Golf

It’s time to golf! . . . Even if it is freezing outside

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Story and photos by John Hummer
Exponent staff writer

Had enough of this cold weather? Have no fear, golf season is here. Just head over to Clark Lake Golf Course and you can play any of the finely manicured top courses in the country. And no, you don’t have to be a pro. You can even be a beginner.

The venue, on the corner of Hayes and Wesch roads in Columbia Township, now has what is called a “golf simulator” where guests can golf just about any day or time, or anywhere in the nation.

Golf St. Andrews, Pebble Beach on the shores of California, and any other big-name courses you’ve dreamed of golfing on.“The weather is always great in here,” said operations manager Mark Cornell. “You can have lunch, play golf, and enjoy a beverage. It gives you something to do in the winter and gets you out of the

Had enough of this cold weather? Have no fear, golf season is here. Just head over to Clark Lake Golf Course and you can play any of the finely manicured top courses in the country. And no, you don’t have to be a pro. You can even be a beginner.

 

Clark Lake Golf Course operations manager Mark Cornell hits a 200-yard drive straight down the fairway as he demonstrates the new golf simulator.

 

The venue, on the corner of Hayes and Wesch roads in Columbia Township, now has what is called a “golf simulator” where guests can golf just about any day or time, or anywhere in the nation.

Golf St. Andrews, Pebble Beach on the shores of California, and any other big-name courses you’ve dreamed of golfing on.

“The weather is always great in here,” said operations manager Mark Cornell. “You can have lunch, play golf, and enjoy a beverage. It gives you something to do in the winter and gets you out of the house.”

The simulator became active on Dec. 15 and is available for use right now. The cost is $30 an hour to use the machine no matter how many people play, so the cost can be split among everyone playing.

“Two people can easily play nine holes in an hour,” Cornell said.

Clark Lake Golf Course will be starting a winter golf league using the simulator in early February and is beginning to take sign-ups for the league. (See end of story for details.) Participants will play one nine-hole round of golf a week. It will be a mixed-gender league with scoring based on a golfer’s handicap.

“It will be an open schedule for golf,” he said. “You’ll be able to come in when you and your partner can play.” The league will continue through late March when the weather breaks for outdoor golf with the plan to have the final event of the indoor league outdoors.

 

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Cornell said the simulator machine is also a great tool to use if you have a golf coach to give you lessons. The facility now has a golf pro that is beginning to give lessons using the simulator. Practicing and tweaking one’s shot inside is also a great way to prepare for the regular outdoor golf season.

But just what prompted this idea for winter golf?

“We were looking for a way to continue a revenue stream when the [outdoor] golf course is closed,” said Cornell. “The thing that made the most sense was playing golf indoors. This will extend the golf season. People can play year-round now.”

Cornell researched the market on indoor golf simulators and landed on the HD Golf simulator right out of Ontario.

 

 

“It has a lot of features and benefits that some of the others don’t,” he said.

The simulator is controlled by a computer that will give the golfer all the information he needs to improve his game. The computer will provide the golfer with data on club head speed, swing path, ball speed, spin ratio of the ball, how far the ball flies and rolls out, the launch angle, and whether you’re hitting the ball true or off the toe or heel.

“If you’re really into working on your golf game, all that information is available at the touch of your fingers,” said Cornell.

The machine even provides participants with a “virtual locker room” where their scorecard is emailed to them after every round played.

“You can go home and compare rounds at different courses,” he said. “It gives you your average drives, average putts, and how many birdies and pars you have every time you play.”

The simulator has 33 PGA golf courses on it from across the nation. You can even take that fantasy vacation to Hawaii and golf on Kiawah Island when it’s 10 degrees outside.

“They’re not as easy as the courses around here, but we can make it easier with the putting rules and stuff we can put in,” Cornell said.

The machine also has 20 different driving ranges on it and provides the golfer with data like average yardage per shot and longest drive.

“It’s a very sophisticated piece of equipment, but it’s very easy to use,” he said. “It takes very little involvement from staff.”

Cornell said it was a long-term vision and goal of his to bring winter golf to Clark Lake Golf Course. He plans to put a second simulator in next year if this year’s inaugural effort proves to be successful.

“Our goal is to make this a golf destination in the winter like it is in the summer.”

To book a winter tee time, call 517-592-6259, ext. 2. Golfers can use the simulator machine Wednesday mornings
through Sunday evenings. The facility will host special winter golf events on Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

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