Metro area welcomes two new indoor virtual golf facilities
METAIRIE – In a sports-crazed area like southeast Louisiana, it’s not often that new experiences come along.
But two new venues that have opened here this month are bringing something new to the table locally: indoor virtual golf.
The Flagstick, located inside Clearview Mall, has been in business since early September, and Loft 18, a stand-alone facility on the corner of Metairie Road and Causeway Boulevard, opened its doors to the public on Tuesday.
While delivering the same product, the businesses are taking slightly different approaches. The Flagstick has a sports bar feel inside its 5,000 square-foot facility located next to Walk-On’s, while Loft 18 goes for the country club experience within its 7,400 square feet.
Based on early returns, there is plenty of room in the marketplace for both.
“If you’re a golfer, your experience is going to be golf, as close to the real thing as possible, in a sports bar atmosphere,” said Sean Bernard, co-owner of The Flagstick.
“If you’re a non-golfer, it’s a new and exciting experience,” Bernard said, noting the ability for novices to play zombie golf or pitch-and-putt courses on one of its seven simulation bays.
Greg Whitman, owner and president of Loft 18, describes the vision of his facility as “whatever you want it to be, with golf as the focus.”
He and his partners wanted to open a business in the golf realm and saw similar facilities in China and in the northern United States.
“We think we’ve found a niche – the perfect combination of simulators, space, food and drinks,” said Whitman, whose facility has five simulators.
Bernard said that The Flagstick “feels exactly like playing golf, except for the short game. You don’t have the distance perspective (in the short game). It’s got to be mental.”
A foursome can play 18 holes in about 2 1/2 hours, Bernard said.
“It’s never gonna replace golf itself,” said Whitman, “but it’s a new way to deliver the game to a generation that may not go to the golf course.”
Both facilities are already booking corporate and birthday events, though there are plenty of opportunities for individuals and smaller groups to get in on the fun as well.
The Flagstick will begin hosting leagues in October and its first monthly scramble tournament is Thursday night. It also plans to host events around golf’s majors, with the opportunity to compete on the same courses the pros play that week.
Loft 18 will open at 8:15 a.m. Sunday to accommodate fans wanting to watch the Saints-Dolphins game from London and will feature early-bird specials.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…