Saturday, May 14, 2011

Simulated In-door Golf

When I first received an invitation to participate in an indoor golf competition, I was puzzled. "What! playing in a simulated computer golf game competition, in an indoor golf club located right in the heart of the city."

However, curiosity took control and I was determined and much tempted to discover more about this indoor golf thingy. Since losing my sight 3 years ago, I have to re-learn almost everything, daily living skills, computer skills, orientation and mobility skills, etc. More importantly, adjusting and adapting to a new dark world, maintaining social interaction with others, living and doing things independently as much to my capacity as I could possibly do in my present circumstances.

On the appointed afternoon, together with another two friends, both visually impaired, very keen to discover more and to experience playing golf, we took the bold step stepping into the KL City Centre Golf club, situated at the Novotel Hotel, right in the heart of the city.

Mr. Hock Tho, the club's founder and owner, was there to welcome us. Hock briefed us about the club business objectives, promoting this indoor golf concept to the many busy top business and top corporate executives. More importantly, Hock stressed that he has never forgotten his social corporate responsibility. Kudos to Hock, giving an opportunity and a fine gesture extended to the visually impaired to enjoy this indoor golf at this premier club. Another unexpected great news was that all the three of us were given a one year honorary VIP term membership to use the golfing facilities to train and improve our golfing skills.

More briefing on the workings of the simulator and the computerize tracking of golf swings, ball traveling speeds and spins, balls traveling distances, putting distances to the pin are projected on the large white screen, located four meters directly in front of the playing area.

Hock handed me a 7 iron club and guided me to position and placed the golf ball in position enabling me to hit it just like at a golf practicing range. The driving range mode was selected via the console controller. I hit some balls and interestingly, all the important information was projected on the screen which was read out to me by my wife, Hong, my caddie for the day. The information allowed me to analyze my performance and to make the necessary corrections and adjustments to my golf stance and position, delivery of a good shot which is every golfer's dream, a neat and perfect shot each time. The initial sound of the ball hitting the screen was something that I got used to and got over quickly. As the game was played in an enclosed cubicle, a U-shaped area, the sound of the club striking the ball did seem to be louder than normal. However, the anxiety in knowing how the shot was delivered, over-rode this noise. Next, for a real experience, a popular US golf course was selected via the console controller and it was all system go, so to speak! The scores were automatically computed for the duration of the game. The feeling standing on the tee-box holding the driver in position prior to hitting the first tee shot to the fairway generated the same somewhat nervous feel similar to standing on any other tee-box on the normal golf course which I am accustomed to now, looking but not seeing. After completion of a few holes, the sound which I dreaded most was the sound of the ball landing into the water.. plonk! plonk! In contrast, the most beautiful satisfying sound was the sound of the ball dropping into the pin hole, a rattling clicking sound click, click, click! Not forgetting the continuous soothing background sounds of birds chirping away happily throughout the game.

Hock had the last words which left us with a `feel good' factor boosting our confidence and wanting to come back to improve our golfing skills.. "You guys are playing on a USPGA fully endorsed simulated golf course that many golf professionals also play on." Hock said.

More challenging times ahead!

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