The city of Concord, N.H., projected that for the 2017 fiscal year, the virtual simulator would add more than $70,000 in revenue from fees, winter golf lessons and added concessions income. On the first day the simulator was introduced, 100 people signed up for a weekly winter league.
Thanks to a new virtual golf simulator that was unveiled on January 9, golfers at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H., can take their minds off the freezing temperatures outside, the Concord Monitor reported.
“I think it’s even the current weather conditions (in the simulator) at whatever course you’re playing. It’s pretty neat,” said Ryan Phinney, a Beaver Meadow member and Concord resident.
The golf simulator comes as a result of a $130,000 bond from the Concord City Council, awarded to the city-owned course in November, the Monitor reported.
“I think (the simulator) just adds value to Beaver Meadow and gives us more opportunity for year-round activities,” said Phil Davis, head gold professional. “The buzz at Beaver Meadow is good right now. It was the perfect time for the city to make this investment. It makes the experience here that much better.”
By midday Saturday, Davis said more than 150 people had already come through the door to check out the two new simulators and 100 people have already signed up for a weekly winter league, the Monitor reported.
When asked what the best part about simulated golf was, Phinney said, “you don’t even have to go look for your ball. (The simulator) brings you right to it.”
Corey Luckern, a pro shop assistant, worked with golfers Saturday, showing off the computer software that comes along with the PGA Tour Indoor Golf Simulator, the same one seen on the Golf Channel, the Monitor reported.
“You can actually compare your swings with hundreds of professional golfers,” Luckern said as he toggled with settings on the simulator’s computer to suit whoever was playing. “It compares your swing, top to bottom, your follow through, everything. It’s a great learning tool, and it’s pretty cool to compare your swing to some of the pros.”
“It can be very humbling,” Phinney said. “But the numbers don’t lie.”
The simulator also provides information players can’t get on the golf course, like launch speed and drive length, the Monitor reported.
“It definitely gives you better feedback, and it’s a great way to track your progress,” said Davis, who plans to use the simulator for lessons for both experienced golfers, beginners and kids. “I’m most looking forward to the in-season use with the junior camps. They might never want to go outside again once they use this.”
Most importantly, it gives golfers the chance to stay on the course year-round, which Allenstown resident Doreen Baillargeon said is invaluable. “It keeps your swing going in the winter. You don’t forget anything once the season ends,” she said as she got ready to take her first swings at the 10-foot high screen connected to the larger simulator.
On a chilly winter day like Saturday, Baillargeon said that if she wasn’t golfing, she’d be “grocery shopping like I probably should be doing.”
Davis did his research before choosing the PGA Tour Indoor Golf Simulator. He said he talked with other pros at Pease Golf Course in Portsmouth, Manchester Country Club in Bedford and Gonzo’s Indoor Golf Club & Academy in Burlington, Vt., which all use similar equipment, the Monitor reported.
“It made the decision pretty easy. We saw how popular it is, and how fast it’s growing and I think we got into it at just the right time,” Davis said.
For a typical golfer, Davis said, having access to the simulator will almost double the amount of time spent out on the course every year. Beaver Meadow joined other area clubs like Pembroke Pines, the Loudon Country Club and Derryfield Country Club in adding the simulators and extending the season for members. The only major difference, Phinney and Davis said, is the short game. Putting is not as realistic on the simulator as on grass, the Monitor reported.
“It’s definitely not real golf,” Davis said. “There’s not as many variables but it’s still a good alternative. You still get to swing the golf club and keep yourself involved in golf during the winter.”
When the Concord City Council decided to allocate funds for the golf simulator in November, Parks and Recreation Director David Gill said the goal was to add more off-season activities at the city-owned golf course. For the 2017 fiscal year, Gill projected the simulator would add more than $70,000 in revenue from simulator fees, winter golf lessons and added concessions income. Total expenses are expected to add about $69,000 to the golf course budget, so the net gain will only total $1,000 in the first year. But if revenue projections prove true and the bond is paid off in five years, annual revenue could exceed $36,000 in fiscal year 2022, the Monitor reported.
Davis said it’s just the latest addition to make the course an off-season destination. “Last year, we had the pond for people to skate on, and once we get some more snow, we will open some cross country ski trails and now we have golf year-round,” Davis said.
A new restaurant, the 19th Hole, also opened in 2014 and is part of a larger plan to get the course back on a profitable track. Beaver Meadow lost $64,000 in fiscal 2011 and $53,000 in fiscal 2012, according to city records. In recent years, the city council has tried to offset those losses by transferring between $20,000 and $30,000 every year to the golf course fund from the general fund, which relies on tax revenue, the Monitor reported.
With the help of that money, Beaver Meadow finally turned a profit in 2013. But the course has lost money every year since then, though not as much as in the past. For 2015, the budget projected a roughly $10,000 loss. But Gill said in November that he thinks that can turn around quickly thanks to the new equipment, the Monitor reported.