Playing golf can be very expensive. And doing it at the nation’s top courses can be through-the-roof pricey, with green fees reaching $500 at some places. Not to mention how much it costs to travel to these wonderful destinations. Add in hotel, car rental and food costs, and your little golf vacation can justify a healthy bank loan.
Which is one reason why golf simulator facilities are becoming increasingly popular. There, you can play a virtual round at some of the world’s top courses for a fraction of the cost and time — and still make it home in time for dinner. And now, one new product is making the ability to virtually play these courses even more convenient. Right in your own backyard.
R-Motion The Golf Club, made by Rapsodo (a company that also makes sophisticated baseball tracking devices), is a new device that includes clips you securely attach to your individual club shafts, and an inch-tall Bluetooth sensor that you slide in and out of those clips. A companion Windows program acts as your window to playing the courses. You also need a hitting net and preferably a hitting mat. And of course, some room to tee it up.
Essentially, once it’s set up and all paired together — and setting it up is pretty straightforward — you’re ready to start playing. Just slide the sensor into a clip that’s attached to the club, hit a real ball into the net, and then the computer calculates where and how far your shot travels, as well as your trajectory — and shows you graphically as you virtually play one of 15 courses around the world. The course roster includes some acclaimed layouts, such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Congressional Country Club. But it also encompasses others that are relative unknowns. That said, you can upgrade to play more famous courses, as well. Overall, this is intended to be an affordable answer to an indoor simulator game — without the need for a full-blown projection system.
While a terrific idea, I think R-Motion could be made much more convenient for the masses in the future. I know a lot of golfers who would use something like this, but unfortunately don’t have a hitting net or the room to set one up. And because the Windows PC audience is becoming relatively limited — with Macs and Chromebooks gaining in popularity — I hope R-Motion’s next version includes a smartphone rendition that makes it even more portable. Still, at least with my laptop, trying to see any screen out in the sunlight is a major pain with all the glare.
But for those golfers who have the space, this is an awesome and even addictive product. The “R-Motion Package” starter kit ($299) — the unit I have — comes with a sensor, four clips and a USB charger for the sensor. You can also pay another $89 for 10 more clips. That lets you equip every club in your bag, so you don’t need to move the clips themselves between clubs. It may make for an amazing Father’s Day present, as well.