Although he doesn’t plan to retire in the near future, nor take up golf for that matter, Stephen ‘Steve’ McCann has taken a big swing towards making golf a part of his retirement plans.
This Saturday, McCann is hosting a grand opening for his new business, Luxury Links, an indoor golf program complete with a Full Swing golf simulator located at 91 Main Street in the Morrisburg Shopping Plaza, east of Thom Travel.
McCann kicked off his golf simulator business venture in mid-August, when he went to work to renovate the building to accommodate the hitting area.
“My idea was to design a comfortable place for people to come in and have a game of golf, and I am really pleased with the way it has turned out,” he said during an open house this past weekend.
In addition to the room that houses the Full Swing golf simulator, golfers will be able to relax in a lounge area, where coffee and vending machine snacks and beverages are available. (The facility is not licenced.) A washroom area is located at the back of the building.
“This is two months worth of work. I started it on August 17th, and completely gutted it. I lost about 20 pounds,” he says of the construction phase that was done in the evenings and on the weekends.
A self-professed non-golfer, McCann says he first considered the idea back when Caldwell Linen Mill in Iroquois closed and he was out of a job. Although he found work at the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic, “the idea has been brewing for six years.”
Now as the golden years draw closer, he’s 57, he says he wanted to get something in place that would give him something to do.
A market study told him there are, “11 golf courses (in a 35km radius of Morrisburg) with an estimated 6,000 golfers. The closest indoor simulated golf experiences are at South Mountain and Prescott. After that you have to go to Brockville or Ottawa. There is nothing to the east. I have a seven year plan. If this works out, I’d like to open others in the area.”
What sets Luxury Links apart from other simulated golf setups, is that it is a member-only club.
McCann sees competitive/experienced golfers joining to stay at their game during the off-season, and the more casual and non-golfers using it for entertainment.
Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily, seven days per week and club membership is limited to 60 contracted membership hours. Once 60 hours have been contracted, the membership will be cut off, and that will leave an additional 40 hours available to the members each week for extra play.
There are three membership categories with corresponding fees and a fee schedule for extra play.
First to drop in to the open house was Morrisburg golfer, Jim ‘Sudsy’ Whelan, who was completely sold on the concept and impressed with the facility even when his first shot, off the first tee at Pebble Beach, went only 220 yards. Shot two, was 140 yards into the rough, followed by a chip that left him with a 15.7 foot, downhill breaking right to left, putt…which he missed.
“It’s a riot,” says McCann. “I had my IT guys in the other night and they had a great time. And none of them play golf.”
The Luxury Links program offers 12, 18 hole golf courses, two par three courses and a driving range. Complimentary left and right hand clubs are available.
“Pebble Beach is what everyone seems to like,” says McCann explaining the simulators were originally built for training tools, but soon were “recognized for their entertainment value.”
The simulator can be set up for sunny or cloudy days, with or without wind. There is even a ‘shot booster’ button for maximum yardage and the option to add spectators who will cheer you on.
Shot accuracy and speed are measured by two 360 degree tracks on the Full Swing simulator, which according to McCann was one of the first developed. “When the ball bounces back, it measures the slice/hook. There’s a three point measurement.”
Luxury Links will not be manned. Members will have their own access cards and bookings can be made online.
The unique membership pricing system has been done to make “it much more affordable.”
“I’m excited,” said McCann. “I think it is going to be good, once people get used to it.”
“A couple can come out and have some exercise and fun, or a foursome can get together. It is meant to be an affordable alternative to having to travel to play.”
“I can see members come in for coffee and sit around and visit…golf buddies who maybe don’t see much of each other in the off season.”
“I travelled to Ottawa last winter,” said Whelan. “I had a Myrtle Beach trip planned, and I wanted to swing some before I left. This is great to have this here.”
“Memberships will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis, up to the 60 contracted hours. I could book more, but that is not my goal. The season will run from October through April and reduced prices for members will be offered during the summer golf season.”
“I’m the best kept secret in town right now and I don’t want that.”
People can drop in to the grand opening Saturday from 1-5 p.m., check the website at www.luxurylinks.ca or call 613-643-3003 and leave a message.