Indoor Golf Studios – How do they compare?
Golf Studio & Ranges Are All Different...
Golf Practice has come a long way in the last 10-20 years!
I the ‘old days’, most golf courses had a putting green outside the clubhouse and a net near the 1st tee.
This expanded alongside the popularity of the sport and the demand for professional coaching into massive multi-tier golf ranges with beer, burgers and lots of fun day or night.
Strangely, it hasn’t improved our game though, as the average golf handicap is still between 16-20 and has been for a long time.
Due to technology advances in the golf simulator industry the indoor range has now become common place for practice, tuition, and even the fun element.
Indeed, many of the Tour Pro’s now have their own practice facility at home which allows them to work on their swing without leaving the house. With all this additional practice opportunity, the term ‘focussed practice’ has also become fashionable.
‘Focused’ or ‘Considered’ Practice highlights the need for players to focus on improving the key elements of their game.
Typically, this is short game and approach game to maximise the shots gained system.
In reality, what we see is masses of people banging range balls into the night with their Driver as though they are trying to exercise their demons.
So, where is the best place to practice your game?
Big Branded Golf Ranges
Big Range brands like InRange (7 venues in the UK) and Toptracer (58 venues) offer a number of range games, virtual golf courses and competition-based exercises that will allow the golfer to improve their areas of weakness.
Some venues will provide a free phone app to view your practice results at a later date. However, due to the large format of these facilities, they rely on a general radar or camera web on over the whole area to pick up the ball flight.
This can result in some wayward information as the system gets confused with balls from other bays. We have also seen changes in light conditions affect the system and twilight in particular making some bays unusable on our local range.
The great British weather doesn’t help and whilst most ranges are now covered the effect of wind on the ball can cause confusion and doubt.
Data is limited to ball flight information such as carry, total distance, start angle curve angle and distance off target.
There is not club data. Many venues use a standard Srixon ball, but this does not account for the state of the balls from range to range.
A range ball loses about 10-15% distance and the software is designed to compensate for this and provide a distance comparable with a premium ball. This can provide some inaccuracies in yardage when compared to your normal ball on the course.
Costs vary around the country with a bucket of 100 balls costing up to £10 in the SE of England and some additional services (virtual golf courses) can also mean additional charges.
Golf Club Practice Areas
Unlike the big range setups, Golf Club practice areas are usually nestled in an area of the golf course and do not normally have huge catch nets around them
It allows the Club Pro to provide lessons and golfers to practice. Range balls are again standard but are normally in a better state of repair.
We have rarely seen facilities big enough for driving practice, but it is not uncommon to see a decent short game area with a few bunkers and a large green for chipping and pitching to the various flags.
Cost for a bucket of balls is similar to local golf ranges but you can normally use your own on the short game areas.
What is becoming more prevalent is the use of indoor simulators by the club Pro as a teaching facility. This can also be used for new equipment testing and club fitting.
Some PGA professionals have also taken to setting up indoor putting areas to assist members with the most used club in the bag. More notably, it also allows Club Pro’s to keep teaching into the dark hours of winter by renting out the simulator to club members.
According to the Trackman website there are 305 Trackman sites in the UK which allow golfers to use them. This is spread between golf clubs and practice facilities such as Virtual Golf Lounge. The majority of which are open to the public although some venues only have the single simulator.
These indoor golf simulators offer so much more than the golf range technology. Trackman provides 26 data points for ball and club data to pinpoint the exact nature of the golf ball trajectory and the path of the club.
There is a wealth of information within the system that even boasts an IA robot that will target your weaknesses and provide training advice to improve. This is based on the millions of golf swings it records (anonymously) around the world each day.
A free Trackman app allows you to record all you training sessions to track your progress and a number of specific skills exercises help focus practice on the important elements.
The simulators offer a much wider range of courses to play than the big brand ranges, Trackman has over 135 courses adding around 3 courses a month. There are now even world-wide competitions on Trackman at the Pro level…
Several other aspects should be considered. There is no weather effect to take into consideration, what you see is a result of your own swing. You can use your own balls or the new Titleist balls which have been specially designed for the Trackman system.
Whilst the costs can be slightly more expensive than a bucket of balls there is much more information that will help your focussed practice than the standard range.
This level of detail provides feedback that is a Pro level experience and should be considered as a must for your focused practice at least once a month. Otherwise, it’s just hitting soft balls into the darkness.
The Virtual Golf Loungfe - How We do It
At Virtual Golf Lounge we use the latest Trackman 4 simulators and will be shortly introducing the Titleist Pro V1 RCT balls that are specially designed to work with Trackman.
This provides a 99.5% accuracy reading on all shots.
Call us on 07515 180843.
Our staff will be very happy to help you with your booking and walk you through the Trackman system on your arrival.