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OptiShot Golf Simulator: Editor Review

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Pros: OptiShot is simple to install, set up and use. It’s also extremely portable. And because it can be used with a golf ball, foam ball or no ball, it can make just about any space where you can swing a club a golf space. Its infrared sensors are also pretty accurate when it comes to measuring clubhead speed and point of contact on the face (heel, center, toe), and short game shots and putting were more intuitive than we expected. Visually, the course layouts are attractive, as are the sounds of the birds and birdie claps.

Cons: OptiShot couldn’t read my driver swings and gave distorted results with my 3 wood swings. While its settings allowed me to designate my longest iron to go a “driver distance,” not being able to pull the big stick was a disappointment. With irons and wedges the readings were in the right range most of the time. But here and there, OptiShot would fail to read a shot or give a result that I knew was way off.

The Takeaway: OptiShot is not a launch monitor, so it doesn’t track the ball —  its infrared sensors track the club slightly before and after impact. So if a user is expecting a FlightScope- or Trackman-like experience (launch monitors that can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000), they’re not going to get it from something that costs $399. But if users understand what OptiShot does and its limitations, it can be an enjoyable experience.

It’s great fun for golfers who want a golf-like experience in the winter, at night or on bad weather days, and birdies still feel like birdies. But for really serious golfers, it will probably serve as an arcade or party game, not an improvement tool.

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Overview

At $399, OptiShot is a fraction of the cost of most launch monitors — it’s also about the cheapest golf simulator on the market that provides an actual golf experience. Almost every option can be customized, including weather, course conditions and equipment options. Even golfers like me who have actually played the real versions of some of OptiShot’s courses will find themselves immersed into their simulated rounds at one of OptiShot’s 11 free replica courses, including Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines (North and South). For an additional $49.95, golfers can add one of OptiShot’s 14 premium replica courses, which include Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits, St. Andrews, TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course and others.

For many recreational golfers, especially those in cold climates, OptiShot will be a godsend. It’s two rows of infrared sensors fire about 10,000 pulses per second and bounce off the sole of a golfer’s club slightly before and after impact, measuring clubhead speed, face angle and path. OptiShot’s software takes over from there, extrapolating launch conditions from those variables to give golfers a reasonably accurate on-screeen illustration of what their shot did.

Optishot’s infrared sensors are the launch monitor’s biggest strength, but for serious golfers, they are also its biggest downfall. Since OptiShot is not measuring the ball like other launch monitor systems, it presumes that every shot is hit pretty much on the screws. For this reason, OptiShot doesn’t take into consideration gear effect, the twisting of the club head that occurs on off center hits and contributes to shot shape. That means that every swing on OptiShot has some level of error, but that’s something the company is aware of and doesn’t try to hide.

“We are not a launch monitor, and we don’t pretend to be a launch monitor,” says Brandon Theophilus, CEO of Dancin Dogg, the company behind OptiShot. “Trackman and FlightScope — both of those products are measuring the ball. We’re not. We’re measuring the club face through the impact area.”

Despite the short comings of its infrared sensors, Theophilus, a 3 handicap, says that there’s plenty skilled golfers can learn from OptiShot. Even though OptiShot doesn’t know if he hit a shot fat or thin, he does, and can adjust his expectations accordingly.

Theophilus is right. Golfers of all levels can enjoy OptiShot. Many golfers will even learn from it. But different golfers have different thresholds for how much inaccuracy they can tolerate. For serious golfers, OptiShot will toe that line.

Set up

Setting up OptiShot is a breeze. The $399 package includes a 14-by-10-inch swing pad, replaceable turf, the OptiShot software, a 10-foot USB cable, two foam practice balls and well-fitting tees. Add a PC with Windows Vista, 7 or 8, and that’s all that’s needed to start using OptiShot.

Setup goes something like this — insert the disc and plug in the swing pad. That’s about it. Golfers will need a place where they can swing a club, but based on their preference, they may not even need a net. OptiShot can be played without a ball, which means golfers can make air swings over the unit’s infrared sensors and still play and practice golf.

