Snow In The Forecast? That's No Problem For Pirate Golfers

Kylie Beverick takes a swing on the new golf simulator.

Outside their short game woes, almost any golfer will tell you the most frustrating thing about the game is the inability to play when the snow flies. Perkins Golf Coaches Tim Zapadka and Mike Leffler, along with Girls Coach Tim Belden, have a solution for the Perkins Boys and Girls Golf teams: The Perkins Golf simulator.

They set up the simulator in December and fine-tuned it over the holiday break. Funds to buy the simulator came from community donations and the Perkins Athletic Boosters Club. 

Nestled in the rear of Room 805 next to the Perkins High School gymnasium, the simulator is an immersive video gaming experience. Players step onto a teeing ground in front of the large vinyl screen draped at the end of a short netted cage. 

On the screen, a digital image of a golf course fairway is displayed. Also displayed on the screen is distance to the hole, wind speed and direction and other key data points. 

Players tee off into the large screen. With a loud THUMP, the golf ball hits the screen. The drive, though, is recorded and ball is shown bouncing down the digital fairway (or, in the case of a hack, into the rough).

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” says the digital commentator of one player’s bad tee shot. 

“What’s funny,” said Coach Leffler, “is the guy that does the commentating is not very nice – unless you’re a foot from the hole. Then, he might be nice.”

Connor Beverick tees off on the new golf simulator.

Commentating aside, the golf simulator is a very realistic option to get both the boys and girls golf team members thinking about their game in the off-season, Coach Zapadka said. 

Once the fall golf season ends, “a lot of times, they don’t grab a club until June,” Coach Zapadka said. 

With the simulator, the golf team members can schedule after-school practices to work on their games – and the finer points of their games, Coach Leffler said. The simulator not only enables golfers to practice their drives, fairway shots, and putts, it also analyzes the players’ shots. Among the data the simulator collects, it looks at spin rates, attack angle, swing direction, and club face angles. 

“It gives us a starting point to help the kids improve their games,” Coach Zapadka said. With the data, golfers are given drills to practice on a second tee and net that sits adjacent to the simulator. “Then they can come back to the simulator and see if the changes help.”

The simulator also enables the team to play virtual courses based on thousands of real courses. With the computer software, the team also can create new courses – including those based on real courses, such as the team’s home course, Woussickett. 

Coach Zapadka and Coach Leffler view the simulator as a fun and useful tool to improving their players’ games – and recruiting new players. This has allowed them to include greater numbers  of middle school students in the program where space on the actual course is limited.  

And, they see the simulator as a centerpiece in a special place at Perkins High School dedicated to the current, future and former golf teams. 

Artwork commemorating the state championship 2012 Girls Golf team, as well as Alan Schlessman, the 2000 boys individual champion, and Madison Mullins, the 2012 girls individual champion, is in the works.

The simulator, Coach Zapadka said, is just a part to build on the Perkins golf tradition.

Back to School News       Print