I’ve never been one for golf simulators. If I’m going to play Pebble, or the Old Course, or Kiawah, well I want to play the real thing.
Fortunately for me, Innergolf.ca, a new simulator located in West Toronto may not be better than the real thing, but it still offered a remarkably life-like experience of playing great golf courses which didn’t require a flight to Cali.
The whole system was pretty user-friendly right out of the gate. Innergolf’s simulator features a driving range warmup area that allows golfers to hit a bucket before heading out on the course. It also gives players a great sense of how they are hitting it, since the system tracks each shot, providing details like ball flight and path.
After 10 minutes, I made the move to the simulator. I’ve always wanted to play Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, but I’m always a bit worried about the impact being in a Caribbean country might have on my delicate digestive system. So after a few seconds of pushing buttons on a display screen, I was hitting it off the first hole at Teeth of the Dog.
That’s where Innergolf became really impressive. The simulator utilizes a military system that was designed to track bullets to follow your golf ball, measuring each shot 8,000 times before the pill connects with the screen only a few yards in front. It apparently creates a very accurate perspective on your ball flight and distance, and the simulator, created by the company behind Microsoft Golf, offers you options like firming up fairways and greens to match your desires in course set up.
I played 18 holes quite rapidly (in just over an hour, including warmup). The experience of playing Teeth of the Dog was quite intriguing, with my high draw remaining relatively consistent throughout the round, though a couple of blocks did manage to find the water. I followed this with a few holes at Pebble Beach (1 through 9), which appeared to feature more elevation and depth change and was, in fact, a more interesting playing experience than Teeth of the Dog, at least in the simulator.
I found the tee shots were an accurate distance for me (I average about 280 off the tee), with the correct trajectory and ball path. The imaging was impressive (I’ve spent some time at Pebble in the past), and the shot selection seemed representative of the course.
So what doesn’t quite work? I found chipping to be pretty tricky to gauge, though the use of different synthetic materials to replicate sand and grass proved interesting. But chipping is largley about depth and feel, coupled with one’s ability to determine the correct slope. Over 27 holes I never really figured this one out. The indications would be the chip should come in at 17 yards — but that’s a pretty tough distance to gauge in your head (or at least my head) without actually being able to see it. It made it clear to me that my I’ve become accustomed to looking at certain shots and playing them entirely by feel; I don’t automatically have a 30 yard shot in me, which made these shots on the simulator very difficult.
The other tricky bit was putting. I’m sure some can understand the lines that indicated slopes, but to me, at least for more than a dozen holes, it was all like Grade 11 Drafting — kind of baffling to me, though I’m sure some would just cruise through it.
Overall, Innergolf is aiming to offer a warm atmosphere (more golf photos guys… make the place like a small, charming clubhouse and less like a warehouse), reasonable pricing ($45 per hour regardless of how many players are using one system, making it quite affordable) and a state-of-the-art computerized system that allows you to play some of the best golf in the world. With such a playable and authentic feeling simulator, this would seem like a viable option to standing under a heater in the winter pounding balls out of doors.
Innergolf is located on Sudbury, just south of the noted Toronto restaurant Mildred Pierce, and is part of an ambitious project that will eventually include a gym, club, and hotel.
Pricing: $45 per hour per simulator (cost can be split among multiple players)