The game of golf is enjoying a wave of high-tech enhancements that is revolutionizing the experience for beginners and Tour players alike. Jim Stracka, a member since 2003 at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, is one of the chief innovators driving these changes.
“About six years ago, I started developing yardage books and green reading charts for the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour players,” said Stracka. “But then I thought about taking these programs to the club level, to help everyday golfers get a better read of the greens and make more putts.”
As Stracka’s home course, The Bridges was the first club in the country to offer its members his yardage books and green reading charts. Advantages once available only to the pros were now accessible to all.
Then less than a year ago, Stracka sought assistance from Bridges Director of Golf Steve Wilson to take things a step further.
“Jim’s existing technology already provided crucial information on the slopes and breaks of the greens. But then he came in with a software program to randomize our hole locations,” said Wilson. “This sophisticated computer algorithm allows The Bridges to create a new hole location every single day. If you played golf 365 days a year at The Bridges, you’d never play the same hole location twice.”
And thanks to StrackaLine, Stacka’s new smartphone app, players at The Bridges can take a look at the new pin placements every day before they play.
“You can literally sit in the clubhouse, having a cup of coffee, and pull up the StrackaLine app to review the pin placements for the day,” said Wilson. “This easy-to-use technology is adding new dimensions to the game and keeping the experience fresh every time our members are out on the course.”
Stracka confirms that the hole placement computer program has really caught on.
“Some of the members at The Bridges play several times a week and know this course inside and out,” said Stracka. “The most common comments I hear now are, ‘Wow, that was a really hard hole location’ and ‘I saw hole locations today that I’ve never seen before.’ It’s like a brand new golf course.”
The daily pin rotation is also popular with Bridges Course Superintendent Mike Hathaway, who is responsible for keeping the greens looking spectacular 365 days a year.
“Every Saturday, Mike gets a print out of the hole locations chosen by the computer for the coming week,” said Wilson. “He can see where the holes were placed for the last seven days and where they’re going for the next seven days. Mixing things up, placing the holes in different parts of the green really protects the integrity and beauty of the turf.”
The hole placement software also helps Hathaway and his crew when there’s a big event coming up.
“We can program it to block out certain sections of the green to save them for the tournament,” said Wilson. “Essentially we’re resting the turf so it’s beautiful and fresh for these special occasions.”
The StrackaLine app has other side benefits for golf enthusiasts, notes Stracka. A laser scan of every green on the professional golf tour allows home viewers to see every putt the pros have to make.
“StrackaLine is becoming a very popular TV companion app, allowing users to follow the pros on in real time as they make their way around the golf course,” he said. “Even the broadcasters use the app to better understand and explain the intricacies and challenges of each hole.”
Bridges’ resident Jim Stracka founded StrackaLine with his son, Chase, in 2007. The company is busier than ever scanning new courses every day.
“It’s been thrilling to watch the company evolve and grow and develop such a strong fan base within the golf world,’” said Stracka. “As a member of The Bridges, it was gratifying to be able to create and test drive some of our technology on my home course.”
For membership information, contact Carly Hyslop at 858-756-8077. Real estate inquiries should be directed to Bob Jackson at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe Sales Company, 858-756-8700.