Review: Dancin’ Dogg Optishot Simulator

Optishot bethpage

Winter practice in the northeast is difficult.  The weather is cold, the range balls like ice cubes, the chipping and putting greens frozen solid and you’re wearing 12 layers of clothing.

There used to be a great indoor practice place near me called “The Golf Training Center” that had a great putting green, video bays, launch monitor bays, a chipping area and a sand trap.  Membership for the winter was reasonable.  Last winter I spent an ungodly amount of time there, usually went for 2 or 3 hours after work and on the weekends.

It closed down last May and with winter coming I knew I needed to do something to practice indoors.

After a substantial amount of research, and careful consideration I opted for the Optishot simulator.

My research showed me that there many different kinds of simulators ranging in price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.  Optishot is priced at the lower end of the range.

The optishot is a simple unit, it has a sensor mat that’s roughly the dimensions of a legal size sheet of paper and is about an inch high.  The 16 infra red sensors on the unit capture the club through the impact zone and measure club head speed, face angle, path angle, toe/center/heel contact.

I also ordered the  two piece stance mat so that I am at the same height as the unit.


Sensor Unit

OptiShot – Two Piece Stance Mat

Setup:

The optishot is very simple to use.  Install the software, connect the USB cable to the mat and to your computer and you’re off and running.  I then setup the two piece stance mat and away I go.  I did not have a single setup issue, it’s plug and play as long your computer meets the minimum requirements.

Using the Optishot

The Optishot has 3 different modes in which it can be used.

  1. Practice Zone
  2. 3DD Golf Simulator Mode
  3. Tiger Woods Mode

Practice Zone

The practice zone has a simple screen the simply shows you all of the information you need to know when practicing:  Club head speed, face angle, path angle, toe/center/heel contact.  The practice zone will show you on an image of a hole where your shots ended up, the flight path of each shot and it keeps track of your statistics like distance and whether the shot ended up left or right of the target, as well as an average of how far left and right of target they were.  The screen for the Practice Zone could be spruced up.  It’s very utilitarian, it gets the job done but is not inviting.

At first I was skeptical of the results I was getting because I kept seeing an open club face.  I didn’t want to believe it but when I went to the driving range to compare, I was hitting them right too.  When I improve on the Optishot and I go verify at the range, I end up with the same results. The optishot is a very accurate unit.

3DD Golf Simulator Mode

This is my favorite mode to practice with because you can see the ball flight in a very cool way.  The camera follows the ball closely as if you’re flying with it.  It really is pretty spectacular.  I can aim at specific targets and really get a sense for how I’m doing.  If you want you can turn off the following camera and just see the ball fly off into the distance, but I like following it so I keep that feature turned on.  I do wish that the practice mode in 3DD golf would allow you to save your statistics so that you can review them later.

I prefer to practice in this mode because the way you practice is that you select a hole, then put the ball anywhere on the hole you want.  So you can work on shots of any distance, up hill, down hill, etc.  I can work from specific short game distances and even partial wedges.

If it’s too cold outside I can play some rounds pretty quickly.  The simulator does allow you to putt but that part is not as realistic.  I have it set up to auto putt.  In auto putt mode if you’re more than a few feet away it is likely to two-putt, but sometimes it one putts, and if you have a gimme, it usually makes it.

Whenever you switch clubs you need to tell it which club you’re using so that it can make the appropriate changes in calculations.  See you don’t actually have to hit a ball, you can hit no ball, you can hit a foam ball, or you can hit an actual ball, and by telling the system what you’re doing it makes changes to the calculations to reflect your true results.

The courses look gorgeous.  They don’t look like the courses on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 on the Xbox 360 or PS3 but they have their own look and I do enjoy how they look.  The courses look better than some commercial simulators I have seen.

The unit came with 4 courses, Torrey Pines North and South, a desert course and a mountain course.  Bethpage Black was released just before the US open this year.  I spend most of my time playing Torrey Pines South and Bethpage Black.

Tiger Woods Mode

Allows you to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 for the PC using the Optishot.  I haven’t used it so I can’t really comment on it.  For me the simulator does not need the Tiger Woods mode.

