It’s All “about” the Golf

If you live north of the Mason Dixon line you can relate. You love to golf 365 days a year but the weather doesn’t seem to be inclined to accommodate you.

So what options to do you have? Years ago you might have been left to take a divot out of your rug and a reciprocal slash out of the ceiling paint. Eventually electronic simulators came on the scene but smacking a ball into what amounted to a slide show of outdated images from some far away resort just never seemed to cut it for me.

Sure simulators have advanced greatly in many years but few of them ever caught my attention like the ones a company called aboutGolf (www.aboutGolf.com) has brought to market. They made a nice choice on the name. After all it IS all “about” the golf !

Believe me when I say this, I have tried just about every golf simulator you can imagine. Every year there are a few more that show up at the annual PGA Merchandise show and undoubtedly I get to spend at least a few swings on each and every one. The experience is pretty much the same every time.

No disrespect at all to them, it’s not that they are “bad” experiences – faced with a lack of golf alternatives I will go with the “anything-at-all-like-golf” option each and every time. But they just never had all the features I imagined would be possible in a simulator. As advanced technologies have been more attainable and affordable I would have expected something better by now but nothing fulfilled that promise until I caught wind of aboutGolf a couple years back.

At first, I resisted even taking a look. After all, I had become a little jaded to the golf simulator thing – beyond all the trips to the PGA Show for a time I also co-owned a golf shop that was located in the back of an indoor golf center with multiple simulators. The novelty of playing them wore off rather quickly.

I always thought was list of requirements was a fairly simple one but nobody seemed to meet the standard. You see, for me the idea was that the simulator would be more than for playing games but it would be an all-purpose tool to help you really advance your game. Of course it still had to be fun.

Being able to play some realistic golf was the initial demand. Leading graphics of the full 3 dimensional kind are a must with a long list of interesting courses to play. Throw in realistic play, including yardages that match what I normally hit outside and you have the start to a decent simulation.

I found all this and more with aboutGolf.

Founded two decades ago, the company has escalated rapidly as the premium simulator company out there. A recent partnership and licensing agreement with the PGA Tour is further proof of that. When the marquee golf property in the world is aligning with you, that is a pretty strong endorsement.

Fueling the advancement of aboutGolf has been their research and development division, aboutGolf Labs, which seems to come up with new additions to their product lines on a more than regular basis.

The company offers many variations of their product, making it an easy fit for retailers, pros, and other facility owners. The setups range from the PGA Tour Compact Classic all the way to the impressive PGA Tour Range Surround which will debut mid-way through this year. Up to 48 feet wide, the Range Surround offers up three separate hitting bays in one system.

My favorite is the Sim Surround (see photo), a simulator that offers up a 150 degree display that fully immerses you into the scene. It does not get much more realistic that that. For me, it was the system that made this company stand out from the rest.

More than 50 golf courses are available for play, including some of the world’s finest like Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Old Course at St. Andrew’s, and TPC at Sawgrass (which debuts in ’09).

Appearances aside, the heart of aboutGolf is the underlying technology – what makes the machines tick. The PGA Tour Simulators uses an innovative 3Trak system that measures ball and club motion on every plane.

The advantage of this system is tremendous – you get data that is highly usable for the fitting of golf equipment, plus it is convertible (with a proprietary 3D graphic system) into a very accurate simulation on screen. For every possible shot. Even my lipped out putts felt painfully familiar.

“The new system helps to make the results as realistic as possible and that is what this is all about. I spent many years working for another simulator company but nothing compares to what aboutGolf does,” says Pierre Bourque who handles Canadian operations for the company. “It is as close to playing golf as you can without being outside.”

In addition to all this, golfers looking to work on their game can employ other system tools rather than simply beating balls into the simulator. Operators can add a swing analysis system with up to four cameras and even an aG Balance board that measures weight distribution throughout the swing. There is even a break-out mobile 3Trak system for indoor and outdoor use on the go.

After just a few swings, with the PGA Tour aboutGolf simulators I forgot that I was even inside. As strange as that seems you will have to get into a SimSurround System to see what I mean.

Years ago we played video game golf by looking at a screen. Now you can feel like your are actually right in the action.

Add that fun to some tools that are both productive and educational and I finally see the simulator I always imagined.

Of course as difficult as finding this simulator has been it will likely pale in comparison to how hard it will be to convince my wife that we need one in our house!

That is..until I get her to try it.

She’s a golfer too.