By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s early march, and winter’s “stoppage of play” imposed on Minnesota golf courses doesn’t seem to be easing.

Bad news for golfers who, by now, are going a little stir-crazy.

And so those of us who can’t swing a plane ticket are forced to flip on the Golf Channel and concede that we won’t be swinging a club until winter loosens its grip.

But there is a place just up the road reserving tee times to some pretty nice courses.

“We have Whistling Straights, we have Pebble Beach here, and then we have the TPC, Sawgrass,” said Marketing Director Kayla Defenbaugh.

And we’re just getting started.

“We’ve been all over the world,” said customer Bob Schlagle. “China and Korea, and we’re in Scotland.”

bulrush golf club simulator WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best Golf Simulator In Minnesota

(credit: CBS)

These virtual travel arrangements were made by the nice folks at Bulrush Golf Club in Rush City, which features three state-of-the-art golf simulators.

“The die-hard golfer can come in and play on our high-tech system,” said general manager Mike Olson. “They can work on their game all winter long, and it’s a great atmosphere for them.”

It seems like a dream come true for any golfer who doesn’t have the time or the “scratch” to play these famous golf courses.

“It makes everything so realistic,” Schlagle said. “You’ve got birds flying in the air, you’ve got the water and there’s even wind involved. It makes you feel as if you’re right out there on a real golf course.”

Olson knows a thing or two about golf courses.

“I used to rebuild golf courses. I rebuilt Hazeltine, and I look for the little things we did and it’s all there. The courses play the way they actually are in real life,” Olson said. “These simulators are second to none, and for the price up here, it’s unbelievable.”

That said, be careful what you wish for.

“We played Whistling Straights and it kicked my butt,” said customer Mic Louzek.

But the draw for Schlagle and Louzek every Wednesday is pretty basic.

“We come here and we have a blast. We give each other a little grief,” Schlagle said.

But in this virtual world of golf, there’s one amenity that these guys agree would be a nice addition to every real-world golf cart.

“You just push the Mulligan button and you’re right back to hitting again, no guilt,” Louzek said.

The simulators are rented by the hour, and the cost for playing 18 holes usually ends up being about the same or less than a normal round of golf.

They have a full bar and restaurant as well, and there are even some great simulator games for kids to play. It’s best to call ahead and make a tee time.

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