Fairway to heaven: Upcoming indoor golfing facility a hacker’s paradise

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2019 6:00 am

Golfers in Hillsboro can snag a tee time starting this spring even if it’s pouring outside or there’s snow on the ground.

The Clubhouse indoor golf and practice facility has started taking shape on the north side of the Farmers Union Insurance building along Caledonia Avenue in downtown Hillsboro.

Owner Ryan Opdahl, who also serves as president of Goose River Golf Course in Hillsboro, said he’s been working on opening the business for almost a year.

“There’s definitely interest in this locally,” Opdahl said. “I polled 20 to 30 golfers in this area and all of them seemed to have some level of interest in it.

“This could have a potential tie-in with the golf course and hopefully encourage people to play winter golf and also spend more time on the outdoor course.”

Opdahl installed a basic golf simulator in his garage when he built his home in the Prairieview Addition on the east side of Hillsboro a few years ago.

That entry-level simulator gave way to a higher-end model, but the one being installed at The Clubhouse will blow away those less expensive counterparts, he said.

PGA Tour professionals like Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth use Full Swing golf simulators like the one that will be available at The Clubhouse.

The simulator uses high-speed cameras and infrared light waves to determine a golfer’s swing speed, ball spin and flight path to create a realistic golfing experience.

“This will give golfers an opportunity to practice on something that’s very realistic,” Opdahl said.

Similar golf simulators are available elsewhere in the Red River Valley.

But locals need to travel outside Traill County – to places like Albatross Indoor Golf Club in Grand Forks or Golf Addiction in Fargo – to find a similar venue, Opdahl said.

Opdahl said he’s still figuring out a pricing structure to access The Clubhouse.

He expects fees will be a fraction of those charged in Grand Forks and Fargo.

“It has to be priced affordability for people to want to do it,” he said. “Golf has three things going against it. It’s hard. It’s time consuming and it can be expensive. So we want to be mindful of all three of those things, especially the price.”

Opdahl envisions The Clubhouse offering single or family memberships and handing out key fobs to clients, similar to how the Hillsboro Fitness Center operates.

The facility also will be available for rent by the hour for birthday or holiday parties, he said.

Opdahl joined a simulator golf league this winter at Albatross – he’s in first place with his partner Dave Enger – with plans to offer similar leagues in Hillsboro.

He told his wife, Brenna, that playing in Grand Forks was part of a fact-finding mission.

“She’s not really convinced it’s research yet,” Opdahl said, laughing.

Opdahl said he’s spoken with area golf professionals about conducting group lessons at The Clubhouse once the golf simulator business is open.

He’s also open to making the practice facility available to Hillsboro-Central Valley golfers.

“The technology will give them an accurate reading of how hard they’re hitting and if it’s going right or left,” Opdahl said. “In the spring, it’d be much better than hitting a wiffle ball inside.”

The golf simulator should appeal to younger generations as well, he said.

“That’s the neat thing about simulator golf. You’re meeting kids on their level,” Opdahl said. “At its core it’s a very expensive video game, and maybe that’s enough to get someone interested in golf and then going out on the real course at some point.”

Opdahl believes The Clubhouse eventually could pull in traffic from other communities such as Mayville, Buxton and Reynolds in North Dakota and Ada and Halstad in Minnesota.

He plans on creating a Facebook page soon to allow prospective clients to track construction progress as the facility gets closer to its spring opening.

 “This is a way to encourage people to visit our community and maybe spend some money in our town and have a good time,” he said.

“In a small town sometimes you have to create your own fun and golf is a passion of mine. I know we need more office space in town, but this seemed like a lot more fun.”

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