Q&A with Arccos Golf CEO Sal Syed

Do you know the best and worst parts of your game? Not what you think they are, but the numbers that support your suspicions? While the pros get the hard facts—distances for each club, greens in regulation, putting tendencies—thanks to ShotLink, most amateurs are clueless as to how they really play. Being able to accurately pinpoint the weakest and strongest parts of one’s game hasn’t been available to the rest of us until recently with the advent of game-tracking technology like Arccos. Using lightweight sensors, a smartphone, and an app, now everyone can see how far each club actually goes, their miss tendencies, average distances from the pin on approaches, and much more. Tom Cunneff talked to Arccos CEO and co-founder Sal Syed about golf’s latest technological breakthrough.
Can pro-level stats really help amateur golfers?
Absolutely. Why would you play blind? A data revolution is happening across all industries and in other sports, but golfers are still playing pre-data. You need data to improve because you’re going to get smarter and get more out of the same swing. Once you know putting or chipping is your problem, now you’re armed with actionable information that you can take to an instructor, and then you can actually measure whether you’re getting better.
How has it benefited you personally?
I always thought putting was my problem at my home club, Yale Golf Club, which has huge greens. Before coming up with Arccos, I was tracking stats the old-fashioned way and was taking 36, 38 putts a round. But when I started using our tour analytics platform in beta form, it said my approach handicap was way higher than my overall handicap. I was leaving myself such long putts that the answer was misleading when tracking stats the traditional way, so I started looking at my distances. Turns out my 8-iron doesn’t go 150; it goes 142.
How many rounds do you need before you start to get meaningful data?
About 10 rounds, but you start getting insights after 5 rounds. We’re actually developing an engine for course-level insights. We’re realizing that most golfers play the same course over and over again, so in addition to giving you insights about your game, we’re going to be able to tell you what you’re doing right and wrong on each hole of your home course.

One of the things I enjoy most about your product is being able to replay a round and see every shot. The bird’s-eye view of the holes and the graphics showing all the shots are very hi-def.
We take a lot of pride in making the user experience Apple-like. It’s the only golf product sold in Apple stores. There’s also such a huge emotional value to using Arccos when you play a special course like Pebble Beach, since you’ll record that round forever and have a lasting memory of it.
How many rounds have been played with Arccos and what are some average stats of amateurs?
We have tracked over 65,000 rounds this season, with the average drive for men 221.7 yards, which is longer than I expected. Here are some other stats we’ve gathered. Average Greens in Regulation is 37.2%. Average fairways hit, 44.8%. Putting stats are especially helpful: Our golfers 1-putt 21.6% of the time; 2-putt 57.8%; and 3-putt 20%. With an average handicap of 13, Arccos does tend to skew toward better players.
You were a tennis player before you became a golfer, correct?
Yes, I was captain of the tennis team in college, but I started playing golf around 12 with my dad. I never thought I was any good at it, but I was always in love with golf, so after college I hardly played any more tennis. I’m obsessed with golf these days. It’s hard for you to convince me to do anything else with my free time.