This is intense. I’m on the 11th tee of Augusta. Right in the middle of Amen Corner. Graveyard of some of the most famous golfers in the world who have seen their Masters hopes dashed – or, more accurately, splashed on this hole.
My mate Tony is giving me grief, telling me I’m going to bottle out of trying to carry Rae’s Creek. He thinks I am going to lay up short, but this hole is only 155 yards and is the shortest par 3 on the course. If I don’t give this a go then I should try another sport.
I hit a 7 iron. A bit fat and it is drifting right of the green, then, smack, I’ve hit the famous slope up from the creek to the isolated green. My ball plugs, and then rolls. It’s all over, it’s going in the creek, no… I’m safe.
But the adrenaline is causing mayhem. My pitch flies the flag and I am left with a 47ft putt back. Fortunately we are giving gimmes at 8ft so I am safely off of the dreaded 11th with a one over par – and still fighting.
Next I’m hurtling around Brand’s Hatch, steering wheel shuddering as I attempt to put the super-charged BMW through the bend on Paddock Hill. That goes well so I floor it. Big mistake! There is a squeal of rubber and a burst of sand and gravel and whump. I’m slammed in the barrier at Druids and gingerly feeling my way back onto the circuit.
And then, with fifteen minutes to go of my slot I am squaring up on the penalty spot, Joe Hart’s in goal and the blast of 70,000 vuvuselas are hammering through Johannesburg Stadium’s night air. My mate Tony is chirping me again and I am determined to smash it past the shampoo man, but – curses – Joe Hart dives to the left and palms my penalty around the corner. Of course, Tony slots his.
We have just spent a couple of immensely fun hours with James Maxwell, the resident pro in The Bunker – Newton Abbot’s latest action-packed indoor venue for multi sports simulators.
There are three big bays in The Bunker. Each 4.5m in width housing the sports simulators, with their own floor to ceiling screen, and touchscreen controls. A series of cameras and infrared sensors track both the ball and your movements, while the racing setup requires you to slot into the bucket seat behind the racing wheel and pedals.
There are literally hundreds of permutations. You can play any one of 190 top golf courses (for fun we played the famous 17th hole at St Andrews where I hit my drive into the hotel…), choose from a host of world cup stadia, hurtle around all the world’s race tracks, GP or Indy, have a go against any one of a dozen or more world class goalkeepers and test yourself at every turn.
For those of us who struggle around a golf course, James is on hand to provide coaching, and I can assure you from my own experience, it does not take him long to find out where you’re going wrong – and he is quick with a fix using an incredible amount of data available after every shot. The cameras and infra-red will tell you everything you need to know about your swing. The speed, the spin on the ball, the trajectory of the club head and much more. The touch screen functionality lets you pause after each shot and compare – it is really easy to see what part of your swing is out of sync, and very quick to see yourself making improvements.
The Bunker is great for parties too – kids love trying their hand at golf, but maximum fun comes from becoming a footballer or racing driver for the day. There are plenty of settings on each of the options to even things out, so the little ones don’t get left behind, and impressive sound effects to pump up the action.
The Bunker is fast becoming one of Newton Abbot’s top destinations. Perfect for parties, easy to nip out to during your lunch break, friendly and welcoming and full of challenges for sports enthusiasts of any age. Give it a go!
Words: Bruce Hetherington