What Is Your Opinion About Indoor Golf Facilities?

I was at the driving range a few weeks ago during Taylor Made demo day trying to work the kinks out of my golf swing and the local pro sauntered up and asked me if I’d like to try the new SLDR ($399) and JetSpeed ($299) drivers.  I politely declined, as I was working on my swing, but he had set up shop in the stall next to mine and after about 20 minutes interrupted again to tell me how I could get 20-25 more yards of distance with the latest instruments.  Not wanting to be rude, I hit a half dozen with each new offering and then returned to my Big Bertha FT3, for comparison sake, and promptly cranked it past the newer models, somewhat humbling my demo pro.

With the advent of more indoor facilities and fancy launch monitor technology,  would you buy a new $400 driver without seeing actual ball flight?

I’ve never been drawn to indoor facilities, at least since I bought a Taylor Made R7 driver several years ago, after hitting it on a launch monitor at the local Golf Galaxy, and then finding out I was totally dissatisfied once I got to the range and observed real ball flight.  As a traditionalist, and previous club builder, I’m in the camp that golf needs to be played outdoors, on real grass (or at least on driving range mats), and that there’s no substitute for seeing the ball fly.

Admittedly, back in November of 2012, I saw master club builder Wade Heintzelman at the Golf Care Center in Bethesda, MD, and he fit me for my new Mizuno JPX irons and did it exclusively with indoor technology.  Now Wade has worked with PGA Tour professionals and is not some assistant pro du jour that was pulling sticks from a rack of R7 drivers in a retail store.  I rightly put my complete faith in his abilities and am a very satisfied customer, despite not seeing any actual ball flight during my two-hour fitting.  My only twinge of concern was when he said I had hit a 3-iron H4 217 yards on the monitor and I know I can’t hit a 3-iron that far, but chalked it up to the field goal kicker in a dome syndrome.

So my view on indoor facilities is mixed.  I understand that folks in colder climates, or in areas where it’s just too expensive to enjoy golf on a course (Japan comes to mind) might be more suitable for indoor facilities.  But to answer the question, no I would not buy a $400 driver without seeing actual ball flight, unless someone of Wade Heintzelman’s reputation were doing the fitting.

What is your opinion about indoor golf facilities?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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9 Responses to What Is Your Opinion About Indoor Golf Facilities?

  1. Brian

    I am not a fan of indoor facilities, but in the long Canadian winters, they serve a purpose. If I had a choice, I would choose out an outdoor facility. By the way, I agree about not buying new clubs just because! I suggest that they all are about the same and that no one club will provide 25 yards extra with the same swing. Good choice to ignore the salesman.

    Cheers
    Jim

  2. Brian Penn says:

    Jim, I agree and as harsh as our winter was, I was still able to hit balls outside every month of the year at some point. I just couldn’t make myself go to the indoor golf studio and would much rather battle the chilly weather and see my shots fly. Thanks,

    Brian

  3. Hi guys, I am not a fan of indoor facilities, but, last year I was in Scottsdale and was about to play TPC, with a set of rented clubs. Just down the road from the club I pulled into a golf outlet store, and while purchasing things I would need for the day I decided to try the indoor driving range there. They has the new ( then ) R1 driver. After a few disappointing swings with the R1, the assistant came over and suggested that I should try the RBZ driver, which would suit my swing better. A few swings later I found that he was right, straight down the middle and much longer than the R1. I went to TPC and hired a complete set of TaylorMade clubs, which included the RBZ, I did not miss a fairway all day and the irons were great. So I guess the man in Vans Golf Shop fitted me right. I still prefer to see the flight of the ball, but that was great advice.

    • Brian Penn says:

      Thanks Pete. The indoor facilities do serve a purpose and it sounds like the fittings are very dependent on the skill of the one doing the fitting!

      Brian

  4. I have done a club fitting indoors on simulators, taken lessons at indoor facilites, played rounds of golf on indoor simulators and practiced on indoor simulators. While none of this was by choice and more driven by a never ending winter in Chicago I will take the indoor option over not being able to hit balls. I often questioned the ball flight, but learned to trust the sound at impact. There is no substitute for hitting balls outdoors and actually playing golf, but I think that the indoor option is a great one if there are limitations on being outdoors.

    • Brian Penn says:

      That seems to be the consensus. Would you buy an expensive club without seeing actual ball flight though?

      • I actually have purchased both my driver and 3 wood after only doing an indoor fitting. The place I got fit gave me a guarantee that if anything wasn’t feeling right I could come back in for adjustments without being charged. I wouldn’t have purchased it without that safety net. One round with them in my bag and I knew the fitting was spot on.

  5. Wayne Halm says:

    Aloha Brian,
    I can’t comment on buying a new club – because I don’t. I firmly believe that, “It’s the Indian – not the arrow”. My Ping-Zings are older than a lot of the people I play with.
    When one of the courses gets in new and interesting rentals I do take then out. I try not to judge the clubs until the back nine. So far this has only confirmed my opinion that, “It’s me, not the sticks”.
    I can see a place for indoor facilities, but fortunately it’s not Hawaii. The Kukuiula Club has the Tomi Putting system and the Flight Scope Monitor system – they use them as teaching aids, but I’ve never used either.
    Maybe I’m just old fashioned – I like the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.
    A Hui Hou,
    Wayne

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