Feedback from the Technical Staff at Optishot

BPsSince I’ve seen that a number of people commenting in the Optishot review had some technical issues, I decided to ask the manufacturer for a response to their complaints. I have not had any significant issues with the optishot and in fact really like the product. Over the winter it provided me with a solid golf experience at home and allowed me to work on things in a a warm environment as the snow fell outside.

Here is what the technical folks at Optishot provided. I hope it helps anyone who is having some technical issues with their unit.

The best way for an individual to get technical support is to follow the link below, fill out the form and use it to ask questions. Then we will get back to them as quickly as we can.
http://support.dancindogg.com/reportissue

However, inaccurate swing results is the most common cause of frustration. There are three possible parts to this issue, lighting in the room, Swing Pad integrity, and software adjustments.

The most common cause of inaccurate results is lighting. Following the guidelines below will help mitigate erroneous swing results.
Incandescent, halogen, and day light in even small indirect amounts will negatively affect performance.
OptiShot works best when used in a room with fluorescent lighting.
Warehouse lighting such as Sodium Vapor or Metal Halide also work very well.
Shadows from objects such as the club shaft and the golfer also may negatively affect performance.
Overhead light is generally better than light from the side of the room.
Something else to keep in mind is that irons will tend to produce more accurate results compared to woods. Drivers like the R9, R11 or the King Cobra for example do not work well with OptiShot because of the intricate design on their underside. We have found that drivers with a smooth and reflective bottom will yield more accurate results with OptiShot than those with an irregular and non reflective bottom.

If your lighting is properly set up and you are still having an issue try running OptiShot with the Swing Pad connected and turn off or at least dim all the lights in the room and observe the infrared sensors. With the exception of the Green/Red status light, every other bulb should glow faintly red. If some are out that should be lit then the Swing Pad should be replaced.

If your lighting is properly set up and you are still getting inaccurate results then you could create a custom club set (click link below). Select the actual club you are using, take a few swings and observe the results. If the results are not quite what you would expect then you may edit a number of factors that may bring your swing results in line. For instance, if your club face is always open you could try setting the club’s offset to something dramatic like -5.9 and observe the results. Then you could dial in that number bit by bit until the ball flies true. Next you might edit the club’s speed adjustment up or down from 100% (200% maximum) to bring the club head speeds in line with what you would expect. Then observe the distance the ball is traveling. If that is off you could make an adjustment to the Distance Adjustment up or down from 100% (200% maximum) until the distances are correct. You would then do this for each club.
http://support.dancindogg.com/practice-mode#clubset-configuration

Jonathan B Cole
Technical Support Lead
231.421.2397
866.941.3644 ext. 306
Dancin’Dogg Golf
Leading the Home Golf Revolution!

Review: Vharness

The Vharness is a swing trainer with the goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro.  The Vharness is endorsed by Rocco Mediate, who I think is a brilliant spokesperson for this product because of how well heconnects with average golfers.  He looks like a guy in your foursome.  But of course he has tremendous game.  His performance at Torrey Pines in the US Open made him a household name.  He plays what seems to be off the shelf game improvement clubs.  He doesn’t have the fluid easy motion of a Fred Couples, or the power of JB Holmes or Bubba Watson.  These reasons though make him ideal as a representative of this product because he, of all tour players, looks the most like an average Joe, and almost everybody can relate to him.

So does the Vharness achieve it’s lofty goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro?  No, but it is an excellent swing trainer, and if used effectively especially with some guidance from an instructor it can really help the average golfer to feel their swing better.  Frankly I don’t think there is a single device that can teach anyone to swing like a pro.  Swinging like a pro requires coordination, talent, strength and flexibility.  Provided you have those things, with a good instructor and dedication you can learn to swing like a pro.  What I did find is that the Vharness can enable you to not only create a better swing, but really feel what it feels to swing better.

I have a number of swing trainers in my collection, and they all fulfill different purposes.  I’ve been using the Vharness for about a month.  I wanted to give it a full test before I wrote about it.  The Vharness is definitely different from my other swing trainers.  It gives me feedback that I never got from anywhere else and really helped me to understand and feel my swing better.  It almost acts as a sensation amplifier and you really feel what the club head, path and hands are doing.