This feature came in particularly handy for me, as the GolfWRX hitting bay isn’t tall enough to safely contain full wedge shots. I used the foam balls on those occasions, which I found to be as accurate as real balls. I also experimented with the “no-ball” option, which wasn’t as accurate for me. Whether that was the OptiShot’s fault or my inability to make a consistent swing without a ball present, I’m not sure.

Ease of Use

It didn’t take me long to get very proficient with OptiShot. There’s a lot of different options available, but the screen stays uncluttered by neatly organizing those options in the four corners. All a golfer really has to do is make sure the swing pad is lined up to the target and that they enter their clubs specifications (loft, offset and length) and they can be on their way to playing some of the world’s best courses with up to three of their friends.

I found the distances my shots flew to be accurate to a range of about 10 yards (compared to FlightScope) most of the time. If for some reason the shots are not flying the proper distances, users can boost their “swing speed percentage” for each club, which will make the ball fly longer or shorter to dial in exact distances.

Short game and putting, the down fall of most simulators, was surprisingly intuitive. It’s a stretch to say the rough and bunkers on OptiShot are similar to real golf, but they provide some resistance to the ball that makes them a penalty in game play. There’s also a putting grid on the green that shows breaks and elevation changes. I didn’t make as many putts as I’m used to on some video games, but if I made a good read and paired it with a good stroke, the ball went in with a slightly higher frequency than the course.

Changing clubs and alignment are done with keyboard arrows, which is fast and convenient, and lie type, distance, elevation change, wind speed, wind direction, club selection and shot trajectory are prominently displayed on the bottom of the screen. There’s also a pop out section on the upper left section of the screen that shows club head speed, face angle, distance, height, tempo and contact, which can help some golfers understand what could have been the cause of a certain type of shot.

Accuracy

Dancin Dogg

OptiShot advertises its accuracy range as being within 2 mph of club head speed, 1.5 degrees of face angle and 1.9 degrees of swing path. For the majority of shots, I found that those tolerances were accurate. But I hit plenty of squirrely shots with OptiShot that did not match up with our in-house FlightScope system.

To avoid a possible interference between the OptiShot’s infrared sensors and FlightScope’s Doppler radar field, I ran them separately, hitting 20 six irons on each. Many shots turned out similar, but the range was much wider on OptiShot than it was with FlightScope. OptiShot recorded face angle readings of as much as 10-degrees closed and 8-degrees open, while FlightScope’s range was between 0.5-degrees closed and 2.2 degrees opened —  a huge variance.

There was also the issue of OptiShot not being able to pick up any shots hit with my drivers, which is understandable given the nature of its infrared sensors — they need a smooth, predictable surface to give golfers accurate results. I picked the plainest-soled drivers I had in house — Callaway’s X Hot and Cobra’s AMP Cell Pro — neither of which worked. I also went with the simplest-soled 3 wood I had, a Callaway X Hot Pro, which gave me hugely distorted results — 90-degree angle hooks and slices that didn’t match up to my FlightScope sessions.

OptiShot sells its affordable OptiStix driver for $49.95, which the company says works well with the system. But will golfers who spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours tuning their driver embrace a system that doesn’t allow them to use it?

Final thoughts

Although the ability to play some of the world’s best golf courses in the dead of winter was extremely satisfying to me in late portion of a brutal Michigan winter, I gravitated to the practice feature, which allowed me to practice certain shots on golf courses over and over. I also liked the range option in practice mode, which allowed me to hit shots at six different targets. There’s even a “par-3 tee” option, which takes any hole and turns it into a par 3 so that it can be played in spaces where users can’t swing longer clubs.

“All of us are trying to do more with less in our lives with respect to golf,” says Theophilus. “We’re trying to do our part with folks to help them play more golf in a shorter period of time.”

OptiShot certainly is a way for golfers to squeeze more golf into their lives. For golfers like me in cold climates, OptiShot can extend a season by almost half a year. But everyone who’s in the market for a simulator or launch monitor will have to ask themselves a question. Is this thing worth $400?

