Business this year at Oakwood Virtual Golf (www.OakwoodVirtualGolf.com ) in Glastonbury, Ct. has been “wonderful,” reports Tom Delaney, owner of the facility.
“We have really great customers who make it fun to come to work every day. We have had an increasing number of private events for local businesses, birthday parties, Super Bowl parties, stag parties, even a gender reveal and a wedding rehearsal dinner.”
Oakwood has added a new simulator bringing its total to six “sim” bays. “We also recently added six new courses; Whistling Straights The Straights, Whistling Straights The Irish, Blackwolf Run The River, Blackwolf Run River Valley, Blackwolf Run Championship Course, and the 2018 Ryder Cup Course, Le Golf National Albatros. We also have a new Challenge course which is four unique challenge holes including the 15th at TPC River Highlands. We have also added two giant HD Projection TV’s in our bar area for all the sports this winter including NFL Sunday Ticket. We have also added several local craft IPA beers to our menu.”
Oakwood’s simulators appeal to a wide range of customers. “The unmatched accuracy of our simulators appeals to avid golfers who appreciate the precision of our aboutGolf simulators from tee to green. Golfers new to the game that can be intimidated to play outside with groups in front and pushing from behind, but there is no pressure in the simulators. Along those same lines, we also have a number of families with younger kids come to play, we have special Junior Tee’s that turn a 400-yard par-four into 120 yards for the little ones, so they can play alongside mom and dad on the same course.”
Delaney believes Oakwood’s simulators separate it from similar operations. “When we researched which simulators we wanted for our facility we looked at every brand out there and nothing came close to aboutGolf’s accuracy. Other simulators can be fun and entertaining, but unlike any other simulator out there, the experience you get with the aboutGolf simulator is so accurate, you can forget you’re inside and not on the course. The biggest complaint we get is customers saying that our simulators are `too accurate’ and actually replicate their slice or hook perfectly.”
Oakwood is offering Bud Light draft specials on National Football League Sunday’s all winter.
Kevin Cloud, owner of Cloud 9 Golf Shop (www.Cloud9GolfShop.com) in Avon, Ct., has been pleased with his first season operating the facility. “Being our first year in business we have had a successful season doing club fitting, teaching golf, and selling merchandise. We are adding a secoond simulator this fall on the upper level that golfers can use for practice or to play one of our 15 golf courses through the E6 system. We will be offering league play this fall and winter.”
Cloud is putting together a trip next spring that will include golfing on the simulator for four weeks and then playing the actual course in a Ryder Cup format. “We have chosen Harbour Town this year and are putting together the final touches.”
Cloud believes simulators appeal to golfers that want to practice during inclement weather, which means most of New England’s winter. “There is also valuable information for teaching and fitting of clubs that require a launch monitor. While an experienced fitter can approximate proper launch conditions, the use of launch monitors makes these number much more precise.”
Mulligan’s Bar and Grille (www.MulligansCT.com )at Eastwood Country Club in Torrington, Ct. has just the remedy for those rainy, or snowy, day blues. A former banquet hall at the nine-hole club was turned into space for five golf simulators that allows patrons to play famous courses and get their swings in no matter what the weather. Mulligan’s opened in 2016 and the reception was solid, said owner and permitee of the adjacent pub, Kevin Ebner
“Some people are reluctant to try simulators, but business is steady during the winter months when people can’t get out and play a real game of golf.” Ebner moved his operation from Canton to Eastwood and he spent considerable time, energy and money revamping the former banquet hall, as well as the bar and dining area.
“During the winter, especially, we had a lot of regulars and even had one gentleman who came down three times a week from Great Barrington (Ma.). He brought his laptop and worked on his game. The simulators give you all kinds of information about your swing, so they are a big help to all levels of golfers, even accomplished players.”
There are tables and chairs set up outside the simulators where customers can enjoy refreshments and food if they so desire while they play. There is an outdoor patio.
Blackledge Country Club (www.BlackledgeCC.com) in Hebron, Ct. has three HD simulators that operate in the club’s restaurant from November through March. “Business has been great,” said Kevin Higgins, Director of Operations at the club. “The simulators really help carry us through the winter months. We have leagues, cater parties, and have open play times that bring golfers of all kinds. From casual date night groups, to kids and parents, to serious golfers from surrounding clubs playing their weekly matches all winter long.”
He said business the simulators generates helps the club keep its tavern open all winter, both for simulator customers and the general public. “In addition to the simulators we do free cross-country skiing and have live entertainment on weekends, so the whole vibe in the restaurant is pretty exciting all winter long.”
Ron Beck, Head Golf Professional at Fox Hopyard Golf Club (www.GolfTheFox.com) in East Haddam, Ct. cleared out its golf shop last winter and created a state-of-the-art indoor facility called The Fox Den. It is “powered” by TrackMan and used for multiple purposes. “The primary utility is the simulator package where you can play top courses from around the world. It is the most realistic I’ve seen before and proved to be very popular with our membership and for public play as well. It takes the same amount of time to play as outdoor golf but it is much more social, as everyone is in close proximity of each other throughout the round. We did a members league on Thursdays and the members loved it. It gave them the opportunity to play all year.”
Beck said the club used the Trackman for a variety of needs. “We gave lots of private lessons and did a fair amount of club fitting as well. The technology is so sophisticated and accurate that we also did club gapping to give people their exact yardages for each club in their bag, and we event did a couple of ball fittings for players seeking the optimal golf ball for their individual swings. We also had people reserve The Fox Den just for practice where there is a practice range mode as well as a few different training modes. It was a great success and we will be re-installing it in December.”
At Crumpin-Fox Golf Club (www.GolfTheFox.com) in Bernardston, Ma. the club’s Zeke’s Grill also becomes The Fox Den where a TrackMan simulator stands in the dining room next to a fireplace, and the bar area is open for the group using the TrackMan to enjoy a few drinks if they like.
“We are open to the public for hourly rentals of The Fox Den; however, our members at both clubs enjoy a significant discount and are the main customers we cater to,” according to Kirsten Wedegartner, marketing director for Crumpin Fox and sister course Fox Hopyard. “Also, it’s designed to be an intimate experience where the group that has paid for the space is really the only people we allow in there at that time. We do some fun events and a weekly quota league to attract people to The Fox Den for entertainment purposes. We also find that the club professionals are able to give lessons and work on game improvement with people one on one during the off season using the TrackMan technology.”