Martindale Country Club owner Nick Glicos demonstrates one of the new TrackMan golf simulators that has been installed at the Auburn club. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the staff at Martindale Golf Club had the idea to find another use for the function room on the second floor of the clubhouse during the winter months.

The staff decided to turn the room into a training facility, of sorts, by installing three golf simulators that have been in use the past month.

“This was kind of a part of the plan last winter to try to keep more activity at the club in the offseason,” Martindale owner Nick Glicos said. “I have been here for 14 years, and the winters are tough for any golf course in the north, it’s a challenge. We have 420 members and we have a lot of guests that play here that really enjoy Martindale. So, we try to find a way to give folks a place to go to in the winter to have some fun, see people and practice their game.”

The installation of the TrackMan simulators began in the fall and required modifications to the function room.

“We got them installed by the end of October,” Glicos said. “We had to do a lot of work, actually, on the facility and the banquet room to raise the ceiling height to get to the 10 feet we needed. That would give people enough space for the taller players to swing and have plenty of clearance to do that. We got them in, and we started really slow because we wanted to calibrate them to make sure they are accurate and make sure we knew how to use them properly. It’s started to take off and (we) have gotten really busy.”

In addition to the simulators, a bar called The Sims at Martindale that serves pub food was set up in the function room. The club also recently opened a restaurant in another room on the second floor called the Kitchen on Beech Hill. The restaurant is only open Thursdays through Saturdays.

All social distancing measures are enforced for the simulators, the bar and restaurant.

TrackMan simulators are known to be one of the top launch monitor systems on the market. They are based on a software that was developed to track ballistic missiles. Each unit costs a little less than $20,000, but that price doesn’t include installation, adding the projection screen, the computers or the construction of the three individual bays.

The TrackMan system sits behind the ball and after the player takes a swing and the ball hits the projection screen, it provides information such as swing speed and ball speed, launch angle, how far the ball would have traveled in the air and its total distance.

Glicos said the busiest times for the simulators are in the afternoon and nights on weekdays and weekends. The simulators are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The simulator bays are rented by the hour, and up to four people can use a single bay per session. The TrackMan allows golfers to play a normal round of golf on famous courses, such as Pebble Beach, to use the simulator as a driving range, or for lessons or club fittings.

There will be a league that uses the simulator that starts the first week of January and runs Monday through Thursdays for 12 weeks.

Glicos chose the TrackMan because it uses Doppler radar, which gives more accurate readings compared to photometric launch monitors that use photos and measurements to simulate the ball flight.

“You are starting to see more clubs (adding TrackMan) and for us it was really important to get the most accurate units possible, because golfers, they have a pretty good idea what happens outside (on a golf course),” Glicos said. “So, if a player comes inside and sees something, they know that’s not accurate, then it takes away from the overall product, in my opinion. So, it was really important to me that what you see outside should be really close to what you see inside.”

Nick Glicos, the owner of Martindale Country Club, demonstrates some of the features of the newly installed TrackMan golf simulators at the Auburn course. The program can compare a user’s golf swing to any number of golf professional players. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

During a lesson recently, Glicos was able to help a golfer by add 20 yards to his drive. After seeing at the numbers the TrackMan was showing, Glicos changed the shaft of the player’s driver and the loft of his clubhead.

The system also allows a golfer to save their sessions to be compared to their other sessions or to other users. For example, while working with one golfer, Glicos noticed the man’s swing speed was similar to his, but Glicos outdrives him by 50 yards or so. Glicos was able to explain the differences between their drives using the data the TrackMan provides. The TrackMan also has videos and stats from PGA and LPGA players that Martindale golfers can compare themselves to.

While golf courses like Martindale use the TrackMan as indoor golf simulators, many pros use it outside. Dustin Johnson, for instance, used it prior to winning the Masters last month.

“He was checking his numbers on the range,” Glicos said “There’s a picture of him with TrackMan right behind him right in line and he has an iPad right in front so he can see, as he’s hitting his shot, all the numbers he was looking for at that time. To think, here’s one of the best players and he wins the Masters basically going away and setting a record in the process, driving the ball 300-plus yards all tournament long. For a guy like that to be using this equipment to better enhance his game on the (biggest) stage really says a lot about the product. I think for the average golfer, there’s a lot you can gain in information if they know what they are looking for.”


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