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Indoor golf a reality at Plausawa Valley

  • Matt Delois, right, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, works with Bill Faith, of Pembroke, on his swing using a golf simulator on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses the simulator during the off-season so players can work on their technique at a simulated driving range or have matches.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Matt Delois, right, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, works with Bill Faith, of Pembroke, on his swing using a golf simulator on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses the simulator during the off-season so players can work on their technique at a simulated driving range or have matches.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • From left, John Doiron, of Concord, stretches while Bill Faith, of Pembroke, works with Matt Delois, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, on his swing on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses a golf simulator to work with players during the off-season, hosting everything from a simulated driving range to golf matches.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    From left, John Doiron, of Concord, stretches while Bill Faith, of Pembroke, works with Matt Delois, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, on his swing on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses a golf simulator to work with players during the off-season, hosting everything from a simulated driving range to golf matches.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Matt Delois, right, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, works with Bill Faith, of Pembroke, on his swing using a golf simulator on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses the simulator during the off-season so players can work on their technique at a simulated driving range or have matches.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • From left, John Doiron, of Concord, stretches while Bill Faith, of Pembroke, works with Matt Delois, head pro at the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, on his swing on Friday, January 11, 2013. The country club uses a golf simulator to work with players during the off-season, hosting everything from a simulated driving range to golf matches.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

PEMBROKE – Matt Delois couldn’t understand it.

The head professional at Plausawa Valley Country Club looked at Concord and the surrounding area and he saw what it had to offer. He saw the seven golf courses and the droves of avid golfers who constantly played there. Then his attention turned to what wasn’t available – a way to play even when the snow is a couple of feet deep and the wind chill hovers near single digits.

The question was simple. Golfers loved to play in the summer. Why couldn’t they in the winter?

Now they can. Delois’s three-year project of bringing a golf simulator to the Concord area came full circle, as Plausawa Valley opened the winter with the PGA Tour About Golf Simulator, the system used by professional golfer, instructor and television host Michael Breed of The Golf Channel.

“We have a huge clientele for people who would like to play golf in the winter, so I’ve been pushing this and we finally got to do it this winter,” Delois said. “A New England golfer will only get to play eight, nine months a year at best. … I just have always thought that this is a great

way to practice and play throughout the winter.”

The simulator replicates the experience of playing outside, as high-speed cameras capture a sensor-covered ball that golfers hit into a screen showing an image of a hole or driving range that would be laid out in front of them. The equipment captures ball speed, spin, loft and angle, as well as club head speed, allowing the image on the screen to show a ball in flight that represents the result that would take place on a warm summer day.

Impressive, but hardly revolutionary. After all, places like Johnny 9 Irons in Hooksett, Bogies Golf in Manchester and Funspot in Meredith put in simulators before Plausawa did. But the technology, Delois said, is the difference. The previous simulators used lasers and radar, and Delois likened the difference between those and the high-speed cameras as being similar to the one between VHS and Blu-Ray players.

That means that, with this simulator, golfers hitting into the screen at Plausawa are getting as close to the real thing as they can get. There’s no way to hide a flaw in a swing, just as there wouldn’t be on the real course. Everything from fades and draws to duffs and skulls gets picked up, and what you see is what you would be getting.

“It’s impressively accurate,” Delois said. “I hit my pitching wedge 130 (yards), it’s 130. My 8-iron’s 150, it’s 150. It’s all very accurate.”

Delois first got the idea three years ago as the assistant pro at Beaver Meadow. He saw the simulator that Mike Ryan had at Derryfield Country Club, saw the attention it was getting in the winter and realized the potential of the system in the Concord area. He sought to bring one to Beaver Meadow, but due to legal issues with leasing space from the city, Delois had to temporarily abandon the idea.

“The city was not partnered with me, so it would have been my own business. I would have just leased the space from them for the winter,” he said. “And we just couldn’t come to a number that I felt comfortable pursuing it with.”

When Delois arrived at Plausawa as the head pro before last spring, he looked into the system again. Club owner Bob MacCormack was on board with the idea, and Delois landed an opportunistic deal with Evergreens Golf, the maker of the About Golf Simulator. There would be no money down on what is a $48,000 unit; rather, the company agreed to split the revenue it brought in 50/50 with the club.

The result was that Delois got a risk-free trial with the system. If it worked as well as he anticipated, great. If not, the two sides would agree to stop the partnership, Evergreens would remove the simulator and that would be it.

“It’s a great way for us to make sure that it is profitable without investing a lot into it,” he said. “We were lucky enough to have them recognize the potential with the demographics and the area that we’re at.”

So far, it doesn’t appear as if any split is in the near future. The simulator has been a success. Following a slow period during the holidays, word of mouth spread and players began showing up to try their hand at the system, which can take a player through 18 holes in one hour. Delois said he logged 101 customer hours for December, and he’s already had 56 people sign up for league play.

The simulator has different purposes for different players. A golfer can play a round on it – at famed courses like Pebble Beach and Spyglass – and can also go to the range and work on his game, as factors such as wind speed and slope are accounted for to force the player to focus on each shot.

“I think this is going to be way better than an outdoor lesson,” Delois said. “We can save every shot. We can go back and look at those shots again. Outside, you hit the shot and the shot’s gone.”

Now, the choice for Delois becomes how to expand. He said he’s considering purchasing one, or getting a second one to put in the clubhouse.

He definitely doesn’t expect to be the only one with such a dilemma. Plausawa currently has the Concord area’s only simulator, but Delois doesn’t expect it to stay that way for long.

“I think we are going to see more of these pop up. This is growing a lot. If you look at PGA magazines, you look at Golf Channel, they’re talking a lot about these,” he said. “We just had to get it out there that it is now here.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or abonifant@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @dbonifant.)

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