July 12, 2002
The folks at Clubhouse Golf are having more fun with simulated golf than is probably legal in some states.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s no mistaking the fact that the presence of a full-size golf simulator system has been a big boost to the success of the Cape Region’s only stand-alone golf store.
Owners Ed Larkins and Bill Monti met with me recently and talked about their experience with the Dead Solid Golf Virtual Simulator that sits in the back left corner of their spacious layout, just off Rehoboth Avenue Extended.
“It really sells a lot of stuff for us,” Larkins grinned.
The simulator is 11 feet wide, 10 feet high, and 14 feet deep. A dedicated computer sits off to one side, and a projector hangs down in the center of the open side. A patch of artificial turf sits just inside, and it will accommodate right- and left-handed players.
Buried near the rubber tees are special sensors that can read the swing path, angle of attack, and clubhead speed as the player hits the ball. Players can adjust the tee heights for a realistic lie, whether off the imaginary tee box for a driver or an iron shot on fairway “turf”.
“It’s very realistic. Besides a driving range, the screens will display holes from 25 different courses, including the DuPont CC course, Tall Pines, and Rancho La Quinta out west,” Larkins explained. “In addition, if it says you’re in the rough, you’d better take their suggestion for club selection, because you really won’t get the distance you thought from that 7-iron of yours. You should have used the 6, like they said. You can also adjust the settings to vary the wind speed out on the courses.”
Larkins said players may use either their own clubs or a set of demo sticks on site. “We’ll also tape up any other club in the store for use in the simulator, if a customer wants to try it.”
That last fact is a prime reason why the store owners are so pleased with the simulator.
“Many of our customers really appreciate the ability to try some swings there before making their decision about which clubs to buy,” Larkins noted. “It really pays for itself just with the demo action. It’s not just drivers, either. They’ll try irons, too, and then make their purchase.”
“We also can do dynamic fitting for clubs with it. The feedback it gives about lie angle and optimum shaft flex is really helpful,” Larkins said.
I tried a Hogan Apex 6-iron a few times. After each shot, a data display on the screen showed information such as club speed, angle, path, and even the tempo of the full swing, which in my case was usually 1.4 seconds.
“The tempo information is really helpful. After a session or two, players can really develop a consistent sense of timing for their swings, which helps improve their play,” Larkins said.
The simulator also produces realistic results. I hit the 6-iron with 148 yards of carry and a run of 10 yards further, just about exactly what my normal shots will do out on the golf course. The data also showed that the draw I put on the swing took the ball 16 yards left of center. The special Face Trac display showed exactly why the shot went as far off line as it did.
Monti and Larkins charge $20 for a 30-minute session with the simulator set up as a driving range. A round of golf costs $35, discounted to $25 per player for a foursome.
Larkins is interested in the possibility of setting up a simulator golf league opportunity for evening play over the winter: “Maybe we can do it on Monday nights, just before the football game comes on TV.” Anyone interested in the idea should call Clubhouse Golf at 302-227-3347.
Should be fun.