Have you considered using Almost Golf Balls in your SkyTrak Golf Simulator? If you want to keep noise levels and potential damage to a minimum when using a golfing simulator – you’re going to want to consider using a lighter ball like the Almost Golf ball. But can you put these balls together with your SkyTrak simulator and still get useful data out of it?
Can you use Almost Golf balls with SkyTrak? Yes, you can. However, there are some distinct limitations in the data that you will produce due to the difference in weight of the ball. Almost Golf Balls are great for golf simulator use with Kids too!
Here’s what you need to know about using Almost Golf Balls with Skytrak.
What Is An Almost Golf Ball?
Almost Golf balls are specially designed practice balls that are meant to feel and behave like a golf ball when you strike them with a club but which are lighter and thus much less likely to do damage if they hit something. They also fly a shorter distance in the air.
Golf.com named Almost Golf Balls the number one in their Top 5 best practice golf balls for your home or backyard.
They are manufactured by Almost Golf which is based in the United States. Unusually, they also do their manufacturing in the United States. This may be important to would-be purchasers who would prefer to buy American.
Almost Golf’s Limited Flight Technology
An Almost Golf ball will not fly anywhere near as far as a real golf ball and that’s due to the weight of the ball. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball – the resulting force is a combination of the mass of the ball and the acceleration – when the ball’s mass is lower than an actual golf ball, it won’t fly as far.
However, it is absolutely possible to hit an Almost Golf Ball straight or to fade or draw the ball in exactly the same way as any other ball. You should also find that though the flight distance is not the same as an ordinary ball – the bounce effect when the ball lands on the ground, will stay the same. This can make it much easier to anticipate where the ball will finish on a green.
How Does The Almost Golf Ball Work?
The Almost Golf ball is made from a plastic foam and the ball has a weighted core and the foam is designed to create “cross-linking” to provide a much lower internal pressure than a golf ball (about a third as much).
However, the form factor (the Almost Golf ball is dimpled just as an ordinary ball is) means that when the club face strikes the ball the ball is compressed in the same way as an ordinary ball and the impact exactly resembles that of a club hitting a “real ball”.
The ball itself is very soft to the touch though. If it were to hit somebody, it would not hurt like being hit by a “real ball”. That doesn’t mean it’s completely safe to be hit by an Almost Golf Ball, but it is softer.
This impact profile is what allows you to add draw or fade or hit the ball straight and then because of the weight, the ball loses speed at a much faster rate than an ordinary ball and you can expect it to go about 1/3rd of the distance of a “real ball”.
This also makes it very easy to judge which club to use to fill the maximum space around you – just divide its maximum distance rating by 3.
How Does The SkyTrak Simulator Work?
SkyTrak is one of the biggest names in golf simulators and they often feature on the lists of best simulators for home use as they can be very cost-effective.
It is not a radar-based golf monitor unlike say the FlightScope and the Trackman monitors. Instead, the SkyTrak device is based on photometrics.
You place the SkyTrak device behind the golf ball when taking your shot. It captures a series of photographs incredibly quickly and these photographs can then be used to measure data about the impact of the club and the ball and it’s initial motion after impact.
Note: When we say “incredibly quickly” this is no exaggeration. The top of the range professional DSLRs, used by wildlife and sporting photographers to capture action in an instant, can capture, at best, around 40 frames per second at most (though some can capture more video frames with much lower resolution). A SkyTrak camera can take nearly 3,000 photographs in a second! That’s about 100 times more than a $5,000 professional camera!
Skytrak and the accompanying software, equipped with mountains of modelling data can predict how the ball would fly and how far it would travel. It will calculate how the ball will land based on the course conditions chosen.
The data produced by SkyTrak motion detector and simulator can then be used to help coach a golfer’s swing by providing pinpoint insights into what is working and what’s not working so well.
Can You Use An Almost Golf Ball In A SkyTrak Simulator?
In theory, the Almost Golf Ball ought to be a near perfect substitution for a full weight golf ball in a SkyTrak simulator. The camera can’t determine the weight of the ball. So, assuming the swing of the golfer is the same as their usual swing – the impact of club on Almost Golf Ball ought to be the same as the impact of a club on a real golf ball.
That means the camera ought to be recording exactly the same thing as it would when striking an ordinary golf ball. However, as we already know – the Almost Golf ball cannot travel as far as an actual golf ball and it will begin to slow down (when compared to an ordinary golf ball) almost immediately following its departure from the club face.
If you watch this YouTube video – you can see an Almost Golf Ball being used with a SkyTrak launch monitor and it’s clear that the Almost Golf Ball works with the simulator.
What Limits Are There On The Data When Using Almost Golf Balls In A SkyTrak Simulator?
The Bourne Golf Center concluded that though Almost Golf Balls were completely viable in a SkyTrak simulator – they did not seem to travel as far. This is something that you would expect given the immediate slowdown following the impact of clubface and ball.
You can see this in more detail in this video from Garage Golf Tee.v
It’s also a difference that is likely to grow bigger when you move from wedge to driver through your clubs.
This is a factor of the force being “mass x the acceleration of the ball” – the acceleration of an Almost Golf Ball will be lower when struck with a driver than with a lob wedge when compared to an ordinary ball being struck with the respective clubs.
Do Almost Golf Balls work with a Mevo Plus Launch Monitor?
So, we’ve seen that Almost Golf Balls work with Skytrak, a camera based photometric launch monitor. But, do they work with radar systems like the Mevo Plus?
Almost Golf balls do work with radar systems like the Mevo Plus. The radar launch monitors will pick up the flight of the ball just like that of a real ball. However, the distances will again be shorter, as they are supposed to be with Almost Golf balls.
These balls will slow down and fall out of the air quicker than normal balls and the Mevo Plus captures this well.
You can see Almost Golf Balls being tested with the Mevo Plus here in this excellent video from the Youtube channel ‘Golf Simulator Videos‘.
Can you use Almost Golf balls with SkyTrak? Yes, you can and though they aren’t going to be quite as accurate as real golf balls, you should still be able to enjoy a decent simulated golf practice and work on your swing when you’re not able to get out on the course.
The advantages of Almost Golf Balls are:
- They’re softer than normal golf balls and will cause less damage when they hit people, objects, walls or windows.
- They don’t travel as far, which can be a great advantage if you have a decent size area outside your home for golf practice, but not quite enough for your full game.
You can see that these advantages can translate well into a golf simulator. Say you have a golf net in your garage but don’t yet have the full simulator enclosure and impact screen to protect against wayward shots. Almost Golf Balls will provide some protection against your shots bouncing back off the walls.
Almost Golf Balls are great for golf simulator use with Kids! Let the kids practice and play and not worry about spin rates and to-the-yard distances. They’ll be able to do this more safely than with normal balls. You can see Almost Golf Balls as a stepping stone for your kids between foam balls and real balls when using your simulator.
You can definitely use Almost Golf Balls in your Skytrak simulator, but just take the ball flight data with a pinch of salt. Your distances may be off, but you can still work on shot shaping, flighting the ball up and down, and having fun!