#159 Urban Golf
What if you live in London, right, and you want to play golf? Dah, (you snort) you obviously just jump in the Lexus and tell Carruthers to drive you to the nearest course in Surrey. I mean, come now.
But what if you live in London and you want to play golf, and your Lexus is in the shop, and Carruthers has run off with the Latvian nanny, and you don’t mind playing golf in a sort of giant computer game?
(And, in fact, you’d secretly rather like to play golf in a sort of giant computer game?)
Then you come to Urban Golf. Yes, you didn’t even know this was a thing, did you? Hidden in clandestine locations in Kensington, Smithfield and Soho, they’re rows of shiny-looking cubic booths in which you stand, hitting golf balls at a giant screen. The screen shows graphics of famous golf courses, seemingly lovingly recreated by a vintage Sega Saturn. If you ever played a PGA Tour Golf videogame before naughty Tiger Woods got involved, you’ll feel right at home. For the rest of you, it’s like a blurry, slightly juddery but plausible representation of each course. Standing in front of the screen feels slightly immersive. Basically, it’s like posh Tron.
Clubs – real clubs – are provided. As is beer to buy. You pay for the golf by the hour. All that’s missing is a superficially subservient caddie, actually brimming with class rage. You could bring your own, I suppose, and force him to walk in small circles, carrying lead weights, if it made you feel better. If his muttering got too loud, you could trip him up. That’ll teach the oik!
It works (I imagine) by sensing the place and impact of your ball on the net-like screen. (The image is projected onto this, so there’s no danger of smashing anything.) Putting’s slightly disabled compared to the real thing, as the system isn’t sensitive enough to detect gentle hits. If you get within 10 feet of the hole, it counts as in – although the holes themselves sadly aren’t expanded to yawning pits to show this.
It works. It won’t replace golf, but it’ll let you work on your swing. It’s Golf Methadone!