Company takes personal golf simulator to next level

TRAVERSE CITY – There are an estimated 25 million golfers in America and they all share one thing-a passion for bettering their game.

Enter Russell Edens, president and co-founder of DancinDogg, a 40-year-old East Lansing native and math and computer software-designing wiz. Last year, Edens left his job with the Seattle-based Concur Technologies, the nation-wide leader in expense reporting software. He wanted to be closer to family. And since he also happens to be an avid golfer, Traverse City-the Midwest golfing capital of America-seemed like a good place to settle down, start a new life, and begin seriously working on a new business idea with an ex-co-worker and Seattle golfing buddy Kurt Grafius.

What if you could turn any room big enough to swing a 9-iron into your own private, 18-hole dream course? Say, Pebble Beach or St. Andrews? What if, with a click of a mouse, you could not only play the holes on those courses but also get a computerized critique of your form every time you swung the club-real clubs, not a joystick? That means real time, real swing data-ball speed, distance traveled, and the club's face angle when you connected with the ball-plus the gaming aspect of being able to compare your performance in simulating play against golfing greats like Tiger Woods.

Out of their own pockets, with their own software designing expertise, and a lot of help and encouragement from friends, the DancinDogg "personal golf simulator" was born, a device the Golfer's Guide has already called, "the greatest golf invention since the beer cart."

"If there's such a thing as a perfect marriage in golf between practice, coaching and gaming, (we know, the words 'marriage' and 'golf' don't always go well together)," said the guide, "then the DancinDogg Personal Golf Simulator might be it."

"We introduced the first version of the product at the Seattle Golf Show back in March," says Edens, adding the response from people was overwhelming. "Basically, if people try it, they buy it. We had a conversion rate of nine percent."

The product is set for a major launch this month. But, according to Edens, the ceiling doesn't stop there. Golf is a global sport and DancinDogg has already tapped into it thanks to their Internet storefront at

"We have units in Italy, Spain, England, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Canada," says Edens.

Up until now computerized golf meant gaming software that offered no value to help someone actually trying to improve their game. Most pro shops have launch monitors, a $4,000 piece of hardware, but you have to go to the shop to stand in line to use it. When it comes to at- home, shot-simulator technology, Edens says there's only one other Canadian-based company in the business. But $800 for the basic setup is a bit pricey for a lot of budget-conscious golfers.

"The DancinDogg shot making simulator gives you gaming experience and high-quality, high-performance data at half the cost of the nearest competitor," says Edens. "If you're not a better shot maker in 30 days, we offer a full, unconditional refund."

For $399.95 you get the basic DancinDogg package, including practice balls, rubber tees, EA Sports Tiger Woods PGATour™ software, a one-year subscription to video instruction (with over 500 online tutorials), and the laptop-sized optical swing pad (which houses the infrared swing-analyzing sensors) that transmits all the swing data through a USB cable (included) to your computer.

Edens has big plans for DancinDogg this coming year.

"We just got in the SkyMall catalog," he says. "This coming year we'll be doing a lot of shows and tournaments, introducing the product to retail shops, and actively developing independent sales reps."

DancinDogg's big new marketing campaign kicks off this October with something called Operation DancinDogg Taggs. Edens plans to donate 62 DancinDogg Shot Making Simulators; 50 to U.S. Military Bases around the world and the other 12 to each of the U.S. Navy's fleet of aircraft carriers.

Edens explains, "Hopefully, the product will help add a little normalcy to the totally abnormal conditions our soldiers are dealing with overseas."

Every DancinDogg Golf Shot Making Simulator sold between now and Christmas will include a DancinDogg Tagg. Each "tag" has a number that people can use to access DancinDogg Taggs online communications center where they can communicate with U.S. Service personnel serving overseas.

DancinDogg Tagg numbers can be used to get a $50 rebate on the purchase of a shot-making simulator, plus the company will then donate $25 to the Special Operations Warriors Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides college educations to the children of special operations personnel killed in combat or during a training mission. BN