Pak Se-ri kneels down before AI-powered golf robot : The DONG-A ILBO

South Korea’s legendary golfer Pak Se-ri took on a golf shot battle against AI. To make it short, the victory went to AI, which observed consistency and learned from earlier failures to get better in golf – one of the sports fields which require a high level of concentration and self-control.

In a golf game between human players and AI, which was aired on SBS on Saturday, Pak Se-ri teamed up with famous South Korean actor Kim Sang-joong to compete against AI system LDRIC in three sub-challenges in Muju Anseong Country Club.

LDRIC, 2.1 meters high and 136 kilograms heavy, is an advanced-type swing machine to get tested for clubs, balls and other golf equipment and learn professional golfers’ swing patterns. The machine’s swing power is proven by its average carry or a flying distance of the ball in the air, which is as long as 274.32 meters. LDRIC is accurate and precise enough to make three out of five putts inside 5 meters. Analyzing wind velocity and direction, the machine copies how the human shoulder and wrist move for a swing. It is equipped with a radar and a camera to calculate an exact distance.

The first challenge was about who has a longer drive shot. The players tried three shots on a par-4 hole. The machine player took its first shot that went out of bounds as it failed to read winds of a South Korean golf resort unfamiliar to it. The second and third shots recorded 204.08 meters and 223.2 meters, respectively. Pak got off to a good start with her first shot flying 236 meters.  

The second challenge is about the closest ball to the pin. They played 10 rounds to take 30 shots in total – three shots per round on a par-3 hole. The more shots LDRIC had, the closer its ball got to the pin. However, Pak’s human partner, Kim, made more mistakes over time probably due to his lacking stamina. The winner with the closer ball to the pin turned out to be LDRIC (35cm), way better than Kim (3.8m).  

The humans and the AI system competed the third and final challenge: Who makes more successful putts than the other? Pak made three failed attempts of 3-meter putting but LDRIC only failed at the first one, making the rest two successful. In 5-meter putting, Kim did not make it at all and Pak had two successful putts out of three. Although LDRIC missed the first putt, it determined its winning at the second try by getting the ball right in the hole.

Dong-Wook Kim [email protected]

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