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Six cool ways to use your GPS satnav

Golf, drink and be merry with your GPS

1. Track your distance to the tee

I rarely golf without a GPS because it allows me to choose clubs more accurately. You can first "map" the fairway manually by walking the course and setting waypoints. On most GPS devices, you just click a button that looks like a flag near each tee box and hole. Then, when you play the course, the GPS shows you your current location and the distance to the next hole.

An easier approach is to use the GolfLogix handheld device, which not only shows you pin distances, but bunker locations and other hazards to avoid - such as lakes and even the best lay-up positions - all automatically for many popular courses.

You just pick the hole you are about to play and the GPS feeds you all of the relevant information. It takes all of the guesswork out of finding the flag. You can download the software for free and load it on many Garmin models (such as the eTrex Legend). The receiver comes with one free course; other courses cost just a few dollars each.

2. Catch more fish than the next guy

Fishing is another sport where persistence and fundamentals pay off, but a GPS provides several fishing perks beyond the basics. Garmin makes a fishing-friendly GPS, the 76CSx, that includes fishing and hunting schedules for the best days and times to fish and which species are in season. There's also a barometric altimeter - which determines your altitude based on atmospheric pressure - which can help you determine the best times for fishing.

For planning a corporate event, you can use a GPS to set a waypoint marker for all attendees, not only for the lake itself but for the best fishing spots on the lake.

There's also sunrise and sunset information, moon phases for judging how much light you will have for nighttime outings and tide tables for those who fish on the ocean. One last perk for fishing with a GPS: most recent models use a highly sensitive electronic compass that works even when you are motionless - unlike the analogue compasses used in earlier devices.

3. Hunt for buried treasure with your co-workers

One idea for a corporate event or after-work activity is to go geocaching. Sites such as Geocaching.com provide a list of downloadable waypoint markers for hidden treasures - there are loads all over the UK. Once you load the geocache on your GPS, you can then head to that location using the features on the GPS (such as the compass or street maps).

Once you are there, you'll typically find a coffee can or a shoe box that contains trinkets and coins, or possibly something a bit more valuable -- such as a watch or bracelet. The idea is that, if you find a geocache and take something, it's a good idea to leave some other trinket behind.

The Magellan eXplorist XL works well for geocaching. It has a large colour screen, and has one screen that lists all the geocaches you have loaded on the device so they are easy to find.

Geocaching has become a corporate "urban game" activity on a large scale. Microsoft recently hosted an event through GeoTeaming where each employee used a GPS device.

"We did a GPS-based scavenger hunt for 300 people in Disney World's Epcot Center," says Hal Howard, general manager of ERP product development.

"It was a fantastic event that required teamwork and planning to get done. GeoTeaming tailored the hunt to be about our business objectives and the strategies in the game reflected potential real-world strategies. It was motivational and educational for all."

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