Man vs. Machine
By mustang6560 on 1/11/12
Remember when IBM's supercomputer Watson battled Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the TV show's "Man vs. Machine" Challenge?

Well, golf may see it's very own man vs. machine challenge in the near future. Gene Parente, president of Golf Laboratories, is a well known figure in the golf world and his company wants to build a robot that can compete against (and even possibly defeat) the best of the best professional golfers.
But Parente is not content with that level of perfection, and decided to take his company's innovations a stage further with a prototype robot golfer that will take to the course and hopefully battle the pros.

"It's more for the entertainment aspect than anything else," admitted Parente, who said he was in talks with partners to develop the project.
I for one, enjoy watching humans play golf because golf becomes increasingly mental as you progress as a player. Under normal conditions, any of the top players can stick a wedge from 110 yards inside five feet. But, can they make that same shot when the Masters is on the line? Or the U.S. Open? See, to me, watching someone perform and succeed under pressure is what's truly impressive.

If the outcome of Jeopardy's "Man vs. Machine" Challenge is any indication, it's only a matter of time before someone builds a robot that can make Tiger Woods look like a 12 handicap. But, unless they can create a robot with emotion, I'm not interested.

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photo by Dr Stephen Dann

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Obviously, one could construct a ball stiking machine ("Iron Byron") that is much more consistent than a human. Also the machine's swing speed could be significantly higher than anything currently achieved by the top professionals. At the end of the day, however, it would be pretty hard to build a mobile machine that can hit from all the lies and positions a professional is required to do. Not to mention creating the capability to think strategically.
sepfeiff says:
If the robot were able to hit the ball precisely it would not need to play from variable lies.. just sayin ;)
srogers13 says:
Does anyone else wonder if we are headed towards the scenario put forth by the Terminator movies?
mmontisano says:
I think the future will be closer to AI. nevermind that Speilberg most likely ruined Kubrick's original vision for the film.
Backquak says:
It would come down to the putting, I don't think the robot would be able to read and feel the greens to out putt a top pro. It would certainly hit the ball further and more accurate but the bad breaks of a good shot would still make the putting determine the winner
SteveMM says:
Actually, I would expect that putting would be the easiest thing to program and execute. The surface is flat, and the robot could be programmed to scan the surface, taking into account the angle of the putt, imperfections in the green, etc. The only variable would be green speeds ... which could be a bit of a problem if they're inconsistent throughout the course (as they usually are). I don't expect that every putt would go in on the first try, but I can't imagine that robot ever three-putting.
legitimatebeef says:
Robots have no place in golf. If I ever see this thing on the course I'm gonna attack it with my sandwedge.
Kurt the Knife says:
Recent events have proven the effectiveness of the 9-iron against machines.
Ya wouldn't wanna come up short.
legitimatebeef says:
Kurt I know where you're trying to go with that but I have thought long and hard about this. If I'm ever going to pull a club for the purpose of defending/maiming I'm going with sand wedge. It's heavier and has a sharper leading edge.
joe jones says:
Reminds me of the old joke about the golf robot that gave lessons. He was great at his craft but he kept showing up late and stealing from the till so they had to let him go.
dottomm says:
@SteveMM: Putting greens are flat?
mmontisano says:
@beef. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that has thought about this. SW is also my weapon of choice.
mjaber says:
@beef/badcaddy- Correct club selection for self-defense is a blade-style putter, due to is weight and ability to be used in a number of different styles of strikes.
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