While the pandemic has led to the proliferation in online classrooms for education and the organisation of virtual meetings for business, indoor golf has taken off in a spectacular fashion for e-sport, as players can tee off at will at virtual venues worldwide.
Players at The Upper Loft experience photo-realistic golf games enabled by the Golfzon Korea simulator, giving them the opportunity to virtually play in 240 golf courses - from Scotland’s St Andrews to the Pebble Beach in the States.
Players enjoy the freedom to choose from a range of weather, wind speed and day or night time. Before teeing off, they step onto a platform that gives an inclination consistent with the slope of the real course, with putting turf emulating grass and sandpits for a realistic experience.
Whether you wish to learn the basics or sharpen your skills, driving range bays are available with sensors and cameras for you to practise.
According to Dennis Leung, Deputy General Manager of The Upper Loft, membership has surged during the pandemic. “Golfers revel in the ability to tee off in the most famous golf championship courses, beating the travel restrictions,” he explains.
The other reason is its convenient location at Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan. “It normally takes two hours of travelling and half a day to play an 18-hole game, but at The Upper Loft, the same game can be completed in an hour,” says Leung. “The arrangement is a perfect fit for Hongkongers’ busy lifestyle.”
Players need not brave the elements and can go for an intensive practise or a leisure game any time they like, from 10:30 am to 11 pm. Membership and lessons are also far more affordable and budget-friendly than prestigious golf clubs in Hong Kong.
Known as a gentlemen’s game, golf traditionally comes with a set of etiquette. While observing these customs, The Upper Loft allows a more relaxed, casual dress code. Golf clubs are available for rent, while those who prefer their own equipment can leave their heavy golf bags in the storage room, adding convenience for players who come regularly for exercise.
Interestingly, Leung notices that there are more female than male players at The Upper Loft. “Indoor golf seems to be more popular with ladies, who are often very serious golfers who train themselves hard,” he remarks.
The Upper Loft also features a cosy F&B area, as well as five private rooms for small gatherings, parties and corporate team building events. Its team of PGA (Professional Golfer’ Association) coaches, each with their own area of specialization and tour experience, offers classes in English, Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin.
“A sizable portion of our members are Koreans and we have Korean coaches to cater to their needs,” says Leung. “Our youngest learner is 4 years old and we have mini golf clubs for young learners. Golf is suitable for all ages. Beginners can simply walk in for a trial class with our on-site coach to learn the basics starting from holding the golf club,” he says.
Having opened its doors in Hong Kong for 6 years, The Upper Loft is set to shine as an e-sport hub in Hong Kong. “Indoor golf is highly popular in Korea while indoor tennis and football are also popular e-sports in the United States,” he says. “For Hong Kong, the future of e-sports is indoor golf.”