ROCKINGHAM COUNTY — Ryan Hite’s first golf course was Lakeview Golf Club at the age of 11, and now, after several years away, he’s back on the green as the club’s general manager.
And he’s brought the future with him — in the form of two golf simulator systems.
The simulator, called HD Golf, allows players to choose from a variety of famous courses, such as Banff Springs, Bay Hill, Kiawah Island and Pebble Beach, and can measure a variety of the players’ shot data.
With the simulators, golfers can “watch a football game, drink a cold beer and play Pebble Beach,” he said. “That’s kind of my slogan.”
A player stands facing the projected golf course and swings, as usual, from a fairway, rough or sand surface, hitting a ball toward the projected image.
As the ball hits the soft surface of the wall, the computer takes over and draws the remaining path of the ball down the fairway of the projected image.
The player can then analyze the specifics of the shot, which are collected by over 300 cameras. The data points allow golfers to compare the shot with previous hits using a three-dimensional map and data — such as the club speed, launch angle and ball trajectory, among many other data points — from a computer.
Hite returned to the Lakeview after the club’s board of directors invited him back to take the general manager reins and welcomed the simulators.
Prior, Hite moved to just outside Raleigh, N.C., in 2013 and, in 2015, started his first business with golf simulators, called Precision Golf Center in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
Each simulation bay costs $75,000, Hite said.
“I can get shot after shot after shot on the hole and just practice,” he said. “I can really fine-tune my game.”
The simulation has major differences with video games, Hite said.
The company that makes the simulator has “a team that ... goes out and takes 80,000 of every hole of course — all the way from tee to green,” he said.
They then combine the photos with satellite imagery through computer-aided design.
The CAD is so precise, players can even hit balls through tree branches, he said.
The simulation bays have been set up for about two months, and summer is not the best time for golf simulators, Hite said with a laugh.
“Everybody’s dying to get outside, but I have found is when it rains or in the evenings, people are coming,” he said.
Even as most people are enjoying the summer weather by playing outdoor golf, the simulators offer golfers the option to play even when the weather does not permit outdoor golfing, Hite said.
“It’s great news for me coming up on rainy season and winter,” he said. “That’s when this is going to get busy.”