Where Can I Find a Properly Working System for Tracking Golf Balls at a Distance of 400 or 500 Yards?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsWhere Can I Find a Properly Working System for Tracking Golf Balls at a Distance of 400 or 500 Yards?
RFID Journal Staff asked 11 years ago

For the moment, there are only a few badly working models on the market. All around the world, the majority of golfers are seniors, a lot of whom have some vision problems, so there is a booming market for this application. Can you please advise me? Thanks.

—Antoine (Belgium)


There is no radio frequency identification system currently on the market that could accurately locate a golf ball from 400 to 500 yards away. The challenge is that a passive tag without a battery would have a read range of only about 10 to 15 feet with a handheld reader—perhaps less, given that the tag would need to be smaller than its optimal size in order to fit in a golf ball. (Read range is usually longer with a fixed interrogator, since handhelds tend to send out less energy so as to conserve battery life.)

Active RFID systems that could read a tag from 300 yards away or more are typically too large to place inside a golf ball, as they include a circuit board and a battery. It might be possible to shrink the active tag down, make it resistant to the golf club's impact and still have a read range of, say, 200 yards, but active tags typically require two or more readers to be able to determine a tagged object's location—or three, if you are using triangulation. I doubt golfers would want to set up readers at every hole before swinging.

Golf courses could, perhaps, offer a service by which they would set up the readers and allow golfers to locate their balls. However, my guess is that active RFID technology providers would see more lucrative markets on which to focus at the moment than tracking golf balls.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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