Smartwatch makers hope for hole in one with golf-friendly gadgets
Smartwatch makers are targeting young golf fans with trendy new designs and a range of fairway-friendly features.
The move comes as golf is increasingly seen as a popular hobby for young Koreans. People aged between 20 and 40 account for 65 percent of novice golfers, according to data from screen golf company Golfzon, and people aged 44 or younger accounted for 41 percent of golf-related transactions on secondhand service provider Bungaejangter through September this year.
In response to this growing market, Samsung Electronics released a more affordable Galaxy Watch, dubbed the Galaxy Watch 4 Golf Edition, with a price tag starting at 299,000 won ($250). The watch includes the Smart Caddie app that provides “distance and shot history of 40,000 golf courses around the world.” Satellite maps and “automatic hole information recognition” are also some featured functions.
Samsung previously only offered the Smart Caddie app on its premium model, priced at 770,000 won.
The company “lowered the price barrier to appeal to millennials and Generation Z that pursue reasonable spending,” said an industry insider from the smartwatch industry with anonymity.
Last month, KT started offering a service that enables Galaxy Watch 4 Golf Edition users to make calls or texts without a smartphone in hand. The telecom company also partnered with golf product brand Callaway and golf apparel brand Clove to offer discounted golf-related products to the smartwatch users.
In April, Garmin, which sells golf smartwatches, released the Approach S42 digital watch with an easy-to-read 1.2-inch color touchscreen display for golf beginners and includes the AutoShot round analyzer that tracks and records shot distances.
For both Samsung and Garmin, the new releases are part of ongoing efforts to chip away at Apple's lead in the smartwatch market. As of the second quarter, Apple controls with 28 percent of the smartwatch market, according to Counterpoint Research. Samsung came in third with 7.6 percent, and Garmin fifth with 5.8 percent.
Garmin also targets female golfers with a rose gold colored smartwatch.
The colored product “is a model with sensuous design and innovative functions and is for golf beginners or women golfers that wish to enjoy refined rounding,” said a spokesperson for Garmin.
Online services for young golfers are also increasingly popular.
The number of users of mobile AI-based golf-booking service by Kakao VX, a screen golf company, hit 1.08 million since it was officially launched in June 2019.
Kakao VX offers “a one-stop service from booking customized golf courses to traffic guides and returning home,” said a spokesperson for the company, adding that the company plans to expand services to automatic payments.
On Bungaejangter, the number of golf-related transactions doubled to 200,000 this year through September, up twofold from the same period last year. The total transaction amount was 29 billion won.
“Demand to buy affordable golf equipment and apparel is rising as the number of golf beginners increases,” said a spokesperson for Bungaejangter.
“Unlike the older generation that played golf for business or to build relationship, millennials and Generation Z use golf as a channel to express their personality through flashy golf wear and products,” said Oh Sang-yup, a researcher from a research institute of KB Financial Group.