Three Factors that Affect Golf Simulator Accuracy
Golf simulation and ball tracking has come a long way since the days of Microsoft Golf 1998. Revolutionary technology has allowed aboutGOLF to progress from radar in 2002 to the state-of-the-art machine vision tech we use in our simulators today. Golf simulator accuracy is determined by three main factors. First, is golf ball spin measured, or estimated? Second, how does the ball interact with the digital world after it has been struck? Finally, realistic interaction between the ball and the physical objects that it collides with on the course. At aG, we’ve been developing technology that puts a premium on accurate measurement and physics for over twenty years.
Every aboutGOLF sim is custom built with 3Trak© technology that measures the three-dimensional position of the golf ball with stereo vision (multiple cameras) in the first few feet of flight after being hit by the golf club. These high-performance cameras use proprietary machine vision technology to precisely track every shot. From world long drive champions hitting drives at speeds of more than 220 miles per hour to short putts rolling at a leisurely 2 MPH, our tech was built from the ground up to ensure that every shot is measured and interacts with the digital golf course the same way you would expect to see it in the real world.
The Importance of Spin
Spin rate is one of the key factors that determines the distance and shape of a golfer’s shot, which makes it shocking that many golf simulator brands don’t accurately measure spin at all (especially indoors). Instead, radar-based technologies try to predict and estimate spin indoors. This is why we here at aboutGOLF pioneered camera based technology with the power of Machine Vision to actively track, record and relay spin to the simulated world.
When the ball is safely hit from the center of the club face, estimating a range for spin will get your distance and shape close. When the ball is not hit from the center of the club face —either out on the toe or in at the heel—you have a twisting effect during impact that influences the spin on the ball. It no longer follows the standard rule of thumb because of the twisting of the golf club.
When this happens outdoors, you can see your shot wasn’t ideal. When you’re practicing indoors, you may not know the ball flight projected in the simulator is incorrect, resulting in false confidence until you get out onto the real course. We’ve seen this lead to confusion and frustration when your game fails to improve.
Because of our 3Trak©’s ability to accurately measure spin via rotating marks on the ball, we don’t have to make estimates. aboutGOLF simulators don’t use inputs like club type, club approach, and ball velocity to estimate spin. The marks on the surface of the golf ball allow us to accurately measure the spin so the flight physics and bounce and roll are calculated with accuracy. Unfortunately, not all of us are gifted with the experience and skill needed to hit a ball dead center every time. The 3Trak© measurements provide accurate and immediate feedback helping you improve your game.
Sometimes we choose to hit the ball with an unusual swing to avoid a hazard on a short approach to the green and shape the shot around obstacles. These scenarios cause problems for any golfer, no matter the skill level, and the aboutGOLF simulator will accurately represent the shot.
With an aG golf simulator, no matter how you hit the ball—whether it’s well-struck or poorly struck—we measure the spin of the ball in the first few feet of flight. It doesn’t matter whether there’s a gear effect or twisting of the club or anything else. Because we’re capturing the ball as it’s moving through the air, we’re measuring the spin on the ball so you can be confident that the resulting shot in the simulator is correct.
In-Game Flight Physics
Spin is a key factor for longer shots, but it does not impact the short game quite as much. If a ball is in flight for eight seconds, there’s more time for the forces to work on the ball and push it. If the ball is in flight for just two seconds, there’s a lot less time for it to be influenced.
So, if spin isn’t our short game differentiator, what is?
We measure the ball’s flight in the first 15-20 inches after club impact. 3Trak© stereo machine vision takes multiple photographs from different angles that allow us to measure the ball position in 3D space with a high degree of accuracy.
This is critical, especially with short shots with high launch angles—such as those in close proximity to the green.
Because 3Trak© accurately captures the 3D vector of the ball, we can project a precise shot shape, including unusual combinations such as high launch ang
le and low ball velocity—characteristic of flop shots intended to just barely clear greenside bunkers.
Interactions between the Ball and the Digital World
The third contributing factor
to golf simulator accuracy is the bounce and roll of the ball or the collision of the ball with the physical objects in the scene. When a ball hits the ground, does it collide with hard-packed dirt or soft grasses that slow the ball dramatically? Does it bounce forward or glance off the side of a rock?
This is why aboutGOLF’s developers have built our collection of courses with the utmost attention to detail when it comes to grass types, hazards, and everything else that you would expect to see on the course.
In the case of a putt, the primary focus is measuring ball speed and direction. The speed and contour of the green with the physics of the bounce and roll will determine the trajectory of the putt. aboutGOLF simulators take all of these factors to provide a faithful recreation of putts from any distance.
So, the answer to the initial question of wether or not golf simulators are accurate is that it depends on the brand and the technology used! aboutGOLF offers the most accurate and precise sims on the market, and if you're thinking of buying one for your home or business, we'd be happy to help you on your journey! If you just want to try out a simulator near you, we can help with that too!