There are plenty of golfers who describe themselves as ‘fair weather golfers’, however, is this the reason behind the growth in indoor golf over the last ten years?
Or is it due to advances in technology or the reduction in the amount of time available in modern society there’s no doubt that we will see more indoor golf clubs opening in the next decade?
We asked ‘Director of Golf‘ Harry Varney at CityGolf in London’s busy square mile, about the benefits of using a Sim and on how the industry will evolve.
Indoor Golf – The History…
Golf Simulators have been around in one form or another since the 70s.
The first simulators were very simple and TV based on using a joystick or gaming control but as both the software and screen technology developed in the 80s, it was not long before the handheld games were replaced by the golf mat and golf club.
Early on, the sensors measured the movement of the hands and fed the information to the video game. However, the overall experience was rudimentary, to say the least.
It wasn’t until the mid-late 90s that we started to see real advancements made.
Relying on a battery of environmental sensors, the new software tracked each shot, from impact to how the ball bounces visually on screen.
In this way, the golfer has a detailed analysis of the entire flight of the ball which can be used for practice or training.
There are several types of measurement systems used in golf simulation to achieve this, such as Simulator Mats, Sonic Sound systems, Optical Sensor arrays, Radar, and Camera ball tracking systems.
Indoor Golf – The Technology
Golf has always found itself at the heart of ‘gaming’ with some of the first computer games simulating Putting…
However, it was the invention of the PlayStation that really saw the potential of indoor golf albeit using a ‘controller’ rather than an actual golf club.
At the moment, there are lots of different ‘Sims’ on the market including Trackman, Golfzon, and probably the most well-known, GC2 launch monitor. The latter is preferred by CityGolf.
This industry-leading technology that redefined performance analysis outdoors has also proven to be a game changer for indoor simulation.
Powerful enough to drive the world’s most cutting-edge commercial simulation studios, the GC2 is as flexible as it is accurate.
Two high-speed, high-definition cameras give you a true measurement of performance without compromise, delivering the most realistic virtual golf experience possible.
“We chose to go with the GC2 product, as we felt this had an edge over all the others as it calculates over 10k images of the ball and its position on impact!” said Varney
“The GC2 gives you an exceptionally precise understanding of both the club head speed and ball trajectory, meaning we can also provide a very accurate ‘ball fitting’ service too”
Varney went on to say….” In addition, of the four GC2 Sims we use, we have two advanced GC2 HMT (Head Measurement Technology) meaning we can cater to both the beginners and single figure handicap“.
Indoor Golf – The Benefits
The advantage of using a golf simulator is the ability to conveniently play and practice in a controlled ambiance.
Often this means the ability to play without any pressure while still bringing many of these competitive and social aspects into the simulated game.
For those who live in a cold and wet climate or in urban areas (that’ll be most of us), golf simulators offer the ability to play and practice year-round or within the confines of their locale.
The next important advantage is the player’s ability to see each facet of their swing.
Many golf simulators measure: the angle of attack, angle of the club face, club head speed, spin, club path (inside out or outside in), and more.
These measurements help both students and teaching professionals identify exactly what a player needs to know to improve their swing.
You also get to choose where you want to play, including some great UK courses. Courses available at CityGolf include Celtic Manor, The Belfry, and Haseltine Golf club (the home of the 2016 Ryder Cup).
Indoor Golf – Teaching
Sitting and chatting to Harry, I soon find myself forgetting that I am not on a standard golf range and concentrating purely on what he is telling me.
In addition, he is quick to tell me why he and his colleague Liam McGrossan, ‘Director of Instruction’, have a different approaches to teaching.
Firstly, the first hour’s consultation rarely involves hitting a club but concentrates more of what ‘your’ understanding of the game is.
He tells us that most teaching pros, immediately start critiquing your swing, long before it is understood how much you know about both the dynamics of the golf swing and the physics of the game.
To be fair, this is a fresh approach, and given that I am slumped into a big leather sofa while sipping a coke as I learn this, I really can see why Indoor Golf has taken off.
Coupled with the fact that often, if you work in London, the chance of getting to the range or out for nine holes after work midweek, in today’s fast world of living, is difficult to achieve.
Indoor Golf – Custom Fitting
Getting ‘Custom Fit’ for your clubs is vital to improving as a Golfer.
Just as a suit is made to measure, so it fits an individual’s body shape, a Custom Fit is vital towards ensuring that the correct equipment is matched to each individual to suit their personal needs.
The team at CityGolf has extensive knowledge and experience and is committed to helping each individual find the best equipment for them.
The guys are adamant they have repeatedly seen the benefits that personalised equipment does for a Golfer towards improving distance, accuracy, shot making, and overall enjoyment of Golf.
The cost of this service starts from as little as £50 and lasts an hour.
Indoor Golf – Entertainment
Putting the technology, the courses, and the teaching to one side, there is another advantage to golf simulators…
In most indoor golf centers, there will be a couple of ‘simulators’ available to book but in the bigger clubs like CityGolf there could be six or more.
Thus meaning you could realistically hold an entire golf event in one place, with all your golf mates and you, all playing the same course.
Not only does this mean additional availability for the visitor but it means indoor clubs like CityGolf can hold events and fun nights, regardless of the weather conditions. You can have a beer while you play.
Yep, many Golf Studios also have a bar or refreshments on site; it can make for a very entertaining evening. Consider it…
Hire two golf simulators for an afternoon or evening (from £60ph each) and invite seven golf buddies to join you. You’ll find that three hours fly by.
You’ve played a Texas Scramble at Wentworth, enjoyed a drink, and not a speck of rain in sight and you’ve still got change out of £50.
Of course, if you book an evening out at a golf studio, you’re even beating the lack of daylight.
Indoor Golf – CityGolf
And finally, having visited CityGolf and seen their set-up, we were impressed!
As such, from April 2016, ALL TSGers are invited to try their facilities and receive a FREE one-hour ‘Performance Analysis’ (worth £90!)
Yep – that’s a FREE golf lesson in the City of London.