Golf teams are using golf simulators to stay in shape in the offseason, attract recruits.
In May of 2021, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville added an indoor golf simulator to its practice facility. Photos courtesy of coach Derrick Brown.
There’s nothing that beats outdoor practice and play for college and high school golf teams.
“Practice? We’re talking about practice?” Why yes, Allen Iverson, we are, because it is important for competitive golfers to continually hone their golf skills, even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
Many coaches are seeing the benefits of having an indoor golf simulator at their disposal. We spoke with a few college golf head coaches - Andrea Wieland with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Derrick Brown with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; and Jeremiah Hoffmann with UW-Oshkosh - to find out how they are using their indoor golf simulators in and out of season.
As of fall of 2021, Wieland and her Warhawk women golfers have won five straight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships. She said her team enjoys having year-round access to their golf room, which has a SkyTrak launch monitor and turf for putting and chipping.
“We converted an old racquetball room into an indoor golf room,” Wieland said. “It’s a nice option for that early spring time when we are anxious to get on the golf course.”
UW-Whitewater installed their golf room in March of 2020, right before its campus shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The following offseason, they were only allowed three people in the room at a time, so Wieland said they haven’t really had a regular offseason to use it yet.
Before having their indoor golf simulator room, Wieland said her players would individually go to other indoor locations, or putt on the turf green in the Williams Center, UW-Whitewater’s fieldhouse that is shared with other athletic teams.
“For Division 3 golf, we have to declare an offseason with no team practices, so we do that from Nov. 1 to about March 1,” Wieland said. “After March 1, team practices (used to be just) putting in the Williams Center and team workouts, unless we could get outside.”
Of course, the main benefit of having a golf simulator for a team would be to practice indoors. But Wieland said it helps in other ways, as well.
“We also didn’t want to fall behind in the recruiting process because of it,” Wieland said, citing rival schools UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire all had indoor golf facilities when she was hired at UW-Whitewater in 2016.
UW-Whitewater turned a racquetball room into an indoor golf practice facility with a simulator. Photos courtesy of coach Andrea Wieland.
Brown, who coaches the men’s team at SIUE, agreed that having a golf simulator and other options for practicing throughout the winter and inclement weather days has helped with recruiting. Before getting their simulator in May of 2021, the Cougars were forced to hit into special golf nets in batting cages in their indoor softball facility.
“We had known for a while we needed an indoor area of our own and specifically a simulator and putting green,” Brown said. “We had good buy-in from our administration and almost immediately donors helped make the simulator a reality. So many schools had one already we were falling behind without one in both recruiting and being able to see data on swings.
“(Having a golf simulator has) also helped with our alumni/donors who see a project like this and it makes them proud.”
SIUE’s facility is pushing 2,000 square feet and includes a putting/chipping room with three indoor/outdoor hitting bays along with a separate simulator room.
“We like everything about it,” Brown said. “It’s a great space for our guys to get better not just during the winter months, but also during rainy days during the actual season … We concentrate on our numbers and distances so while we are getting stronger in the weight room, we are continuing to learn more about our swings and numbers.
“Literally everything on our Trackman can be useful and each guy can concentrate on what they need to improve.”
Brown also pointed out that his guys enjoy the fun aspect of a golf simulator as well.
“There are many combines, games and courses that you can play to get better,” Brown said. “The ability to mix up your practices on the simulator, from wedge games to combines to playing a course in Ireland, make it fun to practice.”
The women’s team at UW-Oshkosh, one of UW-Whitewater’s top rivals, has access to two hitting bays with About Golf Simulators through the school’s Student Recreation and Wellness Department - one of which they use mostly for chipping and putting, Hoffmann said.
“I like that they offer us an option (to practice indoors),” Hoffmann said. “(But) we need an upgrade. I would love to get at least one Trackman and a new putting green installed. We need a more modern short game practice facility and launch monitor.”
TIP: Carl’s Place offers some of the most modern launch monitors, from more budget friendly options like the SkyTrak or FlightScope Mevo+ to higher-end options like the Uneekor QED and EYE XO.
Since the Student Recreation Department is separate from the school’s athletic department, Hoffmann said he does not have as much access to the simulators as he would prefer until springtime comes around before the second half of their season starts.
Hoffmann said if they are able to upgrade and get more access to simulators, it would greatly benefit his squad.
“If we are able to upgrade our system, I plan to expand the offseason practice plans to include more specific drills for the full swing and putting,” Hoffmann said.
Despite the challenges, Hoffmann said his players enjoy having access to a golf simulator on campus.
“They appreciate the opportunity to practice in colder/snowy months,” Hoffmann said. “Like me, an upgrade would make them more excited about practicing.”
If you’re a golf coach looking to install or upgrade an indoor golf simulator practice facility, Carl’s Place offers several different enclosure, impact screen, launch monitor, software, hitting mat and projector options. And if it’s more than you want to worry about, our Custom Golf Simulator Design Service can help!