'This is as unique as it gets,' said Golf364 co-owner Steven Knapp of his indoor golfing facility housed within the Linfield National Golf Club. 'There's not many of these around, maybe two other commercial set ups in southeastern Pennsylvania.'
Golf364 at Linfield National is a virtual golfing experience where patrons use real clubs and balls in conjunction with a computer system using high speed cameras, high-definition image projections and impact resistant screens to 'play' golf. You simply step into one of the five golfing 'bays', look out onto your 'course' on the HD screen, aim and take a swing.
'To swing the club inside you have to be comfortable, we have massive bays and high ceilings (21' x 16' x 12'),' said Knapp, 'and the technology is great – its technology we trust.'
Knapp said he has been studying the technology, created by Foresight Sports, for about three years. The system uses high speed cameras to capture images of the dimples of a struck ball to project its flight path. The cameras take a picture every tenth of an inch and then the screen shows the shot and reads out information such as accurate distance, launch rate and spin rate.
'The technology is first rate and the picture is incredible,' Knapp said, 'It is extremely accurate and it can help with lessons or club fittings. It gets facts that can help you – like how far you can really hit the ball – which is sobering for some people but good information to have. This is 90 percent for entertainment but it is also a place where you can work on your game.'
The five bays at Golf 364 are named after golfers Knapp looks up to – Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam. The virtual golf course library at Golf364 lets golfers play 33 world-famous courses, including Firestone, Oakmont and courses from England and Abu Dhabi.
Golf364 opened at Linfield National on Nov. 2. Knapp and Robert Kleckner, the owner of Linfield National Golf Club, had a shared understanding that bringing Golf364 to the main facility would be beneficial to both parties involved for a number of reasons.
'There's no driving range here at Linfield National,' Knapp explained, 'and we thought that it would be good to have a place where golfers can go year round without worrying about weather.'
Then there is also the location of Golf364, which has been set up in the former golf cart garage adjacent to the bar and restaurant. So when you come to enjoy the Golf364 experience, you can do so with some food or drinks.
'Rob and I were sold on the idea so we made it happen,' Knapp said.
In addition to really enjoying golf, Knapp is also a carpenter and electrician, and he did all of the renovations himself. He added bars to four of the five golfing bays, as well as large screen TVs and one-of-a-kind golf decor that gives the location what he called a 'warehouse sheik' look. It took eight months to complete the renovations.
'I was able to partner with my friend (co-owner Tom Rizzo of Phoenixville) and together with our wives we have a wonderful team to guide us in the right direction,' said Knapp.
He added that Golf364 has three PGA pros available for teaching lessons on site: Kyle Miller, Don DeAngelis and club-owner Robert Kleckner.
'This facility has five screens, so I have never had to wait to play,' said Golf364 customer Buck Jones of Collegeville, a former pro who has been golfing since he was a kid. 'There are so many options to what you can do, it really impressive. There's the driving range or you can play any hole on any of the courses. As a competitive player it's great that I can keep playing all year. Sometimes it's good to just come in and play a few holes – I just played 9 holes myself in 25 minutes.'
'I come in a couple of times a week during the afternoon,' said customer Myrl Forth, a retiree from Harleysville. 'I like being indoor and comfortable while swinging a club. I like to play a lot and it's tough in the winter to get a decent day to play. I always come in and warm up with irons, work on iron play, and then get out the driver to see how I'm feeling that day.'
There are many different ways to experience Golf364 at Linfield National Golf Club, including league play, private parties, corporate events or rent by the hour. Online booking is handled through http://www.golfnow.com/ or by calling the facility at 484-791-3563. For hours of operation and more information visit www.Golf364.com
Golf364 and the Linfield National Golf Club are located at 66 Church Road in Linfield, PA.