Golf gains popularity in virtual reality

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 8:34 AM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Put on a VR headset, and instantly you can be standing on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. “Our mission is to make golf more accessible by using technology,” said Ryan Engle, the Co-Founder and CEO of Golf+. The virtual reality platform added the course just in time for the WM Phoenix Open.

All of the data for the game came right from the PGA, so the layout and the green contours are exactly the same as they are for the pros. “You see the crowd and even though they’re all virtual, you’re surrounded by a colosseum of people,” Engle said. “The number one bit of feedback that we get from golfers is typically, ‘Yep! It feels realistic. I’m still slicing in VR.’”

Golf+ can be played on the Meta Quest 2 headset. Since the platform’s launch less than a year and a half ago, golfers have played about 7 million rounds and hit 800 million shots. TPC Scottsdale is already proving to be popular. “We got it added last Thursday. Since then, we’ve had a couple of million shots on the course, and tens of thousands of rounds on the course,” Engle said. “It’s the first course that we’ve added that has a live crowd of people that react to your shots.” Golf+ is currently available for free with the Meta Quest 2 headset, which is $400.

From one virtual world to another, Tee Timez is a private indoor golf studio in Mesa that uses a high-tech simulator. “For somebody who wants to improve their game or who wants all the tools to know what’s actually happening in my golf swing, there isn’t anything better right now than simulators,” said Tee Timez’ Donovan Himes. “They give you all your club data, all your ball data, everything you need to know to diagnose problems within your swing.”

Even the mat moves to make your round of golf feel real. “It literally feels like you’re on the golf course because it changes,” said Michael Leonard, a member of the studio. “You can put it in the rough. You can put it in the sand. It’s just unbelievable.”

You can play some of the most famous courses in the world there, too. “Any time there’s a big thing, the Masters is a big one, and then locally obviously with the Phoenix Open, you see a lot of peak in the interest,” Himes said. The cost for a four-hour package at Tee Timez is $100, while an unlimited membership is $249 per month.