January 20, 2022

Elm Tree to stay open all year with simulator

Paul Cifonelli/sports editor

Elm Tree Golf Course pro Eric Manning hits on the course’s new simulator Thursday. The simulator is available for use every Thursday through Sunday during the winter months.

Elm Tree Golf Course pro Eric Manning saw an opportunity for people in the Cortland community to practice and play golf year-round. He worked at an indoor facility with a simulator near New York City and knew it was a good idea to have one in Cortland.

“I saw the benefits of people practicing and playing inside when the weather was not so nice,” Manning said. “Over the winter time — December, January, February — we were busy. I saw some other places do this so I figured we’d get in on the action.”

Just a year after the idea was brought up, the Elm Tree purchased a simulator and has it up and running. It will be available for use Thursday through Sunday every week by appointment. The cost will be $25 for a half hour and $40 for a full hour. A foursome can usually play nine holes in about two hours.

The simulator cost the Elm Tree around $6,000, with the most expensive simulator setups costing as much as $50,000.

Currently, the Elm Tree’s simulator has five course options, with the potential for more to come.

“We’re planning on getting the full package, which will be 27 full-time courses, then they alternate a different one in every week. At the start, we figured five courses. The reality is people are only going to be playing this for eight or nine weeks. It’s nice to have the opportunity to choose courses.”

With the different course options, there is a possibility the Elm Tree starts up a simulator league over the winter, similar to what Maple Hill Golf Club in Marathon has been doing.

“After the first of the year we’ll try to run a little league,” Manning said. “Eventually, hopefully we’re going to have another machine and we’re going to actually run a full league over the winter time.”

The simulator could also be an option for practice in the spring and summer, but that plan has not been determined yet.

“Once we start to move back into spring and summer, we’re probably going to have to dismantle it,” Manning said. “We have a couple other buildings; we may keep it up in another building just in case someone wants to take a lesson or do a club fitting when it’s not so nice out so they can still have an indoor place to hit.”

There haven’t been many people securing times to try the simulator out yet, but Manning said the feedback from the members of the Elm Tree has all been good.

“Everybody seems to be really excited about it,” the golf pro said. “It’s another opportunity to enhance our club. We not only are a summer place, but over the winter we’ll have opportunity for people to come in and utilize the club.”

While the Elm Tree’s simulator takes up much of the clubhouse, the bar and kitchen will still be open.