When you buy a club today you’re treated to something special: the simulated driving range. vGolf wants to use AR and VR to bring this experience to your home, your range, and anywhere else practice takes you.
The basic simulator goes like this: a screen inside of a dark room projects a course. The player lines up the shot, draws back and swings. The ball is real, but a net catches it before it can strike the screen. Sensors capture the swing, the placement of the club face on the ball and a host of variables that determine height, spin, direction, distance and everything else that makes up a good golf shot.
With vGolf, AR brings this experience to life with detailed course illustrations and heads-up display data to refine your swing.
Here’s how it works.
Golf and New Technology
Golf and new technology go hand in hand, and many products are sold as the next big thing in the game. The basis of Titleist golf ball technology, for example, is its “Dead Center” ball. The founders figured out how to place a core in the center with rubber wound around it. The idea being that the ball would act less erratic in the air. Every iteration of the ball since has made improvements to this fundamental. Thus technology is an integral part of golf. The next new thing is what drives the game and its economy.
But vGolf wants to introduce technology that can give every player an edge. Using mixed reality glasses, the simulator can show players a ball’s trajectory. It can track how it’s struck in real time with accurate data, simulating a view of the ball disappearing into the distance.
Additionally, simulators feel more personal because the glasses use photographic views from actual golf courses. These aren’t just simulated graphics, the game world is superimposed over the real one.
Unlike the Holosuit, which must be worn as a full-body suit on the course, these glasses simulate the experience. You won’t need to leave your practice area. You might be able to take them to the range too.
How vGolf Works
Let’s circle back to our simulation in the gold retailer. Except now, let’s don vGolf glasses. We’ll see a course on a picturesque day with some key statistics. When we swing, the AR glasses will simulate the ball’s path through the air, and indicate the trajectory. Players will see a line on their heads up display indicating how far the ball traveled and where it came to a stop.
The user doesn’t need any special equipment outside of vGolf. Everything works with the clubs and net system you probably already have as an avid golfer. With vGolf, you can choose from Virtual Ranges, Caddy’s, Instructors, or full Courses.
With Virtual Range, you will need to score high by accurately hitting targets that float in the air. The glasses will track your swing speed and trajectory, and reward players for breaking targets.
The Virtual Caddy is like a day on the range, minus all the walking. You will play through a full day of golf with a Caddy making suggestions and providing real-time statistics along the way. This is similar to Virtual Courses, in that you’re simulating a day of golf, but the Courses won’t incorporate statistics.
Players will also have an Instructor mode, where an avatar provides instruction and tips for improvement. These tips come from professional golfers, but at this early stage in development it’s not clear what to expect. My hunch is that data analysis will be used to help guide the player toward the accepted idea of a “perfect swing”.
Golf’s Future | Where Does vGolf Fit In?
Golf has a few challenges ahead of itself. It’s competing with other forms of entertainment, and there is a glut of courses in most locations where the game is played. vGolf represents a great opportunity for these clubs to tap into the technological side of golf and appeal to a younger, more tech savvy player.
I’m not sure if vGolf can single-handedly save the game, but it’s a great idea. MiHiepa simulates the soccer pitch with great effect using a similar model. It’s also something that can appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in golf. Especially if the application comes packaged with some of golf’s more exotic locations. Add a leaderboard, some socializing and these glasses start to make a lot of sense.