Thwack! The Titleist jumps off the tee, and at first my drive looks good, but I’ve hooked the ball a little too much. I can only watch as it drifts left and kerplunks into the Pacific Ocean ... sort of.
Though the new GPS systems in the carts outside might indicate I’m at the Aspen Golf Club, today I’m playing the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, courtesy of the Full Swing golf simulator, which has likely found a permanent, year-round home in the bottom level of the clubhouse.
Originally donated to Aspen Junior Golf and then gifted to the city, the simulator moved to its new location late last year. Since then, it’s seen regular use from locals like Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and the Aspen High girls’ golf team, which used it for early-season practice.
A $10,000 upgrade this spring will overhaul the software and add a third sensor, improving accuracy and providing additional data on spin rates and launch vectors—good news whether you want to hone your swing in practice mode or play one of 40 pre-programmed courses, which include Spyglass Hill, Pinehurst, and—most requested of all—Pebble Beach.
With time slots going for $40 per hour for groups of up to six, the simulator’s rebirth is popular so far with local golfers. If there’s enough demand, says Aspen Golf Club head pro Jim Pratt, the city may look at buying another one. The clubhouse space—which includes a bar—could host league nights and private parties.
Ideally, Pratt and the city envision a sort of mini-Topgolf, the megaplex driving ranges/sports bars popping up around the country. In fact, Topgolf’s myriad games can be played on the Full Swing simulator.
“I’m excited about it,” says Pratt. With the opportunity to have a drink or two and play courses like St. Andrew’s without leaving town, so are we. aspengolf.com