When I first became addicted to golf I did not want to give up the activity I loved for several months while it was too cold to play in the state of North Carolina. I was not in a position to move to Florida or any other warm weather state and, honestly, that might have been taking the addiction a little too far. Instead, I thought it would be a wise investment to purchase the Optishot golf simulator that could be used in a basement or garage.
At the time, I was living in a townhome that had a spare utility room in the basement. The room was big enough to swing a golf club so I figured why not buy the Optishot. Well, it wasn’t that easy. Instead of the $399 for the golf simulator I ended up having to spend another $600 to get a Windows laptop that was capable of running the software for the golf simulator. At that time, there was not software compatible with a MacBook. I had both a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air but neither of them could be used with the Optishot. It now looks is if the Optishot2 can be run on a Mac. Here are the minimum system requirements:
Windows Minimum System Requirements
Windows® Vista, 7 or 8 (latest service packs)
Graphics Card: 256MB Adapter RAM
Latest Video Drivers – No more than 18 months old
OpenGL 2.0 support
3GB Hard Disk Drive Storage
USB 2.0 port
Mac Minimum System Requirements
Mac® OS X 10.8
Intel® Core 2 Duo
NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600
3GB Hard Disk Drive Storage
USB 2.0 port
Note that on the Optishot website it states that you will need 8 1/2 foot ceilings. I would strongly suggest something taller than that. If you have a long swing you are going to hit the roof if the ceilings are not high enough. I never did it, but I definitely hit some lightbulbs in that basement utility room.
Upon receiving the Optishot the first thing I noticed was that the “infrared swing pad” was elevated several inches off the ground. You can clearly see that here in the new Optishot2:
A golfer that is a single digit handicapper or has years of experience may not struggle with the swing pad being a few inches higher than the ground but when I received the Optishot I sure did. Please remember I was about a 25 or 30 handicap at this time and I was just getting started with golf.
The other important thing to remember about the golf swing is you are going to take divots with shorter irons and wedges. You cannot take a divot with the Optishot. You are going to dig into the hard piece of plastic that is under the fake piece of grass. If you come in with a very steep swing you are not only going to hit the computerized infrared swing pad but you are also going to hurt your hands.
After trying to hit a few irons I noticed myself adjusting my swing because I did not want to hit the ground at all. This is not good for anyone wanting to become a better iron player. Unfortunately, it took me about eight months to realize that it was ok to take a divot after hitting the ball with my wedges and short irons. I can honestly say the Optishot will hurt your iron play because it does not allow you to come into the ball with your hands in front of the ball.
I would also not use the Optishot to learn how to pitch or chip the ball. Once again, the ball will be slightly above your feet and you cannot take a divot. Anyone that is a great chipper of the ball knows there are times in which they need to attack the ball at a steep angle to get it up in the air quickly.
As far as a driver, I can say the Optishot was average at best. I was not good enough with my driver to give an honest assessment as to the accuracy of the computer program. I can say that the infrared swing path can be manipulated. At one point, it clocked me out at a 175 mph swing and being able to hit the ball 400+ yards off the tee. For comparison sake, I can hit the ball about 250 or 260 in real life; on a good day. When it is warm. And I am playing with a Pro-V1. And I hit a sprinkler head. And I get a great bounce. No, but really, I average driving the ball around 250 and in the fairway so there is no way a golf simulator should say I can hit the ball 400+ yards.
If you are looking to get some golf practice in this winter I would not suggest spending the $500 on the Optishot. Even though Roger Maltbie will claim it will help your game, there is a good chance it will not. In fact, it may very well hurt your short iron and wedge game. I am a golfer that loves to spin the ball with my wedges and short irons. If that is your goal, definitely do not buy the Optishot.
If you are itching to hit some balls this winter head out to the driving range on a 50 degree afternoon or find a local Golf Galaxy or Golfsmith. They have indoor driving ranges that offer a much better experience than the Optishot. There is a brand new Golf Galaxy that opened in Cary, North Carolina that I would strongly suggest. That place is awesome and you will be able to hit as many balls as you want. You will also get a much better reading from the golf simulator than you would with the Optishot.
The Optishot does offer some great graphics for the different courses the PGA Tour pros play. That said, there are plenty of other Wii and computer games you can buy that won’t ruin your swing. If you are worried about not being able to get out this winter, do not fret, the Masters music will be playing before you know it. There is always the opportunity to book that December or January trip to Florida as well.