Anyone seen my ball?

Admit it, you play a little pine-tree pinball on the golf course. This gadget is meant to make tracking down errant shots easy.

For most weekend duffers, making it through an entire round with one ball is worthy of a personal Green Jacket. But let's face it, 18 holes without playing a little pine-tree pinball isn't likely. So RadarGolf (radargolf.com) tees up with its patented ball-finding technology. Combining a handheld locator and balls with microchips inside, the system is designed to save money and strokes.

Here's how it works: As you approach the area where your stray shot went, power on the locator (it's the size of a thick DVD case, weighing 14.5 oz.) and begin sweeping. Beeps get louder and the LCD signal gets stronger as you approach the ball. The company claims a range of 30 to 100 feet.

Our findings were less robust. The first errant shot – a fade into light trees – was found quickly. Still, beeping only started when eight paces away, the ball already in sight. After a fat hook off the next tee and a few minutes of fruitless sweeping, I bagged it and resorted to the tried-and-true method of self-recrimination and lots of walking in circles. At no time did the locator pick up a ball beyond 30 feet, the bottom of the advertised range.

While RadarGolf may have its uses – finding the odd ball in thick rough or under fall leaves – at $250 (includes 12 balls; additional dozens cost $40), most hackers might settle for cheaper balls and a higher handicap.

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