One of the main objectives of the Vharness is to help you feel more connected. There are a number of ways to feel more connected that I’ve seen routinely taught. Most commonly is tucking a golf glove under one or both armpits depending on how you are trying to feel the connection. Recently we have been watching players like Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose tuck their sleeves into their armpits. Both are effective ways of feeling the connection.

The Vharness approaches this concept from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling the connection through your armpits as in the other techniques you keep it by by focusing on keeping the “vcords” taut.  As you do your body naturally becomes more connected.  It feels like it is a less tense way of feeling it.

Zen Chili Rating for The VHarness

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves several aspects of the golf swing almost automatically
• Provides great feedback and sense of connection
• Delivers results

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• Easy to use and works with all of your golf clubs
• Comes with a stylish carrying case

But the Vharness takes it a few steps further. It naturally creates more width in the swing and keeps your hands more in front of you preventing you from getting stuck.  One of my major flaws in my swing is getting stuck.  Working with the vharness, this is dramatically improved, and with it so has my distance and accuracy.  The great thing about it for me, is that it really worked with the things I’ve been learning and working on, and it provides excellent feedback.

When ordering the Vharness you’ll be asked some questions to have it properly sized for your your height and your clubs.  I find that it fits well on all clubs.  It is very easy to transfer from one club to the next and allows you to use it with all your clubs.  The more I use the Vharness the more I enjoy using it.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it too.

Learn more about it on their website.

Review: Penta TP Golf Ball

PentaToday I had the chance to play the Penta TP.  I bought two sleeves and headed out to meet some friends at Great River Golf Club in Milford, CT.

The Penta has 5 layers (thus the name), and each layer is supposed to make the ball react properly.

Layer 1: Feel

This layer is the urethane cover for high spin from shots of 100 and in.

Layer 2: Spin

The outer mantle layer is for delivering high spin with the short irons.

Layer 3: Control

Middle mantle layer prevents balooning for greater distance control between 140 and 170 yards.

Layer 4: Launch

Soft feel and high launch, low spin, provide ideal ideal conditions for long iron and hybrids to get the ball up in the air, land it with a steep descent angle requiring less spin to stop the ball.

Layer 5: Distance

Core is supposed to provide high launch low spin with the driver.

Putting Penta in play

I brought out the first two Pentas to putt with on the practice green.  Right away I knew I was going to like this ball for putting.  Feels great off the putter.  Not hard or clicky, and soft enough, but not too soft. It felt just right and all day I was controlling my putts well.

Throughout my round I also found the the spin layer to be very effective.  Shots from around 100 yards and in were stopping beautifully on the greens.  Partial wedges were easy to hit accurately and the feel was butter soft.

The control layer for mid irons was also really good.  I really did feel like I had good distance control in those critical distances from 140 to 170 and the ball also stopped nicely on the green with those mid irons.

The fourth layer, launch, was pretty good as well.  I did feel the launch was a bit high with the hybrid and long irons but then again I’m also dealing with softer shafts that tend to balloon the ball for me.  I’m not yet totally sold on this layer yet, but I’m willing to continue experimenting with Penta.

Layer 5, Distance.  This was actually the most disappointing layer for me.  I did feel like I lost some distance compared to other balls I’ve played with the driver.  However the other layers more than made up for this loss of distance.  I’m going to say that it was probably more a swing issue than the ball, but I’ll keep my eye on this and see if my distance with Penta improves.

If you’ve been reading this blog, than you know that I was recently fit by Bridgestone using their Ball Fitting Challenge.  They fit me into the B330.  While I liked the distance I got from the B330, the control was not like the Penta.  On all shots from 170 yards and in the Penta is my go to ball.  It performs so well in those areas that I can live with a shorter drive (but again that may be more a swing issue than the Penta).  Well done TaylorMade. This is an excellent ball.

Review: Divot Mat

The DivotMat is an excellent practice/training aid.  It identifies your impact characteristics in a unique way for indoor or outdoor use.

