The Clubhouse at Edinburgh Quay is home to 6 golf simulators, which offer the chance to play a virtual round of golf at many of the world’s top courses. Drink and food is also available at The Clubhouse. The simulated golf experience doesn’t seem to be targeted at any particular type of person as The Clubhouse attracts stag parties, serious golfers and first time golfers alike. While my visit to The Clubhouse was somewhat enjoyable, it didn’t come close to providing the realism or enjoyment of a real round of golf. While it’s an experience I am glad to have tried, simulated golf is not something I would rush back to try again.
We arrived at The Clubhouse on a Sunday morning, after booking a simulator in advance. We had opted for two hours on the virtual fairways or, in our case, virtual rough. The price is Â£20 per hour Sunday - Thursday and Â£30 per hour Friday and Saturday. After buying a few drinks (e.g. pints of Fosters) it’s not the cheapest few hours you will ever spend: expensive infact. As you might expect private hire/corporate events are a large part of The Clubhouse’s business plan.
The Clubhouse’s bar and restaurant area is downstairs, along with a few simulators. We were upstairs on the mezzanine level, where you could hear golf balls smashing into the canvas from all of the fully occupied golf simulators. A wall mounted touch screen monitor allows selection of course and match type e.g. stroke play, match play or many others. Disappointingly the simulator did not have Sawgrass or Augusta courses, so initially we opted to play Pebble Beach. The simulator automatically lines up your shots, but you can change the aim using the touch screen monitor. A set of golf clubs is provided inside, although you can bring your own.
The player’s eye view is projected onto a huge canvas screen. This canvas screen absorbs the energy in your shot and attempts to kill the ball, although a few of my shots did rebound out of the simulator. Two sensors along the floor in front of the screen detect the pace, trajectory and direction of your shot. Shots off the tee and fairway are the most realistic, making The Clubhouse’s golf simulation a good alternative to a driving range.
The computer states if your shot is in rough or sand. If so the ball must be placed on the appropriate simulated surface, which is a neat idea but comes nowhere near simulating the difficulties of a real bunker or deep rough. I found the short play to be very poor, especially putting. Disappointingly this seemed to be more about acquiring the skill to match what the computer expected, rather than accurately simulating golf. Also some shots were not registered properly by the simulator e.g. flop shots weren’t picked up well. All shots are taken facing forward and on a flat surface, which further emphasises the limitations of the golf simulator as opposed to a real golf course. We finished playing a few holes at St Andrews, but the novelty was wearing thin toward the end of our two hours.
I can see the attraction of The Clubhouse for a work’s night out or for a stag party to visit during the day, although computer games like Tiger Woods from EA Sports seem to offer more interaction e.g. recording who has hit the longest drive of the day, longest putt, etc. Also, the computer graphics of the golf courses at The Clubhouse aren’t as impressive as they could be.
The Clubhouse is an interesting venue, which is probably most useful to avid golfers during harsh Scottish Winters. Lessons, club fitting and competitions are among the extra services offered by The Clubhouse. But, as said previously there really is no way of successfully simulating a real round of golf. At Â£20-Â£30 per hour for the simulator I can’t see why anyone would choose virtual golf over the plethora of enjoyable and accessible courses on Edinburgh’s doorstep.
The Clubhouse can be contacted on 0131 228 3894.
The Clubhouse is located at Edinburgh Quay, 133 Fountainbridge.