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Swing into winter?

Need golf fix? Goose River, MRC tee up indoor virtual experience

Simulators bring some of world's best, most challenging courses to golfer
By Mark Haskell and Ken Waltz | Dec 14, 2020
Photo by: Mark Haskell Craig Wilson, executive director at Midcoast Recreation Center, hits a tee shot on one of two Goose River Golf Club golf simulators housed at MRC. The simulators are provided thanks to a collaboration between GRGC and MRC, both located in Rockport.

Rockport — Golfers, want to feel the extravagance and excitement of getting away for a playcation during a staycation?

Thanks to a collaboration between Goose River Golf Club and Midcoast Recreation Center, golfers can experience that as MRC houses the club's indoor golf center, outfitted with two state-of-the-art bays for virtual play.

Now, golfers virtually can play renowned courses from around the world — such as Pebble Beach in California or the Old Course at St. Andrew’s in Scotland — and dozens of others across the globe.

“We did not skimp on anything,” said Craig Wilson, MRC executive director, of the equipment purchased and provided by Goose River GC. “We bought the best projectors, the best screen, the best turf and the best software.”

The software, called TrackMan, is the premier software for golf simulators. It features more than 80 courses worldwide, with the one Maine course being the Falmouth Country Club.

The golf center is housed on the second floor at MRC and has two 15-by-22-foot bays for virtual golf.

The endeavor cost $55,000 and Wilson said the funding “was 100 percent donated by community members interested in having a golf center.”

One of those instrumental in the purchase of the simulators was Goose River owner Gerry Isom, who gifted one of the simulators. The cost of the other was matched by local donors.

"We are beyond thankful to have an owner who is willing to go the extra mile for the community and the golf course he has proudly owned since 1998," said Alex Plummer, Goose River head golf professional. “There’s long been a demand for a winter golf simulator and we’re confident having two will be an incredibly successful venture for all parties involved."

Plummer said these are not run-of-the-mill simulators. "The TrackMan simulators are top of the line in terms of technology, support and user-friendliness. Their computer system is widely used on both the [Professional Golfers' Association of America] and [Ladies Professional Golfers' Association] tours, and can provide for a practice session, and virtual golf experience that is second to none."

Simulators long have been a topic of discussion within the Goose River Golf Club community, but finding the proper space to house them proved a challenge.

Enter Wilson and MRC board member Brian Wickenden, who approached Plummer with the idea of joining forces. Plummer was sold.

"At Goose River we are always interested and excited to work with the local community to provide a golf-related service that can be beneficial to both club members and non-members,” said Plummer. “The two new simulators housed at MRC will provide a safe and welcoming space to help people stay in shape, work on their golf game, and maintain their golf friendships throughout the long and cold Midcoast winter."

Currently, due to COVID-19 restrictions, only four people — two golfers per screen — are allowed in the room at the same time. Wearing face masks is mandatory.

“You have to wear masks to play,” said Wilson. “We have hand sanitizer and all Maine [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines are in effect when you come to play. You do not wear golf shoes, you wear regular sneakers. We do have clubs that people can use if you need them.”

Rubber tees also are available on site as traditional wooden tees could pierce the projection screens.

The cost is $35 per hour (per screen) Friday through Sunday and $30 per hour Monday through Thursday.

“A normal person can get 18 holes in in one hour,” said Wilson. “So two people can get nine holes in [in that time]."

The use of simulators has become an indispensable data companion for players of all abilities. "Having TrackMan is massively important for the improvement of players because it provides information right on the computer screen, rather than information we’d be guessing at,” said Jeff Seavey, Goose River Golf Club’s director of instruction.

“I look forward to adapting the TrackMan into my lessons at Goose River and at MRC beginning in May 2021," Seavey said.

There will be additional instruction opportunities with Plummer from March through December and assistant instructor Mack Duke throughout the year. New to the Goose River Golf Club teaching team, “Mack is a very accomplished player in his own right who will bring incredible skill and knowledge to his teaching,” said Plummer.

The simulator opened on Friday, Dec. 11.

Tee times are available online at midcoastrec.org or by calling MRC at 207-236-9400 during regular business hours. Ten-hour packages are available for $350, while current Goose River Golf Club members receive the same package for $250.

Food and beverages are allowed, though alcohol is prohibited.

Goose River Golf Club will host an open house on Friday, Dec. 18 from noon to 4 p.m. at MRC to check out the simulators.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

Golf simulator at Midcoast Recreation Center
Golf simulator at Midcoast Recreation Center on Dec. 11 in Rockport. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Holly Vanorse Spicer)
One of two Goose River Golf Club golf simulators housed at Midcoast Recreation Center. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Craig Wilson, executive director at Midcoast Recreation Center, sets up for a tee shot. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Goose River Golf Club golf simulator tee area at Midcoast Recreation Center. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
One of two Goose River Golf Club golf simulators housed at Midcoast Recreation Center. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Craig Wilson, executive director at Midcoast Recreation Center, watches his approach shot. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
A representative from TrackMan demonstrates one of the two Goose River Golf Club golf simulators housed at Midcoast Recreation Center. (Courtesy of: Goose River Golf Club)
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