Located in the far south-west of England, RND, as it's known, boasts the country's oldest golf course. It’s perhaps fitting that this historic golfing land is where these two golfers became the first to link up two of its leading technologies.
Oli (above, far right) and Neil (above left) began using Arccos during the first lockdown. Oli, who works as a greenkeeper at Royal North Devon GC, was on furlough at the time, the course was open and they took the opportunity to quickly become disciples of Arccos, golf's #1 on-course tracking system.
Not long afterwards, they became the first Beta users of Clippd, after signing up to be testers in the early days of the platform’s development. It means Oli and Neil are better placed than most to talk about the benefits, having enjoyed both in tandem for longer than anyone else.
Oli, 29, plays off plus 2. He has a putting stroke from the gods and his name appears on all the most important boards in the clubhouse, a low-slung pavilion that contains a museum of historic artefacts from the earliest days of the game in England, as well as lashings of homespun charm.
"It’s so easy to put them together. If anything is too difficult I tend not to bother"
Happily describing himself as a “golf perv”, he is the owner of numerous single strap golf bags and sets of irons, including Miura tournament blades and his current tools, National Custom Work forged irons made by Don White.
Neil is a gentle giant who hits the ball further than most people go on holiday. In 2022, he scorched round the revered links of Saunton West in 64 in the Devon Amateur Championship on his way to the final. His siblings, who he shares a house with in nearby Bideford, insist he owns far too many pairs of golf shoes.
They have both uploaded their Arccos shot data to Clippd for almost two years. “It’s so easy to put the two together,” says Oli. “If anything is too difficult I tend not to bother.”
After each round, the first thing they do is check through Arccos to make sure everything is correct. “At RND, I might have taken a line off the tee to end in what is technically rough, but I’ll mark that down as fairway because it’s where I wanted to hit it,” Oli explains. Uploading Arccos rounds to Clippd then takes a matter of seconds.
“Once it’s in Clippd, I’ll give the round a title, mark down whether it was a tournament round or a friendly, what the weather was, how fast the greens were and things like that,” Oli says. “Then I’ll look at my Round Insights in Clippd.”
Neil, who works at a local engineering firm, strokes his huge beard and nods. “Same for me. Then we just sit and laugh at each other’s scores.”
Not that they shoot many bad ones. Oli’s personal best at the par-72 Royal North Devon is 64 off the yellow tees and 65 off the whites. Neil has scored the same off the yellows and only three worse from the tips.
Everything in the Clippd dashboard is easy to use, easy to understand, and it’s all right there in front of you
“I like Round Insights, too,” says Neil. “I’m interested in seeing the breakdown of my Shot Quality scores – how many really good, good, average and bad shots I’ve hit in a round. Recently, it’s been too many of the latter!
“I look at my up-and-downs, my proximities and my conversion percentages. Everything in the Clippd dashboard is easy to use and easy to understand. It’s all right there in front of you.”
On a few occasions, they’ve flipped open Clippd to find confirmation of what every golfer is looking for: the perfect shot scoring the maximum 200 for Shot Quality, a score that represents statistical perfection for the Clippd algorithms. Neil has had two holes in one since he’s been using Clippd as well as three other shots that have scored a 200. Oli has had two.
“I’m not sure one of those should have been a 200,” smirks Oli, referencing the hole in one Neil had at Leven Links during a recent Scotland tour (above). “He hit a chunky pull draw which was heading towards the far left side of the green. We got up to the green, which is a bit hidden, and were looking for his ball everywhere. We couldn’t find it so I putted up to the hole where I found Polar’s ball. I reckon a seagull must have dropped it in there.”
As well as each other, both follow around 10 to 15 friends on Clippd and like to scroll through their feeds to see what their pals have been up to, where they’ve been playing and how they have been performing. They’ve also been referring friends through Clippd, which has earned them an additional free month’s subscription for each person who has gone on to become a full subscriber.
These firm friends have been playing on the historic golfing land at Westward Ho! (above) since they were kids. Now, they meet up once or twice a week to head out across the common land, joining dog walkers, kite flyers, ponies and herds of sheep, who all share terrain that the great golf writer Bernard Darwin once described as being “designed by Providence for a golf links”.
For Oli, leading the greenkeeping team at the club means that after working a 6am-2pm day, he is exactly where he needs to be when he clocks off. “It’s straight into the club showers, straight down to the first tee, good to go,” he says with a smile.
For these two, golf is a game of simple pleasures: time in the fresh air, in good company, on a great golf course. That inevitably means Royal North Devon and the crumpled splendour of Northam Burrows, where early greats of the game such as Horace Hutchinson and five-time Open champion JH Taylor first played the game.
“People think it’s wide and easy but it’s not,” Oli insists. “Even though the corridors are wide, to have a good score you’ve got to hit it down the narrow sides of those corridors. Golf courses seem to be coming back to this idea now. They’re widening fairways to open them up. RND has had that since 1864, which is cool.”
How fitting that two of the best golfers playing at England’s oldest course should be using two of its most sophisticated technologies to enhance the experience.
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