By Brandon Tucker,
Nary an episode of HBO's "Entourage" goes by without Vince and the gang swinging away on a high-end golf simulator. The compact, affordable Dancin' Dogg is an excellent budget option for us mortal golfers who can't afford the $20,000 models of the stars, however.
The first golf video game I can remember playing back in the day was for Sega Genesis. Your player "swung" by hitting the "B" button three times: once to start, once for power and once for accuracy.
It seemed realistic then.
I'm having a grizzled, "those were the simple times…" moment right now. It's 10 at night. I'm in my living room taking full swings with my sand wedge and playing the par-3 seventh hole at Pebble Beach over and over.
This can be done thanks to the Dancin' Dogg golf simulator, which is revolutionizing the golf simulator market.
Golf simulators have become all the rage in the golf industry - for both instruction and entertainment. Hardly an episode goes by on HBO's "Entourage" where the show's stars aren't playing their own. Viewers are intended to marvel at their wealth, as the group plays on a system that retails in the tens of thousands of dollars.
But once you've experienced the Dancin' Dogg, you won't be envious, you'll be calling them "suckers".
The revolutionary thing about the Dancin' Dogg simulator is its convenience and portability - while offering accuracy on par with any of the pricier models. This isn't some bulky simulator that runs $20,000. It's minimized into one compact piece of turf connected with a simple USB cord to your laptop and comes with a much more reasonable price tag.
All you need to operate the Dancin' Dogg is a computer and enough space somewhere in your garage or den to make a full swing. The game comes with indoor Nerf-like soft balls, but if you have a net or other way of minimizing broken windows you can tee it up with real balls.
It really comes to life when you load up "Tiger Woods '07," which is included in the package and is compatible with the simulator. You can do virtually everything in "Tiger Woods '07" with your own swing - from playing an entire year on tour to battling other amateurs online.
The coolest thing about Dancin' Dogg, in my opinion, is that you can pick any spot out of the dozen legendary courses to practice. It's like taking a large bucket of range balls out to the 18th at Pebble or the 17th at the TPC Sawgrass. Simply hit your shot, then watch Tiger (or any other player from the game) simulate it instantly.
So how accurate is the ball flight? Dancin' Dogg claims it's more accurate than a launch monitor. Some shots I hit were consistent with my usual course range, though the simulator seemed to work better with longer clubs than wedges, which even when I blade them badly still show up in "Tiger Woods '07" as a "pure" strike with a little backspin.
And for the tech un-savvy, setting the simulator up is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is install two CDs on your computer. It actually took me longer to rearrange my living room so I could swing confidently. Then it took me about 10 minutes to realize that the reason the simulator wasn't working was because an overhead light was shining too brightly over the sensors, which the manual says to watch out for.
But in minutes, you'll be operational - no matter where you decide to set it up.
The great thing about Dancin' Dogg is the variety of ways you can use it. For the northerners who are holed up from November through March, this should help scratch their itch. It can be a training aid - or it can be a late-night party centerpiece. Or if you're on the road, you can just play "Tiger Woods '07" the old fashioned way with a mouse.
One drawback I found in my own use is that the piece of turf is about two inches high, so if you want the ball to be level with your feet, you have to find a thick rug or something similar so you aren't swinging up at the ball.
This is certainly the future of golf simulators, given its portability and affordability: It costs around $400.
Dancin' Dogg is compatible with PCs and some Macs, though "Tiger Woods '07" is compatible with PCs only. You'll need a USB 2 port to run it.
Dancin' Dogg can be purchased at DancinDoggGolf.com, leading golf shops and online retail outlets.
November 19, 2007
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.