The Divot Mat consists of a few key pieces.  1) The Divot Mat Sheets, 2) The Divot Pad (Lie Board), 3) The Divot Mat, a soft mat on which to put the Divot Pad including velcro strips to fasten it securely to the mat, 4) 2 DVDs with instructional information.

The Divot Mat sheets have 9 golf balls printed on them that serve as the focal point for your shot.  When you swing and hit the mat, your club leaves a trail mark on the Divot Mat.  This trail shows where the club first hit the mat, how long the divot is, and the direction of the divot.  These 3 things enable you to see whether you are hitting the ball fat, thin or just right, and whether you have an inside-out swing, outside-in, or straight swing path.

Zen Chili Rating for The Divot Mat

5 Zens out of 5

• Easy to use, provides instant understandable feedback
• Can help someone focus on the divot instead of the ball
• Use anywhere you can swing an iron.
• Good DVD explaining common faults and fixes.

5 Chilis out of 5

•Mat is well constructed.
•Divot Sheets are refillable, durable, and good for about 40 swings each.
• Affordable.
• Nice carrying case.
• Well thought out package and design.

The sheets are very sturdy and definitely stand up to the impact from the club without tearing.  The divots are clear, although it can get harder to see your last impact if the sheet is already pretty marked up.  The company sells refill sheets that come in packs of 36.  They recommend using each sheet 30 to 40 times, which means a refill pack should last about 3 months.

It’s very easy to use, though I recommend putting it on a mat or carpet.  Do not the Divot Pad off hardwood floors or concrete.  The sheets stick to the Divot Board through some double sided tape.  It’s a piece of cake to take a sheet off and put a new one on. Then start swinging your irons and look at the divots.  The feedback is instantaneous and easy to understand.

It’s a great practice tool that can help sharpen up anyone’s game.

Check out DivotMat website for more information.

Review: Thumb Caddy – stop regripping the club

Thumb Caddy_New Single BoxThe Thumb Caddy is a clever golf training aid.  It’s main purpose is to help players stop regripping the golf club.  I know that I have been guilty of this in the past.

I’m not sure what causes the regrip, but I think in my case it was a quest for more distance.  I think that when I regripped, I felt like I could come into the ball faster.  What it created though was uncertainty and inconsistency.  How in the world can you hit the ball consistently if you’re changing your grip midway through the swing?

The thumb caddy is easy enough to slip on to the club.  You open it slightly and get the club into it near the hosel where the shaft is narrow.  You then slide it up toward and onto the grip.

Using it simple. The thumb on your upper hand goes into the Thumb Caddy and stays there nice and secure throughout your swing.  If you’re used to regripping, the sensation of having your thumb stay in the same place will feel a little strange.  Because your hands are your connection to the golf club, regripping mid swing can have major consequences on the flight of the ball and the consistency of your shots.

If regripping is an issue for you, give this device a shot.  They are sold individually and sets so that you can have one on every club.  Obviously you can’t use it during tournament rounds, but for practice, or practice rounds, the Thumb Caddy is an excellent little training aid.

Thumb Caddy Website.

Review: Project X Graphite Driver Shaft

PXgraphiteThe Project X Graphite shaft is designed to provide lower spin, longer carry and a laser guided trajectory.

I got a chance to review this because I won a Project X shaft in a twitter contest that the company had.  Once I won the contest, I needed to pick out which version I wanted sent to me.

I talked to a few friends in golf, asked their opinions, than headed out to the driving range at Sterling Farms Golf Course.  They have a beautiful trackman setup in their Callaway Fitting center.  I would highly recommend going there if you are near Stamford, CT.

I tried the 6.5 shaft in a number of heads and noticed a few things.

The trajectory at which the ball was being launched was perfect.  There was no ballooning, and the picture on the trackman was beautiful to look at.  I feel like I could go after it without worrying about big hooks.  Although it was at a 6.5 frequency, I didn’t feel boardy.  It was smooth, and it is a very stable shaft.  For higher swing speed players this is a great shaft that will kill spin, and result in better rollout and longer distance overall if fitted properly.  The better a swing I put on it, the better the shaft performed.

