Roderick Easdale – Is this the future of golf?


In South Korea 55 per cent of all rounds of golf are played indoors, on a golf simulator such as the GOLFZON.

Could what happens in South Korea – ‘the world’s most technologically advanced nation,’ according to celebrated golf coach David Leadbetter – extend elsewhere around the globe?

David Leadbetter was speaking at the Leadbetter Golf Academy European headquarters at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, where he has just installed three GOLFZON simulators as training aids (although with 182 golf courses loaded into them, you can play a round on them as well).  

You stand on a mat and hit a ball into, basically, a sheet, on which is projected whatever you want – golf course, driving range, marked-out target areas – and sensors work out where you ball would have gone from the first six inches of your ball’s flight.

Advantages of such practice over a standard driving range is you have more idea of where your ball has gone. Also, as the projection can change to whatever you want you can vary the shot challenges. The system will even factor in wind speed and direction.

The benefits for chipping practice are clear. Instead of standing beside a chipping green and playing, in essence, the same shot over and over again, the simulator can vary from shot to shot if you wish, setting the distance, even the slope. One moment you could be taking on a 50-yard chip downwind, the next a 90-yard one over water  into the wind from a downhill lie.

Yes, from a downhill lie for the GOLFZON simulator comes with a tee mat called Swing Plate which, when playing a course, automatically adjusts to give uphill, downhill, and side-hill lies, thus simulating the course’s own slopes.

With 182 courses already inputted on the machine, you can ‘play’ one of the world’s top venues on the simulator. So could this gradually become more popular as a way to play and provide golf? 

Rather than go down to your local muni in winter, and squelch through mud and rain, you could instead pop along to a nice warm room and ‘play’ Pebble Beach or St Andrews. The round will also be quicker – a fourball on the GOLFZON is estimated to take about two and a quarter hours; a two ball, an hour and quarter. 

It is easier and cheaper way to buy and maintain a hut or room with a few simulators in it than it is 100-plus acres of an 18-hole golf course. 

A GOLFZON will cost, depending on how many of its bells and whistles you wish to include, between £25,000 and £50,000 and there is little by way of running costs. 

Of the 100 or so systems already installed in the UK, 70 are in private homes. The day after I met them, the GOLFZON teams were off to Chelsea’s training complex to install a simulator there.

Worldwide there are already 30,000 GOLFZON  simulators in operation in 62 countries, and 150,000 rounds a day are played GOLFZON simulators. 

These are numbers that are only likely to increase.

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