The Technology Behind Golf Simulation
A golf simulator is an amazing piece of technology. When the weather isn’t agreeable for a game of golf, a simulator is there to recreate the look and, more importantly, feel of playing golf. There’s no denying that the quality of computer-generated visuals today are amazing, but there’s a lot more under golf’s hood that needs to be simulated if you want an accurate representation of the sport. Regardless of how the course looks on your simulator, if you want accurate golf simulation then what you really want is a realistic re-creation of your golf shot. In this article we want to share just some of the ways this can be accomplished through a variety of different technological systems.
The Sensor Mat
A sensor mat lies on the floor and functions as the launch area for golfers to play from. These mats are typically used to record club swing data. Through the use of multiple infrared sensors a sensor mat monitors the speed and angle of the club head as well as the resulting direction the golf ball flies following impact. Sensor mats are a quick and easy way to bring shot analysis with you on the golf course and are also fairly common in most modern simulators today.
The Radar System
Popularly used for launch monitors, a radar system emits radio waves that bounce off of objects to measure things such as distance, speed, and direction. Like sensor mats, launch monitors are pretty easy to bring with you while you play and provide a plethora of golf metrics from your shot. When used in a golf simulation setting, these systems are able to measure a golf shot’s speed, direction, angle, and overall trajectory of the golf ball. From there, the data is fed to a computer to estimate the resulting ball flight from your swing for the simulator to display.
The Sonic System
Utilizing a series of microphones that analyze the intensity of golf ball impacts on the screen of a simulator, sonic systems can calculate where your golf ball lands on the screen as well as how strong your shot is. The system sounds cool (sorry, couldn’t resist) but it’s not really used in most simulators today. There are better, more accurate ways to track ball flight.
The Optical Sensor System
Similar to the sensor mat, this system uses a variety of infrared sensors placed around the simulator’s play area to track all sorts of swing and shot data. By comparing and contrasting when the golf ball passes through the direct vision of these sensors, metrics such as launch angle, ball flight, and ball speed can be calculated with excellent precision and accuracy. The drawback for this system however, is that it can only tracks objects that move a certain speed. This is to prevent the system from overloading on comparing data from anything that moves within the play area, such as the player walking around. This limitation makes accurate tracking of chipping and putting more difficult as these are slower shots.
Most modern golf simulators utilize camera systems and a computer to track your shot and simulate the resulting ball flight. This is accomplished through the use of high-speed cameras. Using several cameras to monitor the play area from a variety of different angles, these cameras capture an enormous amount of visual data. By comparing the minute differences between golf club and golf ball positioning between microseconds of recorded video, the computer processes the data to track your golf swing data and predict your golf ball’s flight, trajectory, as well as carry and roll. A key advantage of this system is its ability to accurately predict ball flight by capturing back and side spin of the golf ball, in addition to all of the other data points mentioned previously. This makes accurate shot tracking of chipping and putting much easier. Our simulator, SwingTrack, uses a four-camera system that records ball flight and swing data at 2000 frames per second. Not only will you get an accurate simulation of your actual golf shot, but our SwingTrack Studio will also provide a plethora of golf metrics that golfers and instructors can use for training.
Technology is always evolving however, and it’s the continuing goal of Visual Sports and the rest of the golf simulator industry to provide better, more accurate, and more realistic golf experiences for players. Imagine for example a golf simulator where the play area floor adjusts itself to accurately represent the actual lie on your favorite golf course. With lie simulators like the Fatt Matt Swing Trainer or XPLATE, it’s not impossible to see this technology incorporated in full golf simulators. Also, as camera and tracking technology continues to improve, future golf simulators can be more accurate and potentially more affordable.
We hope you enjoyed this brief look into the technology that goes into golf simulators. We’re always improving our SwingTrack simulator with the latest tech and features to add more value for our users and promote a healthy, active lifestyle. If you want to keep up with the latest SwingTrack developments, follow us on our social channels or contact us to join our mailing list. Thanks for reading!
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