It doesn’t matter if it's the middle of winter, pouring down with rain or blowing a gale, SwingPro Golf owner Mike Ranson can pick up a golf club and play a round.
How does he do it? The golf simulator he built makes it easy.
Auckland-based Ranson has been a passionate golfer all his life, taking up the sport as just a “wee one”.
Also a keen cricketer, Ranson says that's how he started.
“I'm right into cricket, so I set up an indoor cricket net with turf. That evolved into setting up a net for golf and then getting all the technology,” he said.
Ranson says he “fell in love” with the tech side and the golf-simulation industry, so in 2017, he decided to transfer his skills from his superyacht renovation company and start building golf simulators.
“That's been my real passion over the last five years,” he says.
From the garage to the home theatre
Golf simulators use camera-based technology and screens that can be installed in halls, homes and businesses.
The process to build a commercial or high-end residential simulator often takes many days but when it's complete the golf simulator can double as a home theatre. It becomes a multi-use space, he says.
“A lot of our clients use them more for watching movies and sports.”
He says the simulators are extremely realistic and the tracking technology that produces the data is very accurate.
“All the top golfers in the world use this technology and it’s becoming very recognised in that field.”
Ranson has designed, built and installed golf simulators for spaces ranging from garages to a special fitout for a client who lives in the Bay of Islands.
The price-tag for his builds can be anywhere from $30,000 to upwards of $250,000.
What do you need to install one?
“Height,” he says. “You need the height for the swinging club and after that it comes down to budget and space.”
If a client’s space has a minimum height of 2.9 metres, Ranson says he can build a golf simulator to fit it.
“During winter, there's a short window when you can get out and play golf, whereas with a simulator at home, you can play any time of the day."
Ranson says the sector's come a long way since 2017 – for a start, there's more competition and better technology has been developed.
“The technology is certainly coming down in price, but there's a lot more awareness as well.”
Ranson says he isn't worried about increased competition and says he has what no one else in the industry has, a background in luxury yacht building, specialising in interiors.
He says that gives him an “edge” and puts him in the elite category.
“I know my competitors are probably more advanced in the golf-pro scene, but they don't have the experience of build difference.”
He’s seen golf simulators turn his clients into better players, but what about his own skills?
“Absolutely,” is the prompt reply.
“I've got a nice little studio and workshop to bring clients to so they can have a look at various materials and test the technology.”
But the studio also means he can play a sneaky round or two in his spare moments.
Ranson pauses for a long moment when asked what his favourite part of golf is.
“It's certainly one of those games where it can be very tough. You can have a terrible round of golf, but you could also make a great shot on the last hole.
“Everyone can play an amazing shot, and I think that's why we enjoy it so much.”