Dancin' Dogg Shot Making Simulator
By klangdon on 5/21/08

Ratings Key
10.0 - 9.5   Would Help Tiger
9.4 - 8.5     Awesome
8.4 - 7.5     Very good
7.4 - 6.5     Above Average
6.4 - 4.5     Solid
4.4 - 3.5     Below Average
3.4 - 2.5     Save Your Money
2.4 - 0.0     Pay NOT to own

Reviewed by klangdon

Last week I watched the playoff unfold at T.P.C. Sawgrass. Shortly after Garcia took home the purse I decided to try my hand at hitting a ball onto the infamous island green at 17. An hour and 16 balls later, I put the ball within 10 feet of the hole. No, I did not sneak onto the course after dark. I actually managed this experience from my living room using Dancin' Doggs Shot Making Simulator. Dancin' Dogg has created a full simulator and swing analysis device designed specifically for home use. The product consists of software to install on your laptop or computer and a USB based patch of turf and sensors on which you swing your own clubs.

More details from Dancin' Dogg site

Look - 4.1

Something about the simulator makes it look more like a garage invention than a polished product that you might get from a large corporation (which could be closer to the truth than any of us know). Maybe it's the ridiculous bag pipe music that plays every time you start up the software (you can turn this off). Fortunately this isn't the kind of product where you care about "look". The rest of the experience turns out to be incredible. It comes packaged with Tiger Woods 2007 from EA Sports on which the graphics and game play are just amazing.

Experience - 8.4

This thing really works. Lately all of my long irons have been pushing left. My first few swings on the simulator produced the exact same results. The best part is it told me exactly what was wrong. My swing plane was fine, but I was closing the face. It only took 3-4 swings on the simulator to get it figured out and I noticed a difference the next day on the course. Each swing provides you with head speed, ball distance, fall flight path, swing path, and face angle.

I have played the larger simulators that have been installed in pro shops across the country. The last one I played was definitely aging, but without reservation I can say that Dancin' Dogg's is more accurate. Not only does it accurately predict my shots but it also never missed a swing, never. On the larger simulator I probably took 2-3 swings in a round where I leaned too far over the lights that caused the system to not recognize my swing.

The first idea I had when I received the unit was to take it to the driving range and put it through the ultimate test. I wanted to watch the real ball at the range and compare that to the predicted results on the computer. I should have read the instructions first, because this didn't work. The unit needs indoor lighting and works best with fluorescent lights. It doesn't work at all outside.

After installing the software there are a number of settings you can play with. You can enter your exact club specifications down to club types (hybrid, hollow back, etc), loft, shaft types, shaft lengths, and your own distance adjustments.

When playing Tiger Woods Golf the gameplay was a little too forgiving at first. But once I switched my favorite pro character to the advanced setting it was just as realistic as the Dancin' Dogg practice mode. Playing Tiger Woods this way is a ton of fun and as close as I will ever come to playing PGA tour level courses.

The simulator comes with 2 different tee sizes. For some reason you have to lift the whole unit up and push the rubber tee up from the bottom. This was pretty cumbersome. If I wasn't using an evaluation unit I would have tried to modify these myself.

It seems that the sensors work using reflective properties of your irons. Non-chrome clubs like drivers or putters need to be taped. Dancin' Dogg provides this reflective tape, but its a pain to put it on and off as you move from this unit to the course and back again.

Value - 7.4

The product retails for about $400. At first glance this seems a little expensive. But the truth is its worth it. Playing the $20k simulators installed in pro shops costs around $20 an hour and you are sure to get more than 20 hours of enjoyment out of this thing. Or take for example my experience playing TPC #17. I could have payed $50 in gas to drive to the closest clone course in Maryland, pay $75 in greens fees and cart rental and hit 5 sleeves of balls at over $3 balls into the water. While swinging clubs in your garage will never be a replacement for a real round outside this is definitely a close and MUCH cheaper alternative.

While the actual cost of simulator is an amazing value, if you're serious about having one of these you probably are going to want a few other items. The first big requirement is ceiling space tall enough to swing a driver. Then your going to want a net to catch the balls. And once you see the graphics on Tiger Woods 2007 your going to need a projector to put the course up behind your net in wall-to-wall viewing area. You'll also need a laptop or computer close to the unit. Many of these things you may already have but you're not going to get away with only spending $400 for the experience by the time everything is said and done.

Overall - 7.8 (not an average)

Late this summer my family and I are starting construction on a new home. After having the Shot Making Simulator hooked up in my living room for a few nights, I am seriously considering some changes to the designs to ensure that I can have space to purchase and hook up one of these puppies. The one night I had a few friends over to play with it and we had a lot of fun. Beyond just enjoyment all of the other golfers agreed that this was more than a toy and that they could definitely see this improving their game.

More details from Dancin' Dogg site

[ comments ]
Josh says:
Oh dear, you likely just cost me $400.00
jerdman says:
Yeah..dangit. I need a real job. This looks way more fun than Tiger Woods on the Wii.
klangdon says:
i found swinging the wii controller made my real swing worse. this actually makes it better...
cbmaxwell says:
I know the folks at Dancin' Dogg, so I am putting out that Disclaimer, but this product works like magic. You can also set it up to simply practice a specific shot you are having difficulty with and play it over and over with the stats and other swing information until you get it right. It has some very sophisticated sensors and the software is the most advanced in the industry. The developers are software guys first by trade, and golf nuts (to enter this industry) second. They have developed other types of software for many Fortune 500 companies. At the PGA Show in Orlando, you couldn't get in the booth because so many pros were testing it. They know their distance to the foot on any given shot and were amazed at the accuracy of the distance feedback.
TaylorFade says:
Looks like we will have bump up the stakes on skins tomorrow. I must have one. Now I just need to build a garage.
SingleDigits says:
It looks like it doesn't track launch angle, spin rate or whether you've hit the sweet spot since the sensors are mounted vertically. So if you hit it thin the simulator will show the same distance and flight path as a well struck shot.
jromi says:
Just got one and its great.....1000.00 for the sim.,projector and the hitting screen. real accurate, i was amazed.
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