Golfing via satellite

Those hand-held gizmos that tell you where you are in the world — Global Positioning System units — those are for Himalayan mountain climbers, right? True. And now, also for golfers who want to improve their game. In Ottawa, Welsh-born high-tech billionaire Terry Matthews (Sir Terry in Britain, thanks to the Queen’s latest honours list) is building The Marshes, an 18-hole, premium golf course set to open next spring. It will have 80 golf carts featuring a GPS screen beside the cart’s steering column. As the cart passes a tee, the monitor will display the hole and its hazards. When pulling up to your ball on the fairway, the screen, based on signals from the GPS satellite network, will tell golfers to within about a metre how far away the hole is, and what hazards lie ahead. Tony Dunn, the course’s director of golf, says players will be able to use the satellites to order beer, sandwiches, chocolate bars and Cuban cigars, and have them delivered while they’re still on the course. “It’ll be,” says Dunn, “like shopping on the Internet.”

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Golfing with GPS is taking off in the United States, particularly sunny California, Arizona and Florida. The system can speed up play by monitoring players’ progress and issuing warnings, allowing more groups to go through and maximizing profitability. The Marshes will likely be a testing ground for March Networks Corp. and Mitel Networks Corp., both controlled by Matthews. In addition to GPS¬†golf carts, the course may offer a similar hand-held device that can be used in tournament play to monitor opponents’ scores — and maybe order one of them a celebratory beverage.

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