Combining Simulation Golf With Real Golf:
Master the Experience! That’s REALiTEE Golfs’ Motto. What is REALiTEE? Golf Life had the opportunity to ask Founder David Shultz a few questions to find out what all this “REALiTEE Golf buzz” is all about! We wanted to dive in and get the full story of what it is, how it works and where they are going in the VERY near future!
The REALiTEE Golf Story
Colton: Where did the idea come from?
Dave: This all started on a tee box in Carmel on my son Ethan’s 21st birthday. He’s a senior in college, and I’ve been working for corporate america for the past 20 years. He works part-time at a golf course, I just work. He shoots 76 I shoot 92. “Why has nobody invented any better way to engage in golf?” “Why can’t golf be more like tennis?” I realized in that moment that there was an opportunity, and that I had the skills and background to solve this problem.
It was at that moment that Dave created the world’s first “Authentically majestic indoor golfing experience”. REALiTEE Golf has moved from and idea on a tee box to completely integrating simulation golf (hitting golf balls on a simulator indoors) with “real time”, live play golf within a real golf environment! It is truly an idea I wish I came up with!
The REALiTEE Environment
Colton: How big will the REALiTEE Golf complex be? What will the environment look like?
Dave: The “core” of the building will be approximately 75K SF if you count all three levels, and the live play is an additional 60K SF. The footprint is approximately 1.5 acres.
Colton: Will there be a social aspect to the facility?
Dave: Absolutely, that is a major part of the experience. TopGolf has proven that creating an amazing social environment, while allowing patrons to engage in golf, is a great recipe!
REALiTEE Golf will be a place where you can come have fun and grow the game of golf. Considering that Top Golf, in Denver, CO is only 65K SF in full, it is safe to say REALiTEE Golf will be huge in every sense of the word. The complex will be equipped with A LOT of TV’s and couches and bars. This brings the social aspect into play as people can come and enjoy the game while playing golf, incorporate parties of all ages or just have a fun Saturday afternoon with their buds! Along with the social environment, the “real play” aspect will have a feel like a true golf course with bunkers and rough. As of right now, the environment on the playing surface will go without trees or water!
How to Play REALiTEE Golf
Colton: How does REALiTEE Golf work?
Dave: The game itself is a shot for shot equivalent to real golf, using golf simulators (screen golf) to hit the ball down the fairway, and transitioning to a real play environment for the short game (every shot inside 40 yards is played just as it is in real golf). The transition from simulation to live play and back is the secret sauce, and it is amazing in that it allows us to make the game very easy for beginners, and very challenging for experience players…all while playing together!
Colton: Explain the process of hitting off the simulator and then navigating themselves to the “real life” golf?
Dave: Firstly, its based on the individual players skill level. The “beginner experience” is quite different than the “expert experience”, but both types of players can play at the same time together. Players will check-out a smart watch, which acts as their own personal caddy during play. It keeps track of progress, and provides players flexibility in how they go about completing there round, which also is incredibly flexible. You can play with different groups/partners on a hole by hole basis if you choose.
The mechanics work as follows:
- Each hole is started at a simulator, and played in the simulator until the ball comes to rest within a 40 yard radius of the flagstick.
- The simulator may “boost” the performance/ball flight for beginner players and children.
- Younger children may hit a ball more reminiscent of a tennis ball
- The number of strokes taken to reach 40 yards will be stored on a “smart watch” that each player will check-out as part of the game.
- The smart watch will guide players to their ball in the live play arena, and will also activate a “spotlight” which will shine down onto the playing surface indicating to the player precisely where to place their ball for the next shot. Live “caddies” (real people) will also be an option for placing the ball if the players choose the option. Beginner players will be directed to easier locations to play from than experienced players, and they will “meet at the flagstick” if playing together.
- After playing out the hole in the short game, a simple interface on the watch will capture the strokes and add them to the players sim score to complete that hole.
Sounds like a blast, but I’ll try to explain to make sure you and I have it right! Basically, once you agree to play golf, you get a smart watch! That watch will be your everything. It will be your eyes, your caddie and your score keeper. You start on the simulator and you hit on that simulator until you get within 40 yards of the flag you are going to. The trusty smart watch then navigates you to where you need to place the ball to finish out the hole. you get your 60 degree (or 55 if you are into that club) and your putter and go to work. Once you finish out the hole that your smart watch indicated (of course we put the flag stick back in the hole) the smart watch will register your score and your back to the simulator to play the next hole! Sounds simple enough!
Colton: How many holes will people be able to play in one round at REALiTEE Golf?
Dave: It’s up to them! Some people are in a hurry, and can play 18 holes in under 2 hours. Others will be there for the experience, and my only play a fraction of the round in that amount of time. The concept is based on playing for a period of time, saving progress, and resuming on the next visit…until an 18 hole score is registered, then starting another! I anticipate most people will play for about 2 hours per visit.
Colton: Do they play the same 9 or 13 or 18 holes every time?
Dave: No, it will be unique each time, and is totally up to player preferences. The goal is to “notch” an 18-hole score eventually, as the mark of performance to compare to others and to gauge improvement from. The playing experience will be unique each time, as the technology of the venue will know where players have played from previously and will give them the identical shot again for a long, long, time (unless the player wants to play from a particular spot as practice, which is also an option)
Colton: Is there an opportunity to play actual golf courses? If so, how do you resemble a St. Andrews (for example)?
Dave: During simulator play, the players can choose from a variety of existing courses from around the world, or “piece together” there favorite holes from different courses all around the world. It is in the simulator where players will get that feeling of “being at St. Andrews” and other places. The live play area will resemble a beautiful country club atmosphere, but will not be specific to an existing location / golf course.
What does the Future of REALiTEE Golf Hold?
Colton: Where are your top prospect locations for initial launch right now?
Dave: I’m trying to keep an open mind as I explore a number of opportunities, but my heart is still set on Seattle, as I would like to dedicate the first venue to The Special Olympics competition taking place summer 2018. Lots of work to do to make it happen, including convincing the organizers of the event. I have reach out to them some months ago to plant the seed.
Colton: What will the price table look like?
Dave: $20/hour, and you are only “on the clock” while in the playing area. There are lounges and other areas where you can “hang out” and what others play or enjoy the company of friends “off the clock”
Colton: What kind of simulators will you guys be using?
Dave: That is yet to be determined. It may turn out to be a hybrid of hardware/software from various sources. Our lab has an HD golf simulator. I like aspects of several of the manufacturers and am most interested in creating the best user experience possible.
Colton: Will you be providing leagues?
Dave: Absolutely, I anticipate major interest in leagues.
If you ask me, I think this is brilliant. There are three key features of this idea that are key! 1. The social aspect of people coming to have a good time. TO HAVE FUN. TO ENJOY THE GAME. TO GET PEOPLE ENGAGED! 2. To grow the game of golf. People of all ages and skill levels can come to one place to play golf TOGETHER! I know I do this, but when I play with people of less skill, I get a little frustrated and this concept will help! 3. Getting better at golf! Dave said it best, he shoots a 92 and his son shoots a 72. This gives him an opportunity to become better at his craft in a more fun and stress free environment.