Golfing around the world, from Cayman

Cayman national team golfer Justin Hastings teed up his ball on a par-4 hole that sloped gently upwards to the pin, 361 yards away.

Swinging at 111 miles per hour, Hastings launched the ball 283 yards straight ahead, setting himself up for an 80‑yard chip shot to birdie the hole.

“That was exceptional,” an announcer commented on the shot.

No, Hastings was not playing in a tournament on Cayman or anywhere else. Instead, he was playing with teammate Aaron Jarvis on the newly built indoor golf simulator on Ashgo Street in George Town.

The facility, known as the Cayman Golf Lab, boasts two SkyTrak simulators programmed with more than 30,000 courses modelled after real-life ones. It also has putting greens, and tall grass surrounding the greens for pitching practice.

Cayman Golf Lab joins The Ritz-Carlton as the only indoor golf facilities on island. Cayman Golf Lab owner Brad de Schiffert said his facility will be open to the public, and will also be used by the territory’s best golfers for practice.

The golf lab will have a soft opening today, Tuesday, 23 July, and will host an open house on 3-4 Aug.

De Schiffert said he plans to have public leagues, where people can come in at separate times and golf their nine holes, and then go online to see how they scored compared to other Cayman residents they are competing against.

The golf instructor will also hold clinics, and the course will be open to people who just want to come in and smack a few golf balls.

De Schiffert said he thinks his facility will help unlock untapped golfing talent in Cayman by allowing more people to golf for longer.

Cayman Golf Lab owner Brad de Schiffert in front of one of the lab’s golfing greens. – Photos: Alvaro Serey

Golfing 18 holes normally takes four hours, but can take about as little as one hour in one of the simulators, he explained. Additionally, people can practise after dark, and also play when the heat outside is unbearable in the middle of the day.

Hastings agreed that the Cayman Golf Lab should help him improve his game.

“It’s awesome. It’s not out in the heat, so you can come in here and relax and have a good time. I think it will help my game quite a bit,” he said. “It has all the numbers you need to evaluate your game and your swing, and I think I’ll be able to use it pretty well and hopefully see the results.”

The Cayman Golf Lab simulators are similar to the new one US President Donald Trump set up in the White House. Trump is famous – and infamous in some circles – for spending hours working on his game.

But one not need be a golfing expert to use the Cayman Golf Lab – though novices may see different results than stars like Hastings and Jarvis.

When this reporter tried to use the simulator, for example, he hooked the ball to the right – hitting a pole and going behind the screen, to the amusement of Hastings, Jarvis, and de Schiffert.

“Where’d the ball go?” Hastings asked.

“It’s long gone,” said his coach. “I already know I’m putting padding on the corners to protect the beam from getting hit.”

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