Optishot 2 Review – Best Affordable Golf Simulator?
In this Optishot 2 review, I give my hands on opinion of whether or not Optishot really is the best golf simulator on the market at this price point.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I feel like one of the coolest things for any golfer to have is an at home simulator in their living room or man cave.
You watch Michael Breed on Morning Drive, and you’re just like, “man that looks cool! I want one of those!”
Especially those of you on the east coast right now. An indoor simulator is probably the only way you’re going to get any real golfing in.
However, up until a few months ago I thought simulators were simply extravagant toys for the millionaires of the world. Frankly a golf simulator seemed expensive, and out of reach.
Then I started to do some research, and in that process I stumbled upon Optishot Golf 2.
Optishot 2 is a golf simulator that costs right around $500 that on paper, looks like a budget friendly alternative to the major simulators that cost thousands of dollars.
But can a simulator that costs under 500 bucks, actually be any good? The answer might surprise you.
Optishot 2 Facts
Before I go too far into my opinions on the product, I want to take a second to run through some of the basic facts. This will give you an idea of what it is (and isn’t), and allow you to have a better frame of reference as I write about my experience.
This is all included on their sales page, but I wanted to put it here because it’s important and this review should be pretty all-inclusive.
First off, the Optishot 2 is the newly released version of Optishot. The hardware is the same as Optishot 1, however it’s the software that is vastly improved. If you have an older version you can upgrade for $100.
Optishot is a golf simulator that let’s you play full rounds on digital versions of real courses. It also has built in swing tracking capabilities that are gauged by the two sets of infrared sensors that fire at about 10,000 pulses per second.
This isn’t Trackman, it’s not measuring the ball – it’s measuring the club. When it passes over the sensors the rays bounce off the club and give you a reading that is then expanded to give relatively accurate results.
What’s in the Box?
Out of the box Optishot 2 comes with:
- Infrared Optical Swing Pad
- Optishot 2 Software (My mac doesn’t have a disc drive, so I just downloaded from their website)
- 2 Foam Balls
- 10 Foot USB Cord
- 2 Adjustable Rubber Tees
- Quick Start
What Does it Track?
As mentioned, it’s not Trackman, so what it tracks is relatively limited. However it hits all of the highlights, and pretty much included the major things I care about:
- Clubhead Speed
- Face Angle
This is also enough information to make accurate predictions on where the ball is going to go.
What Courses Does it Have?
As someone who is big on playing well known courses, this was a big deal for me. I don’t want to play fantasy courses, I want to play real courses that people want to play.
Out of the box they do a pretty good job including:
- The Golf Club Scottsdale – (TPC Scottsdale)
- Long Island Black – (Bethpage Black)
- Torrey White – (Torrey Pines North)
- Torrey Black – (Torrey Pines South)
- Palm Desert Mountains – (Bighorn Mountains)
- Palm Desert Canyons – (Bighorn Canyons)
- Barsebäck Barseback Golf & Country Club -(Sweden)
- Black Mountain Golf Club – Thailand
- The Canadian Club – (St. George’s Golf & Country Club)
- Österåkers Golf Club – Sweden
- West Maui Plantation – (Kapalua, The Plantation Course)
- Warwick Hills Golf And Country Club – Michigan
- Twisted Twig Golf Club -(Crooked Stick Golf Club)
- Fylde Links – (Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club)
- Cogs Corner – (Cog Hill Golf & Country Club)
For a surprisingly high $29.95 per course you can also purchase replicas of these courses:
- Riviera Country Club
- Pinehurst #2
- Pebble Beach
- TPC Sawgrass
- St. Andrews
- Royal Liverpool
- East Lake Golf Club
- Kiawah Island (Ocean Course)
- Merion Golf Club
- Atlanta Athletic Club
- Whistling Straits
- Congressional Country Club
- Medinah #3
- Royal Melbourne
- Royal St. George’s
- Olympic Club
There are also a few others on there as well, but those are most of them. I would have liked to see a package for $100 or so where you could just buy all of them.
