Before we begin the review of the OptiShot Golf Simulator, it is important to have an understanding of the 2 different types of Golf Simulation. The first type we will discuss are ball trackers. These ball trackers use high speed cameras to track the ball once it is hit, and then base a simulation on that information. The primary benefits to this type of tracking is that they are accurate and they do include in their simulation launch angle and smash factor. The draw backs to ball tracking are that you don't get swing feedback such as club head speed, face angle, face contact, swing tempo etc. Another primary draw back is that high speed cameras are extremely expensive. They generally run about $10,000 per camera and some simulators use 2 cameras...one mounted vertically and one mounted horizontally.
The second type of simulator are club tracking simulators. Club trackers primarily use infrared sensors installed in the hitting area and track the club to base its' simulation. The primary benefits to a club tracking simulator is that they DO give you swing feedback such as club head speed, face angle, face contact, swing tempo etc. Club tracking simulators are generally cost effective as well and allow you to choose if you want to use real, foam or no ball. The downside to club trackers is that launch angle and smash factor are not tracked and therefore, estimated. You generally have to tell the simulator before hitting which club you are using so it can give an accurate estimate of launch angle. Most club trackers will allow you to set up your own club sets to match your launch angle. Therefore, once you have your club tracking sim set up for you, the only time a club tracker will fail you is when there are mishits on the club face vertically. In other words, the simulation won't recognize if you hit it thin or fat. All in all, club trackers are the best bet for home use as they are cost effective, allow you to NOT use real balls and give you swing feedback.
Now, lets look at the OptiShot. For starters, it is a club tracking golf simulator. Please note that no product is plug and play. Almost all sims are light sensitive. The Opti is no exception. For best results with the it, have consistent lighting with little or no daylight in the room you are using. Now out of the box, it has the settings on the driver and putter hyper sensitive. We have noticed that in your club sets the distance % for the driver and putter needs adjusted down to about 85-90%. Once this is done, the simulation tends to be very accurate.
Graphically, the OptiShot will compete with the high end indoor golf products. There are settings within the software that allow to adjust many of the items that you see. For example, you can choose to see your shot data briefly, all of the time or not at all. You can also adjust the perspective of the ball flight and the map along the right side of the screen.
Their course library is awesome and is growing all of the time. For the last couple of years, Dancin Dogg has reproduced almost every major championship venue during the actual tournament itself. The primary draw back with the course library is that it lacks Augusta National that it once had. The reason for this is that EA sports purchased the rights to Augusta National and therefore all replicas of the famed course went away.
One of the other downfalls of the Opti is that it lacks online play. To be honest, very few simulators have online play. However, it would be nice to play online with friends. Of course, there is a work around. You can have the software extended to a TV or projector and have webcams on your pc to play with your friends simultaneously but not online. Of course, the honor system will be in play for this work around.
All in all, the OptiShot Infrared Home Golf Simulator is perfect for home use and even in limited commercial applications.