Improvements

There really is only one major improvement that I would like to see in the system. Even though it has a grass top the turf area is quite hard, a little bit harder than hitting off the mats at my local course. If somehow they could incorporate some of the features of newer mats that allow you to hit down and through that would be great. My other improvement would be in the practice area of 3DD. If they would allow you to save your practice sessions so that you could see your results over time that I think would be a very useful tool for game improvement.

Overall it is an excellent unit and for the price you can’t go wrong with it. It’s accurate, easy to setup, and a lot of fun. The surface grass area is a little hard (but again better than other commercial simulators and launch monitors I’ve used).

Dancin’ Dogg Website

Inside the Box

* Infrared Optical Swing Pad
* OptiShot 3DD Golf Software
* USB cable (10 ft.)
* Foam practice balls
* Adjustable rubber tees
* Quick-start guide

System Requirements

* Windows 7, XP or Vista Windows®
* Memory: 1 GB
* Disk Space: 3 GB
* Optional: For best display results, a high-end graphics card is required.

Update 12-19-09

When I first wrote this review I had an old pc and Optishot ran well on it.  We just upgraded to a new machine with a fast processor and a nice video card and OptiShot now looks amazing.  Last night Dancin’ Dogg released an update to Optishot 2010.  They added a few new courses and overall improved functionality.  The new courses look gorgeous.  The courses are:

The Masters Course at Barseback, home of the 2009 Scandinavian Masters.

The other new course is the Black Mountain Course from a luxury resort in Thailand.

The new courses are stunning and a joy to play.

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100 thoughts on “Review: Dancin’ Dogg Optishot Simulator”

  1. @Fred: Hi Fred,

    You’ll need to hook up the projector to your PC or laptop. Usually you can connect a pc to a projector through either a VGA cable, or if your projector and pc support it, HDMI. It’s too bad you didn’t get the mat. It makes a big difference standing at the same level as the simulator. I hope you enjoy using it.

  2. Does the stance mat & simulator mat stay solid on cement or do they move around? The 5 x 5 one piece mat is quite a jump in price.

  3. @craig: Hi Craig,

    While I haven’t used it off concrete, I would imagine that it would stay pretty solid. It all depends on what your swing is like. I have a lot of torque in my legs and therefore the stance mat does move around on me. I haven’t found it to be distracting though and if I need to, I just step off and push it back into place. I probably use it on the most slippery surface though (hardwood floors). I bet on carpet it wouldn’t move much at all, and I imagine on concrete it would probably stay pretty solid. From my point of view the 5X5 would be nice to have, but I don’t need it to enjoy the simulator. However, you really should have a stance mat of some kind as it is really necessary to be at the same level as the simulator.

  4. @TomM: Hi Tom,

    I’ve used it with all the lights on as well as the lights almost off. I think it uses it’s own infrared light source to measure club data. I haven’t seen any difference in performance with different lighting conditions.

  5. This simulator is awesome. I have changed my swing compleatly and because of the rain and cold have not made it out to the real range. I thought that it was not accurately showing my ball path. I went to the range the other day and was amazed. It was exactly like the opti shot.
    I have worn out a green pad and two tees. I invite my friends to come over and play 18. They don’t believe me untill they play.
    It does what it says. I just wish they would come up with a sensor that shows the angle of flight.
    Mavman

  6. I use a piece of plywood for my stance mat with the green grass carpet it works really well and it is in my garage and does not move. I have about a 110mph swing and I am 6′ tall. I have rubber weatherstripping on the bottom to keep it from moving.
    MAVMAN

  7. I bought the foam matting that links together. Each piece is about 1/2 inch thick so I had to make 3 layers. I used heavy duty velcro to keep the layers from sliding off line.

    The pieces are easy to break down in case I need to store them. In addition, I cut a slot out for the pad to keep it from sliding or moving

  8. Will…. i got mine today, and think of sending it back.

    PLUS I played with it all night, I do not slice my irons that bad.. I can not get a straight shot , on less i close the face all the way.

    I did the set up of 3 shots open face and 3 shots close , ( many of times ) having a hard time showing it closed , like I said i am holding it all the way closed.

    I’m going to the dome tomorrow , to see if i am slicing , my irons are ALWAYS STRAIGHT.

    AS i see it , this is for a beginer.

