San Juan College’s indoor facilities offer many different challenges
FARMINGTON – There should never be a bad time to golf. Thanks to innovative technology, there is no need to be.
The Bluffs Country Club, a fledgling commercial enterprise hosted by the Quality Center for Business at San Juan College, opened last month. .
Managed by Keith Wood and located in a huge college space, the Bluffs Country Club features a single bay where players can work on their game or compete with others in a tournament style game or in golf games of arcade style.
âThere is literally nothing you can’t do with this setup,â Wood said earlier this week. “The library of courses you can play is over 125 and we are constantly adding more.”
The software for the virtual reality game comes from a company named Trackman, which offers players the ability to keep tabs on their own game using radars, cameras, and simulators that track their swing and flight distance. .
The Trackman system is used by professionals around the world and endorsed by renowned players like Justin Thomas, 14-time PGA Tour winner, as well as PGA Tour Women’s Champion and 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist Nelly Korda.
Using technology known as Optically Enhanced Radar Tracking (OERT), the Bluffs Country Club system allows players to participate in an 18-hole round of golf in under two hours.
Critics of indoor golf will point out that the conditions inside an air-conditioned venue can never match what it really feels like to play outside. Wood doesn’t expect this opinion to change, and neither is the intention.
“There is just no reason why people should not have the opportunity to play, or even to train, just because the weather outside is bad,” said Wood. “The intention was not to compete with the actual game, but to improve the game for those who enjoy it but cannot enjoy it all the time.”
It is estimated that there are hundreds of indoor golf facilities like the Bluffs across the country. The popularity of indoor gaming has grown in the wake of the pandemic, which has allowed many to find more creative ways to compete. The result of this has led to an increase in interest and competition in the sport.
âClasses were closed for the most part last year, so people started looking for different ways to play,â said Wood. “Now that the courses have reopened there are more people playing the game which is great for the future of the sport.”
The cost of operating an indoor golf facility can be high. Wood estimates that a quality golf simulator can cost over $ 50,000 and that’s just the operating software.
âThen there’s the cost of the space to run the facility,â said Wood. âYou can’t have these bays in a small display case. It takes a little space for multiple bays.â
The Quality Center for Business, which houses the facility, offers a variety of programs, serving as a hub of economic development and innovation for the community.
The Bluffs Country Club currently operates as a single bay on the college campus, with players registering for sessions on their website, but Wood is hoping to expand that operation and have the option of being open 24 hours a day.
âThere are people out there who might want to play a round of golf at Pebble Beach at midnight,â Wood said. “Our goal is to give you this opportunity.”
Players can bring their own golf clubs and balls to the facility, or can rent the equipment available on site. The Bluffs also offers balls from golf maker Titleist, which just signed last week as the sponsor of the Trackman simulator.
In addition to prestigious courses around the world, the Bluffs are actively working on setting up virtual courses for local facilities like the San Juan Country Club, Pinon Hills and the Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland.
Steve Bortstein can be reached by email at [email protected], via Twitter @DTSBortstein or by phone at (505) 635-2680.