Review: Inside Edge Golf, Eden Prairie, MN & aboutGolf SimSurround

It is all about having an edge
The golf industry is a tough business.  Not only is it tough in a down economy, but can be rather tough to break into it or keep ahead of the competition.  Add to that for northern state golfers and companies, there is snow on the ground 4 months out of the year.  Thus a golf business needs to set themselves apart from the competition.  I think the aboutGolf Simulators and Inside Edge Golf are a step ahead of the competition.

So as I was getting a little stir crazy at home with no golf this winter (like every winter) I decided to give indoor simulator golf another try.  While there used to be one closer to my house, they had to close due to financial reasons, I got an email about a brand new one opening up on the other side of the Twin Cities called Inside Edge Golf, in Eden Prairie, MN.  Besides the fact that a brand new place was opening,  I was also excited to find out that they installed aboutGolf simulators.  I did a review of an aboutGolf simulator about 2 years ago and was really impressed, but there were no indoor golfing centers in the Twin Cities that offered them until now.

So I trekked across the metro to find my way to Inside Edge Golf.  It has a nice visible location on Hwy 5 and is right next to Kowalski’s Grocery Store.  The signage was pretty good so it was easy to find and get inside.  Upon entering the building, you immediately get the sense that the owner, Rick, decided to do it right.  Everything has a nice relaxing, man-cave like feel to it.  The set-up is split into two main parts.  The main desk, snack bar, 7 Classic simulators and 1 SimSurround simulator are in one section.  The other section, just down the exterior hallway, has a giant putting green, a sand bunker and 1 Widescreen Classic simulator.  Besides the simulators themselves each hitting bay has a flat-panel TV with DirecTV, a tall bar table, and nice leather bar chairs.  The two special simulators are set up more as party rooms that can be closed off and each one has a leather couch and a couple of additional chairs.  While they have more privacy, everyone wants to peek in and check out the SimSurround.  In such a tough, competitive market, Inside Edge is about as good as it gets.

So for my evening at Inside Edge, I played a round of golf on the SimSurround by aboutGolf.  The first feature that I noticed was the ample amount of space.  Sometimes simulator golf gets a little claustrophobic, but this unit is massive and really helps you feel more like you are on the wide-open course, rather than trapped indoors.  After getting a few instructions on the set up, I got a course fly over.  This was so real it almost felt like you were flying, they say that some people actually need to hold on to something because of the motion sensation.  (Rumor has it a few people have even fallen down)

I decided that it would be fun to play the TPC Sawgrass course.  The aboutGolf simulators have a full TPC package and another 30+ courses.  There are so many choices you will never get bored playing some of the nicest courses in the world.  While the aboutGolf simulator is able to judge so many aspects of the golf swing, it works best using marked balls because the proprietary 3trak launch monitor is camera based.  While you can use your own golf ball, it won’t be nearly as accurate.  After feeling good about my indoor winter swing on the SimSurround’s driving range, it was time to take on the course.  From all the times watching the Player’s Championship on TV, I never realized how narrow this course is.  With the SurroundSim it was easy to get a sense and feel for the course.  It was also really fun to aim way left and hit a huge cut.  I was actually able to aim at a side screen and watch the ball cut into the fairway.  Sometimes I watched the ball go from the middle screen to a side screen on an errant shot.  I found the distances and accuracy were just about right on for my normal game.  Upon reaching the 17th hole, I had the pleasure of virtually dropping 3 balls in the water, it is such a tricky little hole.

 My common complaint with simulators is that they are useless for short games.  It seem like the yardage, the spin, the overall feel isn’t even close to on course play.  The aboutGolf simulator is different than most, they have greatly improved the putting, which is much better than before and better than any other simulator I have played.  It tracks the ball from the same spot you normally swing and speed, while quick, is decent to work with.  Undulation is still tricky to gauge, but using the contour map on the screen helps.  Chipping is also much better.  It accounts for spin and different trajectories much better than before.

 There is no doubt that aboutGolf makes the best simulators on the market period.  If you have the cash, the SimSurround is as real as it gets.  The combination of the aboutGolf simulators, the location, and the comfortable décor gives them the Inside Edge.

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