Great golf player Arnold Palmer said once “what other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive”. If you love golf, you know very well what Palmer means. Many golf players, high or low handicap alike, confess that they have got passionate with golf from the moment they found out they could make the ball fly nicely towards the objective. It is true that a golfer needs constant, frequent play and practice to really enjoy the game. There is even a golf joke that says the handicap is equal to the number of days the person actually works per month. That is because lowering the handicap requires dedicating time to playing and practicing. More than twenty-five million people play golf in the United States every season and many of them have the potential to play much better if they had the time to practice between weekends. However passionate for golf one might be, going to the driving range for a practice session on weekdays before or after work is definitely not an easy task.
Optishot 2 Review
With Optishot 2 Golf Simulator, you can have practice sessions in the comfort of your home. Actually, inside your house. It helps you really practice your swing, it is not a video game in which you practice your fingers but never move your hips from the couch. You need to open up space where you can swing w ith your own clubs just like if you were in the driving range. So you need space around you and a ceiling high enough not to be touched by your driver when you finish a swing. You do not have to go places off your normal road, just practice at home for as long as you want. As the simulator is easy to set up, you can organize yourself to take practice sessions before leaving home early in the morning or when you return at the end of the day. Think of the difference your friends will see when you beat them in the medal play game, for example, next Saturday.
The Optishot 2 Golf Simulator device consists of a swing pad covered with hard artificial grass. The pad comes marked for the ball position and has two lines of infrared sensors, one in front and the other behind the ball, at different distances from the ball. A cable connects the swing pad to your computer where the Optishot 2 software runs to gather all the data, process them and present the results to you in an easy graphical form. You can connect your computer to your HDTV or projector to see the graphs on a big screen. With Optishot 2 Golf Simulator, you practice with your own clubs, real balls, foam balls or no balls at all. Every time you swing your club, the device will measure club head position, speed, alignment, and path. Both in your back and your forward swing. The infrared sensors will transmit the data to the computer where the software will precisely calculate the flight, direction, distance and final position of your ball.
You can set the device for a practice session and it will show the driving range area on your screen. It will mark the path of your ball to its end position. Besides, it will show to you in graphs and numbers the data collected during your swing, so that you will know if your club is traveling inside out, for example, and will be able to correct it. The software gives you instant feedback, right after your swing. Concentrate, change your stance and swing again for the instant response. It is learning and practicing at the same time.
Besides practicing, you can put on your golf shoes, hat and your nicest golf outfit to play a full round of golf in a famous course without leaving your home. And you can invite your friends and family to play with you. With fifteen pre-loaded famous courses, exact maps, and 3D environment, the software allows you to play a full round of golf in a famous professional course such as Long Island Black, for example. All year round, without leaving your home, actual swing with your own clubs. Optishot 2 Golf Simulator will change your golf life.
Your ordinary computer, be it Mac or Windows, will run the Optishot software without any difficulties. System requirements are:
• For the Windows environment: Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10, 4GB RAM, 3GB HDD Storage, USB 2.0 port, 256MB Graphics Card, available Adapter RAM with OpenGL 2.0 support and the latest Video Drivers.
• For the Mac users: Mac OS X 10.8 or later, Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, 3GB HDD Storage, USB 2.0 Port, and NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or Intel Iris Pro or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 or better, and OpenGL 2.0 Support.
How to use Optishot 2 Golf Simulator
It is easy to get started with your Optishot 2 Golf Simulator. Just put the swing pad on the floor where you have space enough to make full swings with your clubs, plug the provided USB cable to your computer and run the Optishot Application. As simple as that.
The application has default settings for each club, that is, the application has a default measurement for loft and shaft length of a 7-iron, for example. However, the application is complete enough to include the calibration of each one of your clubs. A tall person, for instance, can have a longer shaft or different brands of irons and woods will have different club soles. You can make use of the default settings but, for more accurate, individualized results, you should calibrate the application to your specific clubs. You can have more than one club set and calibrate the sets separately. You should do the club calibration only once and the system will store the data for you. Then, just let the application know which set you are playing with to have custom results.
