Ahhhhhh the smell of fresh cut grass, the sun tapping on my face as it pokes through the trees, the musk of a moist sand bunker, birds chirping in the trees. Unfortunately these are all things you won't get during screen golf, but I wouldn't be surprised if they introduced these soon. Screen golf has almost every other feature you can think of, all the way down to a rotating platform to mirror the slope of terrain.
Screen Golf was started in 2001 by Golfzone and has grown to include more than 6,000 locations. While golf simulators can be found around the world, South Korea opens some 7 of every 10 new simulation room. With regular golf being about 2x-3x more expensive than in the States, at 200-300m won for a membership or 250,000 won for an 18 hole round, screen golf provides a convenient and affordable alternative at about 15,000-40,000won (depending on time). Its ubiquity places them in convenient locations all over Seoul, and games can be played in as short as 1hr. However, for me, because I double par on always every hole, games take much longer.
The simulation is spot on. Clouds and trees rock by in HD and birds twitter. Spectators go into a constrained hush as you swing and cheer when you make a good shot. And as I mentioned earlier, the platform shifts depending on your unique terrain. While not every shot is perfectly aligned with your actual shot, the number of errors is minimal, and a reshot button (F12) is available.
You begin at the front desk by getting golf shoes and gloves and being shown to a room about the size of a master bedroom. Inside the room are a couch or two, golf clubs, a computer, and a large screen. The worker will then set up a driving range practice round which lasts about 10 minutes. The practice time is a great way to hone your skills as the game provides detailed feedback including pictures of your club position as it hits the ball, and a video monitor to watch a replay of your entire stroke. For me, these videos merely mock my horrid clumsy swatting. Actually because I played so much baseball when I was young, I wave the thing like a bat.
After the practice period you call the worker back in and he'll run you through game set up. There you select a course (we had the fortunate opportunity to play on my hometown's world famous Torrey Pines Golf Course), enter your names, and choose 9 or 18 holes. Depending on how many players and your skill level games can run from anywhere from 1-4hrs. Beer is usually available for about 10,000won a pitcher, and snacks and coffee are also available.
Location: Screen Golf places can be found all around Seoul. If unable to find one just ask the closest ajushi.
My horrible form
Notice the slope of the platform
Yes, I double par on almost every hole. I suck.
More pictures can be found here.
Much thanks to John Kim for providing all the pictures for this article. (And for being the only person I can beat at golf.)
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