Ultimate HD Golf doing fitness site screen tests
How’s this for part of your day in south Orange County – a little cardio, some light lifting and a quick round at Pebble Beach?
Better yet, skip the first two tasks and just play Pebble … or St. Andrews … or Cabo del Sol. It’s doable at LA Fitness in Mission Viejo, where Ultimate HD Golf has set up shop in 1,600 square feet of space formerly occupied by two racquetball courts. It’s the first of what Ultimate HD Golf president and CEO Herb Meistrich hopes will be 50 to 100 sites in five years, with ones scheduled for Seattle and Toronto in the fall.
“I’m excited. I think this is a home run,” said Meistrich, the founder of TaylorMade Performance Labs who sold that business in 2014. “Ultimate HD Golf is perfect for people who don’t have time to play a round of golf, and this will hopefully make the game more accessible to a wider group of people.”
Like other golf simulators, Ultimate HD models allow users to hit balls into a large screen emblazoned with the image of a course. What sets it apart, however, is the 55,000 high-definition photographs that make users feel engaged. The animation makes flags on greens flutter and water move, such as the appearance of whitecaps behind the green on No. 7 at Pebble Beach. No matter where you hit the ball, there’s a photograph taken from the perspective of your shot looking toward the green, and you can also pan right or left to find your best position for aiming.
The system also tracks your swing data – from distance and carry yards to club path and swing – in addition to counting strokes, and your data can be saved in a personal “locker” in the cloud. Putting is also more than a simple stroke of the ball, as the screen gives users the number of feet to the cup and shows breaks via moving arrows on a grid overlay.
“This is as realistic as it gets without being at a course,” Meistrich said. “But you can play a round in about an hour. That’s a big selling point.”
The system also has games for children and young-at-heart adults, in addition to a screen set up as a driving range for users who only want to gather hitting data.
There are four stalls at the Mission Viejo site, with an hour’s worth of time costing $39, no matter the number of players. The cost is $35 for seniors and LA Fitness members, and blocks of hours can also be purchased, such as five hours for $165.
“Making golf more accessible and affordable is necessary these days,” Meistrich said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m sure this format will work.”