For golfers who want to play as much golf as possible and are willing to deal with inaccurate readings at times, the answer is yes, and OptiShot will be everything they’ve always hoped for. But if a golfer wants to hit balls with their own driver and get as realistic feedback as possible, they’re better served spending time at an indoor facility or on a Doppler system.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Ryan Shields

    Jul 18, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Tape on the driver and you are good to go use my r15 with it all the time and is accurate. Evan when I dont want ot to be

  2. Jo

    Jan 15, 2016 at 1:46 am

    That grate golf training aid

  3. Pingback: I Want To Buy A Golf Simulator | Oak Mont Golf Club

  4. Pingback: Optishot Real Golf Balls | Fair Way Golf Schools

  5. Pingback: Golf Simulators Tampa | Golf Member

  6. chuck

    Dec 1, 2014 at 10:46 am

    If I buy this product, I would go into it knowing that the ball flight is an assumption. If it measures the clubs path, speed, angles and all thru the impact zone, is there an OPTImal ball position designated? if not, why not?
    chuck

  7. Pingback: New Golf Technology: Taking Your Game To The Next Level | masteradvertising.com

  8. Jack

    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I recently played a full swing simulator at my local golf club on a double widescreen HD projector…and I was extremely impressed by its features and accuracy! I got addicted very quickly!

  9. Dom Damiano

    Feb 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I got the Optishot Infrared Golf Simulator for Christmas. So far I love it. I’m using it with my laptop but would like to hook it up to a projector and use it on my garage wall. Do you have any suggestions on specs for the projector and will the projector shine through my net without any problem? Thank you very much! Dom Damiano

  10. ROGELIO

    Sep 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Hi, I’ve an Apple Computer, can I install and operate the simulator in this machine?
    thank you

    • Milad

      Sep 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      The bottom hand, Right-hand in rigetihs and the left-hand in us southpaw golfers. The top hand controls and stabilizes the club through the entire swing and impact.

  11. ROGELIO RIQUELMO CORIA HERNANDEZ

    Sep 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I have an Apple computer, can I install and operate the simulator?

  12. Amadeus

    Aug 2, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I am poor college student and I love to play golf. The problem is… I can not afford to play. When I do pay to play, it glorious, but even range balls are out of my budget. So I feel that although imagination is needed it could be exceptional for me. For those who have an Optishot, I am unclear on the matter of shot shaping. Is it not possible to play accurate draws, cuts, punch-hooks ect? Or, is it not possible to shape shots at all?

    • Gary

      Sep 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Yes, shots can be shaped either way. Optishot measures face angle (closed or open by degrees). It measures swing path by inside/out or outside in all the way to “extreme” swing paths. But it doesn’t quantify that measure. A picture can be shown to show the relative angle of attack.
      Sometimes there are results that simply have to be disregarded. I don’t come close to a 154 mph swing but every once in a while that is what is measured if I make a bad swing.
      Like Tom, I taped the bottom of my woods with dull black electrical tape. Then along the leading edge I used white electrical tape. Aluminum tape was tried but white seemed to work a bit better. Forums on GolfWRX confirm this.
      As far as duribility, I have broken a swing pad with my “digger” swing. The company was very accommodating and sent out a re-ferbed one free of charge. Trouble is that one was cracked also. They sent another one that has been fine for about 6 months.
      Thicker and more protective “grass” is available online and on eBay.

  13. Brian G

    Jul 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    As my game improves, I use it less and less. Have never used it to hit balls, because it is totally unrealistic.You are hitting a ball from a curved hard plastic surface, which means you must pick the ball cleanly off the surface. So with an iron, for example you cannot strike the ball with a descending blow, because the head will strike the hard plastic and bounce.The system will say you hit a good stroke. However when you take that stroke out to the range or the course,guess what? No bounce…fat shot. Or you are stroking the ball to pick it off the turf and it’s a skull.
    I would say it’s excellent as a game but not to build a good swing. In my opinion you need to practice your swing on a surface that has the give of real turf to be realistic.