    I sold my playstation 3 , to buy this junk.
    IF YOU ARE A SLOW SWINGER, THIS WILL WORK FOR YOU.

    I hit my pw , at 130 yds , I set that to my settings , and when I played , my pw , went 76 yds .
    My longest drive that i know of is 336 yds , and when i swing , it does not work , i have to swing slow , then it will work.

  9. @TomM:

    Hi Tom,

    If the problem continues and after doing some range work you really conclude that your swing is not causing the slices. You can probably get a replacement unit from Dancin’ Dogg. I played a round on Monday with a friend of mine who had never been on the system. And he was hitting it the way I’ve seen him on the course. I have a fast swing and hit the ball a long way now and I have no problem with the unit tracking my stats. I can swing as hard as I like it and it will get it right. Like I said, call them up, you might have busted unit. I’ve heard of that happening and they should replace it.

    BTW I also have a PS3 and an Xbox 360. Although I do enjoy playing golf on those, I really like the optishot for a realistic experience. The other thing, is to make sure that you are not coming in too steep and hitting the mat before the ball. What that does is it makes it like you hit it fat and slows down the club head a lot.

    Are you hitting either foam balls, real balls, or no balls. I find the unit is way more accurate when hitting foam balls as it seems to use the ball in its calculations. I do find that when it’s on no ball, it does seem to track an open face a bit more, either that or I when I swing and there is no ball I leave the face a bit more open at impact. Hitting real balls will give you the most accuracy, but the foam balls are really accurate too (except for putting). For putting I prefer to putt a real ball.

  10. I found out something….. the think is wacky.

    I have to aim , from the right side of the BACK sensors…….. to the left side of the FRONT sensors , in order to get a straight shot !!!

    It shows a 0.3 closed shot , center of the ball ,
    but a very outside in shot. ( of course)

    Makes sense why ALL my shots go right , when i aim down the center of the pad .

  11. @TomM: Hi Tom,

    I think you should really get in touch with Dancin’ Dogg and get that unit replaced. Those sensors sound like they are really off.

  12. Hello,

    Opti shot tech says when using irons the ball should be placed right where the tee goes. Looks to me like it would be like hitting out of a small divot? Can you confirm? How do drivers work on this thing? They usually are teed up quite a bit depending on preference.
    Thanks

  13. I got my replacement unit , it is much better now.

    I don’t know about U.P.S. though , both my boxes had a big hole in them, and when thay delivered the second one, they just drop it, and i mean DROP it.

    Like I said before, would be nice to be able to make your owe golf course, also would be nice 2 have a mini golf couse 4 putting.
    Also, wish it keeped states .

    The unit works fine, i had to go out and buy rubber tees , that has a + (x) in the center to hold the orginal golf tees . That way i do not have to always remove the tee base when going to iron shots.

  14. still reading an open face , when holding a closed face ,……… JUKE………..

    DO NOT BUY.
    over 200 mph swing . RIGHT !!!!

  15. Tom, I am sorry you are having such issues with the unit. From what I understand, it’s a great piece of technology.

    Old Japanese saying: When you reach scratch, you die.

  16. witch tom m are you talking to.

    my unit , does not read a closed face as good as a open face , DOES YOURS ?

    not man enough to say jackass , detrute ?

    Sometime there is a unit that does not work.
    sorry for the guy.

    old saying , when you reach scratch you die ,
    just like technology , ALWAYS room for improvement….WE DON’T DIE !

  17. On the real course, I typically hit the ball right to left. I was having a problem with the sensor unit always showing a open clubface. Even if I held the face really closed, I had a hard time showing a closed face angle.

    To fix this, I edited my club set to add an additional .5″ offset the the value that was there. The club face angle seems to be tracking much better now. Note, I play with Mizzuno blades (next to no offset).

  18. Has anyone had an issue with hitting a shot a little fat and catching the leading edge of the club into the edge of the mat (this really hurts your fingers). The cutout edges on the mat of my unit are about 3/8th of an inch taller than the plactic sensing unit. When the club hits it, it almost completely stops (and rips the club out of your hands).

