For those of us who are golf aficionados but find ourselves as denizens of the north and live in what’s known as a cold weather state, winter can seem like it takes forever to end. From mid November through mid March there’s seldom a day in which the sky isn’t some shade of gray or the air is just too cold to venture outside. If you’re anything like me, you’ve stowed your golf clubs and shoes deep in the basement but every now and then, if you listen closely, you’ll hear them whispering to you.
”Take me out to play, take me out to play”
It’s then that you might look at the weather forecast and see when the temperatures are going to break fifty and there’s no threat of rain, sleet or God forbid, snow. Sure, when you get to the course, you might have to wait for the frost to burn off and you know damn well the fairways and greens are gonna be soggy as hell from all the moisture trapped beneath them. You know you’re gonna have to dress extra warm and play what’s known as “winter rules” and instead of enjoying a few cold brewskies you’re more than likely going to be drinking something warm in that thermos you brought along just for the occasion.
If you’d like to avoid all of that though, there is another alternative. It’s what’s known as indoor or simulated golf and if you choose to go play this abomination you can enjoy all of the comforts of home without enduring any of the "hassle" I described earlier. Who cares if there’s a television or jukebox blaring in your ear? Who cares if other people are making a racket playing ping pong or pool mere yards away from you when you’re in the middle of your backswing? Who cares if the weather is always perfect and there’s no such thing as a bad lie? Who cares if the people playing adjacent to you on another screen have no sense of etiquette whatsoever and sound like they’re drunk and tailgating at an NFL game?
See, indoor golf is played by hitting a ball into a screen and from there the magic of technology takes over. Even though you’re a high handicapper, you can play just about any course in the world that’s been programmed into the simulator. Based on the spin, speed and trajectory of the ball when it makes a dull thump into a screen, a computer will decide exactly where it winds up and it’s up to you to choose your next club. Don’t even get me started on putting. Besides having to read a grid that’s superimposed on the screen that looks like something one would see in an air traffic control tower, you have to putt over a hard wood floor. Since that’s damn near impossible, you can program the machine to award what’s known as “gimmee’s” from 15 to 20 feet out from the hole.
I’ve only played indoor golf once and suffice to say it wasn’t for me. I guess if it’s been awhile since you last swung a club and you want to work some kinks out before it warms up it does serve some kind of purpose. As for me though, I’ll just go to a heated driving range and pound away.
It’s either that or I’ll endure some of the conditions I described earlier on a real course. There’s something about the serenity and the zen that outdoor golf has to offer that can’t be duplicated or artificially created whether you're playing it on an indoor screen in some bar or watching it at home on television.
Or I can just move to a place where it’s warm all year round and I can bang away to my heart’s content.