  14. Tom Allinder

    Mar 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I fixed the problem with my woods and hybrids. I went to the auto parts store and found some silver colored tape that was very reflective. I cut strips that were about the size of the bottom of an iron and carefully placed them on the bottom of the driver, three wood and my two hybrids, all of which are new X Hot Callaway products. I get good results now. Before, I had a forged 2 iron I had to use for driver, woods and hybrids like most people seem to have to do.

  15. Errol A

    Mar 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    The Optishot is a cool concept, ive played on one for months at a time, but I switched out for the P3Pro Swing which I use to teach on as well as perfect my draw. The best part, which these guys picked up on as well, is I can use my own clubs! All I have to do is put this thing on the bottom of it, and it was provided in the package when I bought it. For players who are looking to perfect their game, use their own clubs, and not spend $5,000 + you should look into the P3Pro. Best thing I ever purchased for my golf game.

  16. Chris Mack Fisher

    Mar 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    What are the reviewer’s thoughts on the durability of this item? I’m concerned that repeated descending strikes will quickly destroy the pad. And what about movement? Does it stay put or will I constantly have to go grab it from across the room?

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Errol A

      Mar 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I missed your comment when I posted mine, that is the exact reason I switched, The accuracy and durabillity of the P3Proswing is far greater than the Optishot. Its made of steel, not plastic.

    • Clark Averill

      Jul 11, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I have had an Optishot unit for 2 years..

      First, as the review said it is not a Trackman but it does work as advertised. When I first purchased it (used by the way), I purchased a thicker, padded top that allows me to hit down on the ball like I would on the course.

      It does a great job of making it closer to real golf and doesn’t damage the unit (as quickly).

      Since I live in Minnesota, I use it to practice in the winter. It is surprisingly accurate. Due to ceiling height, I normally don’t hit driver so play most of the courses as par 3. The “practice range” is good, but I normally put the unit on Practice mode on one of the course holes and adjust the yardage to the iron like want to practice.

      All in all, if my Optishot broke tomorrow I would order another one the next day.

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Accessory Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Crossrope weighted jump rope & app

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An 18-hole round of golf averages out to just under five miles of walking, which on its own is a good workout. Once you throw in some potential uphill trekking you get some serious cardio too, but if you all looking for a quick workout between rounds of golf look no further than Crossrope.

Crossrope – The details

Crossrope is a system of the weighted jump rope that allows you to quickly switch the weight of the ropes you are using to boost your workout—they range from 1/4 lbs all the way up to 2 lbs depending on the kit you start out with. There is an accompanying app that helps you go through multiple workout routines and is available free, or you can upgrade to the entire library of workout routines along with more workout tracking options.

This is NOT your middle school jump rope

The handles are heavy duty and feature precision bearings to allow the rope to move smoothly around as you go through a routine. They are also ergonomic and fit into your hand naturally, which making gripping easy, something that is really nice when you’re swinging a 2 lbs coated steel cable around. The handles also come with a fast clip system to make changing cables depending on your selected workout easier too.

The ropes themselves are made from braided steel and are almost impossible to tangle, allowing them to be easily transported and stored when not in use. All in you are getting a premium piece of workout equipment that is effective and easy to store—hard to same the same thing about a treadmill.

When it comes to a workout, skipping rope is one of the most effective cardio workouts you can do, and with Crossrope, you can get both cardio and low impact weight training when using the heaviest ropes, and follow along with the guided workouts.

As someone that hadn’t used a jump rope in over a decade, starting out lighter was a nice way to ease in before moving up, and I was pleasantly surprised how easy and fun some of the workouts in the app were. If you are looking for a fun way to add something to your workouts, or you just want to try something new to get you into golf course walking shape, this could be right up your alley. To learn more check out crossrope.com

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Accessory Reviews

WRX Spotlight: Athalonz EnVe—The best golf shoes you’ve never heard of

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One of the coolest parts of being in this part of the golfing world is being able to shed light on smaller companies that typically get overshadowed by their bigger corporate brothers.

So, this post is about one of those products that is definitely competitive against top golf shoe companies, and it’s made by a company called Athalonz, which is based out west in Arizona. Typically known for its innovative baseball cleats and insole packages, Athlonz newest addition takes the patented design to the world of golf with the EnVe golf shoe.

