Golf in the Glebe!
By Steve Zan
I’ve lived in the Glebe for almost 40 years, and I’ve always enjoyed the option to walk to almost any activity I chose – except golf. But as of last June, that finally became possible when The Bunker golf simulator opened in the basement of 601 Bank Street.
The business was the brainchild of Matt Williams and Ron Palaczka. During the height of the pandemic, they were looking for space in which to install a personal indoor golf simulator so the two of them could remain active during lockdowns. Palaczka is a Glebe business owner, and his business rents space elsewhere in that same building. Once Williams walked into the basement at 601 Bank, he began to see even greater possibilities for the space. The height was more than enough to swing a golf club overhead and the floor area was large enough to support the installation of seven simulation bays.
Basement space in the Glebe doesn’t typically reach three meters, but Williams tells me this location had been the first indoor car showroom in Ottawa. Behind one of the bays are the remnants of the elevator used to bring cars from street level to the basement showroom. The basement hadn’t really been used for decades, so a considerable cleanup was needed before the opening, including removing the remains of a 1980s recording studio. Looking around the windowless space, it didn’t take long to realize why Williams chose “The Bunker” as the name for the business.
When it came to the simulator bays, Williams and Palaczka invested in top-of-the-line TrackMan simulators. Having spent part of my career developing flight simulators, I’m appreciative of technology that maps well to what happens in the real world, and I was impressed how the TrackMan technology accurately captured the trajectory and length of my shots. My seven-iron ball flight is 150 yards indoors or out. I also noticed that TrackMan captures a 60-degree wedge shot, something other indoor simulators miss. The visuals, bright and highly detailed, are displayed on large 16-foot by nine-foot screens. The simulation runs “open world” as opposed to having the player experience one hole at a time. That means the slice from your opening tee shot can land on the 18th fairway, so you play your second shot from there. Like it or not, it’s another aspect of high-quality simulation.
Williams and Palaczka have also invested in sound damping in each bay, so you won’t hear much of what is happening in other bays, even though each bay has its own Bose sound system waiting for your personal music selections.
The Bunker also offers lessons this winter. European-tour player Craig Stefureak wandered in one day recently to offer his services as a teaching pro, expanding offerings at The Bunker. I chatted with a couple of locals who were benefitting from his tutelage.
TrackMan boasts simulation of over 200 courses including The Royal Ottawa and four others in Canada. The TrackMan system also offers many options to entice younger players into golf and golf-like experiences. Williams reports that Capture the Flag, Streets of Neon (a glow-in-the-dark mini-golf game) and Magic Pond are all popular with children.
While younger ones are occupied, parents can watch their favourite sporting event on one of the many monitors and enjoy a pint from local breweries such as Flora Hall and Overflow. Except for Guinness, all beers are local. The Bunker offers espresso-based coffees and soft drinks. During busy times, Isabella pizza is sold by the slice. Williams has been impressed with the support of local businesses and residents. Buying local beer and pizza is his way of paying it back.
With opening times from 10 a.m. to midnight each day and the outdoor season only 10 weeks away, it’s time to pay a visit to The Bunker and work the kinks out of that swing. Walk-ins are easy early in the day, but reservations are recommended for later in the day and evenings. Call 613-695-6656 or go to golfbunker.ca.
Steve Zan is a Glebe resident, member of the Glebe Report board of directors and a keen golfer.