By Don Walter
Starting this new year, my golf addiction has taken a turn for the worse! This time of year, I’m supposed to be cranky and distraught that golf season is still so far away. Moping around the house muttering things like, keep your left arm straight, or how did that not go in the hole. My family knows to stay out of my path and make suggestions like, “I think I saw golf on the TV”. This year is starting out differently. Entering into my life is a newer phenomenon called simulator golf. Simulator golf is indoor golf. They’ve perfected it. In past years, if someone invited you to their garage to play simulator golf, you were in for quite a challenge. The screen was inviting, with simulated green grass projected on a ten-foot screen. Maybe they created just enough space so you didn’t whack their stored luggage or Christmas decorations, until someone over 6 foot showed up, and the garage would need to be rearranged again. The technology that told you whether you hit a great shot or a dud was just bearable. Putting was a disaster. The electronics would try its best to read how hard you hit it and whether you climbed that hill and caught the break of the green in just the right way. It was, in the best terms, an arcade game!
Enter 2024. The golf simulator experience is big business. Golf pros around the world discovered portable stat trackers that would help them hone in every shot and club they hit reliably. They use them to decide which clubs fit them best and decide how elevation changes their intended distances. From Pebble Beach (sea level) to Mexico City (mile high) it can really make a difference! Some smart bloke took that experience and paired it with simulated footage of thousands of golf courses across the world. What a game changer. Simulated golf is born and quite the experience. No longer are we complaining that the computer generated golf shot didn’t read it correctly. We were sure it was the program and not our swing. Now with current technology it’s almost impossible to blame the simulator.
In my town, several simulators opened this year for the winter. They offer the golf addicted an easy, almost dare I say, addictive way to squash their golf addiction. Leagues have formed, lessons are scheduled, beer is being consumed. It really is a realistic way to play golf in the winter. You should see the front door on any given day. While the snow blows, people are popping their trunks in the parking lot and dragging their golf clubs over ice and cold, slipping and sliding their way to golf paradise. They quickly trade in their winter boots, dust off their golf shoes, ditch the tuque, dawning a polo, and maybe even shorts!
The golf experience cannot be complete without friends and beverages! Old foursomes from summer are calling each other up, making tee times, and playing a quick nine or eighteen holes all winter long. Included with golf is a chance to enjoy a couple drinks too. Some simulators offer the ability to pack in your own six-pack and some sell it right there, in the can, or on tap! What a concept!
So, now I’m addicted to simulator golf! When I’m not there, I’m thinking about when I can get back. It’s golf all year round, something I’ve actually dreamed about. If you haven’t seen a golf simulator in your neighborhood, give it a Google. I bet you’re surprised to see what’s available. Then watch your spouse’s face when you slip on your galoshes, dig out your clubs, head out the door during a blizzard, and yell back “Going to play golf with my buddies!”. Give it a try, if nothing else, stop by and check it out. It will soon become your new golf addiction, too. ISI