours prior to use and again after using it. After a 24-hour charge, the unit had plenty of juice on the course. I was using it on many holes where I could see my ball and didn’t need the unit to be running. It finished with battery to spare.
I didn’t find the receiver to be anything special in ergonomic design. It is a bit bulky, but this allows the display to be large on top. Comfortable enough to hold while you track your ball, just a bit on the large side.
The performance of the Prazza ball that comes with the unit is about what you would expect from a distance ball. Very hard cover. Kind of hard in general. After a hole, I switched balls before putting. Just didn’t like the feel. Also don’t expect much green-side spin. If you’re worrying about spin on the green, you are likely not worrying about losing balls from lots of missed shots. This is not for the tour player, it is for the recreational player. For that player, I think it’s OK. A slightly harder Top Flite XL is the best comparison I can think of.
Obviously though there is a limit on using the system to find your ball. That limit is terrain. If you hit into the middle of the lake, the ball finder won’t help you. Way OB into plant growth that is too dense to traverse, no help. Maybe in desert golf you can use it to find that big hook OB, but I tend to pay attention to those snake warning signs there.
This will help you find those balls that you “know are right around here”. Not way OB, just hiding under leaves, in rough, behind trees, and etc. These you should find.
Performance Score: 50/60
The basic unit retails for $299 with additional balls being $40 for a sleeve of three. The starter unit comes with two balls. Now in theory, you should not need more than one ball because the unit will help you find it. However, as it is marketed toward the beginner, or high handicapper, the probability of the ball being lost OB or in a water hazard is very high. Even demoing the system, there were holes where I did not hit it because I am prone to slicing balls into places where no one has gone before. While I think that this is a great and interesting unit, the economics of the unit just don’t support its use for me. Here are a couple of points.
First of all, I am not ever happy when I lose an expensive ball. And losing a Prazza ball will run ya $12 bucks. Not only would the cost of replacement be an issue, but also the psychological impact of knowing that you hit a ball so poorly that not even a RFID locator system could find it for you. That is a fairly brutal clause to hang on your golf game.
Secondly, how many balls can the beginning golfer purchase with $299. Walmart sells Wilson Maximum balls for $7 a dozen. That means you can play and lose about 500 balls before you hit the price of the golf ball finder. It also means that if you lose a ball, you are only out 58¢, allowing you to spend the five minutes searching and move on if you can’t find it.
I will give Prazza a point or two in value by making the unit rechargeable, providing the battery can ultimately be replaced once it can no longer hold a charge.
Value Score: 2/20
I think if I was to give the Prazza Golf Ball Finder a one word review, I would say, “almost“. I feel that the cost of the unit and the balls makes it unlikely to be used on the course by the average golfer. Of course if cost is not an issue, the unit performs great, so I say go for it.
My hopes for this unit is that its price parallels what happens to the pricing of all new technology. Think HD TVs when they were first introduced. There was no question that they had a great picture, but the prices of the TVs prevented most people from owning them. Now a days, the HD TVs are priced the same as the old CRT TVs.
The technology in the ball finder works. And I would personally use it if it was not so expensive. It would be great to find those balls that escape detection under the leaves in the Fall or in the weeds in the Spring. Just not at $13 a ball with a $299 start-up cost. Knock those prices down by 2/3 and you would have a winner.
Overall Score: 72/100
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