More casual and competitive golfers turning to virtual golf leagues as winter hobby

By: Eric Steinbart

Virtual golf leagues are becoming more popular as Winnipeg golfers try to keep swinging during the winter months.

Scott Parker, general manager of Rossmere Country Club, said running indoor virtual golf leagues in the winter was a natural transition for them. 

“We’re a member club, and our members like to compete, so we decided to go the league route,” he said. 

This season, the club had 125 teams register for its winter leagues across four divisions, including ladies, mens, seniors, and couples.

“It’s been a game-changer for us,” he said.

Rossmere opened its virtual golf facility, Sim Shack, in 2019 and had 43 teams register for its inaugural season of virtual golf. But both the 2019 and 2020 virtual golf seasons were cut short due to COVID-19.

The leagues are also open to non-members and have drawn the interest of both casual and competitive golfers.

“Some are coming for a night out to hit some balls with their friends and eat nachos, others are looking at the numbers, really practicing their game,” Parker said. “We get a real cross-section of people.”

Chris Sitarz uses TrackMan technology to track his swing at Rossmere Country Club./ERIC STEINBART

The simulators at Rossmere offer over 100 courses to choose from, including many famous courses from the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America Tour.

Parker credited the growing popularity of virtual golf to the improvement in simulation technology.

In 2010, the PGA of Canada partnered with TrackMan, a simulation system that uses dual radar technology to track and analyze golf swings. 

Rossmere uses TrackMan technology in its four virtual golf bays and Parker says the technology is becoming more common around the city.

“Most of the private clubs in the city are moving this way. We lucked out when we decided to go all-in,” he said. 

While simulation technology continues to improve and virtual golf becomes more popular, some golfers still miss the outdoor golf experience in the winter.

Matthew Labarre, a Civil Engineering Technology student at RRC Polytech, said he golfs two or three times per week in the summer. 

He said virtual golf is no match for golfing outdoors.

“It’s alright, but it doesn’t give you the same feeling as being out on the course,” he said.

Labarre said he can only hope Winnipeg’s long 2021 golf season means less time away from the real course this winter.

Rossmere Country Club started its virtual golf league season on Nov. 1 and has games scheduled through March 2022.