Play golf’s great holes in the pub!

STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE -- Hucknall golf pro Andy Willey tries out the Empire simulator -- DISPIC NHUD11-3163-1
STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE -- Hucknall golf pro Andy Willey tries out the Empire simulator -- DISPIC NHUD11-3163-1

GOLFERS in Hucknall can now walk in the footsteps of giants of the game, such as Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood — thanks to a state-of-the-art simulator launched at an unlikely venue in Hucknall.

For The Empire pub and restaurant, off Beardall Street, has splashed more than £12,000 on the exciting piece of kit.

Fairway fanatics can play a round of 18 holes featuring some of world golf’s most famous challenges, which have put some of the sport’s legends to the test.

The computerised simulator, which features a four-metre square panoramic screen, offers a selection of holes from landmark courses around the globe.

These range from some of the eyecatching pins at former Ryder Cup and British Open Championship venue The Belfry in Warwickshire to arguably the most famous hole in the game — the road hole on the Old Course at St Andrew’s, Scotland.

Empire owner Richard Darrington, who plays golf himself, said: “The whole idea is to provide a service for local golfers. There is nothing like this for miles around.

“It comes into its own during the winter when players can keep their swing going, even in bad weather which prevents you from getting out on the course.”

On the first day the simulator was showcased, more than 250 sessions were booked on it.

Darrington says it is also ideal for more ‘senior golfers’ who can no longer make it around a course but still want to play.

It allows players, using conventional clubs, to fire their shots at the screen. The technology does the rest by mapping the flight of the ball and transferring the shot on to the course.

An initiative has even been launched to get youngsters involved with tuition on the simulator provided for children aged between seven and nine on Saturday evenings.

The simulator is in its own room and can be hired by the hour or for an entire evening and even for golf parties.

As well as full rounds, it offers a chance for players to test their short game through pitching and bunker play and also a nearest-the-pin competition.

There is even a driving range option — with full statistical analysis covering distance of shots, speed and trajectory — for those who want to hone a particular skill.

“I’m delighted with the response to the simulator,” said Darrington. “It is proving very popular and it might help unearth someone who will become a star of the game in the future.”

The simulator has also caught the attention of Hucknall professional golfer Andy Willey, who has given the high-tech gadget his backing. He is even considering running lessons using the kit through the winter.

Willey (36) made history in 2004 when he defied the odds and became the first golfer from the Dispatch district to qualify for the final stages of the British Open.

He currently works as a professional attached to the Hollinwell course at Kirkby-in-Ashfield. He plays full time but had a below-par 2011 when he lost his Challenge Tour card.

Next season, he will return to action on the PGA Europro Tour.