SMYRNA, TN - When extreme temperatures restricted outdoor activities recently, the Smyrna High School golf team had an advantage unlike any of its peers – an indoor golf simulation room. It’s been a nearly a year since the project has been complete, but had been in the works much longer, according to coach Chad Caldwell. “It’s always been a pipe dream, but the challenge was always where to put it and how much it would cost,” said Caldwell, now in his sixth year as coach.
The location provided was the old locker room for the volleyball team which before that, was the shower room for girls’ basketball. Work started in July 2022 and was completed about three months later, but golf season had already ended. “We told volleyball if they let us have this space, we’d make their new space nicer, so it really all worked out,” Caldwell said. “It really ended up being a win-win.”
Manufactured by Foresight Sports, the setup was about $30,000 and included a monitor, screen, netting and a computer to run the simulator program. The purchase was covered by fundraising and grants. Up to four people can fit in the space comfortably, he added. “I’m not aware of any public school in the area with anything like this, but you certainly could at a private school,” the coach said. “We couldn’t have done this without our principal (Sherri Southerland). She really made sure these kids were taken care of.”
The system’s launch monitor automatically tracks the location of the ball on the hitting pad. The monitor can be moved depending on if a golfer is right- or left-handed.
With the ability to play 30 courses including the famed Pebble Beach, the simulator provides real-time weather conditions for each site. It also provides a competition mode to allow players to work on chipping and putting. “For our school, practice time is a big challenge. A lot of our players haven’t played their whole lives and golf is an expensive sport. This gives us a fighting chance,” Caldwell said.
Aidan Mooney, a senior, began golfing with his grandfather as a young child. “It was our bonding time. He passed in 2019, but I still play because I love the sport. I think he’d be happy I kept it going and that we have something like this available,” Mooney said.
Fellow senior Bishop Charlton picked up golf in middle school and said he appreciates the simulator as he’s found the need to practice more. “I can hit as many as I need to refine my swing,” said Charlton, a senior.
Smyrna High has added golf to its course offerings this year. Caldwell said it provides additional opportunities for him to check his players’ form and technique. The team plays its home matches at Smyrna Golf Course and hosts Siegel today, Tuesday - September 5, 2023.