It is nice however that they have a “preview” mode where you can play a course up to 3 times before purchasing. So with that you and your friends can save that special round at Pebble Beach for a Saturday night and not have to pay extra.
Ok, so now that you have a bit of an idea of the basic facts, let’s go through the Optishot 2 experience and features.
I have a pretty steady stream of golf stuff that is coming through my doors, but the Optishot 2 Simulator was one of the few products that had me sitting at the front door panting everyday around the time the mail was supposed to show up.
I love cool tech gadgets, and I love golf. Getting my Optishot was like being a kid on Christmas morning.
When it finally arrived, I ripped it open and headed straight down to my office to unpack it and start playing around with it.
At first I was surprised by how heavy it was. The mat itself feels sturdy and seems as though it should be able to take a beating from my clubs.
I downloaded the software and got it installed on my computer. And at first I was a little bit disappointed with the User Experience. The software reminded me a bit of a game I might have played a decade ago – but once I got into it I started to come around and was actually pretty pleased with the way it works.
Setting it up was a breeze and literally all I had to do was plug the sensor into my computer and it worked. If you’re going to get serious you’ll want to take a little bit of time and calibrate your clubs to make sure you’re getting the most accurate results.
I mostly stuck to my high irons and wedges, and the the calibration was really easy.
I pretty quickly realized that my 7.5 foot ceilings in my office weren’t going to suffice for my tests, so I moved the whole rig up to my living room where I have much more expansive 8 foot ceilings.
Note the sarcasm…
The minimum recommended height is 8.5 feet – but honestly, unless you want to stress about every swing, you might want to make sure you’re at 9+.
One really handy feature is that you can make any course a par 3 course for those of us without the room to hit driver. So I figured as long as I didn’t go above an 8 iron I’d be good.
Well, it was about halfway in to my third round before I put a hole in my ceiling.
It was probably my fault for getting a little too excited about a longer par 3 – but still, my fiancee wasn’t too happy when I told her what had happened.
But I digress, let’s get to the question you’re all wondering – does it work well?
My First Round on Optishot
I opted for my first round to be the par 3 version of Cog Hill – as that was one of the few included courses that I’ve played before.
I’ll get into the courses and graphics below.
Considering I was in my living room with a bit of a DIY setup that included a Pendleton Blanket on a C-Stand for my net, I opted for the included foam balls.
I’d calibrated my clubs, I stepped up to the first tee and I took a shot.
9 iron, 134 yards with a bit of a slice.
Totally accurate. It had my usual swing path, it had my distance for the club about right, and left me pretty impressed with accuracy as a whole.
As I worked my way through the course I hit balls left and right, had quite a few that were short, and nailed some greens in the process.
The times I pulled it, I felt it. The times I pured it I could tell and the ball would drop 10 feet from the cup.
I knew from the beginning this was going to be a challenge. Putting with foam balls to a hole that doesn’t exist, off a simulator mat – Optishot had a lot things stacked against it as far as putting is concerned.
They do make it quite a bit easier from a playability standpoint by allowing you to call anything from within X feet a gimme.
It takes a little getting used to, but in the end the putting actually worked out better than I’d anticipated.
To really make things better, I’d just getting a 10 foot indoor putting mat so that you actually have sense of distance and a hole to aim towards.
I setup my SKLZ Accelerator Pro Putting Mat and it made the putting go from tolerable to actually feeling like I was practicing.
I mentioned the customized gimme distances, and that’s just one example of how customizable everything is in Optishot 2.
This is a huge strength and really allows you to tailor your experience to your preferences and practice desires.
Want to play St. Andrews in 40mph wind? Done. Pebble Beach on a gorgeous sunny day without the slightest hint of a breeze? You can do that too.
Note, it certainly helps the simulation if you take the time to hook your computer up to a projector or HDTV. While I didn’t have a projector connecting my TV was a cinch and really added to the experience – especially when playing with friends.
Other customizations include setting individualized gimme distances and tee boxes, right or left handed players, green speeds, fairway speeds, in depth practice settings and more.
