For Geoffrey Schwartz, pandemic free-time turned into frequent tee-time.
“Last year, with work being slow from the pandemic, my wife and I had joined a country club and were playing a ton of golf,” said Schwartz, 42, of Dix Hills.” When the season was over, I said ‘how do I keep playing?'”
This search led Schwartz to XGolf, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in the virtual golf experience. The franchise has 75 locations opened or signed to open in the near future, according to Schwartz, who expects to open his own spot — complete with a restaurant, bar and lounge space — in February.
The new franchisee is readying the former, 11,050-square-foot Babies R Us in Commack’s Veterans Memorial Center between Harbor Freight and Five Below for his first location, and hopes to open more if it proves successful for the area.
“I think Long Island’s golf community needs this,” he said. “We have probably five months of good golf weather here, maybe less. I think we have one of the largest golf populations in the country and this is the type of thing people want to do.
“They want these experiences where they get out and not just go to a bar and have a beer but do something with their friends in a nice environment and maybe learn something in the process.”
virtual reality in a real-world environment
The proposed XGolf will feature nine bays approximately 16 feet wide by 25 feet deep. Players will swing real clubs at real golf balls against a screen projecting a real-world course. A professional-grade software and hardware package comprising cameras, impact sensors and infrared lasers will calculate the ball’s distance and speed.
With the push of a button, Schwartz said, the system will also pop a ball on a tee for each swing.
The game may be digitized, but Schwartz wants the atmosphere to have the personal touch of a real golf course. To achieve this, he said a PGA professional will oversee players of all skill levels.
“I want them to walk around and offer advice just like a pro would at a golf course,” Schwartz said. “I don’t want anyone to come in and walk out without being paid attention to. Everybody should have a VIP time here.”
Schwartz emphasizes that while XGolf will serve beer, wine, liquor, and an array of bar food such as pretzels, pizzas and wings, golf is the priority.
“We don’t want it to just be a bar where people are swinging metal sticks around,” he said. “We want this place to feel like a golf place. I don’t want it to feel stuffy and exclusive, but I want people to feel like they are being treated right, that they are here to have an experience at a high-end golf facility open to everybody.”
Schwartz has plans to appeal to professionals, those on the course and off.
He’s going before the Town of Smithtown’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Oct. 26 for approval to construct a mezzanine with a conference room for networking events, birthday parties and private functions before groups hit the links.
XGolf also offers league play for those looking to compete in regional and national tournaments.
“They’re local based leagues,” Schwartz said. “But we have an app system that once you play here enough you establish a handicap just like you would on a real golf course.”
Top: A screen shot from the below XGolf promotional vide on the company’s website.