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Friday, January 21, 2011

The Evolution of Golf Simulators

Thanks to golf simulators, avid golfers from the 1970s and beyond have had the chance to practice and perfect their technique indoors and safe from poor weather. Added kudos goes to the game developers, software engineers and golfers who have refined the golf simulator during more than a quarter-century into what is now an advanced piece of technological hardware.

From the days of Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, rudimentary golf simulators underwent many technological advancements to become more enhanced systems. They were hardly respected as helpful tools for golf training and were considered as novelties. But the technology has improved greatly. Just think how much the telephone has progressed into what they are today — same thing is true of golf simulators.

Long ago, the archaic systems projected grainy pictures of golf courses on the screen for golfers to whack balls into. Once contact was made, the golf simulator measured the time it took for the ball to cross two points. With some calculations, the device would surmise how far golfers hit the ball and deposited them at their next location.

The next generation of golf simulators had a different look - a more pixilated Super Mario version of the game. Fairways were green strips peppered with yellow and blue geometric shapes that represented what were supposedly bunkers and water hazards. Dictating where the ball went didn’t much improve either.

Today, we don't deal with lame golf course recreations. Instead, golf simulators transport you into an immersive 3D environment, complete with software that allows players to choose what time of day their playing and the weather. Also, simulators measure way more than just the golf ball’s journey between two spots. Some simulators are even equipped with cutting-edge camera technology that takes 2,000 photos per second allowing them to calculate the exact ballistics of the golf ball.

After years of collecting data from swings and golf balls soaring through the air, there is no shot today’s simulators haven’t seen. They measure the speed, trajectory and direction of the ball with such precision that you can actually watch the virtual version fly through the air and land right where it would in real life.

The golf simulator software also allows golfers to play famous courses from all over the world. From the United States to Abu Dhabi, players have the chance to play around the world. Each course has been carefully studied, so that any digital tilt of the green is exactly like the real one. The system’s software also regulates the ball’s collision to real-life specifications . Now hitting a tree won’t yield the identical results as hitting a rock. (Digital people have not been added to spare you the trouble of yelling, “Fore!”)

In all actuality, the shortcomings of your father's golf simulator might have been hurting his game rather than improving it. In the 1980s, a good-looking drive may trun out to be a poor shot by the standards of today's golf simulators. Also, old simulators did not factor in weather. Any good golfer knows that a ball’s trajectory and speed can differ from the wind’s direction and gust.

Now, golfers can better practice during the winter months indoors. Golf simulation has become more life like, and for the better. A terrible swing will result in a horrible shot, allowing players to better pin-point their problems. Golfers aren’t simply having batting practice against a screen. New and improved golf simulation deserves a try. Test it out for yourself.

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