Golf center says cold, snow aren’t reasons to keep your clubs in closet
“In the bleak midwinter” may be the opening lyric for a melancholy Christmas carol, but it also describes the gloom many golf fanatics experience during what feels like the longest season of the year in Wisconsin.
The cure for that winter despair may be as close as Cedarburg, where Baehmann’s Golf Center is gearing up for its indoor golf league.
Utilizing the Par T Golf simulator and a 14-by-10-foot projection screen, the center invites golfers to tackle the challenge of some of the most fabled courses in the game.
Even weekend hackers can play a round at Pebble Beach or Spyglass Hill in California, St. Andrews in Scotland, Doral Resort in Florida or Firestone Country Club in Ohio.
In all, 18 courses are available.
“It is pretty cool. If you play Moscow Country Club, you get to see the typical Russian onion-dome churches in the background, and on Mena House Oberoi in Egypt you can see pyramids,” said Kurt Baehmann, who manages the high-tech system at the family business.
“The most popular course has to be St. Andrews because it is so historic and most golfers realize they are never going to get to Scotland to play there.”
Baehmann said the most requested course, Augusta National in Georgia, which hosts the Masters Tournament, is not available.
“It probably comes down to a question of licensing rights,” he said.
Baehmann’s has been helping golf enthusiasts hone their game since 1960, but most of that has been outside of the virtual realm.
“To succeed today, you have to embrace the changing world,” Baehmann said.
The indoor golf system has been available at the center for four years, but the popularity has started to kick in.
Last year, leagues were formed to play on the indoor system.
“We had 24 teams playing last year and still had plenty of time available for anyone who wanted to just come in and hit some balls,” Baehmann said.
League play starts in mid-January, with teams deciding which nine-holes they want to play on a given week. Play continues through mid-March, when golfers start thinking about taking their game outside.
Unlike some lower-end golf simulators, the Baehmann system allows golfers to use their own clubs and real golf balls. Golf shoes are not allowed on the simulator.
A multi-textured hitting pad allows fairway, rough and sand shots.
A overhead scanner with three infrared sensors emit a combined 15,000 pulses a second, sending data to a computer that calculates the power and accuracy of wood and iron shots.
When a shot is determined to have reached the green, the computer tells the golfer from where the first putt should be taken. Golfers are required to count the number of putts it takes to get in the cup, entering the tally — using the honor system — on a nearby touch screen.
Although the system is used for indoor instruction, Baehmann said it is more of a recreational tool than a high-tech training instrument.
“There are systems out there that cost $100,000 that can calculate how bad your slice is based on the speed and rotation of your ball, but our system is a good excuse for golfers to come out in winter and swing their clubs,” he said.
“People who use the simulator are evenly divided. Some say they hit the ball farther than the computer says, and others say they don’t golf as well on a real course. To me, that means the system is pretty accurate.”
The center charges $25 an hour to use the simulator, which Baehmann said is usually enough time for a person to get through 18 holes — or nine holes for a twosome.
The center also offers a driving range, par-three course, miniature golf course and pro shop.
Additional information about the indoor golf leagues is available by calling 377-0768 or visiting www.golfcedarburg.com.
Image information: KURT BAEHMANN TAKES a shot out of a simulated sand trap on the golf simulator at Baehmann’s Golf Center in Cedarburg.
Photo by Mark Jaeger