Bunker Hills Golf Simulator Lounge
By Steve Manthis
Seven months ago, I wrote about how we had earned an early spring after the snow-filled winter of 2010-2011. On the flip side, last year’s winter was such an easy one that we hardly had to put our clubs away, so who knows just what we’re going to get this year. Even a “normal” winter is a tough task for all golf nuts here in Minnesota. The way I see it, we’ve got three options: put the clubs in storage for the winter (free, but not much fun going cold turkey); plan a vacation to someplace warm (a lot more fun, but certainly more expensive); or option 3 which is to extend the season by playing at one of the local indoor golf simulators (fun, and cheaper than airfare to Arizona, California or Florida). If option 3 sounds good to you, then Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids is the perfect place to make it happen.
There’s lots to like about the new clubhouse which opened in 2011. Besides the major upgrades to the restaurant, Minnesota PGA offices and pro shop, another great feature are the four aboutGolf simulators next to the pro shop on the west side of the building. In the summer, the staff keeps three simulators open for lessons and club fitting, but when the weather gets cold, they open the fourth one.
The aboutGolf simulators are state of the art. Other simulators use sensors behind the screen or a laser field in front of the ball, but these use sensors located on the ceiling. Assistant professional Tim Brovold says, “The simulators are very user friendly. Some simulators require you to place your ball in different places, but, with these, all shots are played from the same spot.” Being able to play golf in Minnesota when it’s the middle of winter is just one reason to visit Bunker Hills’s simulators. Another one is the great variety of courses they have. There are 30 choices, from the west coast (Pebble Beach, Spyglass) to the east coast (Myrtle Beach), to the far east (9 Dragons in China).
Because the simulators are in just their second year of use, the staff at Bunker Hills is constantly working on how to best use them. “Most of the people who use them,” says Brovold, “are in private leagues, which are comprised of four or more players.” Most leagues play between 5:00 and 9:00 during the week (they’re open until 10:00). This year, Brovold says they are looking at forming pro shop events where the pro shop will organize an event and individuals can come in during the week, join the event and post a score in order to win prizes. Of course, you don’t have to belong to a league in order to play; individuals can call and make a tee time up to one week in advance for a time that fits his/her schedule. Golfers can also book the same time each week if they commit to a minimum number of weeks. “It takes one golfer about an hour to play 18 holes,” says Brovold. The cost is $32 per player, and leagues get the patron card discount of $4 per person. Call the pro shop for more details.
Another great reason to check out the simulators at Bunker Hills is the full service restaurant and bar that will take care of all your food and drink needs. The Harvest Grill, located right down the hall, offers great food in the restaurant and to golfers using the simulators. While other places have limited menus, The Harvest Grill provides first class meals. They have a burger and fries special for $5, and a $6.50 plate of wings, but there’s nothing stopping you from ordering the 8-oz filet mignon if you wanted to.
There are times when all the simulators aren’t in use, and the screens can be used as a TV screen as well. If a screen isn’t needed, Brovold says they’ll put the current football game or other event on the screen. “You can even rent the simulators for a Super Bowl or Final 4 party,” says Brovold. First and foremost, they are used for golfers. Winter is a great time to get some new clubs or take a lesson, and the staff at Bunker Hills uses them for club fitting and instruction. The launch monitor on the simulators provides a wealth of information about your swing and ample opportunities for a golfer to do some fine-tuning of his/her swing. Whatever the reason, it’s worth your time to check out the simulators. It’s certainly better than having to wait until next March or April!