Westfield-Mayville Rotary tees up golf simulator as program topic
Did you ever wish that you could play rounds of golf at famous courses like Pebble Beach, Oakmont or St. Andrews? What about being able to practice your golf skills indoors during Chautauqua County winters? Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club members learned about how the two new golf simulators at Pinehurst Golf Club in Westfield work during their Jan. 26 Zoom meeting. Mel Swanson, Pinehurst Golf Club part owner and program guest presenter, gave a golf simulator demonstration and explained how the system works. Rotarian Doc Hamels was the sponsor of Swanson’s program.
Now retired, Swanson was a middle school math teacher in the Sherman Central School District for 33 years. He was a girls high school basketball coach for 40 years, and he coached boys varsity basketball, varsity baseball, JV football, varsity golf, and all JV and middle school basketball teams. He was inducted into the Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame for his many coaching achievements.
Swanson said, “Here at Pinehurst we now have two Foresight GC Hawk Simulators, each in a room that’s about 12′ x 15′ in size. The turf mats are on heated floors and there is seating around each room. A large screen is on one end of each room. The program we have allows you to choose from 25 different courses to play, either 18 or 9 holes, plus you can practice your swing on a driving range.”
Then Swanson drove some shots into the screen and explained how the system works. “Today we’re at Akron Country Club in Ohio at hole #1. You use your regular golf clubs, balls and tees. You walk up, get the ball and drop it on the turf. When the simulator tells you that it’s ready, you drive the ball into the screen. Cameras pick it up and calculate the distance. It can track your ball, even if you slice or hook it and put it in trees or water.”
He continued, “Of course, if your ball goes in a sand trap on the screen, it’s different. In reality you’ll then be hitting it off of turf carpet. Also, chipping and putting are different with the simulators. When your done with your shot, you pick up your ball, place it and continue. We can input players’ names, and the computer keeps score.”
“It’s a great way to teach someone how to golf or practice your skills. The most you’ll have to chase your ball is about 15 ft. You can have as many mulligans as your partner allows. You can play 9 or 18 holes on 25 different courses. One option of the program is that it can access real time weather conditions at a specific course. For example, if it’s windy, you’ll see the trees swaying.”
Swanson noted that there is a par 3 pitch and putt course, with most of its holes being 50 to 90 yards. Plus, on all of the courses average golfers may choose to use the forward tees. He said that two people playing a round of 18 holes for the first time on the simulator may need about 3 ¢ hours. Once players are used to the system, a foursome can finish 18 holes in 3 hours or 9 holes in about 1 ¢ hours.
“We can log into different national tournaments around the country so that we can have match play with other folks using GC Hawk Simulators,” he stated. Pinehurst currently has a 48-man league with two person teams in the 10th week of play. Swanson said, “We ask that folks call us to make a tee time. We open at 8 a.m. during the week, and our hours fluctuate with the times of when people want to play. The cost is $20 per person to play 9 holes and $25 per person to play 18 holes. Bring your own clubs, though we do have a few sets that we can let you use. Also, gift certificates are available.”
He added, “These golf simulators are helping us with income in the winter. Before, we had zero income during the winter months. This system is working out well for us, and we’re talking about possibly adding a soccer simulator program in the future.” To schedule a golf simulator tee time, call
Pinehurst Golf Club at 716-326-4424. This family-owned business is located at 7428 W. Rt. 20 in Westfield, NY.
Swanson, who said that his “best jobs ever are being the father of four and the grandfather of nine,” is currently looking forward to “traveling to Hawaii this spring, if COVID allows; to the birth of grandson number five (grandchild number 10); and to getting my first ever hole in one, while golfing with my grandsons and sons, to prove to them that I’m not too old to learn new tricks!”