As the sensors get all the data when the club head passes over the two lines of infrared, the system is not based on tracking the ball. That is why you can practice and play with real, plastic, or foam balls or even no ball at all. With the data gathered by the infrared lines, the program will precisely calculate ball speed and trajectory to the end point and show to you all the results on the screen.
If you want to use Optishot 2 with real golf balls, you must have a box to shoot the ball into. Also, if you prefer to use foam balls, remove from the surroundings any object that might fall or be damaged by a foam ball.
You can play the Optishot 2 in driving mode and in game mode. The driving mode simulates your practice session in a driving range analyzing each and every swing you make. The application shows you the average results you get with each club, what helps you a lot when you have to select which club to use in a real game situation.
In addition, when you move to game mode, you can choose from fifteen famous pre-loaded courses. In all of these courses, you will have 3D images of fairways, greens and bunkers to make your playing experience excitingly real. The pre-loaded courses are:
• The Golf Club Scottsdale,
• Long Island Black,
• Torrey White,
• Torrey Black,
• Palm Desert Mountains,
• Palm Desert Canyons,
• Barsebäck Golf Club,
• Black Mountain,
• The Canadian Club,
• West Maui Plantation,
• Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club,
• Fylde Links,
• Cogs Corner, and
• Twisted Twig.
Each pre-loaded course comes with its default settings and the applications allow you configure different settings to add more realism to your game or just to have more fun with your friends. It is easy to configure the rough and the wind speed as well as other factors like the fairway and how fast you want the greens to be. You can play each course on the screen of your computer, or use your high definition big screen television, or project the image on a large screen right in front of the swing pad just to have the same view and sensation of being on the actual course. It is very challenging to play a course one day and, on the following days, play the same course with different settings such as to simulate a multi-day tournament, just like the ones you see on television professionals playing.
Pros and Cons
When you review Optishot 2 Golf Simulator, you find, of course, benefits and some drawbacks as well. First, it has to be clear that the system does not track the ball. The flight, direction and end position of the ball is calculated but the application based on the data gathered from the speed, direction, height, loft, and length of the head. So, in other words, the system infers where the ball is going to end up. And, in order to do that, the system always assumes the club head hits the ball with a solid impact, which, truth to be told, average golfers know it is not what happens in one hundred of their shots.
About the product design, the swing pad with the sensors is too small. It is so small that it can be intimidating to some high handicap golfers as they will fear to hit the club head on the floor if they make a bad swing, which is not so rare. The best solution is to buy, for an extra price, an artificial grass pad with the cut to fit the swing pad in so that you can have a simulated grass surface just about the size of the one you have in an ordinary driving range.
It is also important to keep in mind that however natural the swing pad grass might look, it is never like real turf planted on the soil. Artificial grass is more homogeneous than any squared inch of natural grass can be. And the soil is also dynamic. One day you have dry weather and soil is, therefore, harder and the other day, due to moisture, the soil can be a little softer. All of this can have different consequences in each shot. For example, if you hit too much before hitting the ball, is the artificial grass your club head will slide forward impacting eventually the ball but, on the other hand, if you make the same odd swing in real turf, chances are that your club head with getting stuck in the grass when the soil is soft and severely reduce the speed of impact.
The swing pad looks a bit fragile to resist clubs hitting it repeatedly. The artificial grass is very tough to resist for long use and you want the infrared sensors to be as resistant too.
Still about the design, to some golfers, the two sensor lines can look a bit strange at first because they do not actually exist in the real turf. They can be so intimidating that some people may swing in an unnatural way when using the simulator. You can say it is a mind´s game, of course. But golf is a mind´s game, anyway.
The average price of this Golf Simulator is $ 325.-. Yes, it is very affordable and, besides, you should think of how many driving range buckets you are going to save along with time and fuel costs because you will be practicing at home. You will also save green fees because you can practice more often in your simulator and only will go to a course when you really want to play an actual round. A low-handicap player can practice with simulator every day thus reducing the green fee total monthly cost. On the other hand, it is very probable that the price of the Optishot 2 is not your final cost. The larger grass pad, the screen, the projector or the net box to capture the balls you shoot are added items that will contribute to your final disbursement.
