Golf has gone indoors again in Johnson County, and you can practice your swing and putt by being transplanted onto a lush green course anywhere in the country.
Hillview Country Club in Franklin is the latest Johnson County golf course to offer two golf simulators designed to help players to improve their skills indoors. The Hillview Indoor Golf Facility, 2490 N. Morton St., also features two putting greens, a surface from which to practice chips, five hitting stations and a teaching station. The business opened earlier this month on U.S. 31 in the building previously occupied by Aaron’s Rent A Center.
The 4,000-square-foot building is owned by Pete Grimmer, one of the three owners of Hillview Country Club, along with Jim Admire and Max Woodbury.
“This is an attempt to make good use of the building, so we thought, ‘Why not relocate the golf shop and make use of that space?’ The shop is usually closed in January and most of February. This way we can introduce the community to indoor golf and golf simulators,” Admire said.
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The facility is operated by Hillview Country Club’s golf staff. This includes Ford, head golf professional Paul Resner and director of instruction Scott Downing.
“We live in a region where we do get a pretty harsh winter. I think there’s a pretty good window of four to five months when people who don’t have the luxury to go south who are looking for a way to extend their (golf) season,” Resner said.
The simulators, which can cost more than $50,000 each, allow golfers to test themselves at any one of more than 200 golf courses.
Among the choices are Augusta National, home to the annual Masters Tournament; TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, with its famed island green; and Pebble Beach in California, host of five U.S. Opens and a sixth in 2019. Another option is the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, which bills itself as the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world.
Ford said the expense associated with purchasing golf simulators and the space they occupy makes it difficult for most courses to offer them.
Timbergate Golf Course in Edinburgh was the first Johnson County facility to offer the use of simulators, having purchased two new ones four years ago.
Hillview’s simulators feature screens 15 feet wide. One person can play 18 holes in close to an hour, two people 18 holes in about two hours, and so on.
The simulators are high-tech devices that by analyzing and ultimately mimicking one’s stance, swing speed and club face direction enable the golfer to eventually make the necessary adjustments to his or her game.
The driving range simulator can gauge club speed, ball speed, distance, how far the ball rolled and swing path.
Yet the use of simulators removes one very important — and some would say enjoyable — aspect of golf, which is observing a ball’s flight after the follow-through.
Such technological aspects of golf appeal to Resner, who understands the avid golfer likes to do anything in order to gain an advantage.
“I’m partial to the simulators and a lot of the teaching technology that we have here. Nets are great, but that only tells you so much,” Resner said, referring to what golfers hit into at Hillview’s five hitting stations.
For Downing, one of the state’s most respected golf instructors, the ability to teach year-round at a local facility can only strengthen what is already a highly successful local golf scene be it at the junior league or high school levels.
Downing’s client base is approximately 300 golfers — including numerous junior players — per calendar year.
“Here in Johnson County over the last 13, 14 years that I’ve been here, I’ve had students who train throughout the year,” Downing said. “That number just keeps growing each year.”
HILLVIEW INDOOR GOLF FACILITY
Where: On U.S. 31 at 2490 N. Morton St., Franklin
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday – 1-5 p.m.
Sport Coach Golf Simulators: Tuesday through Thursday, $25 per person/hour for Hillview members, $30 non-members. Friday through Sunday, $30 per person/hour for Hillview members, $35 non-members. Prices for 30 minutes on the simulator for range practice or 9 holes is half price of the hourly rate.
Practice balls – $10 per hour or $5 for 30 minutes.