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Clubs Go Virtual

Members at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis have another option should they get bored with their 1898 Donald Ross course (or, more realistically, if the weather is too wintry). They can head into the clubhouse to play St. Andrews, Royal Melbourne or Kapalua on their Full Swing Golf simulator.

"Members will use it for four hours, play a course, drink beer and watch TV," says Minikahda golf shop assistant Tim Diskerud. It's a scene that is likely to become more and more popular at private clubs in the coming years.

The machines, which started out at high-end resorts, teaching facilities and golf retail stores, are gaining a foothold in private clubs around the world. They recently have been installed at Isleworth in Florida, Trump National in New York and Norway's Oslo Golf Club. This year, Full Swing is looking to put them in the clubhouses of Turnberry in Scotland, Inglewood Country Club in Washington, Mountain Air Country Club in North Carolina, and elsewhere. (For about $60,000, you can get one installed in your club.)

The latest model allows users to play on more than fifty of the world's greatest courses, which are rendered in photograph-like quality, with balls splashing in water, kicking off cart paths and spinning back on greens. Even more impressive is how the simulator can help members' games: Using more than 500 infrared electronic emitters, it picks up and displays every ball's speed, launch angle and spin rate.

"The heart and soul of the product is the ball tracking," says Full Swing president Scott Werbelow. "The courses are a huge draw, but golfers who are passionate about improving their game use it in the custom driving range mode to see their ball-flight data."

Visit fullswinggolf.com for more information.

MEMBERSHIPS AVAILABLE

Brandywine Country Club (A.H. Tull, 1947) Wilmington, DE; 302-478-2110; $16,400 equity share

The Club at Carlton Woods (Jack Nicklaus, 2001; Tom Fazio, 2005) The Woodlands, TX; 281-863-5815; $125,000 (80 percent refundable)

Golf Club of New England (Arnold Palmer, 2001) Stratham, NH; 603-772-4900; $50,000 (50 percent refundable)

Grizzly Ranch Club (Bob Cupp, 2005) Portola, CA; 866-901-1010; $50,000 (50 percent refundable)

Marietta Country Club (Bob Cupp, 2004) Kennesaw, GA; 770-426-1808; $30,000 (25 percent refundable)

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