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Graduate Lincoln shows off new golf simulators
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Graduate Lincoln shows off new golf simulators

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What does Nebraska men's basketball coach Tim Miles do in September when he's not recruiting?

Wednesday, he and some of his assistants were among several dozen invited guests trying out the new golf simulators at the Graduate Lincoln at Ninth and P streets.

Graduate Hotels last month announced a partnership with Dallas-based Topgolf to put Swing Suite golf simulators at some of its hotels.

Lincoln was the first, and Graduate Hotels in Minneapolis and Iowa City, Iowa, will be next.

Troy Terwilliger, general manager of the Graduate Lincoln, said the three Swing Suite bays opened Aug. 31 and have been pretty busy.

The first week, Terwilliger said the bays did about $3,700 in sales.

Wednesday, the hotel held a VIP event, with invited guests from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, local businesses and other organizations.

The three bays are set up inside the hotel's restaurant, John J's, and Terwilliger said he was more than willing to give up a few tables to add the Swing Suites.

"There are so many restaurants and bars downtown, it's tough to compete," he said.

The golf simulators offer an experience that people can't get at many other places in town.

Terwilliger said he knows of one bar in south Lincoln that has a golf simulator, but it's not as big or as sophisticated as the Swing Suites.

The bays, which are about the size of a one-car garage, give people the chance to use real clubs to hit a real golf ball into an interactive screen.

Terwilliger said the screens measure things such as ball speed and trajectory to give a realistic swing experience.

The Swing Suites offer a number of options, from target practice to playing simulations on some of the world's most famous golf courses, including Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines.

And for those who aren't into golf, the Swing Suites also have a baseball setting that allow you to pitch in a simulated game.

The cost is $60 per hour to rent a bay on weekdays and $80 an hour on weekends.

Terwilliger said hotel guests currently do not get special deals, but he's exploring that option.

The bays are popular for parties and corporate outings, but Terwilliger also said he expects to see "serious golfers" come in during the winter months to get in some practice.

"From about November to March, there's not a lot you can do outside," he said.

In addition to Swing Suites, which are installed in a handful of locations across the country, Topgolf also offers large entertainment centers across the country with real indoor driving ranges. The closest one is in Overland Park, Kansas, but one is in the works in Omaha, near Westroads mall.

Mark Ketcham, who works for Hudl, said he's been in a couple of the Topgolf entertainment centers, and the Graduate's Swing Suites are very similar.

"It's comparable," he said. "The setup is the same and it looks and feels the same."

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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