By John Cardullo,
When I first heard of playing
V (virtual) Golf, an image flashed through my mind as I pictured playing Wii
golf. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Walking into the facility which is located at 60 Walnut Grove Ave in Cranston, it is very unassuming, and you feel as if you’re walking into a doctor’s office. We were greeted at the front desk by Dennis Parrillo, who is the owner, operator, and partner with his father Dennis Parrillo, Sr. (it is a family owned and run business). Parrillo confirms your “tee” time and the number of players in your group. The impression may be that you just got into a doctor’s office, however that quickly vanishes when you hear the distinct sound of the impact the golf club makes when meeting the golf ball.
We were led to our own room where a wall-length screen covered the back wall. In the middle of the floor there is a metal box which I found out later is the device that measures club head speed, club angle, launch angle, ball speed, ball spin; basically all the stats that you hear on any televised PGA golf event, is right there in front of you. Before you begin, Parrillo goes through the do’s and don’ts of playing V Golf – “safety is our number one priority, fun and enjoyment is our second. If you do the first, the second will follow.”
There are currently 3 golf
rooms that are rented constantly, as well as a putting green in the reception
area. At the end of the building there is a section where lessons are
conducted. “We are in the process of setting up a fourth virtual golf room. The
popularity and demand have been overwhelming. People love golf and this gives
them the closest natural experience other than being outside”. “Plus, said
Parrillo, who is a golf enthusiast, “where else can you play every major golf
course the world has to offer without breaking the bank and leaving the area?”
My group was given some time
on the “range” to hit some balls and to get accustomed to the surroundings.
Adjusting to the depth of field and to get settled took a few swings. We were
asked what course we wanted to play. They offer over 240 golf courses to choose
from, like Augusta National, Winged Foot, TPC Sawgrass, Trump National,
Spyglass, Pinehurst #2, Oakmont and Olympia, Doral, the Dunes, Bay Hill, and Bethpage
Black to name a few. We chose St. Andrews, the Old Course. It was a good choice
because of the “link style design”; it would be open and have less hazards.
After choosing the course, you can choose the wind, both speed and direction,
and what tee box color you want to hit from. I must say that playing virtual
golf seemed like a video game at first, but it wasn’t long before the
competitive juices got flowing and we were in Scotland playing the Old Course.
The time you have in your
room is dictated by the number of golfers in your group. We had four so our
blocked off time was 5 hours, including warm up. Initially I thought 5 hours
was very excessive to play a “video” game. That thought process left when we
were playing out of very thick rough (yes, the computer factors that in), or sand
traps (which, like the real St. Andrews are all over the place and deep). There
are hazards and out of bound areas everywhere.
It truly was like playing a
full 18-hole round; you use every club in your bag except for the putter.
Because the putting stroke is too light to register on the screen, if you get
on the green the computer adds two strokes for you to put out unless you are
within 5 feet and it gives you only one stroke. That is very generous seeing
the computer has never seen me putt!
Our session expired as we
completed the last putt, and it felt as though we played St. Andrews without
the walking. I finished with a 124 which for never playing the course before was
Talking to Parrillo
afterward, he said “people just love playing golf and this is the closest thing
to real golf you can play when there is two feet of snow on the ground in the
middle of January, because weather isn’t a factor here. He explained that
unlike other venues like TopGolf which is coming to Cranston soon, V Golf is more
for the golfing enthusiast who want to keep their games sharp in the off-season
months. TopGolf will be more of a social interacting venue.”
He goes on to say, “We have
club members who book weekly tee times just to play around and they’ve created
their own virtual league, just as they do outside. It’s both fun and
competitive for them. We host birthday parties, corporate events, virtual
tournaments, and even bachelor and bachelorette parties.”
It’s obvious right away how
much Parrillo loves the sport of golf. He says that he has grown up around the
game and has a passion and a vision. He welcomes competition such as the TopGolf
complex that is heading into Cranston within a year or so, and he believes that
he went to great lengths to study what the consumer wants. He feels confident
that V Golf will hold up against them, and all other competitors.
V Golf has a membership package
that includes a complimentary 18-hole round for your birthday, V Golf swag, and
special event deals throughout the year. For those golfers who take their games
a little bit more seriously, or for the beginner who wants to get into the
sport, golf pro Russel Johnson is available for lessons.
If you would like to check out V Golf you can look them up on line at www.V.GOLF365.com or call them at 401-366-2350, or just swing by and take a tour of the facility at 60 Walnut Grove Ave. Cranston, RI 02920. They book tee times from 12 noon to 9:00 pm. One thing for sure is that V Golf has something for every golfer at every level.