08 Feb This robot didn’t even use the right club and still got a hole-in-one
Two months after it first held a golf club, LDRIC — pronounced Eldrick — can already hit shots most golfers only dream of. The robot turned heads Wednesday at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz. with a hole-in-one on the 16th hole, defying his co-creator’s expectations.
“If I got close I was going to be happy,” said Jean Parente of San Diego-based Golf Laboratories.
Parente wheeled the 750-pound robot onto the teebox expecting a 158-yard shot. Then a caddie informed him it would actually be 20 yards shorter. Parente didn’t have time to run and grab a more appropriate club, so was left to wield his 7-iron.
The tournament organizers said he had five attempts to hit his best shot. LDRIC isn’t advanced enough to determine on its own how hard to swing. Parente’s first set of instructions — entered on a laptop — overshot the pin.
Parente started to tweak the swing formula to deal with having the wrong club.
“There was no science at this point, it was pure intuition,” Parente said.
On his fifth attempt, Parente picked the perfect set-up. The shot landed on the edge of the green, bounced twice and rolled into the hole.
“Pandemonium ensued,” Parente recalled. Some fans threw cups of beer onto the green in celebration.
Meanwhile Eldrick stood perfectly still, holding his 7-iron perfectly parallel to the ground. It was probably the world’s most understated celebration of a hole-in-one ever.