Whether it’s the snow and ice of winter, or the rain showers and thunder storms of spring and summer, golf isn’t a year-round sport for most in the U.S. That’s one reason why expensive indoor golf simulators have popped up everywhere from golf superstores to actual country clubs.
ProTee United is behind many of the most expensive simulators. Most of its systems start at $3,000, and go way up from there But the company has now partnered with Rapsodo and HB Studios to offer an affordable, $300 in-home alternative with a lengthy name — R-Motion Golf: The Golf Club Game Golf Simulator Kit.
The R-Motion Golf Kit includes one golf swing tracking unit. It slides into one of four attachments, which connects to the base of your club’s grip. That means you (and up to three friends) can play with different clubs by swapping out the tracking unit. Or you can play solo and use a variety of clubs, depending on whether you’re driving, putting, or trying to work your way out of a sand trap.
“Swing analysis offers real value to the golfers, and it’s here to stay.”
The kit also includes a Bluetooth USB dongle that plugs into your PC or laptop, as well as a PC copy of the 2014 game, The Golf Club (commonly referred to as TGC). That game, which is also available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but only compatible with R-Motion on PC, features 15 courses, a driving range, and local multiplayer for you and up to three friends.
What’s not included is a net, which you’ll need to hit the ball into. You can pick up an indoor/outdoor net like the 7-foot Izzo Zenith Hitting Net for $75. You’ll also need space, as you’ll be taking full swings with your regular golf clubs (no clubs are provided). We had to move furniture to get the space we needed, but if you have a basement or game room with a lot of open area, you’ll be set.
Since the system knows when your club makes contact with the ball, you can take practice swings as often as you want. It’s also nice that no special pad or green is needed. You can just use your carpet, or a towel (if you have wood floors).
Getting into the game
The Golf Club game that’s used with this system received a score of 70 on Metacritic.com. We found it offers a solid, streamlined golf experience, without all the gimmicks that other golf games have explored. Developer HB Studios said it created the game to replicate the experience of a player, or a group of players, hitting the links.
That especially works with R-Motion Golf, since the purpose of the gadget is to help improve your actual golf game. Aiming the clubface at the virtual target line onscreen, and squaring it to the golf ball for roughly one second before taking a backswing, will automatically initiate swing tracking for each shot. The sensors analyze the club’s speed, path, face angle, angle of attack, swing plane, and more. The sensor calculates your swing and translates the data from your real-world club into the game.
Batuhan Okur, founder and managing director of Rapsodo, told Digital Trends the R-Motion unit analyzes the swing parameters to determines what the ball will do based on these parameters. The device makes all the calculations, and translates them into a realistic ball flight within The Golf Club game.
“While we were doing market research, we noticed people had several consistent complaints about swing analyzers; particularly how most don’t sit well on a club and are cumbersome to move from club to club,” Okur said. “We came up with a sturdy shaft clamp to house the motion sensor unit.”
More for fun, than for training
Although you’re swinging real clubs and strengthening actual muscles, the goal of R-Motion Golf is for indoor fun, rather than real-world improvement in one’s game (a claim more expensive and accurate simulators do make).
“At this time, it’s too early to claim that using R-Motion Golf will help lower people’s real-world scores,” Okur said. “However, swing analyzers that operate based on the same principle have gained a lot of traction in the market from a performance standpoint. We see products from both industry leaders like Garmin and SkyGolf, and startups such as Blast Motion in this category. I believe this kind of swing analysis offers real value to the golfers and it’s here to stay. But currently, our approach has been to focus of a fun experience for customers, rather than performance improvement.”
You tee up in front of your PC without needing the ball, net, or other peripherals.
The Golf Club offers amazing visuals, even a few years after release. The game supports up to 4K resolution, which we happen to have on the Vizio TV we plugged this into. It makes a huge difference in bringing these courses to life. And if you grow tired of the 15 pack-in courses, you can upgrade to over 100,000 courses through a make-your-own-course editor (which ships with the stand-alone game). In addition to the full courses, there’s a driving range filled with drills designed to take strokes off your virtual score.
The system is easy to install, set up, and get into. Even if you’re a bad golfer, one battery charge will get you through 18 holes. The four-hour charge will get you 300 swings, on average, and most of the 15 courses have a 72 par. We shot over 90 on my first course, and we’re definitely in the amateur category.
Whether this simulator will help our lack of game in the real world remains to be seen. But it’s definitely a lot less embarrassing to play badly at home, than it is to do the same on the green.
- Easy to start using
- One device can used by multiple players
- Only works with specific golf simulator
- Makes no claim to improve your golf game