The bottom line I found is that there was rarely a situation or round that I couldn’t heavily customize to be exactly what I was looking for. Some of them (like green speeds) didn’t matter that much to me since I treated putting on Optishot as a bonus – but it was great to have options.
This is one of the areas where Optishot 2 really shines, in my opinion.
Playing the courses is great, especially when you get some friends and a few beers in the room.
But if you’re actually wanting to improve your golf game, this is where the most change is going to happen.
You can practice on the range or on any course/hole you choose.
Lately I’ve evolved from Candy Crush as my go to time killing game, to “King of the Course” a golf challenges game for iPhone.
In it, one of the frequent challenges is hitting it within a series of expanding rings with the hole in the center.
In Optishot 2, I can do this in real life – and I love it.
I can select my holes, and then it will tell me what percentage of balls land within 15, 30, 45, and 45+ feet – along with all of the other data it provides.
I’m able to get a feel for my shots this way, and the swing information that comes up allows me to easily make small adjustments to work on different shot types and shapes.
It’s also kind of cool to be able to go out to say #17 at Medinah #3 and use that as my practice range.
This was another favorite to practice on:
One improvement I’d like to see in the next update however is better tools for chipping on the driving range. Considering that’s the easiest thing for me to practice in my living room or garage, I’d love to see the option to set targets closer than 60 yards so I can really work on that aspect of my game.
There are work arounds by doing it on course, but it’s one feature that would be useful.
The Optishot 2 team is really pushing there live online component, Optishot Live.
Personally, I didn’t get too in depth with this – mostly because of ceiling height restrictions. Then the night I took it over to a friends house, we were having too much fun tearing up Bethpage Black to want to stop to test the online stuff.
However, what I have seen of it is pretty cool.
There always seems to be someone online that I can compete with in challenges, and if you want to host your own, like the with the rest of the system, you can customize your match or challenge to be exactly what you’re looking for.
Even cooler is the weekly Tour promo they have going on.
During most weeks throughout the PGA season, they’ll open up premium courses to non-premium members. So for instance, when the Tour was at Riviera, even if you didn’t have that course unlocked you could play it for free between Wednesday and Monday – and by doing so you got entered into a contest to win some free courses.
There always seems to be people playing online, so finding a game isn’t hard – especially when they’ve got a new free course to play. Not difficult to tell what everyone wants to play today:
It’s a great feature, and if you don’t want to shell out the cash for new courses, this is a nice way to get your fix and mix it up, all while seeing how your game stacks up against the Tour pros on the same course.
Price and Is it Worth It?
Most golf simulators can run into the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.
The Optishot 2 Golf Simulator costs $499.
Now, $499 is still a pretty significant chunk of change for the average person, so this all begs the question, is it worth it?
The short answer? Yes, it’s absolutely worth it – with a caveat.
What you get for this price in Optishot is an absolute steal. While the shot tracking may not be as accurate as say a Trackman, it’s pretty freaking good.
Are the graphics photo realistic? Not even close. But does is detract that much from the experience? Not really – and you certainly can’t complain at this price point.
The fact remains though, using a simulator and hitting off of a mat is still not quite real golf.
Driving, irons, and even chipping sometimes can certainly feel like it with Optishot, but. Sand shots? No way.
I think the people who will use this as one of their primary practice tools is probably the minority – unless you have a permanent setup for it with plenty of space.
For me I think it’s most beneficial for:
- Getting your golf fix during the off season or inclement weather (playing some of the famous courses can be really fun)
- Playing with some friends on a Friday night with a few drinks
- Range practice when you don’t have a range.
I personally don’t think this is in any way a replacement for a driving range or real golf. However, it can be an excellent stand in when you’re not able to get out on the course (especially if you have a way to use it with real balls and not break a window).
And let’s be honest, how cool is it to have a golf simulator in your house?? Extremely.
Have you used Optishot? What do you think? Share with us in the comments.
- Great Course Selection
- Surprisingly Good Tracking
- In depth Customization
- Fun and Active Live Mode
- Excellent Price/Value Ratio
- Courses/Peripherals Expensive
- Needs More Options for Chipping
- UX Feels a Little Dated
- Still Not Real Golf