Golfers have been searching for a device for years that could assist with training and allow for fun, all the while being cost effective. It seems as though over the last few years, golfers have always had the same choice to make…”Do I play a video game such as the Nintendo Wii or do I spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a simulator? (assuming space is not an issue)”. A couple of years ago, a company by the name of Dancin’ Dogg came up with an idea for a portable and affordable solution that may give consumers the ability to have their cake and eat it too. They launched the Optishot Simulator for indoor use and it arrived at the consumer friendly point of $399.95 which brought smiles to the faces of golfers everywhere. The one question that everybody wants to know the answer to in evaluating this device, is it a game or a training aid? Is the device accurate enough to be called a true simulator? Read on for more information.
What is Optishot
In theory OptiShot is an affordable, accurate and portable home golf simulator. It is designed to give the golfer:
Accurate Swing Analysis
Club head speed
Face angle at impact
Visual feedback of each shot
Play with up to 4 players
Hit all shots from tee to green
Ability to tune settings specific to your club set
Practice shots from anywhere on any course
Setting Up Device
All you need to get started is a room with high enough ceilings, your golf clubs, the Optishot simulator box and a Windows computer. Setting up is an absolute breeze as you just install the program, connect the USB cord from your PC to the hitting mat and you are basically done. I would like to add that if you have a Mac, you are not going to be able to use the Optishot Simulator. The device is not Mac compatible and according to the company there are no plans for a release of a Mac version anytime soon. The company recommends 8.5 foot ceilings, but in our measuring, you might want to consider something a little taller than that. The Optishot kit comes complete with foam balls, a rubber tee and everything else needed once setup is complete. One other thing to note is that you must have a room that is fairly dark. More on that coming up later.
Using the Device
We set up the device in our golf room at THP HQ and were quickly reminded that the high levels of light were messing with the sensors. One swing would have a reading of 105 MPH swing speed and the next would be somewhere around 65 MPH. It was causing havoc in our minds and with the score, so we quickly navigated towards a darker area. Once setup in the darker room, you really get the feel that you are ready to play some golf. On the first tee I was armed with the latest driver THP has been testing and when the light went green I put a swing on the “ball”. Before I get into the results, I wanted to say that I chose the current driver because of the fact that earlier in the day I was on the range with our VectorX launch monitor and happen to have all the statistics in place. On the launch monitor, swing speed was coming in at around 105 for my normal swing and with the fitted shaft, my launch angle was right where it should be. As you load up the system, you choose the preferences you would like such as wind, tees, and whether you would like to use a ball or no ball. We decided to go with no golf ball for the 1st session. Back to the results…I would love to say that with the first swing, we saw instant results and it was like using a full simulator. Unfortunately, it did not start out that way.
For some reason it kept reading my swing speed at about 75 MPH. No matter if I swung hard or soft, the results were the same….Slow swing speed, with a big draw. I could come in with a huge fade swing or open club face and it was still giving us the same slower swing speed and a big draw. The distances were all over the place as well. First swing was a 75MPH club head speed with a .8 degree closed face and a 216 carry drive into the rough on the left. Next was a 77 MPH club head speed that was square at impact yet it carried 231 into the trees on the right. Figured it was time to do some more research.
After a few hours, I decided to go back and face the gadget again and this time use the foam balls that were supplied. Once using the foam balls, the results were a little better. I found the club head speed to still be off by a pretty large margin compared to an actual simulator or our launch monitor, but the face angle measurements were quite good. We have tried using the device numerous times and have enjoyed the rounds of golf and swinging in the comfort of our own home. You can get the feel of playing an actual round of golf with the Optishot in your home during those winter months where you cannot get out to the course. It offers the same joys of hitting that good drive down the middle of the fairway and the same frustrations of missing by just a groove or two and ended up long or short on your approach.
The graphics on the Optishot simulator are quite good. A faster machine might smooth out some edges here and there, but overall the presentation of the golf course and the rendering of the holes that were presented to us are pretty top notch. Having a notebook computer with an HDMI out made it very easy to connect our Optishot right to a large LCD TV which showcased once again the nice renditions of some incredible golf courses.
Playing golf in your living room in the middle of winter would be a joy for our northern friends.
Fairly accurate with face angle and swing path.
Extremely easy setup.
Ability to use every club in your own bag and watch it come to life on the monitor.
Graphically speaking, it was a hit.
Definitely must have a darker room.
Found the club head speed pretty baffling at times
Accuracy was not on par with the simulators we have tested and/or our launch monitor
The Optishot Simulator is far more sophisticated than a Nintendo game device, but in my opinion, not quite on the level yet with full golf simulation or launch monitor statistics. It is enjoyable despite some early trouble and one can enjoy a round of golf in their own home regardless of what the weather is like outside, but it will not replace an actual round of golf in terms of realism (nor should we expect it to). The opinion of those at THP that tried the device out is it ranks somewhere above a game and below a full simulator in terms of realism and accuracy. With a price point of $399 for the entire kit, it might be worth a shot to take a look at. For more information on the Optishot Simulator, check out their website at www.dancindogg.com.
Till Next Time