Despite being a small space, with a loud din from activities being conducted around, the kids seemed to enjoy it. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Virtual Golf Club, Lower Parel
The little that I know of golf is from what I have picked up from books: that it is not as easy as it looks, that it is a game of the well-heeled, and that it is cool to say that one is playing golf. Ironically, what most of us know about golf is, virtually, nothing. So, when we are invited to review Mumbai’s first virtual golfing course for kids, we can’t help but accept it happily. I take Vani, my daughter of 11, and Ammol, my son of 9, and head out, expecting something along the lines of Smaaash: a room with a screen and, of course, flooring that resembles the rolling greens of golfing courses.
The Virtual Golf Club, an indoor soft play space, has nets pulled up to make it seem like an enclosure. A screen stands limply, and a patch of artificial turf is all you have - there’s no comparison to an actual, sprawling golf course. To say we are disappointed would be stating the obvious. However, we play on.
The kids are taken through the different types of golf clubs, and they look magnificent. They’re then taught to refine their swing mechanics, along with how to hold the club, which club to use for what, as well as the nuances of chipping, pitching and putting. Then, they are set to try out.
You think you can play golf when you hold the club, aim and strike and... nothing happens. The golf ball continues to sit calmly on the pin. It takes many attempts, many swings, many measured leg placements, to finally get the ball to move. In the beginning, if the ball moved, the pin moved too. My kids understood the beauty of each stroke played by the coach when the ball raced through the terrain, but the pin stayed put. Soon, the game became extremely absorbing.
Once they figured the game out, it was heartening to watch the kids easily decide which club to use for which stroke. Along with choosing the terrain to play, the kids played against each other and then, single-handedly. The range of experience, from birdies to bogeys, and their ability to keep each shot in perspective as well as focus on the shot at hand, soon made them forget they ought to get off the turf. They returned glowing with the experience, almost making my rant about the drab ambience seem trivial.
Where: Virtual Golf Club, Millk, Kamala Mills, next to Gate 4, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
Best for: Girls and boys (aged 8 years and above)
How to reach: Exit Lower Parel station and hail a cab to Kamala Mills.
Timings: 11 am to 8 pm (all days)
Budget: Rs 500 (30 mins, Monday to Thursday); Rs 950 (60 mins, Monday to Thursday); Rs 600 (30 minutes, Friday to Sunday); Rs 1,100 (60 minutes, Friday to Sunday)
Food: The space has a good cafeteria; Kamala Mills also has several eating options
Restroom facilities: Available
Where else to go: Smaaash and Funky Monkey in Kamala Mills
Parent Poll: Too tacky. A net and projector and golfing software made it a virtual golfing space. The space needs soundproofing to drown out sounds from activity spaces around.
Kids’ Poll: Loved it. Ammol wouldn’t leave.
What’s good: Attentive staff, well versed with golf
What’s not so good: Too small. Sound from around killed the mood.
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