MyGolfSpy has become known for doing very in-depth golf club reviews over the past year.  We have gotten some incredible feedback from our readers during this time...which we greatly appreciate. So we thought you might like it if we added to our review system this year by also including reviews of some of the many gadgets that get sent our way.   Who has time to search through the thousands of golf gadgets being released nowadays to see which ones really work and which ones aren't worth the packaging they are shipped in?  Answer: We do!

And that is just what we are going to do for YOU!  We brought on a few new writers to cover all the golf gadgets and today's article is written by one of our newest spies (GolfSpy Matt).  We hope you guys enjoy the new addition to MyGolfSpy and if there are any gadgets you would like to see us review just let us know!

OptiShot Golf Simulator Review - Introduction

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Optishot Review – Update

Why an update?

Shortly after I posted my review of the Dancin’ Dogg Optishot Golf Simulator, I was contacted by a representative from Dancin’ Dogg.  She told me that the company wasn’t upset about the review, but they were concerned about the fact that I had tried to contact them and received no reply.  She also thought that there might have been an issue with the unit that I received, and she offered to send another unit out for a re-test.  I was impressed with their attitude towards the process and their belief in their product, so I agreed.  Shortly thereafter, another Optishot arrived.  Admittedly, it has taken me quite a while to get around to testing, but I’m glad that I did.  I don’t know if the changes are the result of software, hardware, or some combination, but this machine is nothing like the one I tested in January.

Updated Results

The first issue that I had with the previous unit was distance: clubs went seemingly random, often overlapping, distances.  This is a non-issue with the current unit.  Each club goes a particular, consistent distance.  The distances aren’t perfectly accurate to real life, but they are consistent which is all you can really ask for.

The second issue I had was with direction: the ball had a strong tendency to go right unless I made a huge over the top swing.  Again, this is not an issue with the new unit.  I can actually tell, without looking at the screen, where the ball is going to go.  If I make an over the top, hooky swing, the ball goes left.  If I fail to release the club, the ball goes right.  Good swings go straight.

Conclusion

My earlier review concluded that this was a fun toy for people who aren’t very serious golfers.  That needs to be amended.  I think that given the results of this recent testing, the Dancin’ Dogg Optishot is a good way for those of us in cold climates to keep swinging during the winter, and it’s a fun way to introduce golf to kids or non-golfing friends.

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Written by: GolfSpy Matt Anyone who spends much time watching The Golf Channel has surely seen the infomercials for the Dancin’ Dogg Optishot Golf Simulator.  For those of us currently staring out the window at piles of snow that are growing by the hour, the idea of owning a golf simulator is definitely attractive.  Also attractive, or at least within the realm of reason, is the $400 price tag that the Optishot carries.  Is this the way to keep the rust off of your swing during the winter months or is this another product that will be collecting dust within weeks of arrival?  Read on for my thoughts.

From the Manufacturer

  • Patented technologies provide precise feedback, 16 Infrared sensors record:
  • Club head speed
  • Face angle at impact
  • Swing path
  • Distance traveled/distance to pin
  • Face contact (toe/heel/center)
  • Visual feedback of each shot
  • Growing library of preloaded courses
  • Extremely realistic driving range with multiple target greens
  • Par -3 tee feature ideal for confined spaces, younger players
  • Play up to four at a time, system supports right and left handed players
  • Simple plug-and-play set-up, needs 8.5’ feet of swing space, Windows computer
  • Use own clubs, real, foam or no golf balls at all

System requirements include:

  • Windows 7, XP or Vista
  • USB 2.0
  • 2 GB Memory
  • 3 GB Disk Space

OptiShot - Set Up

One thing that the infomercial says is true: set up could not be easier.  Can you put a DVD into your computer and click “Next” a bunch of times?  Can you plug a USB cord into your computer?  If you answered, “Yes,” to both of those questions, than you can set up the Optishot.  After installing the software from the DVD, the program automatically updated itself with a driving range and a few additional courses.  All in all, installation and updating took about ten minutes.  After that, it was ready to go.

