After almost half a day spent waiting for Delhi’s infamous fog to clear at the Gurgaon Golf Course earlier last week, and then teeing off under an overcast sky with the temperature touching an insane 6 degrees Celsius, I was converted into a fan of virtual golf. Imagine a 365-days-a-year golf course under controlled temperature!
Head over to Gurgaon’s Ambience Mall, spend an hour in front of any of the six spanking new Golfworx simulators and you’ll know what I mean. Tee-off at the picturesque Kiawah-Ocean course, improve your swing at the lush green Torrey Pines, catch up with friends for a quick half-hour session at Pebble Beach…all this in one day—and still be in time for dinner at home. This is high-definition, high-resolution golf, away from the greens, sheltered from the elements.
Game on: You can choose from 16 golf courses in the simulator. Pradeep Gaur / Mint
Half an hour into my game at the historic Torrey Pines course and I started wondering if, like everything else, technology was changing golf too. In such a way that we could be looking at the next generation of golfers who have sharpened their skills in front of computer screens rather than golf greens.
Spread over 44,000 sq. ft, there’s more to Golfworx than just golf: It’s a simulator lounge, has a bar and claims to be India’s largest golf retail store with around 22 brands, complete with custom-fitting and repair facility. Indeed, everything here revolves around the sport. You hit a real golf ball on faux grass in a 11x15x20ft room into a high-definition 9x12ft screen. The moment the ball, Titleist Pro V1, hits the screen, the computerized, virtual ball takes over. The simulator gives you the real-time trajectory and speed of the ball, the distance you hit it, its launch angle, ball spin, club head speed, swing path and the remaining yardage to the hole.
The screen changes every time the ball lands. With high-definition overhead cameras, which apparently can record even surface-to-air missiles, laser beams pick up all the details of your hit for the computer to take over, and continue the ball’s trajectory electronically into the fairway, the woods or the bunker, depending on your swing. You can play as many holes and have a choice of 16 courses, including the picturesque Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Bay Hill, Spyglass Hill and Banf Springs. You can play solo or with a group of friends and even connect the simulator to the Internet and play with a stranger from anywhere in the world. You can even control weather conditions: rain with stiff wind, for instance, just the way it plays in real life.
It is indeed a golf mecca. Like virtual racing, with the you-are-there perspective for aspiring champions, this is also for those who have never held a club. It’s the state-of-the-art simulators that swing the game for them. There are no hierarchies of rankings here. It is the closest real-life feeling you could get without actually standing on a golf course. With an instructor at hand giving you tips on your grip and other nuances of the game, and replays of your game on the screen, it is just a question of how far you are ready to go before stepping on actual grass.
Golfworx has enough to interest professionals too. For me, its impressive launch monitor, which helps you customize your clubs and irons, is unarguably one of the best. Compare clubs and it lets you know how good or bad each would be for your game. This is how I look at it: If you are serious about your game, there is no one-size-fits all theory in this game. This is the place where you could get the exact clubs and irons that suit your game. I have heard that many Formula One drivers, including Canadian F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, spend long hours in front of their game consoles between races, to perfect their skills.
Golfworx does it for you in golf. It’s as real as you can get without playing on a real course. How about a serious simulator golf challenge sometime soon?
• Junior programmes: Individual lessons (30 minutes)—Rs450
• Adult programmes: Individual lessons (30 minutes)—Rs550
• Pitch-putt course for beginners: 30 minutes each, 21 days—Rs2,500
• Par 3 course for beginners: 30 minutes each, 60 days—Rs5,000
• Par 4 course for players: 45 minutes each, 45 days—Rs6,500
• Simulator rental per hour: Rs500 (1-2 persons, off peak), Rs700 (3-4 persons, off peak)
For more details, call 0124-6467000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikki Ponappa, a Bangalore-based golfer, is ranked No. 5 in the Women’s Golfer Association of India standings.
As told to Bobby John Varkey.