Johnny Miller golf course GPS on your glove? Yes!

14th July 1976: Johnny Miller, the American golf player winning the British Open at Royal Birkdale. (Photo by John Leatherbarrow/Keystone/Getty Images)
14th July 1976: Johnny Miller, the American golf player winning the British Open at Royal Birkdale. (Photo by John Leatherbarrow/Keystone/Getty Images) /

If you’re in the market for the newest in on-course technology, Johnny Miller has something you’ll want to consider!

If you’ve listened to Johnny Miller often enough on NBC golf, you’ve probably heard him say that when he was playing his best, he used to ask his caddie to give him yardages in half yards.

If you are old enough to remember watching televised golf in Miller’s prime, which was the 1970s, you’ll know he was probably not kidding. Anyone who saw those desert victories in person or on TV will recall that Miller was able to hit it to within three feet of the pin on many occasions. He was that accurate, at least for a while.

We should not be surprised that he’s involved with a golf equipment company that has put GPS on the back of a golf glove: Zero Friction DistancePro.

Miller’s not just a spokesperson for Zero Friction, he’s part owner of the company. But he has the kind of track record that makes him an expert. If you look at his victories, you’ll see that he was a Tiger Woods type player in his era. In 1974, he won eight tournaments. In 1975, he won four times. In 1976, he won three, including the Open Championship.

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Because so many of Miller’s victories were in the desert, he got a nickname: The Desert Fox, previously attributed to the WWII German general Erwin Rommel.

Miller won back-to-back-to-back at the Dean Martin Tucson Open (and then NBC Tucson Open) from 1974-1976. He won the Phoenix Open back-to-back in 1974 and 1975. And he won the Bob Hope Desert Classic back-to-back in 1975 and 1976. His strategy was simple. Hit it close to the flagstick.

He said in a Golf Magazine article in 1982:

"I remember when I won at Tucson by nine shots in 1975, I would say the average iron shot I hit that week was no more than two feet off-line. It was unbelievable. I had a stretch there for a few years where I played some golf that bordered on the Twilight Zone. I’m not saying that I did it for a very long period of time, but even so, during that span I played some golf that I think is unequaled. I can remember that I was literally getting upset that I had to putt."

Miller’s accuracy was uncanny, and so if he said he needed distances to within a half yard, who can disagree. Perhaps in the spirit of needing to know better distances, Miller and Zero Friction came up with the Zero Friction DistancePro GPS Glove. Yes. That’s right. GPS has migrated from your phone or watch to the back of your hand.

Miller touts the innovative design on their web site.

"The Zero Friction Distance Pro GPS Glove Wearable Technology, the first of its kind. Just download the Zero Friction app and you’re ready to go play."

The DistancePro GPS device is a matchbox sized – for those who remember matchboxes – or a third of a credit card-sized GPS unit that attaches to the back of the golf glove with Velcro and a special metal dowel to hold it in place. The DistancePro GPS unit gives distances to the front, center and back of the green on more than 35,000 golf courses. To activate it, you download the Zero Friction DistancePro app and sync the phone to the GPS unit. When you get to the course, you’re ready to go.

You have to be within a 100-foot range of your phone for the distances to show on the GPS. So put the phone in the back pocket or park the cart close. The battery lasts for 400 hours, and it’s very easy to change as Joe Jung, the National Sales Director for Zero Friction demonstrated at the ING Conference at the World Golf Village earlier this season.

When you wear out the glove, you take the DistancePro GSP unit off that glove and put it on a new one. You’re ready to go again.

The gloves and GPS unit are sold in package of two gloves plus the GPS for $139 for synthetic gloves and $159 for leather gloves. Replacement synthetic gloves are under $15, and replacement leather is under $20. When buying, be sure to that the replacement gloves have the golf tee holder on the back because that is what is used to secure the GPS unit. It’s quick work to change out gloves, as Jung also showed at the ING Conference.

Johnny Miller’s Record

In case you do not know Miller’s record, his first victory came over former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman at the Southern Open Invitational in 1971.

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Miller made his first huge splash when he shot 63, the lowest score ever in a major championship at the time, to win the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Then he had the stunningly brilliant years of 1974, 1975 and 1976, when he also won the Open Championship. After that 1976 season, he took some time off for family, and his game never returned to the prior level.

Although he won another six times between 1981 and 1987, the Desert Fox disappeared. Some said he worked out too much and it affected his swing. Others pointed to his desire to spend time with family. Perhaps the fact was that he had made enough money. Only Miller knows for sure.

Between 1971 and 1976, Miller won two majors, 18 PGA TOUR tournaments, and after that, it was just not the same.

In what looked like it could be his last victory at the 1987 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Miller used a 46-inch long putter, braced it against his left arm. But he was not quite done. His last PGA TOUR title came again at Pebble Beach in 1994.

“This isn’t happening,” Miller said to the Deseret News at the time.

"This is a time warp. I play 25 rounds a year. I don’t practice. I’m Joe Announcer. I wasn’t supposed to win. It’s a fluke."

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Fluke or not, it was a reminder of the player he had been. Miller became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998.