For the newbie golfer, a chance to have an hour of fun on a driving range seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. I know little about golf nor have I ever really played it so when the Trafford Leisure team suggested I have a go at experiencing their state-of-art Toptracer technology to see how it all works, I knew I wouldn’t have much skill to call on but still couldn’t resist seeing what it’s all about.
Safe in the knowledge that I would probably be amateur at the very best, I decided to take my boyfriend, Will, along with me. We’ve played mini-golf together a few times and I have no shame in admitting that he is far more adept at hitting the ball than I am so thought he would be the perfect companion for a night on the range.
Enthusiastically, we turned up at Altrincham Golf Club for a Monday night date night. Handily situated on Stockport Road, you’re immediately struck by the beautiful heritage site as soon as you turn in and drive through a portion of the vast 18 hole course. Only a two-minute drive from Altrincham town centre, it’s ideally placed for local residents and you can enjoy the course as either a member if you’re an avid golfer or as and when you want as a visitor.
We were greeted on the desk by Joe who directed us to our bay and sorted out our clubs. The 200-yard range allows you to hone your skills, whether you’re a beginner or professional golfer, with the comfort of the 27 bays and floodlights keeping you sheltered from whatever the weather throws Cheshire’s way. There are even bays for left-handers and larger tuition bays too meaning they really do cater for all.
We opted for 100 balls and had a few practise shots before we started using Toptracer. As expected, my swing left a lot to be desired and I probably missed more balls than I hit but that’s why it’s so great to be able to practise in your own private bay. The height of the tee can be adjusted, there’s plenty of room to (unpredictably, in my case) swing your club and there’s the serene calm of the picturesque surroundings to give you the ability to relax and focus. Will needed slightly less of a warm-up than I did and after he had already worked his way through a good number of our balls, we set up our names on the conveniently placed Toptracer screen ready to play.
Whatever level you’re at, you can benefit from the ball-tracing technology Toptracer provides. If you’re a fan of watching golf on television, you’ll be familiar with the way it captures and displays the ball’s journey in real-time and this same technology is used in the range. There’s a number of bays at Altrincham Golf Course with a Toptracer screen installed and there are modes for improving all skill levels as well as some games to promote a bit of healthy competition.
We had a play with ‘Launch Monitor’, the training mode that gives you insight into the distance, ball speed, height and more. As a complete novice, it was amazing to see immediate information, as well as colourful arcs showing how your ball moved, as soon as you’ve swung your club. I’m not sure how it works but the technology really is incredible and certainly helps you understand a little better what you’re doing if you feel like you’re just making a swing and hoping for the best like me.
We quickly discovered the built-in games and gave Toptracer ‘Closest To The Pin’ a go. The name is self-explanatory – it’s a battle to see who can get their ball closest to a specific point whilst still getting insights and helpful information. There’s no great mystery with guessing who won but it was still a lot of fun pretending I had a chance!
We tried a couple more of the games whilst we had some balls left, including ‘Points Game’ which is great if you have a competitive streak as it lets you vie for the biggest score. All of the games, of course, are designed to help you fine-tune your ability whilst having fun and it really does work. The drive to win makes you take your posture and swing more seriously and the instant feedback from the screen is as virtually comparable as it can get to having a tutor in the bay with you.
For two novices, an hour in a bay was definitely the best fun you could have on a Monday night and it was something I’d definitely be eager to do again. The beautiful course and warm, friendly atmosphere of the club were a nice surrounding for two beginners to feel relaxed and we even had the benefit of Joe giving us a few tips and tricks and showing us how it was done too!
After we’d handed back our clubs, we decided to visit The Old Hall which, rather handily, is a traditional British pub found in the middle of Altrincham Golf Course. Resisting the tempting smells of the varied main menu, we enjoyed the lovely summer evening sipping on our drinks on the outside decking overlooking the grounds.
If you’re looking to take up golf or are an avid fan who just hasn’t explored what’s on offer at Altrincham Golf Club then it’s definitely worth checking out the website. With varied membership levels, visitor tee time and tuition for juniors, beginners and professionals available, it really does offer a unique golfing experience for Altrincham.