Golf is a frustrating past-time, and not just because it's almost impossible to string a perfect 18 holes together. Club memberships are expensive, and people in areas where it gets really cold are unable to play for a huge chunk of the year. One way to get around the problem could be simulations like R-Motion, which relies on a small clip attached to the shaft of the club to let amateurs play some of the world's best courses in the comfort of the living room.
Once the matchbox-sized Rapsodo R-Motion tracking clip has been attached to the base of a golf club's grip, it's reported to translate swing mechanics and angle of ball impact into a realistic simulated shot in the game. Traditionally, this kind of tracking has required complex sensor and camera systems, the kind you'd usually find at a professional training center.
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Getting started doesn't seem too complex. The Golf Club game is downloaded and installed onto a Windows computer and a Bluetooth dongle plugged into a spare USB port, which pairs with the club attachment. Four mounts are included in the box, making it easy to swap the swing tracking unit between clubs during the game.
Players may still need to clear some furniture to play the game though. The game involves hitting a real ball into a practice net, so it can't just be played anywhere, but any room with space for a full backswing and a net to catch the ball will do.
To get going, players need to aim the club face at a virtual on-screen target, before standing over the ball for one second. Once that's done, they just start their backswing and the tracking takes care of the rest. Having played a shot, the sensor attached to the club calculates ball flight and sends that information to the computer, which then applies it to the hole being played.
"Rain storms, time constraints, greens fees and tee time availability are a few challenges most golfers know all too well," said Batuhan Okur, founder and managing director of Rapsodo. "Playing TGC with R-Motion Golf makes year-round golf a convenient reality for anyone."
The battery on the club attachment is said to last around four hours or 300 swings on a single charge. Considering par on most courses is around 72, that should be enough for even the biggest hacks to make 18 holes on a single charge. The tracking unit is included in the box with the game software, Bluetooth dongle and club-shaft mounts, and pricing for the kit starts at US$299.
That makes it significantly cheaper than your average golf club membership. There are 15 golf courses and a generic driving range included in the software, but there is always the potential to add more courses in later software updates.
It's worth bearing in mind, the game is only likely to be as good as the Windows computer it's connected up to. Although you can theoretically play using any monitor, the experience is probably going to be much better if you can watch your shots on a big-screen TV or projector. Losing your ball in real life is one thing, but losing it because you can't see any detail on the 19-inch monitor hooked up to your computer can be just as frustrating.