aboutGOLF's Evolution: From PC Game to True-to-Life Simulation
You may have heard aboutGOLF pioneered the golf simulator industry, but did you know we were building golf games all the way back in 1992?
While we haven’t always been focused on indoor simulation, our developers have shown their passion for the game of golf since day one.
The Early Days: PC Games
Under the name Friendly Software, aboutGOLF’s founding developers created a 2D golf game for PCs released in 1996. Envision lots of pixels, a 2D landscape, and one of those power bars that require the player to strike a key at the right time or they under or overshoot their drive or putt.
Our founders realized that 2D renderings left a lot out of the game that you encounter on the green. For example, when your ball hits a tree, it usually doesn’t just hit the trunk (unless you manage a nasty ricochet). It hits every leaf, twig, and branch on its way down, which impacts how it interacts with everything it bounces off next.
They also upped their textural game and added in some weather elements. For example, how your ball rolls after hitting the green is very different than how it rolls in the rough.
In 1998, Friendly Software released Greg Newman’s Ultimate Golf Challenge and MS Golf. They incorporated 3D architecture, which meant advanced physics and upgraded graphics. Those games then spawned World Tour Golf which was fancy enough to support online events.
Dabbling in Simulators
In the very early 2000s, our developers were approached about fitting our software to simulators. This was the very infancy of simulation technology, and the swing capture was very bad.
To put things into perspective, most of our cell phones are almost as powerful as our work laptops. Those old PCs were a fraction as powerful as our smartphone. So not only did we lack the technology to correctly capture every aspect of the swing and ball flight, it also took a long time for the PC to crank through all the calculations and display the shot on the screen.
After testing several simulator prototypes, our developers decided they could design a better simulator than what was emerging in the market.
In 2002, aboutGOLF was officially formed as a company. We began work on our first simulators, which used radar technology.
The product was great for what was possible at the time, but it wasn’t without its issues. In talking with Ken Reynolds, VP of Sales & Marketing at aboutGOLF, he mentioned some of the pain points he experienced as an aboutGOLF customer with his own indoor golf center. The calibration was touchy, and the short game was pretty substandard.
Fortunately, Ken loved our support and advances in technology enough to stick around!
Part of the issue was PC processing speed, but the biggest issue was the radar technology. Radar is great at tracking long distances. It can follow a shot out on a course and come back with amazing feedback.
When you’re hitting into a net or screen eight feet away, especially if you’re trying to putt a smaller distance at a slow speed, radar can’t collect enough information to form an accurate trajectory.
Machine Vision Technology
The very first iterations of machine vision came about in 2006. We combined both radar and high-speed cameras to measure the ball in flight. The higher rate of capture in a smaller distance from the point of impact allowed our engineers to capture enough data to improve many aspects of the short game. It was a step in the right direction.
The Debut of 3Trak®
In 2008, we debuted 3Trak® at the PGA Merchandise Show. 3Trak® was a complete departure from radar. We were now able to use a non-repeating pattern on golf balls to capture the exact spin rates and angles within a very short distance from the point of impact.
We focused less on club inputs and more on ball behavior. That isn’t to say we don’t allow for club marking so you can switch from iron to driver to putter without having to change any settings on your sim (we do). We discovered the ball could tell us more about your shot shape, distance, and speed than the club could.
3Trak® was an absolute game-changer. It’s what differentiates us from our competitors, particularly with the short game. Our focus wasn’t just creating a great golf game. We wanted to bring the golf course to our customers. We didn’t want them to miss out on any aspect while practicing on a driving range or enjoying a round.
Our goal was and always will be to provide the most realistic, entertaining experience possible indoors.
The Platform for the Modern Golfer
When aboutGOLF developed our first golf simulator over 20 years ago, no one could anticipate the transformative impact technology would have on golf. The leaps and bounds in computer graphics, processing, and machine learning have made it possible to simulate every aspect of the game—from the long drive off the tee to a short putt.
While we view true-to-life simulator play as a must-have, we also recognize the world has changed. Time has become our rarest commodity. Whatever we choose to do competes with work deadlines, family time, streaming services, and social media. We want to have fun, relax, and socialize on our own terms.
We know your time is precious. That’s why in 2017, we began to focus on offering a comprehensive platform to our customers. With aG Locker, data from any aboutGOLF simulator is automatically synchronized to your mobile device. You can stay on top of your statistics and use them to improve your game while you connect with others in our online community. We also launched aG Tour in 2020, giving anyone with access to any aboutGOLF simulator a chance to play for prizes and recognition.
As a Modern Golfer, you should play the courses you love when you want, always have the data you need to improve, and have access to entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Most importantly, you should have a platform that connects you with others — because together is better and the future of golf.