What is keeping you from opening your indoor golf center or adding indoor golf to your current facility? Is it a fear of the unknown, worry about the worst case scenario? Or is it more a lack of time or money? Perhaps it is a lack of advice, information, support or confidence. Let's hear from folks on what they think it preventing them from getting "around to it". I gave you a round tuit at the left, now give me your thoughts. . .
With the continual advances in technology and the wide range of options, choosing a golf simulator can be a daunting task. By understanding the key features of a golf simulator and comparing them to your needs, you can narrow the field rather quickly and hone in on the best choice for you. We'll review many of the key features here to give you a jump start on your research.
Determining if this is for Home or Commercial Use is the best place to start. Are you looking for something for your home or for your business. If you are looking for your home, the most important considerations will be your budget and your space. If you are looking for your business, there are many more features to consider and we'll address many of those here. These may also be helpful to get an understanding of features for home use.
Price. This is an obvious consideration as we all live on a budget and even our businesses need to carefully consider costs. For a functional full size system, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000. Most systems designed for commercial use will fall in the mid to high end of that range. The price will be driven by the choices you make in the options below.
Graphics. You need to figure out if you want 2D, 3D or photo-realistic graphics. In addition, do you want the image to fly with the ball or stay static from the tee. Simulators will also come with HD graphics, wide screen formats and real time rendering of images Speed of rendering is a critical component for most commercial applications as customers don't like waiting for images to load.
Number and type of courses. The number of courses will drive the price. Many simulators have standard packages that you can start out with and add to later as you desire. Some include new course downloads in their support, others require you to purchase them. Folks in commercial use situations also look for famous courses as they are often requested by clientele. Having more and famous courses can help drive indoor golf revenue.
User interface and game modes. Many of the high-end systems now come with touch screen control panels to help with set up, aim, mulligans and more. Some systems also come with options for internet gameplay and tournaments so you can compete against other players around the world. You may also want to look for options to play different types of games like best ball, closest to the pin and long drive contests.
Golf swing analysis. There are several different methods for golf simulators to provide for swing analysis. Many of the top line models offer one or more of these methods. Club path analysis shows the swing path, clubhead speed, position and angle of the face at impact. Ball flight analysis will look at launch angle and spin rate. Lastly, video capture allows for instruction and feedback on particular parts of the swing sequence.
Support and maintenance. You also need to pay close attention to the support that comes with the product itself. Look at the length of the warranty, what it covers, whether there is remote support available, and if there is any sort of installation support. Also ask about life of the parts and replacement costs for things like projectors, screens, bulbs and mats.
Most people close to indoor golf know it is a seasonal business. Our golf center survey found that business is much more robust in the cold and wet months than it is in the warm and dry ones. No big surprise there. What is interesting is that the trend for "indoor golf" searches on Google is seasonal as well. Notice how the index from Google below shows that indoor golf searches peak around January each year and tend to bottom out in the May through August period.
What does this mean for your indoor golf business?
It means that your off season marketing efforts need to be broader than just talking about indoor golf. Be creative, look for ideas that align with search trends, provide what folks are looking for in your area. An example is "Golf League" in the chart below. It's peak will perfectly correlate with the off season bottoms on indoor golf in terms of search trends. Get creative, do your research and find ideas lie golf lessons, golf tournament, or golf coupon (I know those aren't too creative, but they do better support summer search patterns than indoor golf.