Steamboat Springs The winters in Northwest Colorado can be extreme and long, especially for the avid golfer.
Enter golf teaching professionals Bob Mullen and Bobby Stevenson who have partnered with part-time Steamboat Springs resident Scott Henson to open All Seasons Golf.
"We knew the demographics and the number of golfers here," Mullen said. "We think there are a lot of eager golfers here who want to get better at the game."
Besides offering year-round, indoor golf, All Seasons Golf is also a teaching facility. In addition to artificial putting greens and a chipping area, three simulators, which were made by self-professed computer geeks at Pennsylvania-based Dead Solid, simulate real golf shots within three feet. Bars have been the company's primary market, so far, Mullen said
The simulators are programmed with 30 world-class courses. Sensors surround the tee to measure the swing. The golfer hits the ball into a screen where an image of the hole is projected. After the ball lands, an image is projected that shows the track of your club head, along with other information such as swing tempo, the "smash" measurement and, of course, the distance the ball traveled.
"It's nothing hokey," Mullen said. "It's the real deal. Everybody that has come in here has said, 'This is way more than I thought it would be.'"
Stevenson, a PGA Class A Professional, likely would not have moved to Steamboat two months ago if the simulators were not a valuable teaching tool.
"I was a skeptic," Stevenson said. "I like being outside, and I don't like video games."
Stevenson left his job as the head pro at Greg Norman's Shark's Tooth Golf Club in Florida to start All Seasons Golf.
It was a difficult decision, but Stevenson said he always wanted to be a business owner, and it would be even better if the venture involved golf.
"It was a tough call because Greg Norman was my hero growing up, and working for him was one of the coolest things I could do," Stevenson said.
But, he said he has always wanted to be one of the top 100 golf teachers. The All Season Golf concept might allow him to accomplish that goal, because he thinks there are markets for similar indoor training facilities throughout the country.
Mullen is a longtime Steamboat resident who met Stevenson at Shark's Tooth Golf Club through Henson, who was a member there.
"I got hooked up with Bobby, and we started talking, and we agreed (golf) lessons were too complicated and expensive," Mullen said. "We both agreed on that, but were loggerheads about what to do about it."
There needed to be a better way to teach golf, and Mullen focused on "new-neurology" theories that were being developed in the medical community.
"In order to teach motor skills, we have to change the way we teach," Mullen said.
"Instead of charging you 80 bucks and teaching you too much in an hour, we're going to teach you in 15 minutes what's useful and what you can absorb."
Because the simulators give instant feedback that is easy to understand, it is not necessary to have a teacher looking over your shoulder to figure out what you are doing wrong.
Local golf professionals have also been invited to teach their clients at the training facility if they are members.
Mullen said he had wanted to open All Seasons Golf for the past five years, but there were too many bugs with existing golf-simulator technology.
Mullen and Stevenson were impressed, though, with their last visit to the manufacturer to test the equipment.
"I was convinced right off the bat," Stevenson said.
Stevenson and Mullen were still doing work last week to get their occupancy permit from the city. Because they were not able to charge people yet, they were letting people play for free in an effort to get the word out. Mullen said they expected to open officially this week.
"We're really excited about the response we've had," Mullen said. "We've had quite a few people sign up for memberships."
People do not need a membership to play, but there are benefits.
The cost for an individual membership is $150 a year. Members receive a 25 percent discount on hourly or course play, can make reservations, can reserve the facility for private functions and are given a one-time game evaluation.
"This is a great facility to get your swing in shape before you head out on your next golfing excursion," said Jim Simon, who is a Catamount Ranch and Club member and was the first to join All Seasons Golf.
All Seasons Golf is at 2851 Riverside Plaza and serves wine and beer. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m daily and can be reached at 870-8581.