The golf grip is getting geeky.
PGA Tour golfer Bryson DeChambeau worked with Microsoft and Seattle-area startup Sensoria over the past eight weeks to create a prototype “smart grip” that analyzes how much pressure he applies to the golf club throughout a swing.
As detailed by Microsoft in this blog post, DeChambeau let Microsoft and Sensoria — a smart-garment maker based in Redmond, Wash. — build sensors into his grips that measure force and pressure exerted.
In golf, how tight or loose a player grips the club can be a key determining factor for ball flight. There are different schools of thought on how one should grip the club from shot-to-shot, including putts.
With eight embedded sensors, DeChambeau can receive real-time data analyzed in the cloud by Microsoft Azure that shows how exactly he held the club throughout a swing.
The sensors, using a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, also provide data on club movement in space and “graphically renders pressure of the hands in relation to the golf grip,” Microsoft noted.
“The data collected from Bryson over time will be analyzed during future phases of the project in a Machine Learning environment to build new intelligent golf data streams, helping him determine the right grip and club usage, swing speed, rhythm, plane, and other performance and swing-mechanics variables,” Microsoft added in the blog post.
It comes as no surprise that DeChambeau is testing new technology, given that the 23-year-old is a serious geek. He majored in physics at Southern Methodist University and his passion for science has influenced an unconventional golf swing. In 2015, DeChambeau became the fifth player ever to win the NCAA Championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year; he finished in the top 25 for both The Masters and U.S. Open this year.
For Microsoft, meanwhile, this is another foray into the golf world. In 2015, the company inked a three-year deal with the PGA Tour to improve how shots are tracked and how fans engage with content, among other applications that utilize new technology. It’s part of Microsoft’s push into sports.
Founded in 2011 by former Microsoft employees, Sensoria develops an array of “smart” garments that can track your movements and measure how well you’re walking or running. The company just updated its app with an artificial intelligence-powered real-time personal trainer. It partnered with Microsoft earlier this year to develop “smart soccer boots” and partnered with Renault last year to build a smart racing suit for professional racecar drivers.