Gift Provides Innovative Golf Simulator

Dec. 11, 2015

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences houses a PGA Tour Golf Simulator made possible by gifts from the Hillsdale Fund and aboutGolf. The simulator is located in Howlett Hall and allows Professional Golf Management students to polish their golf teaching skills and enhances turf grass management analysis.

Four different classes use the simulator in Howlett Hall: two club repair and fitting classes, one player development class and the advanced swing analysis class. Students also can hone their golf games on the simulator, which resembles those used by the Golf Channel on some of its instructional programming.

Funding for the simulator, room renovation and much of the furniture was provided by The Hillsdale Fund, through the recommendation of long time Ohio State donor and Hillsdale Fund Board member, Richard G. Smith, III, and aboutGolf, a Maumee-based golf technology company.

The Hillsdale Fund, a North Carolina-based foundation, donated approximately half of the needed funds and  aboutGolf then made a corresponding gift-in-kind to complete the project, which totaled over $80,000, said Dr. Ray Miller, director of the Ohio State University Professional Golf Management Program, calling it “a big boon for the students.”Dr. Ray Miller, director of the OSU Professional Golf Management Program

Students can practice on computer-generated replicas of 32 famed golf courses from around the world and five different driving ranges, compete in tournaments and evaluate their swing from the use of multi-angle cameras.  

Miller explained that students learn how to analyze their swings along with how to fit clubs to certain body types. In addition, they can practice all winter and the golf  management program and Turf Club holds their own golf tournaments. “Students absolutely love it, some practically live in there during the winter months,” Miller said.

The simulator displays courses from all over the world that allow turf grass management students to analyze the proper management techniques to care for each course.  With state-of-the-art video, internet and computing capabilities, it can be used as much more than a simulator. 

The simulator allows for a 360-degree view of any place within each golf course. For example, if the ball is hit behind a tree or bush, you are able to go behind that tree or bush and see the course from the reverse view. It takes an estimated 13 man-months to video one entire course and generate the corresponding video representation.  Another unique aspect of the simulator is that it has helicopter view capability which allows you to see each hole as if you were flying from tee to green at tree top level, then look back at the tee from the green.

While in the simulator room you are taken away to multiple golf courses located around the world, but one special course is located in Monterey, California; the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links.  The course is located right along the shore of the Pacific Ocean and while playing, you are treated to sounds of birds chirping, waves crashing against the rocks, and the whistling of the wind. The room is furnished with lounge chairs that also serve as desks for students along with green artificial turf covering the floor.

When a ball is hit, high speed cameras measure several ball flight parameters to determine how far and which direction the ball will travel. The cameras pick up marks on the ball and the computer then creates a template for analysis. The computer determines how fast the ball is moving, its launch angle, and the direction the ball is spinning. Based on that information, the computer calculates the distance and direction of the ball and projects that on the screen, along with the video representation of the hole being played. 

When hitting in the driving range, cameras record each swing and then compile a shot analysis including swing slope, total distance, ball speed, vertical launch angle, back spin, carry distance, horizontal launch, side spin and club 

Golf management student teeing off. speed. Cameras then replay the swing on the simulator for students to view, and can be slowed down to 1/32nd speed to analyze.

During the winter months when students are unable to practice directly on a course, they can keep their golf game sharp in the warmth of Howlett Hall, golf management major Nathan Curtis said.

“I like the technology behind the simulator and how it translates a golfer's swing into a resultant shot,” said Curtis, a fourth-year student from Lewis Center, Ohio. “

I will be able to explain to my students in the future that the only part of the swing that 

truly matters is the two foot zone, both a foot behind and in front of the ball, which is all that this simulator needs to determine ball flight.” 

 -- Sarah A. Johnson (junior, agricultural communication)