    To help with this issue, I made a 3/8″ thick plexiglass insert to fill in this area. The insert is 7/8″ wide by 5-5/8″ long. I drilled 5/16″ holes in the areas where the 8 clear infra red detectors are. I grinded a 45 degree bevel on the leading edge to prevent the club from catching on it (just in case I hit a REALLY fat shot). It seems to work really well.

  19. @Vic:

    That’s really interesting. I wonder what the manufacturer would think of that. I’ve found the most accurate way to play is actually hitting the foam balls, or even real golf balls if you have a net. With the ball there it seems to make it more accurate. Don’t know why, but it’s definitely more accurate than when playing with no ball.

  20. @Vic: Wow vic you really took it upon yourself to improve your enjoyment. Kudos to you. I hadn’t experience what you’ve experienced in regards to the club being ripped out of your hands. Sounds like you have a pretty steep angle of attack.

  21. My handicap is 7 so I’m not a total hacker (although when I hit 2 inches behind the bal, I feel that way). When I get a little tired and am trying to hit it to hard, I tend to slide my hips and dip my rear shoulder too much which results in a fat shot. I tried the insert last night and it worked great. I only had one shot in the round that hit the insert, but it worked perfect.

    I did notice that there are 16 sensors in front of the ball (8 clear and 8 black). I only drilled holes in the insert over the clear sensors. It seems to work fine. Does anyone know if the black ones are active or what their purpose is?


  22. Vic:

    On the real course, I typically hit the ball right to left. I was having a problem with the sensor unit always showing a open clubface. Even if I held the face really closed, I had a hard time showing a closed face angle.
    To fix this, I edited my club set to add an additional .2 to .5″ offset the the value that was there (.2 for the sandwedge progressing to .5 for driver). The club face angle seems to be tracking much better now. Note, I play with Mizzuno blades (next to no offset).

  23. still junk, shouldn’t have to add .2 or .5 to show an closed face.
    should be added in already if so many people are having a problem with a closed face.

    maybe i’ll buy it 2 yrs from now , when they inprove it.
    and the tech person….. john cole , never answers questions, what kind of tech is he ????? seems like he’s the only one , in the tech department,
    reminds me of the commercial, with PEGGIE.

  24. zen …..

    going to that site , does not tell us anything new !!!!

    and again…. only one tech person…..PEGGY

  25. @crazy_fox:
    Just trying to help out. I agree though that they should do a better job with tech support. I haven’t had any issues with my unit but I can understand the frustration if you do have issues and can’t get them resolved.

  26. Tom,
    It’s your swing man. I doubt two units are faulty. You probably do have an outside/in swing path. On the course you’ve probably made severe compensations for your swing, rather then improve the swing itself. When your on the tee box at your course next time lay a club down along your foot line. I image you tend to stand closed to accommodate your path. The optishot is easy to align to and will reveal faulty swing paths. I’ve found a dramatic outside in mishit reads huge swing speeds and distances ( basically the swing is so bad that the unit doesn’t know how to process it). Try standing closed to your unit if that is your problem but in reality you should try to adjust your course swing to the feedback the unit gives you. I had similar results and spent a winter practicing on the unit to develop an inside/out swing. Now I draw the ball consistently and destroyed the unintended fade since I brought the unit’s feedback to the course. Also try foam balls, or no balls for more accurate results. I would think an apparent golf teacher would appreciate the value of this tool and conduct themselves with better mannerisms to fellow golfers on forums like this. To each their own.

  27. My unit with driver always shows toe hit and almost 15d close face with the driver.
    When I place my driver heel on tee, than it shows center. My 99% swings are massive hooks, club head speed is 80-90 MPH

    ALL WRONG. I’m 3 HC, my ball flight is slight fade, and my clubhead speed is 108-112

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  31. Should you use the tees for iron shots in the fairway or should you use the tees only as you would in a real game?

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  37. FYI – Many drivers do not read well on the Optshot. My Titleist 910D2 does not read so I use an Old Jack Nicklaus driver that works well.

    When I started I was a classic over the top, outside-in, slicer. I have been working hard on my swing and am now an inside-out high draw. The optishot feedback was invaluable in getting there. When I was over the top I would slice on the optishot and now it reads a push-draw just like I am hitting on the range so I am not buying the “I dont slice so this thing is junk” comments. Either you do slice when on this thing or your using a driver that it is not picking up well.

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