This is part of IEEE Spectrum's Special Report on IEEE SPECTRUM'S 2009 Holiday Gift Guide
If you think there's still too much walking around in golf, even with a golf cart, you need the RoboCup and Caddy Cord, a ball-return robot and a missed-putt return guide.
RoboCup, which won Best New Product at the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show in January, works on any practice green. When your putt drops into the hole, a springboard device automatically shoots the ball right back. It runs on four AA batteries, which should be good for 12 000 putt returns of up to 4 meters.
The Caddy Cord, made of a flexible double-braided nylon cord, wraps around the back of the hole, sending the ball along the cord and back to the hole, where the RoboCup can return it.
"The Caddy Cord also provides feedback on your putting stroke," says Keith Foley, RoboCup's inventor. Putt too hard and the ball will jump over the cord; putt too short and your ball won't get returned. "This encourages a proper putting distance, rewarding you with the returned ball," he says.
Mike Dugan, a golf professional in Kissimmee, Fla., says his students "become fascinated with the RoboCup and are motivated to make more putts so the ball will return to them."
This article originally appeared in print as "RoboGolf."
About the Author
Susan Karlin, based in Los Angeles, writes frequently for Spectrum. The youngest engineers in the household might be interested in her June 2009 article, "The Design and Engineering of Superheroes."