Project X Graphite Driver Shaft Review coming soon

PXgraphite

I’m so excited.  I won a Project X driver shaft.  As soon as it gets here, I’ll have it installed and will review it.

This is one of the hottest shafts on tour and I’m pumped to see what it can do.  In the meantime enjoy the tech specs from the True Temper website.

New Technology

Project X Graphite Technology

Zonal Design Theory
Project X driver and hybrid shafts are engineered using True Temper’s proprietary Zonal Design Theory (ZDT) which divides the shaft into three zones—butt, mid and tip sections. Each zone is optimized for performance using a specific design technology.

Tip & Butt SectionButt section:

Hex-Axial Reinforcement Technology provides unmatched cross sectional stability minimizing energy lost to ovalization.

Mid section:

Constant Taper Design eliminates localized bending and creates even loading and unloading for maximum energy transfer.

Tip section:

Elongated Double Wrapped 55 MSI Reinforcement for a firmer tip section which minimizes droop and lag and reduces back spin.

Tour Launch and Spin
Project XLike the Project X iron shafts, Project X driver and hybrid shafts provide penetrating launch conditions with ultra low spin. The stiff butt, soft mid-section combine with the double reinforced tip section to maintain a strong angle of attack and greatly reduce spin, even in higher loft drivers.

Stay Tuned for the Review of the Project X Driver shaft.

Review: Tour Striker Pro

According to the website for the Tour Striker:

Finally! A simple training club that intuitively promotes the essentials of Tour quality club head to ball impact!

One percent of golfers strike golf balls correctly. The Tour Striker and Tour Striker Pro training clubs will intuitively help you understand leverage and how to apply the club head to the golf ball in the same manner as the best players in the world. You will gain command of the elusive skills required to compress a golf ball. Best of all, this is not a temporary solution!

Allow the creative golfer inside you to enjoy the game once and for all. You can learn how to have world-class impact conditions and strike golf balls purely, accurately and with great control.

Tour Striker Models

The Tour Striker Pro is the pro version of the Tour Striker, a training aid designed to teach a player to hit the ball with a forward shaft lean and the hands ahead.

Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker
Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker

Here’s the tour striker compared to a regular iron.

Tour Striker vs an iron
Tour Striker vs an iron

Side view of the tour strikers:

Tour Striker Side View
Tour Striker Side View

Photo source: www.tourstriker.com

The only way to get the ball up in the air hitting this club is to have a forward leaning shaft at impact.  If the shaft is straight up and down or leaning away from the target at impact, the ball will fly very low or simply roll on the ground.

Using it on the Right Surface

It is very important that when practicing with the tour striker you are on either very firm closely mown turf or a hard mat.  In fact the best test for your ball striking abilities with the tour striker come when using a lie board.

If you attempt to use the tour striker on fluffy grass or a very soft mat like the Country Club Elite (CCE) mats that allow you to hit down and through the ball you will negate the benefits of the tour striker as the soft grass or mat will allow you dig in to ground and hit a decent shot without the forward lean of the shaft.

I can use Range Mats again (but only for this)

One of the interesting results for me of using the Tour Striker Pro is that using this club actually gives me an incentive to use the hard mats at the range near me.  If you read this blog you know that I am not a fan of range mats.

For normal iron practice I intend to continue to use my CCE mat as that simulates a lush fairway and gives me great feedback on the quality of the strike, but for working on the shaft lean and hands forward at impact I can use the range mats, but only with the Tour Striker.

Once you are on the correct surface the Tour Striker shows its true value.  I consider myself a pretty good ball striker.  Over the past few months as it has gotten colder in the northeast I have not only kept my distances the same in the colder temperatures but have actually increased them as my technique has improved.

Still, the tour striker showed me that I had some work to do with the shaft lean as I hit a number of low worm burners with it.  However, the majority of shots I hit with it were fairly acceptable with a few exceptional ones.

