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East Islip native Garrett Bernichon helps create app for golfers

Co-inventors of the Course Counsel iPhone app and

Co-inventors of the Course Counsel iPhone app and roommates at Purdue University John Skubic and Garrent Bernichon, who is from East Islip, pull out a laptop on the way to class on their college campus. (Oct. 8, 2012) Credit: Handout

When East Islip’s Garrett Bernichon and his college roommate set out to develop an iPhone app, the hardest part was figuring out what it would do.

“There’s pretty much an app for everything,” said Bernichon, 19, now a sophomore at Purdue University studying computer engineering. “Coming up with something unique is pretty difficult.”

Bernichon’s classmate, John Skubic, who comes from a family of golfers, came up with the idea for Course Counsel, the app the two developed that helps golfers choose the appropriate club while on the course.

The app, which sells for 99 cents in the App Store and was recently updated for iOS 6, uses the iPhone’s GPS to calculate the distance of each shot. The user assigns a club, and the app stores the average distance shot for each club and uses that information to make recommendations.

The app also has a scorecard, keeps track of when the user is over or under par, and allows them to send their scores to Twitter.

The app has just three reviews so far, but all of them are positive, even claiming the app helped improve their game.

“I’m really happy with it,” said Skubic, 19, of Woodbury, Minn. “I was using it a lot this summer and it worked perfectly.”

Bernichon and Skubic said they spent about three months working on the app and learned the ins and outs of the computer language — objective C — as they went.

“Both of us were pretty new to the language,” he said. “So we were basically learning it as we went using a textbook we bought.”

Bernichon said he’s always been interested in computer science — his father is a software engineer — and was enrolled in Advanced Placement Computer Science while at East Islip High School, where he learned basic computer programming.

His high schoolteacher, Raymond Willie, said Bernichon excelled in his computer science class, and encouraged his classmates to see the more practical applications of the course — like developing an app, or creating video games.

“He was very enthusiastic in getting the whole class into those things, as well,” Willie said. “That was a very good year, we had a lot of people who were interested.”

Willie said the high school course teaches students to write in the computer language Java, which cannot be used to create an app, but he gives them the foundation to learn other languages and teaches them about the process for creating an app.

He said more and more, students come into his class interested in learning how to create apps, and someone like Bernichon sets the example for what can be done.

“They hear about some of these successes and that’s what they want to do,” he said.
“It’s great to show them that because it’s such a great skill for them to learn.”

Bernichon said writing code can be a frustrating process — and the two wrote more than 5,000 lines of code for the app — but it was a satisfying one.

“It’s a very good feeling when the product is done,” he said “That’s what interests me and hopefully it will be part of my career in the future.”

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