What will the indoor golf sim of the future be like?
Mr. Branco, my editor, has asked me to portray the future of indoor golf while making his own prediction that “millions of simulators will find their way into U.S. homes in the future”. That would be a big change from when Fred Flintstone first shanked a Rock-Flite into Barney/s head, producing a lump the size of Pinocchio’s nose, rising before our eyes. And it would place Mr. B on a pretty impressive list of prognosticators such as:
- Arthur C. Clarke, who described a handheld computer tablet called a “news pad” in his 1968 sci-fi novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” (but he didn’t say anything about “apps”).
- Nikola Tesla, who in 1909 predicted that people one day would all be walking around with “phones in their pockets”
- Mark Twain, who predicted a phone-based worldwide network for sharing information
- And…pretty creepy…novelist Morgan Robertson, who fourteen years before the demise of the Titanic wrote of the unsinkable “Titan”, lost at sea after striking an iceberg (he didn’t mention the girl who wouldn’t let the guy share her door).
Of course, Mr. Branco might join this group of specious seers on the other side of the looking glass:
- Henry Ford’s banker, who predicted the automobile was just a fad and the horse, was here to stay (sounds like my banker).
- John Philip Sousa, who predicted that recorded music would be the end of musical ability (no more sitting around the hearth playing spoons and washboards).
- Thomas Edison, who didn’t believe in publishing recorded music for the phonograph. But he did make a fortune selling recorded speeches
- P. Morgan’s son Junius, who predicted that electricity was a mere fad .
But this is about golf sims in the future. I brag about how I’ve brought more innovation to indoor golf than anyone else, so it’s only fair to you that I be made to put my words where my inflated ego is and take a shot at some predictions.
Regarding the Industry:
- Simulator software will become as affordable as XBox and PlayStation games, and you won’t have to pay recurring license fees.
- Someone will actually clinically test all the launch monitors, a critical simulator component, and we’ll finally know how accurate they really are, and the industry will then hold itself to benchmark testing.
- The information creators out there on the Web will sharpen their skates and up the accuracy and intelligence of their sim reviews, enabling us to make better buying decisions.
- Simulator integrators and DIY simulator builders will trend toward 80% or more of the overall market.
- Simulator producers will cater to two somewhat distinct markets: Golfers and Derivative Golfers (all derivative golfers are golfers, not all golfers are derivative golfers–yet).
Regarding the Systems Themselves:
- You won’t have to look at or see a launch monitor, computer, touchscreen, input device, or projector. You’ll just walk into your sim room and play golf.
- Your sim will have a virtual head pro, and he’ll come out of his office to greet you, offer to get you into a foursome, and wish you a joyful round. Or he’ll give you a lesson.
- If your “local pro” is a mediocre teacher, you’ll choose a virtual Leadbetter or Foley, pay them, and get your lesson. Meanwhile.
- The system will tell you, accurately, what every ball on the market would have done on each shot, and it will analyze your clubs, provide an accurate fit spec, and connect you to the best deals for your next set.
- You’ll be able to get every joint in your body accurately and transparently analyzed, and your virtual bio mechanist will tell you how to free bound up joints–for golf or anything else.
- You’ll join your friends using their own sims, you’ll see them on the course, see their ugly swings, and be forced to listen to their incessant drivel (the future isn’t always better–but we can add one big mute button to our design).
There are many wonderful things to come as technology marches on and when knowledgeable and wildly creative independent game developers get involved–away from the provincialities of the suits and the golf establishment. True game development fundamentals will emerge such as suspension of disbelief, exquisite gameplay, and dynamic experience. We’ll see things we cannot yet imagine. I can’t wait.
Article written by Bill Bales