Space Requirements & Physical Set Up

The product literature says that you need 8.5 feet of swing space.  In my house, I have plenty of open square footage, but not a lot of tall ceilings.  In my living room, the ceilings are a pretty standard height and I was able to swing a pitching wedge (choked up to the metal) at full strength without any concern of hitting the ceiling.  I did take the Optishot into the garage for a little testing with all of the clubs, but most of my playing was done in the living room.  One neat feature is that you don’t need to hit a ball to make the Optishot work.  It will work with a real golf ball (which obviously necessitates a net), the foam balls that are provided, or no ball at all.  This is one of the best features as it makes set up and take down that much easier.

The big question: does it work as advertised?

As soon as it was loaded, I clicked on the practice range, started swinging, and watched every single ball start right and slice.  I found this pretty surprising (my swing comes from the inside and I square the club face more often than not), though not as surprising as the fact that my 125 yard choked-up pitching wedge was going 80 yards.  I thought that perhaps there was a problem with the unit, so I checked it out according to the instruction booklet.  According to the manual, everything was working as it should.

Very confused and a bit upset, I jumped in my car and headed to work where we have an indoor range and hitting bays with video cameras.  The video and the ball flight told me that my swing was still doing what I believed it should: coming from the inside and hitting the ball relatively straight with a little draw.  I got back in my car to continue testing the Optishot.

Continued testing revealed a number of odd and interesting things:

  • You can swing the same club with the same swing and produce wildly different club head speeds and distances by changing the club that the computer thinks you’re swinging.  As I mentioned, in the interest of being warm, I played most of my golf in my living room while only swinging a pitching wedge.  If I selected “Pitching Wedge,” my clubhead speed was around 60MPH and the ball went around 80 yards.  If I selected “Driver,” my clubhead speed jumped to anywhere from 85-100MPH and the ball went 230 yards or more.
  • You can miss the ball entirely and still produce a good shot.  The product literature says that the Optishot measures angle of attack, but I saw no evidence that it does, or if it does, it doesn’t seem to use the data.  I produced equal shots with flat swings, steep swings, and swings that missed the ball.  Similarly, the Optishot does not differentiate between a flick of the wrists and a rock of the shoulders.
  • You can make a good swing and not have it register.  One part of my recent swing reconstruction has been to hinge the club up early in the backswing.  I found that if I did this too early, the sensors behind the ball would not “see” my club moving backwards.  Similarly, if I came into impact “too far” from the inside, it would not register.
  • The distances that each club travels are inexplicable.  I spent a lot of time hitting each club on the range and I could not get a sense for the logic of it.  I would not have a problem with the device if it told me that my pitching wedge went 80 yards and my 9I went 90 yards and so on.  While that isn’t realistic, at least it makes a degree of sense.  My experience was that my PW went 80-85, my 9I went 82-87, and my 8I went 87 yards except when it went 110.

If you couldn’t have guessed by this list of “issues,” I was severely disappointed with the Optishot.  I sent an email with these concerns to Dancin’ Dog, but I have not yet received a response.  If I do, I will be sure to update this review appropriately.

To close on a positive note, I think the putting is quite good.  While some of the tougher courses can be frustrating due to the undulations in the greens, I found the putting to be consistent and fair.

The Peanut Gallery

The Peanut Gallery will be a regular feature in my reviews.  I work at a golf store with a wide range of golfers: good players, bad players, PGA professionals, equipment junkies, and guys who don’t know TaylorMade from Top Flite.  I also have a number of friends who golf, and a number who don’t.  I like to solicit all of their opinions on the products I review to get a wider range of ideas and to help me look at things from different perspectives.

I invited some friends and co-workers to the house to put the Optishot through the paces.  I tried not to give any hint of my opinions of the device so as not to bias their view.  Overall, it seemed that the less serious/skilled the golfer was, the more they enjoyed it.  My friends who play golf a couple times of year thought the system was pretty cool.  Those who play golf seriously were frustrated more often than not with the results that Optishot provided.

Closing Thoughts

Despite the overall content of my review, I do believe there are a number of positive things about the Optishot: it allows you to play golf inside, at a reasonable price, with limited space.  I think it might be a good way to get kids excited about golf.  Set up could not be easier.  There are a nice range of courses from very easy to challenging.
That said, for the reasons listed above, I do not believe that it is a reliable training tool.  As a toy or a game, I think the Optishot is fun, but as a tool for serious golfers I believe that it is a failure.

Buy Now:  $399.95

P.S. - WHAT GOLF GADGET WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE REVIEWED NEXT?