RealiTee offers a ‘proper’ round of golf, but indoors. We spoke to its inventor
We all love to complain about the British weather, so the thought of honing your game at a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility is enough to set the pulse racing.
RealiTee Golf aims to revolutionise the driving range and pitch and putt experience by combining simulation play with live short game play.
Ambitious? Perhaps. But world-renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II is already on board and the success of Topgolf has paved the way for new indoor golf experiences. Little wonder Dave Shultz, the man behind RealiTee Golf, can barely contain his excitement...
How does the concept work?
RealiTee Golf is a condensed version of real golf spread across two acres. TruGolf simulators will be used for driving and most fairway shots, but the great thing is that users can choose which courses and holes they want to play. The idea is to recreate an authentic and unique golf experience; that's why we have designed a 70,000 sq ft live-play area dedicated for shots inside 40 yards. There will be synthetic greens with 10ft of elevation variations, small pot bunkers and bridges and walkways so you can get to every hole quickly and easily.
How do players transition between the simulators and live-play area?
Every visitor will be equipped with a smartwatch to manage the entire game and social experience. The watch enables you to check in on the simulator from anywhere within the venue, and also allows you to connect and play with friends and other golfers throughout your round. Once you are within 40 yards of the green, the watch guides you to your next playing location. From there, you simply press a button on your smartwatch and a laser of light will identify a location to play your next shot.
Do you have to book tee times?
No, slots are typically allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The watch lists how many of the simulators and live-play holes are free and if there's a queue, you can check in and socialise with your friends while you wait between holes. You can even order food and drink from your watch. The beauty is that you don't have to play RealiTee in any particular order. You could play nine holes on the simulator before advancing to the short game area. There is endless flexibility.
Who's your target audience?
RealiTee is designed for all ages and abilities. The simulator can be pre-set to a beginner mode which creates virtual walls down the fairway to boost the quality of your shot. It's equivalent to using bumpers at a bowling alley and will help to level the playing field between a novice and someone who plays off single figures for example. It's important that beginners don't feel intimidated.
What's the difference between Topgolf and RealiTee Golf?
Topgolf is built around a driving range but primarily focuses on food, beverages and social experiences. It's an entertainment facility, rather than a golf facility. RealiTee Golf will also focus on a social atmosphere, but visitors will have the added benefit of
a shot-for-shot re-imagination of real golf. RealiTee Golf was designed to migrate players into traditional golf.
When can we expect to see RealiTee Golf in the UK?
I would love for the first venue to be in the UK. I have been working closely with Peter McEvoy and the millennial generation really embraced the concept when I showcased it at the London Golf Show last year. Recently, there's been serious interest from Las Vegas, Boston Massachusetts and Dubai, so there's plenty of intrigue. The aim is to launch the first RealiTee Golf venue before the end of 2017 and to reach 100 sites by 2025.