ORLANDO, Fla--What's keeping me from setting up a golf simulator in my home so I can work on my swing all winter, hitting balls on a virtual range or course while the snow piles up outside? For starters, there's that approximate $50,000 cost. Second, there's the problem of finding a room to set it up in... where you spouse will allow it.
There's still hope for us, fellow hacks. Dancin' Dogg Golf has solved one of the problems. Dancin' Dogg offers a really sweet simulator for a Windows-based computer, the Optishot Infrared Golf Simulator, and you can get the whole setup for under $700. (DancinDogg.com) The software costs $399, a pretty good deal, and that’s inclusive enough to set up and play immediately. You can pile on some attractive add-on options, however, including a 9 by 7 net ($109), a two-piece mat ($129) or a premium 5 by 4 mat ($249) with computer sensors and extra courses ($49).
This year's product is third-generation stuff and it's Dancin' Dog's best yet. It comes loaded with eight courses, including both courses at Torrey Pines, Bethpage Black, Golf Club Scottsdale (one of my favorites in Scottsdale), Toronto's St. George's and others. You can pound balls on the Superstition Mountain range--I was just there last month and this virtual model is satisfyingly authentic.
It was already pretty tempting before my Dancing Dogg representative set me up on the tee at the downhill par-3 16th hole at Golf Club Scottsdale, a striking hole I've played half a dozen times. I made a good pass at an 8-iron and hit a shot right at the flag as the ball tracked on the laptop screen. It came up just short of the pin.
The shot information includes clubhead speed, face angle, the distance of the shot, a tempo measurement, where you made contact with the ball on the face of the club, and a few other nerdy items you might want to know if you're obsessed with your game like some of us are.
The graphics are terrific. The price is right. I want one. That space in my garage where I park my car in the winter? I think it would be more useful as my virtual range.