One of the great things about being a Native (English) Teacher in Korea, is that you have your weekends off to go out and explore. Sometimes that means staying home in the event of a rainy day. That’s what happened today. The rest of the week was fantastic, but for some reason, the heavens opened up this morning and poured tons of little drops on the city of Dongtan.
That’s okay, because I had actually planned on doing something indoors today: Screen Golf (스크린 골프)!
Now what is screen golf? Well the short answer is that it is a golf with a screen. Beginning in the mid 1980s, computer simulators have been used to approximate golf games. In fact, my first love of golf came to be due to the game Mean 18. It was a really cheap golf game, but it gave me and my friend Steve hours of fun.
As the years passed and additional electronics were developed, it became possible to use motion capture equipment with some of the best software to recreate a real golfing experience. In the United States, or for that matter anywhere where golf is easily played, it might seem like some sort of excessive video game. However, in Korea it isn’t.
A real round of golf can run you anywhere between W100,000 – W200,000 or more. That’s right. A simple round of golf can crack open your wallet for over US$200. The reason is that land is precious here. Korea is roughly the size of Indiana, but with 49,000,000 people. So the use of golfing simulators makes playing the game affordable, since a full round of golf is only W15,000.
That’s right, for less that US$15, you can play 18 holes. What’s even more enjoyable is the environment.
Each Screen Golf Room is private with a few couches and AirCon. You can order off the menu or have something delivered as you play your round (and why not – you are going ot be there for a few hours).
So what’s it like?
For the most part you have the real golfing experience. In each room are a set of clubs (or you can rent some). You walk up to the tee-box and whack your ball at the screen. The laser motion capturing devices analyze the swing and ball to determine its path and then computer it with the environmental aspects of the computer program. If you’ve ever played golf on a computer, imagine playing the same game… only having to swing a club each turn.
I thought that was the roughest part, as I am anything but consistent.
Putting was also difficult, since I found it really hard to “read the green.”
But let’s face it… W15,000 for fours of fun is well worth it. I’ll be going back again and again.
Here’s the video of my day at the Screen Golf place.