During my practice sessions I alternated using the Tour Striker Pro and my irons and the feedback was great.  My iron playhas improved over the past few months, and I think continued and regular use of the Tour Striker will take it to new levels.

The quality is product is excellent.  It appears to be manufactured to pretty high standards.

I consider the Tour Striker Pro to be a valuable addition to my practice toolset.

Which Tour Striker to Get

“The Regular Tour Striker is targeted for mid-to-high handicap golfers and slower swing speeds (under 90 mph with driver), while the Tour Striker Pro is geared for dedicated practicers with higher swing speeds. We also offer a Tour Striker for women and younger players who wish to improve their game.”

I agree with this description.  If you are mid to high handicapper you will struggle with the Tour Striker Pro.  For the lower handicap players the Pro model adds the right amount of challenge.  The leading edge of the club does look pretty high.  It is a pretty cool and rewarding sensation to see this high leading edge hit a nice high soft shot that carries forever.

On the range I introduced a friend of mine to the Tour Striker and watched him hit a few balls.  It very quickly forced him to make a few adjustments but then he started hitting some great shots.  When he went back to hitting his own irons I could see that the adjustments had carried over and he hit the ball on a better trajectory with a slightly more penetrating ball flight.

If you have a flippy swing where you try and scoop the ball to get it in the air, the Tour Striker will definitely help you to change that.  Be prepared for a bit of frustration as you make the adjustment but the end result will be worth it.

Take a look at the slow motion shot below.  You will see a very nice iron strike.  The shaft is leaning a bit forward, the clubhead hits the ball first, then the ground.  A phrase I was told to remember this was “Hit the little ball (the golf ball), before the big ball (the earth)”.

Website: www.tourstriker.com

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Winter Golf Practice – Get the most out of it

So you live in colder part of the country.  Maybe there’s snow on the ground, maybe there isn’t but the temperature outside doesn’t make you want to hit the golf course.  And it’ll be a while before spring arrives and melts the snow.  What do you do to improve your game.

Actually winter golf practice can be extremely productive.  Imagine that spring time comes around and not only are you not rusty but you feel like you’re ready to play the best golf of your life.  Here are the essentials you need to make this your best winter practice session.

1. A quality golf mat

Nothing is more frustrating than hitting golf balls off rock hard mats at the driving range.  They don’t provide realistic feedback.  They don’t allow you to hit down and through the ball.  The tees may not be adjustable or they are those rubber tubes.  Yech!,

Getting a quality golf mat for your house will offer you some great practice time.  You can hit down and through, you won’t injure your self and you won’t wear holes in the carpet.  Look for a mat that is thick enough to hold normal tees, and allow you to hit down and through the ball.  I recommend the Country Club Elite Golf Mats.  You can find a review of them on my reviews page.  Make sure that you pick a stance mat so that your feet are at the same level as the golf mat.

If it can hold tees than you can create a gate practice hitting through it and do other drills involving tees.  Plus it’ll give you real feedback.  You know when you would have hit it fat and you can practice getting the right amount of turf.  You can also put a sock or a piece of cloth an inch behind where you would put a golf ball and practice hitting the turf, but not hitting the sock.  This will ingrain the right feeling of taking a divot after the ball.

Get a Video Camera

A video camera will really allow you to see what you’re swing is doing.  I recommend one of the newer cameras that record on to memory cards.  The reason is that on the card, each video is an individual file.  There’s no rewinding or fast forwarding through video tape, and you can copy selected (or all) clips onto your computer for further analysis.  The newer cameras also feature slow motion mode.  My camera can do 240 frames per second.  The beauty of it is that I can really see exactly where the club is throughout the entire swing.

Once you have your camera, you can do a few things.  You can take video from behind you.  This is called a down the line shot (or DTL).  You can also take a Face On (FO) video. Both angles are very useful for swing analysis and seeing faults.  It is very rewarding to see your faults, work on them, and watch as they disappear. Also, get a tripod.  You will need it.  It makes things so much easier.

