Life Time Golf Club – A Golf Experience That Rivals Private Golf Clubs
By R.J. Smiley
Life Time Fitness, the upscale members-only health club located in St. Louis Park took their Golf Club to a new level of sophistication when they hired PGA Professional, Michael Hinton. Hinton, owner and founder of Minneapolis Golf Academy, has over 20 years of golf experience working at some of the best golf courses in America. The savvy Golf Club manager, with his finger on the pulse of the golf industry, knows what golfers want. Hinton understands that during the cold and sloppy winter months getting your golf clubs from the car to the indoor golf facility can be a real pain. Therefore, for the first time, Life Time Golf Club has made golf club storage available for full golf members. There is even a valet service for your golf clubs. Just make a quick phone call and your clubs will be transported from curbside to the Golf Club.
As Hinton begins his third season at Life Time Golf Club, he is proud of the steady growth and utilization of the simulators during the first two seasons. With a well written strategic plan and a marketing program to satisfy customers of his Minneapolis Golf Academy and members of Burl Oaks Golf Club (where Hinton runs his academy during the summer months), Hinton has built a solid core of regular patrons. “Our clients from the academy and members from Burl Oaks are spreading the word about Life Time Golf Club among their friends who belong to private clubs near Life Time,” said Hinton.
Golf simulators have been around for years. We have all heard the sales pitch, “Come play golf on our state-of-the-art golf simulators where you can experience golf courses that you only wish that you could play.” The story is always the same, but the golf experience does not live up to the “hype” of playing Pebble Beach or the Old Course. There are no pot bunkers so deep the bottom has never seen the sun. In fact on golf simulators, there are no bunkers. On a golf simulator, every shot is played from a clean lie off perfect turf. Rough, that gives these great courses teeth, is non-existent. Putts are read by a computer. There are no power lip-outs on greens running 13 on the stimpmeter. There is no gusting wind or grain on the greens with indoor golf simulators and the possibility of seeing a deer or wild turkey are non-existent.
All of this is true, but those of us who must feed our addiction are forced indoors during winter. Golf simulators continue to improve and the simulators at Life Time Golf Club are among the finest to be found in the Twin Cities. In addition to competitive golf matches played on the world’s best golf courses, the new generation of golf simulators offer driving range options where TrackMan type statistical information can be analyzed after each shot.
The unlimited golf membership is a perfect fit for avid golfers who want to spend hours during the dreary winter months hitting balls and improving their skills. Unlimited members can play golf courses on simulators when they desire, but the real benefit is they may hit unlimited practice balls. “I give each unlimited member a lesson on how to use the simulator, this allows them access to the club in off operational hours”. That way they can see the details of each shot with TrackMan like information,” stated Hinton proudly.
You don’t need to be a member of Life Time Fitness to play at Lifetime Golf Club on a daily fee basis. Non-members who play at the Golf Club on a daily fee basis receive a FREE PASS to the entire club on the day of their visit.
The simulators have a variety of games. “When patrons start playing Celebrity Death Match we learn very quickly if golfers are Liberal or Conservative.” Targets for this game are celebrities and politicians. Golfers hit their shots at these targets with faces of members of both parties. When a politician is hit with a ball they explode in a loud smoky blast. “You should hear the heated debates as competitors eliminate their hated political foes!” Other golf video games that entertain club members and visitors alike are Carnival Shooting Gallery and Demolition Driving Range.
“These three games are very popular,” said Hinton, “but the skills shot challenge has proven to be the most popular video contest of all.” Shots are hit at different targets, one which is a target funnel about 150 yards away. When a ball is hit into the funnel it spins around the spiral funnel spout and rolls onto the green. Based on some skill and a lot of luck the ball rolls onto a green in an attempt to make a hole-in-one. “The drama of the game continues until the ball stops rolling.”
Authors Note: In an attempt to compete with TopGolf, where hitting balls at colorful lighted targets has become the rage, simulators are searching for video game ideas to make golf more fun and interesting.
Life Time Golf Club is doing everything they can do to make each of their weekday leagues or a series unique golf event something special. “Our Monday Night Football league sold out quickly. So we have now scheduled a Viking/Packers Golf Party for 12/22. We also have a very special golf party scheduled for the New Years Eve Vikings/Bears game on 12/31.” These special events include catered snacks and beverages. “We plan to expand our schedule of special events and individual parties.”Michael Hinton’s real passion however is helping golfers (especially kids) improve their golf game. “Golf is just more fun to play when your skills improve. With a few lessons and some practice golf is more fun.” Winter is the perfect time to improve your game and work on your fundamentals.
As the snow continues to fall, the private golf clubs and the local public golf courses are closed for the winter. If you feel the urge to feed your addiction, grab your phone and call Life Time Golf Club (952-541-7189) and experience the country club experience at Life Time Golf Club.