Junior Golf Alliance of NY

Feb 152015

Three different tee spots

By Benita Zahn, DPS-Bioethics

On a recent snowy Sunday, rather than gathering my ski attire, I rummaged through the house looking for appropriate clothing to wear to play golf. I was going to take up an offer to check out two, indoor golf centers in the Capital Area – OptiGolf and The Great Indoors Golf Center.

As elsewhere in the country, golf simulators are gaining in popularity. You can play no matter the weather and you can play in less time than a traditional round of golf demands.

Lance Hope gets set at OptiGolf.

Lance Hope gets set at OptiGolf.


Once dressed for the occasion, the husband and I trudged to Troy to tee it up at OptiGolf. This would be my first swing at an indoor golf simulator.

Troy? Indoor golf? Yes sir-ee! You’ll find it in that new stretch of buildings just off Congress Street.

There are seven golf simulators in the 6,500 square foot facility. Two of the simulators are located in rooms tucked around back making them ideal for private parties.

Bob Blanchard, owner of Great Indoors Golf Center, in Ballston Spa

Bob Blanchard, owner of Great Indoors Golf Center, in Ballston Spa

Besides the gorgeous visuals offered by the OptiGolf simulators, there’s an adjustable tee to hit off. You also have options when you hit the ball. There’s a designated chipping area along with a deeper artificial rough. If your shot lands in the sand you place your ball on the white colored artificial turf for your next shot. And yes, you putt into a real cup – two of them actually depending on where your ball lands on the virtual course.

You can play more than 100 courses. We “Opt”ed to play Augusta. Let’s face it, there’s no chance we’ll ever get to play the real course. Granted there was no warm breeze on our faces or the scent of magnolias in the air but it was fun. It’s a nice way to while away a wintry day. That’s what the other golfers said as well.

Jay Taub at OptiGolf

Jay Taub at OptiGolf


Golfers take a moment to compare scorecards, and watch bowling

Jay Taub, a well-respected local player (3rd last year in the Schenectady County Senior Amateur) says “It’s something to do, helps you get through the winter. It’s not real golf but at least you’re swinging the club, loosening up golf muscles…And it’s fun to get out with the guys.”

Lance Hope another well known, local golfer (2nd last year in the Schenectady County Amateur tournament) echoes Taub’s sentiments.

“It’s close to home, I get to hang out with buddies and yes, it helps to keep my swing loose,” Hope said.

Among the amenities offered at OptiGolf: an attached parking garage so you don’t have to haul your clubs through sleet, snow or rain; a public lounge with a large screen TV adjacent to the bar area for a clubhouse feel after playing a round, or two, with your pals.

It’ll cost you $52/hour of play whether you’re out by yourself or with a foursome. OptiGolf opens at 10AM, 7 days a week. The earliest closing is 6PM on Sundays. Click here for a full listing of rates, specials and restaurant menu.


Our second stop that Sunday was north of the twin bridges in Ballston Spa at The Great Indoors Golf Center which Bob Blanchard built back in 2011.

“Lots of sweat equity went into this place,” he explains. It was a love of golf that triggered this Ballston Spa resident to swap his career in Information Technology for that of builder and owner of the facility.

At The Great Indoors Golf Center, you’ll find four simulators. The atmosphere here is more of a public golf course as compared to OptiGolf which is more a country club milieu. Blanchard’s facility has a smaller bar area and no rooms geared for groups bigger than your foursome. Nonetheless, it’s a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.

Like OptiGolf, you can play courses from around the world and the visuals are very clear. But the feedback you get after each shot is different. Hit the ball and the screen shows you the angle your club took from the top of your swing through contact thanks to cameras in the ceiling of each simulator room. You also learn your swing speed and a host of other details that help you determine the effectiveness of your swing.

optigolf9optigolf8The playing surface is less detailed than OptiGolf’s – no cup to putt into and one surface to swing from. But that didn’t bother me in the least. All the additional swing feedback more than made up for that. If you only want to hit balls don’t bother calling up a course – just stick with the simulated driving range.

Playing time here costs $34-$39 per hour. There’s also a special senior rate during certain hours. Click here for more details.

optigolf10You can book time with a golf pro at either site. Keep in mind these facilities can be noisier than a traditional golf course. While it’s not “really” golf – it’s a close enough second so you can groove your swing. If you’re jonesing for golf and can’t book a flight out of town, it will satisfy. And it’s a nice way to hang out with pals. Bottom line, looking at the gorgeous greens from around the world sure helps beat the winter blues.

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