With smart phones becoming so prevalent in everyday life, many disc golfers have seemingly ditched the pencil-and-paper scoring in favor of applications for their phones, whether an iPhone, Android or Blackberry.
The ease of being able to tap a number on a screen and making sure there’s no mathematical issues helps make these apps even more popular.
I used to own an Android and had a few apps on there that I enjoyed. Within the last year, however, I swapped to the iPhone and couldn’t find a scoring app as much as I liked the one I had for Android.
That meant I purchased several. Others have done the same, so I’ve been told. There are a couple of us who plan on writing some reviews on these apps. We’re still looking for someone who might be willing to do some Android/Blackberry reviews, too.
The latest app I messed around with was the official PDGA app, which as of now is only on the iPhone. Hopefully it will appear within other formats soon as it seems like it is a pretty sharp app, from my tests.
Let’s take a peek at the app (I am using version 1.0.9, which was released Feb. 2).
First, the app is connected to the extensive courses database the PDGA has and that is one heck of a great tool. You can search for courses near you and get the skinny on said courses, which is a valuable thing.
Once in, you have your course, you select your players (or add them, which is a highly simple process), and you start your round.
When doing scoring, the card automatically shows par. When the hole is over, you can add or subtract numbers as needed (or, leave as is if you got par). So the interface is very simple and, for me, ran quite smooth.
After the round, you have the option to e-mail it to yourself (or others) or share it on Facebook.
You also can see, at the end of the round, your PDGA rating for the round. I’m not sure how accurate this is because I don’t think it can always take into account everything (wind, weather etc.), but it’s a really cool option to see what kind of rounds, give or take, you are throwing.
To test the rating round, I went to a tournament of old — one where I knew the layout was no different than I was playing — and entered into the app those scores to see what my rating would be.
At a tournament at the same course last fall, I shot a 15-over 72. That equaled a 722 round when all said and done on the PDGA site. However, running it through the app gave me a 650-rated round. So, again, remember that it gives you an idea of what the rating is, but I don’t think it takes into consideration everything.
The app, according to its description, was designed by disc golfers, for disc golfers. That’s a good thing. The scorecard allows you to use upward of six players per round.
Some of the key features, again, according to its description, are as follows (I have not listed all, just some):
- Search for courses from your location, by address or name
- Get directions from your current location to a course
- Save your favorite courses for future play
- Customize and update hole and course details
- Keep score and store the round results and data
- Record various types of penalties
- Displays updated tee order before each new hole
- Make course notes by hole for future reference
- Start round on any hole for shotgun starts
For the most part, this app seemed very straight-forward. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of the app.
The main pros are the look and the ease of use.
First, the app is quite sharp looking. The colors are nice and everything blends well together. The buttons are big enough, the numbers are easy to read and everything is straight forward. These things make the app strong overall, but fun to use because it doesn’t look all “serious.”
As for the use, it’s easy.
From inputting players to finding courses to starting and ending a course, everything is simple. One can even change the par on a hole (if it’s wrong etc.) or keep notes about each hole, which is an interesting thing to have. This is nice if you see something about the course you want to note elsewhere etc.
One thing I really liked was how it kept tee order real time. I’m sure other apps do it, but the way this was on there made it very simple. Especially if using this for a tournament. There’s never the worry of figuring out who has the tee box each hole.
Some other positives include being able to check past rounds, store players and being able to have players names with their PDGA numbers attached. These might all be little things, but they add to the overall feel and look of the app.
And I know that other apps allow you to e-mail or post to Facebook, but I really like how this did it. The look on Facebook is crisp and the e-mail is nice as well. Overall this is a solid app in those regards.
Another of my favorite pros? The penalties. See, the other apps I’ve used, you can note you had a penalty or two so it “circles” the score on the card. But this app takes it a step further. Besides noting next to the score (with a “p” when you look at it on the screen for that hole), it gives you the option to decide what penalty you had.
This is a great little thing to have so you can keep track of what you did wrong in certain spots. I like this small detail with this app and it’s a strong positive.
Most of my cons are nit-picking, but they are little things some people might find to be overly annoying, so I wanted to make sure to give both sides of the story.
Though I truly liked the idea that I could search for courses nearby, when I did it, the search ran slow and didn’t want to work, it seemed. I went back and corrected it by using a different search option — the city I was in — and it worked OK. Still, I figured I should mention that one portion didn’t work as well as I think it should have. Your mileage may vary.
One thing I noticed was the course I was playing on was listed as all Par 3s. I’m not sure why. The app does allow you to change par, but I shouldn’t have to — especially if this app is connected to the PDGA database. Now, the course could be wrong in there as well, but it’s something that seems like should be correct.
Some other things includes the inability to have doubles and post two players. Now, I’m sure you could create another “player” and put two people there, but it would be nice to put two people on a “team” if playing doubles. Again, nit-picking.
That stemmed when I was looking it over and noticed only being able to use six players in a group. I had heard this before when playing with someone using the app a month or so ago. But it never registered until I got the app and started playing with it.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal as most people don’t play with more than six players in a group.
But in a casual round? Maybe. Take for example a recent trip to Lancaster, Pa., to play the mini courses. Being private courses, we had seven of us. And someone was left off the card. The option should be there to have more than six players.
There was one thing I was curious about — again thinking about the trip to Lancaster — what happens if we only play 18 holes on a 27-hole course?
One of the “area” courses to me is a 27-hole layout, so I started a round there. I’m only playing 18, however, so let’s see what happens. I went through the first 18 holes and was done, but there’s no option to “finish” the round. Instead, it shows the round as incomplete. It would allow me to send the 18-hole score via e-mail though, so that’s good, I guess. You can’t, however, get round ratings or anything like that.
I guess one could “create” a new course knowing they were only playing 18 holes of the layout, but it seems like you should be able to play 18 holes and be able to get all the results out of it. This is my only real pet peeve with the app as I think one should be able to play 9, 18, or 27 and be able to get a rating etc.
Most of these cons are little things that, hopefully, will eventually be changed up to make the app that much better.
The biggest question comes down to this — is it worth the $4.99 that the PDGA is charging?
Searching the PDGA forums, it was noted last year that the charge was because they have a team continually working on this app (and an eventual Android release?), which requires funding. This is the way the PDGA, apparently, funds this.
But is it worth $4.99? That’s debatable.
While it’s true that there are features with this app that other apps don’t have, are those features worth more than the free app Discasaurus? That’s all pending on what each person is seeking in an app, I imagine. (Note: We will be reviewing the Discasaurus app, among others, soon).
I personally don’t have an issue with the $4.99 price. I wouldn’t do it often, but a one-time fee seems OK, if the PDGA continues to develop the app (and release an Android version). A post to the PDGA forums in early April by one of the developer team members noted they were hoping for a beta version of the Android app by May and a free (with ads) version as well. So, some things might be in the pipeline for this app.
For the record, on iTunes, there are 11 votes for the current version. One person rated it a 5, three people gave votes of 4 and 4, respectively. Two people each voted for 2 and 1. Personally, I would give it a soft 4, with the possibility of it going up based on a few fixes.
In the end, I think this is a very strong app. It’s solid overall and has some great features. Though not perfect, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to a friend and I think the ease of use makes it a keeper for me.
Do you have this app? What do you think? Leave your thoughts/questions in the comments below!
P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!