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In-Depth: How Developer ‘Perfect Parallel’ is Changing the Game of Golf

In this feature we talk to Andrew Jones, COO of Perfect Parallel, a leading-edge software developer with a range of inter-related golf design, gaming, visualization, and broadcast suite technologies. What makes this company so fascinating goes beyond its tech and into its relationships and aspirations. Relationships with firms like Nicklaus Design, as well as the professional golf networks in the United States and abroad, have Perfect Parallel poised to shake up the game of golf. 

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Nicklaus Design and Perfect Parallel Technologies

The relationship between Nicklaus Design and Perfect Parallel includes proprietary access and use of certain Perfect Parallel applications. The core application that Nicklaus Design is utilizing in particular is CourseForge™—the tool used to develop a design into a fully simulated 3D model-based environment. The company also does a lot of flyby animations for professional events as part of its broadcast services. (see this vimeo film).

This particular tool is a set of custom-developed plugins for the Unity game engine, and they run across Windows, Mac and Linux. Outside of its application with Nicklaus Design, Perfect Parallel plans to release a version of CourseForge for its gaming community, so that those playing Perfect Golf, the game, can create their own courses.

Jones explained how Nicklaus Design benefits from for CourseForge: “With our technologies, Nicklaus Design can propose renovations to their existing golf courses and then have the members digitally play the changes before they are made.”

0X - This is an image capture from a Perfect Parallel video demoing its superb flyby animation capabilities. Augusta National's famed Amen Corner, hole number 13 from behind the green. You can see the video itself by following the link in the main text. (image: Perfect Parallel)

06 – This is an image capture from a Perfect Parallel video demoing its superb flyby animation capabilities. It is a view from behind the green at the par-5 13th, part of Augusta National’s famed Amen Corner. You can see the video itself by following the link in the main text above. (image: Perfect Parallel)

Yet CourseForge, for all this novelty being introduced into the course design process, is also fundamentally speeding up existing workflows.

“We have a full-time 3D animator who can create stunning visual flybys,” Root said. “Perfect Parallel’s technology means we can do this work faster. Their real-time rendering engine means no more waiting to render out a flyby animation after a design feature change. We can make a tweak to a bunker or green configuration, and then immediately experience and fly around that change.”

Extending the Nicklaus Workflow

Like most golf course design firms, Nicklaus Design has long embraced CAD. “We were on Microstation in the early 90’s,” Root said. The firm would eventually develop a set of proprietary plugins for Microstation called T2 Green, leading to Nicklaus Design’s proprietary CAD system.

Root explained that their T2 Green system enables the famed golf course design firm to organize the critical data about a course as they develop its design, such as cut-and-fill volumes, volume and areas of bunkers, greens, etc. It also helps them with the all important routing and contouring, and other tasks specific to course design.

“We have had the 3D visualization capacities for many years,” Root said. “We actually had our own render farm where a complex rendering could take an entire weekend.”

Today, the workflow consists of their T2 Green CAD system (built on the Microstation CAD platform) and the Perfect Parallel software tools and gaming engine core. I asked Root how his team has reacted to working within a gaming engine.

“Jumping into Unity required us to look at the design process from a completely different angle,” Root said. “But Unity is a major standard in animation. What we have learned is that the use of these tools, to visualize a golf course in three dimensions as we create it, speeds up the design process and allows us to engage our clients more directly in the creation of their courses. These tools have become invaluable with the routing work, as well, by allowing us to anticipate and resolve challenges at the outset that might not be apparent from the two dimensional views provided by traditional CAD tools.”

The Future of Golf

“Having done so much work in Asia, where the game of golf is growing tremendously, there isn’t always the available land to build a traditional course,” noted Root, who added that a typical course might occupy 150-180 acres. “So as a design firm, we are challenged to offer clients a golf experience, no matter how large the site or available property”.

Jack Niklaus realizes this and he wants Nicklaus Design to be adaptable and responsive, and a leader in these new areas of golf and golf entertainment.

Root explained that in South Korea, 80 percent of golf is played on sophisticated simulators. Because technology continues to become more refined and realistic, golf playing and learning technology continues to advance with virtual reality, motion sensors and body hardware.

Perfect Parallel’s relationship with Nicklaus Design has both companies well poised to address emerging changes and opportunities in the market. Their association gives the world’s leading golf course design firm a direct and influential role in perhaps the world’s best golf software technology. While this will no doubt aid the design side, Andrew Jones is banking this affiliation with the Nicklaus’ name will enable Perfect Golf to compete and thrive—as an indie developer—against other technology giants.

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