These have started appearing on the world long drive circuit due to the amount of traction they get, allowing players to swing harder. So for the last few months, I have gotten to wear them and see if they are as good as the company claims.

Athalonz EnVe: Living up to claims

The main selling points of these shoes are focused on two things

  1. Design that delivers more power and stability
  2. Custom comfort that lasts all day

These are somewhat difficult to combine into one shoe, and though they are on the heavier side, Athlonz are completely worth it for the benefits. It is obvious that they made strides to hit each box on the list for a great shoe. The patented design has been adapted from their baseball cleat and introduces a spikeless golf shoe with a circular design that allows the player to gain traction through the golf swing. This gives a player the chance to swing harder and faster without losing their footing. They also offer insole packages that help with correct bodyweight placement to help add an extra layer of consistency.

Secondly, it’s very noticeable that there was plenty of thought given to comfort with a roomy toe and custom insoles to fit your style. Additionally, ankle padding helps to provide more stability and comfort.

On another note, they have a good sense of style with a more classic, casual take. In addition to the pictured white/brown color, there’s a black/grey colorway as well.

After multiple months of wear in all types of conditions, these shoes have performed great for me with all the traction I need and while feeling great throughout the round.

Verdict

I am a person who tends to support smaller companies when I can if they make good products. Any support for them goes a long way—especially in the golf business. Since these shoes will set you back about $150, I wanted to be sure they are worth it for the money and they absolutely are. Seriously, for anyone looking to boost their shoe game and help alleviate aching feet and ankles, give these a shot.

 

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Accessory Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII

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Every golfer should have an accurate, reliable, easy-to-use rangefinder. With the new Nikon Coolshot 20 GII and 20i GII, you get all of that and more in one of the smallest, lightest packages on the market.

Not only do you get a ton of features, but when you consider these devices start at only $199.99 for the 20 G II and then $229.99 for the 20i GII ( slope adjusted version ), you get one of the best values in a rangefinder from one of the most well-known consumer optics companies in the world.

Review: Nikon CoolShot 20 GII and 20i GII

First Target Priority and 8-Second Continuous Measurement: “First Target Priority” is Nikon’s way of making sure you are picking up the flag and not a tree behind your intended target. There is nothing worse than thinking you have your distance dialed in to then have a shot fly over the green. With how quickly it lets you know the ranger finder is locked, getting that distance and double-checking can happen remarkably fast.

In the eight-second continuous measurement setting, the rangefinder will continuously measure the field of view as you scan the target area for approximately eight seconds. This setting is great when playing unfamiliar courses or trying to figure out the exact spot to a dogleg, tree, or hazard on your intended line.

Bright, 6x Monocular: Nikon is known for its glass and multi-coating technology, from telephoto camera lenses to rifle scopes, if it’s Nikon glass, it’s going to be clear, fog-resistant, and high-contrast for easy viewing. From a viewing experience perspective, the Coolshot 20 GII’s 6x monocular has an adjustable diopter for sharp focusing, along with long eye relief—meaning you can keep your glasses (or sunglasses) on when acquiring your target.

Slope-Adjusting ID Technology: With the 20i GII you have the option to get the slope-adjusted distance for any shot thanks to Nikon’s ID Technology. The mode can be turned on and off by the user to comply with USGA rules to make it legal for tournament rounds. Having tested it out on hilly terrain it’s easy to see why so many golfers mis-club going into greens when elevation changes become a lot more dramatic.

Review

The Nikon Coolshot 20 GII’s size and weight make it ideal for anyone who regularly carries and wants the benefit of knowing distances but without having to worry about weight—it weighs about the same as a sleeve of balls.

The size allows you to hold the units stable. However, I could see for those new to the rangefinder space, it could take some time getting used to when first getting acquainted with it. The best bet for this is to take it to a range or just step outside with it on your next walk and get used to hitting targets before you take it to the course—plus it makes for a fun game to see how good you really are at estimating distances.

Overall, for the price and size, it is one of the best rangefinders on the market. Plus, with a five-year warranty, you can be assured of years of use with the Nikon CoolShot 20 GII rangefinders.

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