Simulators can take you around world

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

You can play Pebble Beach, Myrtle Beach, Bay Harbor, Spyglass Hill and 23 other golf courses all without leaving London.

And it doesn't matter how much snow is on the ground.

It really is Golf Without Limits and it's a new simulated golf business on Wonderland Road in the same location as Bob Martin's golf centre, driving range and practice facility.

Simulated golf is nothing new. It's been around for years.

"But this is as real as it gets," said Eddie Dobaczewski, one of the owners of the facility.

He has three partners.

Simulated golf allows a player to take a full swing, hitting a ball onto the screen. The screen follows the ball's flight.

The player completes the hole shot by shot, including chipping and putting.

Comparing old simulators to the newest technology is like comparing Pong to Xbox.

The graphics are terrific. The information provided is exhaustive -- distance, height, carry, ball speed, direction.

A player is provided wind speed, direction, obstacles and when putting, it gives you all the information you need, including break and whether the putt is uphill or downhill.

In the old system, the shot was filmed at one metre per second. The new one is filmed at two centimetres per second. The old system used radar. This uses actual cameras and provides better accuracy and information.

"They come in here and say they've played simulator golf before, but once they see this, it's completely different than it was," said Ron Lampman, who handles the teaching aspect of Golf Without Limits.

"They're surprised by how realistic it is. They have a blast. I sit in the office and you can hear the foursomes hooting and hollering.

"The new camera system is like playing real golf. You can hit draws, fades, low shots, high shots . . . you can do it all. It's a great place to practice."

There are only two Golf Without Limits franchises in Canada. The first was established in Waterloo.

Dobaczewski has been involved since December 2007, when he operated a mobile system, taking it to golf tournaments and home shows.

He opened his permanent location in London in early December. He has two simulators. Each cost US$53,000.

"The reaction has been fantastic. We're booked non-stop on weekends . . . a week ahead of time. Now we're getting booked up in the evenings through the week."

"I had an idea it would be this successful. I look at all the golf courses London has in the area . . . I knew London needed something like this so they could keep playing golf all the way along."

The facility has a large teaching component.

"It's all PGA affiliated," Lampman said.

That includes computer swing analysis and mechanics, Tracman (club movement, ball launch, flight and landing) SAMM Putt Lab and video.

The facility is open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. It costs $30 an hour per person.

The business also offers other benefits, including memberships, tournaments, leagues, clinics and lessons.

Someone called looking for an afternoon booking for the weekend.

"It's all booked on the weekend, except for later in the evening," Dobaczewski said.

Like they say, it's just like real golf.


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