| Beaver County Times
BRIDGEWATER — Ignore the winter weather, grab a set of golf clubs and go whack the little white ball.
Indoor golf is a thing now at Spanky D’s Restaurant + Boat Yard Bar in Bridgewater.
After ordering their food and beverage, Spanky D’s customers can play the wall-sized golf simulator.
Having already reserved a tee time, players use their real golf clubs and smack a realistic-looking foam-modified ball, which travels maybe 10 feet before slamming harmlessly into a loosely draped projection screen beaming video scenery of a golf course.
If you slice, hook or duff your golf swing, that will be reflected on the video screen measuring where your ball would have landed if this were a real golf course. Grab an iron for your second shot, and whack the ball again, as the computer simulator calculates metrics like the speed, power and straightness of your swing to give an accurate reading of how close you get to the putting green.
The simulator costs $25 per person, which gets you 90 minutes of play. Or a group of four can pay $120 that comes with a bucket of wings and eight beers and two hours play.
It’s simple fun and fit for social distancing, said Stacey Dinsmore, co-owner of Spanky D’s, the riverside lounge that’s done a number of creative things to stay afloat amid coronavirus-spawned restaurant restrictions.
Indoor golf began Jan. 13 at Spanky D’s, which already has booked a weekly group of eight playing the simulator, which is in the bar area, separate from the dining room that overlooks the Beaver River.
Locals might remember a short-lived indoor golf simulation site on Brighton Avenue in Rochester in the mid-2000s.
The games are making a comeback.
The Tee Box-Indoor Golf & Sports Lounge plans to open around early March in Ellwood City, featuring U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland’s state-of-the-art basement simulator.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh in Greensburg also offers a golf simulator.
The simulators have become more affordable now, explained Tom “Spanky” Dinsmore, who along with sister, Stacey, opened their Riverside Drive eatery and nightspot in June 2019.
A former golf club superintendent for 15 years at Sewickley Heights, Olde Stonewall and The Club at Shadow Lakes, Tom has dreamed from the get-go of having a golf simulator at his restaurant and feels the timing is right.
“As soon as we took the wall down I saw the opportunity to give the people something to do here other than just come and drink,” he said. “Something to do with your guys in the winter, or girls. They can do leagues if they want.”
“And it’s COVID safe; you bring your own clubs and it’s one person at a time,” Stacey said.
Playing a round on any of the simulator’s 15 virtual golf courses is an immersive experience.
“It actually has sound,” Tom said. “You can hear the birds chirping. You can hear someone hitting the ball.”
When not in use for golf, the large projection screen doubles as a TV screen.
“You can watch football on it,” he said.
“Or hockey,” Stacey added.
Serious golfers can calibrate their clubs based on the simulator’s readings.
“It’ll keep track of all your swings; how you’re hitting it, your clubface angles, your swing speed, how many times you slice it or hook it,” Tom said.
“Or you can just come in and bang the ball around and have a good time with your friends,” he said. “And the good news is you don’t have to chase your ball.”
Faring well in its first full week, the Dinsmores already are looking to upgrade the simulator’s software program to feature 50 virtual golf courses, as well as adding a duck hunting and fishing simulation game coming out soon.