It is a major advantage of the system the fact that you are using your real clubs and making your swing just like you would do at the driving range or play on the course. The drawback of that is you need space to swing your clubs back and forward. That means space around you and space above you because some people hold the club up when they finish their swing. Besides, all this required space needs to be indoor space. That may mean your living room if you do not have another area in your apartment that a is roomy enough to allow you to “play golf” on it. It has to be in doors because the sensors are infrared so they will not work properly with natural day light. In fact, they do not work properly even with an incandescent light. The accurate results come with fluorescent lights. So, if you invite your friends to play golf in your simulator on a warm summer evening, with beer and snacks between shots, of course, the whole group has to remain in doors for the simulator to work properly. Too bad if the barbecue grill is in the backyard.
The calibration is also an issue in the Golf Simulator. The application comes with default values for all the different clubs of a standard bag. But the default values will not yield precise results and, in some cases, may even yield results that are not correct. Therefore, you should take the time to calibrate the system to each one of your clubs and each one of your sets of clubs. The same goes true for the club sets of your friends to be exact but you can make it simpler and have your friends play with one of the calibrated sets. Some buyers have reported that calibration was neither straightforward nor quick to do, so you should allocate time and attention to this adjustment set before start enjoying your simulator.
As the system is based on the readings of the two lines of infrared sensors, there are some special situations to consider. When you need only a very short putt to finish a hole, for example. The short back and forward swing of the putter can be misread by the sensor or even not read at all which is a problem when you are having fun playing golf with a bunch of friends. The two sensor lines are about ten inches apart so your putt swing should span larger than that in order to be read properly, which might mean, for very short shots, that you have to make an unnatural move just to have the sensors detecting your shot. Another important consideration that has been reported by users is the color of the club sole. Drivers or fairway woods that have large black soles may be incorrectly detected by the sensors and, therefore, speed and club head position will be erroneous. There is a simple solution which just makes short swings with them repeatedly to allow the sensors to see them properly during calibration. Another simple solution is to stick a white or light colored tape to the sole of the club. The sensors will have less difficulty to detect them and consistently measure their speed and club face alignment. As irons have a sleeker design, the sensors will work better with them.
The application has self-explanatory help windows for most of the doubts user can have. However, you should not count on having a customer support line available when you have a question that does not answer or the answer is not clear to you. Specifically, the calibration process may be a bit difficult and you may come up with some doubts the first time you have to do it.
Some users of Optishot 2 Golf Simulator have reported using a radar or similar device to track the ball flight. As this simulator only detects the clubs and does not track the balls, the use of an additional device should confirm the ball speed and trajectory calculated by Optishot 2. And, in fact, it has been reported that the simulator is, to a very great extent, accurate. It means that, when you are in driving or game mode, the final position of your ball after each shot is really the position your ball would have if you were on a real course and hit solid impact with the same swing.
The Optishot 2 Golf Simulator undoubtedly is a very good purchase option if you want to improve your game by practicing more often without the difficulties that going to a driving range entail. This device is not only a very good value for your money but also a simulator that shows your result with great accuracy. Other simulators can track the ball for more accuracy but they are above the price range of Optishot 2 and, most probably, will have different requirements as far as space and settings. This simulator gives you instant feedback, with data and computerized images, based on your actual swing with the very same clubs you use when you are playing on a real course. That is very important because, as any other golfer, you get used to your clubs, to your grips and to how they feel.
As any other simulator, it will require initial set-up and it will never simulate exactly the course conditions, that is true. However, you should have it clear that you are making this purchase mostly to facilitate your practice for game improvement. Think for example of seeing an instructional golf video and immediately try the swing without leaving your living-room. That is an opportunity this simulator gives to you. Besides, however great this simulator may be, it is a just a simulator and you will go on playing in real courses facing real, unexpected difficulties in each shot. The main difference is that you will have a much better-trained swing because you will have practiced in your Optishot 2 Golf Simulator time and time again with no extra cost for your more frequent practice. And that is very important, too.
Arnold Palmer also said that “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated … the greatest game mankind has ever invented”.