Fabio Molina prepares to hit a golf ball into a simulated course. He opened the Golf Den after a similar business closed down. Black Press photo

Indoor golf returns to Langley

‘You just don’t get wet. You don’t get cold. You can eat your chicken wings’ owner says

When the only indoor golf centre on this side of the Fraser River closed in Langley last year, Fabio Molina wasn’t quite sure what to do.

Playing the virtual version of the game allowed him to keep practising in the winter, refining his technique while avoiding snow and rain.

Golf was a passion for Molina, one that his spouse, Gemina Arana, had also taken up.

“Why don’t we open one,” she suggested.

Three months later, the two South Surrey residents opened The Golf Den in Langley City.

“I did some research and found out it was possible,” Molina said.

On the day Black Press visited the facility at Unit 108, 20118 Fraser Hwy, it still smelled of fresh paint.

As Molina spoke, the thump of golf balls hitting a padded wall could be heard in one of the simulator rooms.

“Beauty,” someone yelled.

Some clients were enjoying themselves.

Molina smiled.

He said a lot of the people coming to his place are former customers of the other, now-closed, indoor golf facility.

A lot of them showed up when he held an open house to test the waters.

“We had a decent response,” Molina said.

Indoor golf offers something for people who would like to play famous golf courses without having to travel and for those who don’t want to play 18 holes in the rain, he said.

“You hit real golf balls with real golf clubs,” Molina said.

“You just don’t get wet. You don’t get cold. You can eat your chicken wings.”

For Arana, not having to haul clubs outdoors was a big plus.

“I would be his caddy,” she sad.

“Indoors [there’s] no walking, That’s great. I’m not getting cold or wet.”

Molina, who left his job as an insurance broker to launch the new venture, said the Golf Den has a better chance of making a go of it because they are operating on a less ambitious scale than the previous virtual golf business did.

They have fewer simulators and they don’t have an in-house restaurant or liquor licence

Instead Molina and Arana have a deal with a nearby restaurant to cater to clients who want to nibble food while they play (another selling point for indoor golf).

Down the road, Molina thinks the Golf Den will have a restaurant licence, possibly in 10 to 12 months.

Molina added the new facility also offers two virtual reality bays, offering players a chance to don goggles and play inside a three-dimensional world.

His business can also accommodate people who want to play a computer game on a 12 foot by eight foot screen.

“We’re doing a few things differently,” he said.

In the indoor virtual version of the sport, golfer will play a round just like they normally would, teeing off, using their irons and putter.

RELATED: B.C. golfer sinks two hole-in-ones in the same round

A computer tracks the ball as it hits a fabric projection screen where the simulated golf course is displayed, and shows where it would have landed on the simulated course.

To play at The Golf Den, you are advised to make a reservation by calling 604-427-4653.

Ratesrun from $20 for driving range practice for up to two players, to $40 an hour for two to six players with discounts for buying packages of five to 10 games. Private lessons can cost more.

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Gemina Arana and Fabio Molina launched the Golf Den in Langley after a similar golf simulator business closed in Langley. They say their business is smaller and more cost-effective. Black Press

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