golf simulator unique to Westshore area
By Chris Voloschuk
Published Aug. 6, 2008
terms of entertaining equipment, the Fairview Park Recreation Center
could be considered a stroke ahead of the curve.
The building opened in January as a part of the Gemini
Project. And while it provides everything from free weights and
basketball courts to a brand new competition pool, the facility
has recently been able to boast a piece of equipment that can’t
be found at many other similar recreation centers — a golf simulator.
According to Fairview Park Recreation Director Tim
Pinchek, one of the best parts about the simulator is its ability
to give interested patrons yet another fun way to spend their day
at the center.
“It really gives them another option,” Pinchek said.
The idea to purchase a golf simulator started about
a year ago. The room where it now sits was originally intended to
be an expansion of the free weights area on the second floor of
the facility. When it was decided the space would be better served
for a simulator, Pinchek went about ordering one from a company
based in Canada.
In early March, Pinchek had the simulator delivered
to the recreation center. It took a couple of months for the machine
to be ready for use by the public.
“We actually had a delay on it because they were putting
it together in Canada,” Pinchek said. The simulator opened for play
in May after the audio-visual company came to set it up, Pinchek
Long, office manager at the Gemini Center, demonstrates the
rec department’s new golf simulator. (West Life photo by Kevin
The machine came with a $25,000 price tag. The simulator
stands about 15 feet tall on all sides. The screen at which the
balls are hit stretches from the floor to the ceiling of the second
floor room, making it tough for even the most inexperienced of golfers
to miss. When a ball is hit, lasers located on both sides of the
screen track where the ball would travel on a real course, calculating
distance and sending the virtual ball in whatever direction it was
The fairways and greens have a professional look.
There are a plethora of real-life courses to choose from, and the
recreation center has provided two brand new sets of clubs for people
Once a course is chosen, everything from the wind
speed to the weather to the surface of the greens can be adjusted
based on player preference. The game will even suggest what club
a player should use. Frequent mulligans are also an option.
In order to play, golfers are required to hit their
ball off of a mat and at the screen. Drives are hit off an actual
tee, and shots from the fairway are taken from the mat itself. When
a player hits the ball into the rough or a sand trap, there are
two sections on the mat made out of thick fibers that simulate both
surfaces. Putting can be done from the floor several feet from the
Despite some minor differences, Pinchek said the simulator
is pretty accurate.
“With the woods, your drives will be shorter than
normal,” Pinchek said. “And with the irons, you have to hit it longer
than normal. We always tell players that in advance, so they can
adjust their game.”
This fall, players will be able to adjust and work
on their games on a more regular basis. The recreation center plans
to host several golf leagues in the fall and winter. And for people
who are just interested in playing a little, they are required to
call ahead and schedule a tee time, just like at an outdoor course.
Currently, the cost is $10 to play nine holes. A nine-hole game
will usually take about an hour, with 18 holes running about two
hours in length.
Despite the nice weather outside, people have been
in and out, trying their luck on the virtual course.
“The response has been great,” Pinchek said. “We’re
And so far, it’s benefited both the recreation center
and the Fairview community. The simulator is the only one at any
of the recreation centers in the Westshore area. The only other
one nearby is in Broadview Heights.
“It gives another alternative option for people of
all ages to use,” Pinchek said. “For instance, your seniors, when
they come up here, besides swimming, besides working out, it gives
them another leisure activity that they can come up and take part,
especially in the cold months and the bad weather months. They can
play a round of golf up here instead of waiting for the spring thaw