By Corey Ross
Here’s a reality about the golf world we live in – the average amateur golfer isn’t getting any better.
Despite decades of advances in equipment, training and technology, breaking par for most amateurs is like what breaking the 4-minute mile used to be in track – impossible.
Since the 1960s, the average amateur golf score has remained around or above 100, according to the National Golf Foundation. That’s a lot of strokes by a lot of folks and a reality of the game REALiTEE Golf founder Dave Shultz would like to change.
And Shultz says REALiTEE Golf was founded with the intention to do just that.
“REALiTEE Golf was born out of my desire to create something more fun than the driving range,” Shultz says. “It’s virtual golf but it has its foundation in real golf and that’s why it’s the best golf practice facility concept in the world.”
Here are three ways that Shultz says condensing the golf experience into a 100,000 square foot, 12-simulator experience with 40 yards of short-game space per hole will help players improve.
Beginners Begin Better – For starters, potential players who don’t take up the game because they find golf courses intimidating, the challenges of the game frustrating and the rules of golf and etiquette imposing will find REALiTEE Golf friendly and inviting.
REALiTEE Golf, Shultz says, is meant to be a social experience that caters to players of all abilities. REALiTEE Golf will first assist beginners by making it easier for players of differing abilities to play together. “You often don’t want to be paired with a non-golfer in real golf because it ruins the experience when golfers aren’t match appropriately,” Shultz says.
REALiTEE Golf will make issues such pace, etc., which arise from this scenario, irrelevant and should be make experienced players more willing to assist beginners.
Shultz says the REALiTEE software can also entertain differing abilities within the same group while playing together.
“We have a mechanism to tweak the simulation software to make it easier for beginners and more challenging for experts,” he says. “Shot for shot, you’re both taking the same number of swings.”
“And, when migrating to the short-game the spotlights can provide easier shots for beginners while also providing challenging shots for experienced players while playing together into the same flagstick.”
Kids especially should take to REALiTEE Golf, Shultz says, because it’s based in the latest technologies, which are familiar to them.
“We’ll be using spotlights, lasers and smart watches to interact with different aspects of the game,” he says. “What kid doesn’t love those things?”
Shultz says REALiTEE golf also has ways for players to achieve success quickly, something that can be elusive in real golf.
“For instance, we can replace the golf ball with a tennis ball on the tee,” he says. “The kids can smack the tennis ball into the screen it and it will record like it’s a 250-yard drive down the middle. That gives them that feeling of satisfaction sooner.”
The software is also adjustable to program practice routines where beginners can repeat specific drills and shots that will help them improve. And that’s also where some of the unique benefits start to kick in for more advanced players.
Improved Player Development – Golf coaches are among those who most get excited about REALiTEE Golf when he shares the concept, Shultz says.
They love the idea of a completely programmed, controlled and computer-guided practice.
“From a coaching perspective, they can take 20 students and pre-program each of their rounds and then walk around and observe each of their rounds,” he says. “They don’t have such a broad space to cover as they would on a golf course and they can walk around and make sure their players are all staying engaged.”
The ability to vary routines and focus on specific skills will assist that engagement, Shultz says. He uses practicing shots out of sand trap, which REALiTEE Golf will have, as an example.
“Let’s say my goal is to get better at sand shots. I could program a short-game practice that would be only that and keep score like real golf. Or I could decide I want all my transition shots to start in a bunker when advancing to the short game from the golf simulators.
Noting that a flop shot, much less a bunker flop shot, is one of the toughest shots to master in golf, Shultz says REALiTEE Golf will cater to the repetition and training to make players better.
“We’re going to have steep-faced pot bunkers that require you to hit those delicate flop shots,” he says. “And once you’ve nailed that, the rest of the game feels easier.”
Another thing coaches love, Shultz says, is that the video technology and indoor environment of REALiTEE Golf make it possible to record an entire practice for a coach to review, as coaches can do in, say, football and basketball.
“And think about how much that would cost in an outdoor environment” he says. “It’s just not feasible.”
The other technology increasingly making real practice indoors more like the real thing is the advancement in the quality of synthetic turf, Shultz says. Notre Dame is among the schools to have installed expansive indoor short-game practice areas.
“You’re starting to see it pop up all over the place,” he says. “And it’s more than good enough to play off of and help grow your game…many pros are using synthetic greens and chipping areas for practice.”
You’ll Play More – Despite the adage, practice doesn’t make you perfect – especially in golf – but practicing more will make you better, Shultz says.
By being able to play at night and during such times as bad weather days, Shultz says it’s inevitable golfers will golf more simply because they can and that will be a boon to their games.
The condensing of the experience also condenses the time it takes to play a round making it more feasible to do such things as play 27 or 36 holes. And for those who don’t play more due to busy schedules, Shultz says REALiTEE Golf will make it easy to squeeze in 8, 6 or even 3 holes.
“You can start a round and come back to it days or weeks later,” he said, “and pick up right where you left off.”
“Or you could play three with friends, who go off to watch a football game in the sports bar, and continue on your own or find another group to join. The social aspect is meant to drive more play.”
And Shultz says that’s one of the biggest things golf needs to stem the attrition of millions of players leaving the game each year.
“Golf needs a new entry point,” he says. “This is going to make the whole practice routine fun. That’s then going to drive people to our facility and then into real golf, and that’s going to affect positive changes in the golf industry.”