Simulated golf harnesses the power of technology to allow golfers to play indoors. Popularized by big box sporting goods stores like Bass Pro and Scheels advertising “Tiger Woods” level simulators, several smaller unique restaurant & bar indoor ranges have also opened throughout the United States. A few local places near our Iowa office include Inside Golf of Ames, The Range Des Moines, and Backspin Indoor Golf & Bar in Ankeny. Each location has multiple simulator bays with their own twist on what the experience should be like. So of course we needed to actually go play before writing an article. It was a “hard” day of work being “forced” to golf… The result? A pretty entertaining video of myself.
My friend had about the same luck as I did. Probably because he was wearing jeans.
All is fun and games until you’ve used 3 mulligans on the same hole because you keep hooking it left when you normally slice to the right. Anyways, there was actually a lot more research that went into this than these 2 bad shots. Indoor golf has a few main distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Why should you play indoor golf?
- No need to bare the elements of rain and temperature to get a round of golf in. This is especially important in the northern states where the season is cut shorter due to winter weather.
- Play any course you’re looking for. You probably won’t be able to play the famous Augusta National Golf Club, but other well known courses like Bethpage Black or Pebble Beach are readily available.
- Swing analysis with every stroke. This helps any golfer of any level improve their technique by making adjustments and getting instant feedback. An important metric for entry level golfers is the angle of approach, which is measured each swing.
- Time savings. An average golfer should be able to play a full 18 in only an hour when playing solo. This is due to no longer needing to find and drive or walk your ball.
A few caveats of indoor golfing
- It’s obviously not the same as getting outdoors. The feedback is different. The turf is always the same whether you’re on the rough, fairway, fringe, green, or even the cart path. You always have optimal ball placement on the fake grass.
- You are required to bend over almost every single stroke. While you don’t need to walk 18 holes or hop in and out of the golf cart, you’ll be standing the whole time or getting in and out of a chair. You always have to move the golf ball into correct alignment with the sensors, which means you’ll be stooping to the floor a lot. This could be fixed with the Joe’s Original Backtee – which is surprisingly the only product on the market that eliminates bending while teeing up at an indoor course. Any regular golf claw will help you pickup the ball after each hit.
- The distances are pretty hard to judge. The simulator will tell you exactly how many yards it is to the pin and give you a great visual, however, you might struggle and over/under hit. Virtual reality is not the same as reality, especially when you get closer to the hole. There are 10 feet gimme putts because it is impossible for the setup to actually display anything less than about 10 feet.
The only real way to form an opinion is to go try it out. If you haven’t tried indoor golf, go give it a chance. Support a small business by checking out your local indoor range. You might find a new place to hangout and meet some people. Just be careful you don’t tweak your back with the extra bending over that is required.