I know that by now most of you would have been to play simulator golf. You know, the indoor place where you can load up a famous golf course and play it from start to finish. Or can you?
If you ask me, the answer is a definite “NO”. Not only is this not golf, but I’m afraid, it’s really nowhere near it. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this kind of golf, but it is not a replacement for going to the golf course and hitting golf balls. It is not the place to go on a rainy day and expect the same experience as the golf course either. It is, what it is; a simulation of golf. Unfortunately, not a very accurate one either. If you have 1 or 2 hours to try and fit a game in, do yourself a favour and go and either play nine holes, or hit the driving range.
On a recent trip to New York, I went to one of the best (apparently) golf simulator places in the city. Up on the 3rd floor of a large apartment complex and boasting a great lobby, with bar and TV’s showing sports, I thought I was in for a great time. I was shown through to my own personal room and asked what golf course I would like to play. After selecting Bay Hill, I teed up my first shot and looked forward to the 18 holes. First swing with the driver and the ball went direct right like I had just shanked it. How strange, I thought. I had just come off playing the day before and hit the ball great. Oh well, shake it off and try again. Another swing, another direct right ball flight. Thinking there was something wrong with the system, I took out a 5 iron and put my best hook swing on it. Direct right again.
This room was costing me $65 US dollars an hour, so I went out to ask if there was something wrong. A “technician” came in and had a few swings. “Seems okay”, he said. “Ok then, let me hit one again and just watch”, I say. Again, the ball goes straight right. “It’s just your swing man” he says to me. This is the frustration with these systems. They work perfectly if you are the right height, with the right swing plane and speed. If your swing is a little different, you get reamed. Now I play off a golf handicap of 4 and although my golf swing is not exactly what they call text book, it gets the job done and has done the job for over 30 years, but not on simulators. I know when I have put a swing on a ball that goes 80 metres right and this was not the case this day, so $65 wasted.
There is no way I would ever pay to play on these machines ever again. They are rubbish. I know they are rubbish because everyone I know has a similar story about them. You stand on the tee waiting to hit and sometimes the ball just hits on its own. You are in the middle of the fairway and next minute, you are in the jungle. You tee off with one of your best hits and the machine registers nothing at all. Sound Familiar? I know there is a push to accept this new technology, but the only one I would ever accept is Trackman and only if I were hitting golf balls on the range, where it works as it was supposed to. Every other substitute has been a massive let down. I have tried most of the biggest and the best from here in Melbourne, to New York, Miami and California. All of them have the same thing in common, they are nothing like the real thing. Not even close.
The only time these simulators are needed is when you get into a group of people and you want a couple of drinks and a bit of fun. Other than that, go play real golf. It’s simply just not worth the frustration.