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Thursday, December 29, 2011

PGA Tour Simulators: Golf the World at Anytime...

...And stay a stones toss from the bar!

My brother recently booked us a tee time at Tee's Golf Grill in Chesterfield, MO. Tee's is equipped with 10 state of the art, PGA Tour certified, golf simulators. These simulators allow you to choose from a long list of real championship golf courses and play them from a friendly bar/grill environment. You bring your own clubs and hit a real ball into a giant video screen while the cameras do the rest.

About Golf, the makers of the simulators, started releasing their simulators about 9 years ago. They are trusted by some of the most talented golfers in the world, including Luke Donald, the current number 1 in the world, who has one in his basement.

They appear much like the launch simulators or video driving ranges you might see at golf shops, measuring 15'x22', but the accuracy lies in the cameras used by the simulator. The game platform itself is like a highly realistic golf video game, with you as the controller. The cameras detect your swing speed, strike point, launch angle, ball speed, top spin, side spin, and other data to create a realistic flight path. Different lengths of fake grass are available to hit off of for fairway shots and rough shots. It measures total distance and carry and tells you your distance to the pin. It also simulates wind speed and direction.

The chipping and the putting are the hardest parts to get the hang of. Sometimes it is difficult to tell how far away from the pin you actually are and the distance doesn't seem to be as consistent with the swing speed on chips as it does with full shots.

We played Pebble Beach, and other courses include Spy Glass, the TPC courses, The Old Course at St. Andrews, and dozens of others.  It takes about 1 hour for 1 player to play 18 holes. At Tee's it cost $25/h for weekdays and $40/h on weekends. (If playing a foursome for four hours it would cost each player $25 dollars, cheaper than playing 18 on a real course!)

All in all, I would say the simulators are about 75-85% realistic. It was never going to be a perfect simulation but for hitting irons and woods and getting to experience professional courses, it is well worth the money and is a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon.

To find a simulator near you just do a quick google search (ex: "about golf simulator st. louis mo"). Just please don't get in a bar fight at one of these places... too many easily available weapons.