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Matt Saternus

Dancin' Dog Optishot Golf Simulator Review

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Introduction

 

Anyone who spends much time watching The Golf Channel has surely seen the infomercials for the Dancin' Dog 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.

 

Optishot 1.JPG

 

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 2.JPG

 

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.

 

 

Optishot 3.JPG

 

 

 

 

Optishot 4.JPG

 

 

 

Optishot 5.JPG

 

 

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.

 

Optishot 6.JPG

 

 

 

 

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. The unit seems quite durable and is very small and portable. There are a nice range of courses from very easy to challenging.

 

That said, 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.


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So do you think that this could actually hurt your swing if it was your primary winter training tool?


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So do you think that this could actually hurt your swing if it was your primary winter training tool?

 

Without question, yes. When I went back to the Optishot on that first day, I tried everything I could to hit a draw/hook and the only answer was to come WAY over the top. To hit a straight ball, I had to flip through impact which is something I've taken out of my swing and don't want back. The other problem is that with the distances being so out of whack and inconsistent, I found myself swinging from my heels which is something else I'd like to stop doing, not ingrain further.


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I took a look at it at the PGA Show last week. I wasn't particularly impressed.


Derek

 

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I also saw it at the show and was quite impressed for the price. I thought about buying one at last years show, and will definitly recommended it to clients and friends looking to practice indoors. It has three settings - real ball, foam ball, and no ball. i thought that was cool. Is it perfect? prob not but its better than a video game.

 

now as far as the company goes - the people in the booth, and the owner of the company, couldnt have been a bigger jerk to me and anyone else that walked around their booth. it took me way too long standing there to have someone come up to me and say hello and can i help you. so the longer i waited the more i wanted to wait and see whats up with the product. they were too busy socializing among themselves to care about potential buyers - and this was day 1!. The owner made a slighting comment under his breath at me and then right at me - i was like dude, really? again product was cool, but the company execs = total jerks.


 

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:Arccos: Staffer

 

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www.MANAVIANGolf.com

 

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I also saw it at the show and was quite impressed for the price. I thought about buying one at last years show, and will definitly recommended it to clients and friends looking to practice indoors. It has three settings - real ball, foam ball, and no ball. i thought that was cool. Is it perfect? prob not but its better than a video game.

 

now as far as the company goes - the people in the booth, and the owner of the company, couldnt have been a bigger jerk to me and anyone else that walked around their booth. it took me way too long standing there to have someone come up to me and say hello and can i help you. so the longer i waited the more i wanted to wait and see whats up with the product. they were too busy socializing among themselves to care about potential buyers - and this was day 1!. The owner made a slighting comment under his breath at me and then right at me - i was like dude, really? again product was cool, but the company execs = total jerks.

 

Why would anyone make a slighting comment at you or to anyone who's in the same industry? Especially to your face, did he see those arms? lol. Obviously this guy is a jerk because if he would have taken the time to talk with you for a half a minute he would have realized he was dealing with an excellent human being! Even if his product works if he acts like this toward potential buyers his sales will suffer for sure. Don't make sense from a business point of view and especially no sense in a Golf camaraderie type of view, that we are all there to help the golf industry as a whole.


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Day 1 I wore a sport coat arms not showing lol and when I run for elected office ill be sure you run my campaign lol

Seriously I didn't get it either. They seemed like non golfers, or some kind of new techie golfers from the west coast. And what I mean by that they weren't into the tradition of the sport. Like honor, etiquette etc.

 

Of all the booths I walked thru and the people I met and saw the show, the dancindogg booth was easily my worst experience.


 

:cobra-small: Staffer

:Arccos: Staffer

 

www.gdxslab.com

www.MANAVIANGolf.com

 

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I received a call from Morgan at Dancin' Dogg today. First of all, she couldn't have been nicer and I truly appreciated the call. Her #1 concern was that I had sent them an email and had not received one in return (she actually had returned my email, but my address was wrong).

 

A couple of things came out of the conversation:

 

#1 - The Optishot does NOT claim to measure angle of attack. I was 100% in error on this. The product literature does not state that it measures angle of attack. I must have thought that I saw that on the infomercial and gotten confused. I apologize for my mistake.

 

#2 - Connected to #1, Dancin Dogg does recognize that the Optishot fails to accurately penalize thin shots, but they believe that it more accurately penalizes fat shots. I agree with this statement. Morgan stated that this is because the Optishot does not measure the ball, but instead measures the club face at impact (face angle, path, speed).

 

#3 - There is a reason for the discrepancy between swing speed when driver is selected versus PW: the Optishot has expectations about the size of the club based on the type of set you select. I can best explain it like this: if you swing a club that's 1" wide through the sensor and the system expects a 1" wide club, you get an accurate reading. If you swing a 1" wide club and the system expects a 4" wide club, it will believe that you swung a 4" club really really fast.

 

#4 - There is a new software update coming soon that will provide new graphics, new shot feedback, and new courses. You can see the info about it here:

 

Morgan offered to send another Optishot to me (I had already returned the previous unit) for further testing. If the results that I get with the new system are different than the ones posted above, I will be sure to make any necessary amendments.


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#1. Don't sweat it. Stuff happens.

#2. that makes pretty good sense.

#3. I didn't know it differentiated between sole widths. Interesting...

#4. The link didn't post, but either way, looking forward to a new review!

 

By the way- LOVE how you write them up... easy to follow. Keep up the good work!

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So did they send you another unit?

Any difference in performance?


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All the cool kids follow me on twitter: @golfspy_dave

 

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They did send another unit; I received it at least a week ago. Unfortunately, my recent back injury combined with working multiple jobs means that it is still in the packaging. When I do get it up and running, I will post my findings.


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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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Damn, your first review was almost a relief to me that there was no good indoor simulator. Now I may have to rearrange all my furniture so I have room for one of these!

 

A few questions though:

 

You said distances were consistent, but how do they compare with your actual distances? Are all clubs off by the same amount or does each club have it's own distance gap?

 

Also, how well does it measure driver hits? If you miss the sweet spot by hitting at the top or bottom of you club, does it notice? Does it notice sweet spot misses left or right?

 

Thanks,

Will

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Damn, your first review was almost a relief to me that there was no good indoor simulator. Now I may have to rearrange all my furniture so I have room for one of these!

 

A few questions though:

 

You said distances were consistent, but how do they compare with your actual distances? Are all clubs off by the same amount or does each club have it's own distance gap?

 

Also, how well does it measure driver hits? If you miss the sweet spot by hitting at the top or bottom of you club, does it notice? Does it notice sweet spot misses left or right?

 

Thanks,

Will

 

IIRC, I was hitting 9I about 135 on the Optishot, and in reality 9I is 145. All the irons were off by the same 10 yards. The driver was relatively spot on at about 250-265.

 

Because I was doing my "playing" inside without a ball, I can't really comment on its accuracy of measuring driver hits. Because the Optishot does not measure angle of attack, I don't know that it can do much as far as "thin" or "fat" hits. Left or right are noted on the Optishot, though I can't comment on the accuracy of that too much.


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