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New indoor golf simulator bringing nationwide courses to Fargo-Moorhead area golfers

The Clubhouse Indoor Golf Lounge teed off Friday, Nov. 26 in Moorhead. The indoor golf simulator offers a life-like experience, meaning golfers can experience courses both near and far.

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The Clubhouse, an indoor golf simulator with hundreds of different courses, opened Friday, Nov. 26 in Moorhead. Chris Flynn / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — With a replay of Tiger Woods’ 2019 Master’s triumph playing on wall-mounted televisions overhead, golfers assembled Thursday, Dec. 2, at The Clubhouse Indoor Golf Lounge , a newly-opened indoor golf simulator at 805 30th Ave. S. in Moorhead, to do their best Woods impersonation.

As Woods embraced his son Charlie after sinking the tournament’s final putt, Moorhead resident Hunter Thorsen took aim at a projection screen depicting a hole from The Meadows, a course four miles northeast of The Clubhouse. Thorsen swung with authority, the thwack of his swing followed almost immediately by the thud of his ball striking the screen. A yellow tail followed the ball’s on-screen trajectory as Thorsen’s shot settled into The Meadows’ fairway, four miles away yet right in front of him. “It’s really cool how accurate it’s become with these simulators,” Thorsen beamed.

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Moorhead resident Hunter Thorsen follows through on his shot while a friend looks on Thursday, Dec. 2 at The Clubhouse, a new indoor golf simulator in Moorhead. Chris Flynn / The Forum

Three screens down, Glyndon native Brian Messerschmidt and two partners chose a warmer locale for their round, playing through the Pebble Beach Golf Links, located near Monterey, Calif., from nearly 1,500 miles away. Overhead, Phil Mickelson sank putts from the picturesque course on his way to a victory in the 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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While it’s not identical to the universally-loved course overlooking Monterey Bay, the simulator gave Messerschmidt and his crew a chance to experience the course — without the $575 green fee. “It’s a lot different, but you’ve got to do something to stay in shape for the summertime,” he said of the indoor golfing experience.

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Brian Messerschmidt, a Glyndon resident, tees off at a simulation of California's Pebble Beach Golf Links while friends look on from inside The Clubhouse in Moorhead. Chris Flynn / The Forum

Such are the sights and sounds of a typical afternoon at The Clubhouse, Moorhead’s new five-tee golf simulator. Co-owner Matt Gilbertson said business has been slowly but surely picking up at the golfer’s paradise. Customers have reported it’s “great entertainment in a great location,” Gilbertson said, adding that several players are planning to return. “The overall theme is ‘we’ll be back,’ so that’s encouraging,” he remarked.

The Clubhouse is the newest entry to the Fargo-Moorhead area's list of golf simulators, but it’s the only one open to the public on the eastern side of the Red River. Moorhead Country Club offers a simulator, but it’s private and only open Wednesday through Sunday.

Golf Addiction in Fargo, a popular option for hitting the simulation links in the metro area, is “always full,” Gilbertson said. Opening The Clubhouse was a natural solution to the problem.

Messerschmidt and company were happy to find a simulator in Moorhead. “This is wonderful. We needed another place like this,” he said. “Fargo has held a monopoly, so it’s nice that Moorhead finally got something like this.”

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Cross-country courses

The Clubhouse is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Bookings cost $45 per hour and are available one week in advance for non-members, while members receive a $30 per hour rate and early access to bookings two weeks in advance.

Memberships are available for individuals, families and businesses. The Clubhouse is also available to rent for birthdays, bachelor parties, groom’s dinners and more, Gilbertson said.

Alongside a low-key bar, The Clubhouse serves up frozen pizza and snacks, though patrons can also order food in from local restaurants like Murphy’s Pub, Legends Sports Bar and Grill, Speak Easy or Sol Ave. Kitchen.

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Matt Gilbertson, co-owner of The Clubhouse, demonstrates how to start up a golf simulator on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Chris Flynn / The Forum

In addition to The Meadows and Pebble Beach, The Clubhouse boasts nearly the entirety of the PGA Tour's courses, meaning local amateurs can still play like professionals. The simulator is also stocked with a host of local courses, including all of those in Fargo and Moorhead, Wahpeton’s Bois de Sioux, Mapleton’s Maple River Golf Club and the Bully Pulpit in Medora.

Beginning in January, The Clubhouse will kick off league play, swinging through the 2022 PGA Tour schedule week by week. League play is set to conclude at Gilbertson’s favorite simulation course, Augusta National, during Master’s weekend.

For beginners, Gilberston recommends playing through a familiar environment. “We tell people the first time to play a course that they’re used to so they can get a true feel of the graphics,” he said.

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'Literally anyone can do this'

Thorsen steps back from the tee for a moment, considering his next shot. With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees outside, avoiding the elements is one of the top perks of playing on an indoor simulator. “It’s a lot of fun being able to play in the winter, especially because we’re shut down for five months otherwise,” Thorsen said.

For Thorsen, that means his local league doesn’t have to end due to weather. “You’ve got your group of guys that goes and plays Tuesdays, with this you can keep doing that,” he said. “You don’t need to stop just because it’s wintertime.”

Gilbertson also points out that the pace of play picks up during an indoor round. “A two-some can play nine holes in an hour, so one person could probably play 18 holes in an hour-and-a-half,” he explained.

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The Clubhouse is a new lounge featuring private golf simulator suites . Chris Flynn / The Forum

On top of the hospitable conditions and quick gameplay, the simulator is also chock full of swing metrics and data like club head speed, ball speed, path, spin, carry, total yardage and “smash factor.”

Gilbertson said the simulator is good for beginners and experienced players alike. “Literally anyone can do this,” he commented.

Inside or outside, though, the sport is the same. “It’s golf. It’s challenging,” Gilbertson concluded. “The advantage here is you don’t have to go looking for your ball, the disadvantage is you’re not getting the exercise.”

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over two years, primarily reporting on business news. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-353-8363. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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