A Dix Hills businessman and golfer plans to open a combination virtual reality golf simulator, restaurant and bar in Commack’s Veterans Memorial Plaza shopping center.
The 11,050-square foot X-Golf outlet, expected to open in February, will combine real clubs and balls with computer software, camera systems, infrared lasers and impact sensors to create an experience franchisee Geoffrey Schwartz told Newsday was “as close to playing golf outdoors as you can come while playing indoors.”
Schwartz, through a limited liability company, applied to the Smithtown Town Board Sept. 25 for a special exception to allow a game center in the shopping center in space formerly occupied by Toys R Us. The Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to hear the company’s request for a parking variance Oct. 26. The application is expected to be completed in November, town planner Peter Hans said in an email.
Americans played 502 million rounds of real-world golf in 2020, according to the National Golf Foundation, and course managers in interviews with Newsday early this year said the pandemic had pushed Long Island play to record levels. Year-over-year rounds across New York State were up 13.1% for August, the most recent month for which data was available, according to research company Golf Datatech.
Schwartz said he was betting that interest in the sport would yield business. “Long Island has one of the largest golfing communities in the country, and it seemed that in this space there weren’t a lot of these” simulators, he said. At his facility, he said, players will pay $45 to $70 per hour to practice or compete in virtual leagues and tournaments. A single player will play 18 holes — normally an hourslong undertaking — in about 45 minutes. Schwartz said he hoped a planned mezzanine would help attract professional conferences and networking events that might avoid a typical bar.
Los Angeles, California-based X-Golf America has 75 locations open or signed across the United States, with one scheduled to open in a Westbury mall in November. Some of Long Island’s high-end condominiums have offered golf simulators for years and Topgolf, a $45 million “golf entertainment complex” opened in Holtsville in August, but X-Golf CEO Ryan D’Arcy said his company offered an experience that few outlets can match.
The company’s simulators recreate 93 of the world’s most famous courses — including Bethpage Black — with laser-tracking that enables them to capture players’ putts and the short game, shots that are so difficult to replicate because of variations in launch angle and trajectory that some simulators don’t even try to replicate them.
“Ten years ago, indoor golf might not have been as enjoyable as today,” D’Arcy said. But “hardware and software enhancement continue to push that envelope.”
Golf Datatech co-founder Tom Stine said the technology, once used primarily by high-end teaching pros, is growing more popular. “The technology will help you understand your golf swing better and help you understand the choices of equipment that you should consider…. It is a real tool, there’s no doubt about it.”
Nicholas Spangler covers the Town of Smithtown and has worked at Newsday since 2010.