A Net

If you have the mat and you have the camera, your next best swing analysis tool is a net.  A net allows you to hit actual balls without fear of breaking valuable objects, or putting holes through walls.  Get the sturdiest net you can get if you are going to hit actual golf balls.  Cheap nets have been known to break and allow the golf ball to actually break through the netting.  You don’t want that to happen.  You want a net that can handle golf balls.  If you’re not hitting actual golf balls, you can hit something like the almost golf ball or birdie balls into the net (see the review of BirdieBalls from the reviews page).  These should puts less strain on the net.

The benefit of the net is that you are hitting something.  It’s not just a practice swing and for most people there is a difference.  Hitting something forces your body to react the way it would on the golf course.  This is will make the videos that you analyze more meaningful.

A putting cup or a home putting green

With a putting cup you can practice putting off carpet.  The benefit of doing that is that you can practice a solid stroke on level ground.  You want to know that you’re putting stroke will put the ball on the right line. The downside of putting on carpet is that you don’t know how fast it is.  Without a stimp meter you don’t know what speed you are grooving your putts for.  Odds are that the greens you play on will be significantly faster or slower depending on the type of carpet.  I would recommend that most amateurs practice on a putting surface that closely resembles the courses they play the most.  If you play on public or municipal courses anything around 10 on the stimp meter would be excellent.  If you play at private clubs that have faster greens, putting on a surface with 11 or 12 on the stimp meter would be better for you.

Home putting surfaces do not have to be expensive.  On the birdieball.com website, they have putting surfaces starting at under $100 that can be either 10 or 12 on the stimp meter depending on the options you choose.

The other thing to look for is that the ball drops into a cup.  It doesn’t have to be a big drop but it should drop in.  Putting cups with a steep slope are unrealistic for this reason.

A home putting surface also allows you to create breaks.  This is ideal.  You can practice flat putts and breaking putts on the same surface, and at speeds that are similar to the courses you play on.  What could be better than that?

Take out your video camera and record your putting strokes too.  You’d be amazed at how much you can learn from watching your putting stroke.

A Simulator

Finally, if you have some extra cash lying around, a simulator greatly complements all of the above.  I recommend the Dancin’ Dogg Optishot.  There are several different manufacturers that make simulators.  P3SwingPro is another.  These are fun, allow you to play full rounds with friends, or even have driving or closest to the pin contests.  Plus they tell you important information about your swing.  They tell you things like club head speed, path angle, club face angle and more.  These are great fun and can definitely help you improve.

Review: Country Club Elite Golf Mats

Country Club Elite Golf Mat

I recently ordered the small (20″ x 30″ ) Country Club Elite golf mat from Real Feel Golf Mats.

I’ve heard about a lot of mats that promise to give you the lush feel of hitting off a fairway and being able to “take a divot”.  I was a bit skeptical but I knew I needed to try it.  The mats at my local range were so hard that I think I was developing tendinitis in my shoulder.  At home I had a small Hank Haney mat that I hit off and it was really getting chewed up.  The mat was only 1/4″ of an inch thick at most and I would find little tufts of mat all over the floor that needed sweeping up.

I knew when I took the first swings that this mat was different.  When you hit into it, you get this real resistance as the club digs into the mat.  It handles fat shots realistically.  I find typical range mats provide a false sense of security because you can hit the ball so fat and because the club just bounces off the mat you can still end up with decent contact.  It’s not like that on the golf course.

I like being able to stick tees into it because I can practice drills like the gate drill where you put a couple of tees in the ground and have the club go through the gate.

CCE Mat with Tee

The 99 dollar 20×30 mat was perfect for me because I already have a stance mat.  If I didn’t have a stance mat I would definitely have needed to buy one as you really want to be on the same level as the CCE Mat.

The experience of hitting off this mat is really a lot like hitting from a nice fairway and more importantly you really do get a feel for hitting down and through the ball.  I also feel it making a big impact on my body.  It is a relief hitting off this mat.  My shoulder feels much better.  Overall I rate this mat a 5 out of 5.  The quality is outstanding and should hold up to years of use unlike the Hank Haney mat which gets shredded within weeks.

Below is a picture of the shredded up Hank Haney mat.

Hank Haney Mat

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